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The Old Northwest, A Chronicle of the Ohio Valley and Beyond by Frederic Austin Ogg

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The Old Northwest, A Chronicle Of The Ohio Valley And Beyond

By Frederic Austin Ogg

New Haven: Yale University Press
Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Co.91
London: Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press




The Old Northwest

Chapter I. Pontiac's Conspiracy

The fall of Montreal, on September 8, 1760, while the plains
about the city were still dotted with the white tents of the
victorious English and colonial troops, was indeed an event of
the deepest consequence to America and to the world. By the
articles of capitulation which were signed by the Marquis de
Vaudreuil, Governor of New France, Canada and all its
dependencies westward to the Mississippi passed to the British
Crown. Virtually ended was the long struggle for the dominion of
the New World. Open now for English occupation and settlement was
that vast country lying south of the Great Lakes between the Ohio
and the Mississippi--which we know as the Old Northwest--today
the seat of five great commonwealths of the United States.

With an ingenuity born of necessity, the French pathfinders and
colonizers of the Old Northwest had chosen for their settlements
sites which would serve at once the purposes of the priest, the
trader, and the soldier; and with scarcely an exception these
sites are as important today as when they were first selected.
Four regions, chiefly, were still occupied by the French at the
time of the capitulation of Montreal. The most important, as well
as the most distant, of these regions was on the east bank of the
Mississippi, opposite and below the present city of St. Louis,
where a cluster of missions, forts, and trading-posts held the
center of the tenuous line extending from Canada to Louisiana. A
second was the Illinois country, centering about the citadel of
St. Louis which La Salle had erected in 1682 on the summit of
"Starved Rock," near the modern town of Ottawa in Illinois. A
third was the valley of the Wabash, where in the early years of
the eighteenth century Vincennes had become the seat of a colony
commanding both the Wabash and the lower Ohio. And the fourth was
the western end of Lake Erie, where Detroit, founded by the
doughty Cadillac in 1701, had assumed such strength that for
fifty years it had discouraged the ambitions of the English to
make the Northwest theirs.

Sir Jeffrey Amherst, to whom Vaudreuil surrendered in 1760,
forthwith dispatched to the western country a military force to
take possession of the posts still remaining in the hands of the
French. The mission was entrusted to a stalwart New Hampshire
Scotch-Irishman, Major Robert Rogers, who as leader of a band of
intrepid "rangers" had made himself the hero of the northern
frontier. Two hundred men were chosen for the undertaking, and on
the 13th of September the party, in fifteen whaleboats, started
up the St. Lawrence for Detroit.

At the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, near the site of the present
city of Cleveland, the travelers were halted by a band of Indian
chiefs and warriors who, in the name of their great ruler
Pontiac, demanded to know the object of their journeying. Parleys
followed, in which Pontiac himself took part, and it was
explained that the French had surrendered Canada to the English
and that the English merely proposed to assume control of the
western posts, with a view to friendly relations between the red
men and the white men. The rivers, it was promised, would flow
with rum, and presents from the great King would be forthcoming
in endless profusion. The explanation seemed to satisfy the
savages, and, after smoking the calumet with due ceremony, the
chieftain and his followers withdrew.

Late in November, Rogers and his men in their whaleboats appeared
before the little palisaded town of Detroit. They found the
French commander, Beletre, in surly humor and seeking to stir up
the neighboring Wyandots and Potawatomi against them. But the
attempt failed, and there was nothing for Beletre to do but
yield. The French soldiery marched out of the fort, laid down
their arms, and were sent off as prisoners down the river. The
fleur-de-lis, which for more than half a century had floated over
the village, was hauled down, and, to the accompaniment of
cheers, the British ensign was run up. The red men looked on with
amazement at this display of English authority and marveled how
the conquerors forbore to slay their vanquished enemies on the

Detroit in 1760 was a picturesque, lively, and rapidly growing
frontier town. The central portions of the settlement, lying
within the bounds of the present city, contained ninety or a
hundred small houses, chiefly of wood and roofed with bark or
thatch. A well-built range of barracks afforded quarters for the
soldiery, and there were two public buildings--a council house
and a little church. The whole was surrounded by a square
palisade twenty-five feet high, with a wooden bastion at each
corner and a blockhouse over each gateway. A broad passageway,
the chemin du ronde, lay next to the palisade, and on little
narrow streets at the center the houses were grouped closely

Above and below the fort the banks of the river were lined on
both sides, for a distance of eight or nine miles, with little
rectangular farms, so laid out as to give each a water-landing.
On each farm was a cottage, with a garden and orchard, surrounded
by a fence of rounded pickets; and the countryside rang with the
shouts and laughter of a prosperous and happy peasantry. Within
the limits of the settlement were villages of Ottawas,
Potawatomi, and Wyandots, with whose inhabitants the French lived
on free and easy terms. "The joyous sparkling of the bright blue
water," writes Parkman; "the green luxuriance of the woods; the
white dwellings, looking out from the foliage; and in the
distance the Indian wigwams curling their smoke against the
sky--all were mingled in one broad scene of wild and rural

At the coming of the English the French residents were given an
opportunity to withdraw. Few, however, did so, and from the
gossipy correspondence of the pleasure-loving Colonel Campbell,
who for some months was left in command of the fort, it appears
that the life of the place lost none of its gayety by the change
of masters. Sunday card parties at the quarters of the commandant
were festive affairs; and at a ball held in celebration of the
King's birthday the ladies presented an appearance so splendid as
to call forth from the impressionable officer the most
extravagant praises. A visit in the summer of 1761 from Sir
William Johnson, general supervisor of Indian affairs on the
frontier, became the greatest social event in the history of the
settlement, if not of the entire West. Colonel Campbell gave a
ball at which the guests danced nine hours. Sir William
reciprocated with one at which they danced eleven hours. A round
of dinners and calls gave opportunity for much display of
frontier magnificence, as well as for the consumption of
astonishing quantities of wines and cordials. Hundreds of Indians
were interested spectators, and the gifts with which they were
generously showered were received with evidences of deep

No amount of fiddling and dancing, however, could quite drown
apprehension concerning the safety of the post and the security
of the English hold upon the great region over which this fort
and its distant neighbors stood sentinel. Thousands of square
miles of territory were committed to the keeping of not more than
six hundred soldiers. From the French there was little danger.
But from the Indians anything might be expected. Apart from the
Iroquois, the red men had been bound to the French by many ties
of friendship and common interest, and in the late war they had
scalped and slaughtered and burned unhesitatingly at the French
command. Hardly, indeed, had the transfer of territorial
sovereignty been made before murmurs of discontent began to be

Notwithstanding outward expressions of assent to the new order of
things, a deep-rooted dislike on the part of the Indians for the
English grew after 1760 with great rapidity. They sorely missed
the gifts and supplies lavishly provided by the French, and they
warmly resented the rapacity and arrogance of the British
traders. The open contempt of the soldiery at the posts galled
the Indians, and the confiscation of their lands drove them to
desperation. In their hearts hope never died that the French
would regain their lost dominion; and again and again rumors were
set afloat that this was about to happen. The belief in such a
reconquest was adroitly encouraged, too, by the surviving French
settlers and traders. In 1761 the tension among the Indians was
increased by the appearance of a "prophet" among the Delawares,
calling on all his race to purge itself of foreign influences and
to unite to drive the white man from the land.

Protests against English encroachments were frequent and, though
respectful, none the less emphatic. At a conference in
Philadelphia in 1761, an Iroquois sachem declared, "We, your
Brethren, of the several Nations, are penned up like Hoggs. There
are Forts all around us, and therefore we are apprehensive that
Death is coming upon us." "We are now left in Peace," ran a
petition of some Christian Oneidas addressed to Sir William
Johnson, "and have nothing to do but to plant our Corn, Hunt the
wild Beasts, smoke our Pipes, and mind Religion. But as these
Forts, which are built among us, disturb our Peace, and are a
great hurt to Religion, because some of our Warriors are foolish,
and some of our Brother Soldiers don't fear God, we therefore
desire that these Forts may be pull'd down, and kick'd out of the

The leadership of the great revolt that was impending fell
naturally upon Pontiac, who, since the coming of the English, had
established himself with his squaws and children on a wooded
island in Lake St. Clair, barely out of view of the
fortifications of Detroit. In all Indian annals no name is more
illustrious than Pontiac's; no figure more forcefully displays
the good and bad qualities of his race. Principal chief of the
Ottawa tribe, he was also by 1763 the head of a powerful
confederation of Ottawas, Ojibwas, and Potawatomi, and a leader
known and respected among Algonquin peoples from the sources of
the Ohio to the Mississippi. While capable of acts of
magnanimity, he had an ambition of Napoleonic proportions, and to
attain his ends he was prepared to use any means. More clearly
than most of his forest contemporaries, he perceived that in the
life of the Indian people a crisis had come. He saw that, unless
the tide of English invasion was rolled back at once, all would
be lost. The colonial farmers would push in after the soldiers;
the forests would be cut away; the hunting-grounds would be
destroyed; the native population would be driven away or
enslaved. In the silence of his wigwam he thought out a plan of
action, and by the closing weeks of 1762 he was ready. Never was
plot more shrewdly devised and more artfully carried out.

During the winter of 1762-63 his messengers passed stealthily
from nation to nation throughout the whole western country,
bearing the pictured wampum belts and the reddened tomahawks
which symbolized war; and in April, 1763, the Lake tribes were
summoned to a great council on the banks of the Ecorces, below
Detroit, where Pontiac in person proclaimed the will of the
Master of Life as revealed to the Delaware prophet, and then
announced the details of his plan. Everywhere the appeal met with
approval; and not only the scores of Algonquin peoples, but also
the Seneca branch of the Iroquois confederacy and a number of
tribes on the lower Mississippi, pledged themselves with all
solemnity to fulfill their prophet's injunction "to drive the
dogs which wear red clothing into the sea." While keen-eyed
warriors sought to keep up appearances by lounging about the
forts and begging in their customary manner for tobacco, whiskey,
and gunpowder, every wigwam and forest hamlet from Niagara to the
Mississippi was astir. Dusky maidens chanted the tribal
war-songs, and in the blaze of a hundred camp-fires chiefs and
warriors performed the savage pantomime of battle.

A simultaneous attack, timed by a change of the moon, was to be
made on the English forts and settlements throughout all the
western country. Every tribe was to fall upon the settlement
nearest at hand, and afterwards all were to combine--with French
aid, it was confidently believed--in an assault on the seats of
English power farther east. The honor of destroying the most
important of the English strongholds, Detroit, was reserved for
Pontiac himself.

The date fixed for the rising was the 7th of May. Six days in
advance Pontiac with forty of his warriors appeared at the fort,
protested undying friendship for the Great Father across the
water, and insisted on performing the calumet dance before the
new commandant, Major Gladwyn. This aroused no suspicion. But
four days later a French settler reported that his wife, when
visiting the Ottawa village to buy venison, had observed the men
busily filing off the ends of their gunbarrels; and the
blacksmith at the post recalled the fact that the Indians had
lately sought to borrow files and saws without being able to give
a plausible explanation of the use they intended to make of the

The English traveler Jonathan Carver, who visited the post five
years afterwards, relates that an Ottawa girl with whom Major
Gladwyn had formed an attachment betrayed the plot. Though this
story is of doubtful authenticity, there is no doubt that, in one
way or another, the commandant was amply warned that treachery
was in the air. The sounds of revelry from the Indian camps, the
furtive glances of the redskins lounging about the settlement,
the very tension of the atmosphere, would have been enough to put
an experienced Indian fighter on his guard.

Accordingly when, on the fated morning, Pontiac and sixty
redskins, carrying under long blankets their shortened muskets,
appeared before the fort and asked admission, they were taken
aback to find the whole garrison under arms. On their way from
the gate to the council house they were obliged to march
literally between rows of glittering steel. Well might even
Pontiac falter. With uneasy glances, the party crowded into the
council room, where Gladwyn and his officers sat waiting. "Why,"
asked the chieftain stolidly, "do I see so many of my father's
young men standing in the street with their guns?" "To keep them
in training," was the laconic reply.

The scene that was planned was then carried out, except in one
vital particular. When, in the course of his speech professing
strong attachment to the English, the chieftain came to the point
where he was to give the signal for slaughter by holding forth
the wampum belt of peace inverted, he presented the emblem--to
the accompaniment of a significant clash of arms and roll of
drums from the mustered garrison outside--in the normal manner;
and after a solemn warning from the commandant that vengeance
would follow any act of aggression, the council broke up. To the
forest leader's equivocal announcement that he would bring all of
his wives and children in a few days to shake hands with their
English fathers, Gladwyn deigned no reply.

Balked in his plans, the chief retired, but only to meditate
fresh treachery; and when, a few days later, with a multitude of
followers, he sought admission to the fort to assure "his
fathers" that "evil birds had sung lies in their ears," and was
refused, he called all his forces to arms, threw off his
disguises, and began hostilities. For six months the settlement
was besieged with a persistence rarely displayed in Indian
warfare. At first the French inhabitants encouraged the
besiegers, but, after it became known that a final peace between
England and France had been concluded, they withheld further aid.
Throughout the whole period, the English obtained supplies with
no great difficulty from the neighboring farms. There was little
actual fighting, and the loss of life was insignificant.

By order of General Amherst, the French commander still in charge
of Fort Chartres sent a messenger to inform the redskins
definitely that no assistance from France would be forthcoming.
"Forget then, my dear children,"--so ran the admonition--"all
evil talks. Leave off from spilling the blood of your brethren,
the English. Our hearts are now but one; you cannot, at present,
strike the one without having the other for an enemy also." The
effect was, as intended, to break the spirit of the besiegers;
and in October Pontiac humbly sued for peace.

Meanwhile a reign of terror spread over the entire frontier.
Settlements from Forts Le Boeuf and Venango, south of Lake Eric,
to Green Bay, west of Lake Michigan, were attacked, and ruses
similar to that attempted at Detroit were generally successful. A
few Indians in friendly guise would approach a fort. After these
were admitted, others would appear, as if quite by chance.
Finally, when numbers were sufficient, the conspirators would
draw their concealed weapons, strike down the garrison, and begin
a general massacre of the helpless populace. Scores of pioneer
families, scattered through the wilderness, were murdered and
scalped; traders were waylaid in the forest solitudes; border
towns were burned and plantations were devastated. In the Ohio
Valley everything was lost except Fort Pitt, formerly Fort
Duquesne; in the Northwest, everything was taken except Detroit.

Fort Pitt was repeatedly endangered, and the most important
engagement of the war was fought in its defense. The relief of
the post was entrusted in midsummer to a force of five hundred
regulars lately transferred from the West Indies to Pennsylvania
and placed under the command of Colonel Henry Bouquet. The
expedition advanced with all possible caution, but early in
August, 1763, when it was yet twenty-five miles from its
destination, it was set upon by a formidable Indian band at Bushy
Run and threatened with a fate not un-like that suffered by
Braddock's little army in the same region nine years earlier.
Finding the woods full of redskins and all retreat cut off, the
troops, drawn up in a circle around their horses and supplies,
fired with such effect as they could upon the shadowy forms in
the forest. No water was obtainable, and in a few hours thirst
began to make the soldiery unmanageable. Realizing that the
situation was desperate, Bouquet resorted to a ruse by ordering
his men to fall back as if in retreat. The trick succeeded, and
with yells of victory the Indians rushed from cover to seize the
coveted provisions--only to be met by a deadly fire and put to
utter rout. The news of the battle of Bushy Run spread rapidly
through the frontier regions and proved very effective in
discouraging further hostilities.

It was Bouquet's intention to press forward at once from Fort
Pitt into the disturbed Ohio country. His losses, however,
compelled the postponement of this part of the undertaking until
the following year. Before he started off again he built at Fort
Pitt a blockhouse which still stands, and which has been
preserved for posterity by becoming, in 1894, the property of the
Pittsburgh chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
In October, 1764, he set out for the Muskingum valley with a
force of fifteen hundred regulars, Pennsylvania and Virginia
volunteers, and friendly Indians. By this time the great
conspiracy was in collapse, and it was a matter of no great
difficulty for Bouquet to enter into friendly relations with the
successive tribes, to obtain treaties with them, and to procure
the release of such English captives as were still in their
hands. By the close of November, 1764, the work was complete, and
Bouquet was back at Fort Pitt. Pennsylvania and Virginia honored
him with votes of thanks; the King formally expressed his
gratitude and tendered him the military governorship of the newly
acquired territory of Florida.

The general pacification of the Northwest was accomplished by
treaties with the natives in great councils held at Niagara,
Presqu'isle (Erie), and Detroit. Pontiac had fled to the Maumee
country to the west of Lake Erie, whence he still hurled his
ineffectual threats at the "dogs in red." His power, however, was
broken. The most he could do was to gather four hundred warriors
on the Maumee and Illinois and present himself at Fort Chartres
with a demand for weapons and ammunition with which to keep up
the war. The French commander, who was now daily awaiting orders
to turn the fortress over to the English, refused; and a
deputation dispatched to New Orleans in quest of the desired
equipment received no reply save that New Orleans itself, with
all the country west of the river, had been ceded to Spain. The
futility of further resistance on the part of Pontiac was
apparent. In 1765 the disappointed chieftain gave pledges of
friendship; and in the following year he and other leaders made a
formal submission to Sir William Johnson at Oswego, and Pontiac
renounced forever the bold design to make himself at a stroke
lord of the West and deliverer of his country from English

For three years the movements of this disappointed Indian leader
are uncertain. Most of the time, apparently, he dwelt in the
Maumee country, leading the existence of an ordinary warrior.
Then, in the spring of 1769, he appeared at the settlements on
the middle Mississippi. At the newly founded French town of St.
Louis, on the Spanish side of the river, he visited an old
friend, the commandant Saint Ange de Bellerive. Thence he crossed
to Cahokia, where Indian and creole alike welcomed him and made
him the central figure in a series of boisterous festivities.

An English trader in the village, observing jealously the honors
that were paid the visitor, resolved that an old score should
forthwith be evened up. A Kaskaskian redskin was bribed, with a
barrel of liquor and with promises of further reward, to put the
fallen leader out of the way; and the bargain was hardly sealed
before the deed was done. Stealing upon his victim as he walked
in the neighboring forest, the assassin buried a tomahawk in his
brain, and "thus basely," in the words of Parkman, "perished the
champion of a ruined race." Claimed by Saint-Ange, the body was
borne across the river and buried with military honors near the
new Fort St. Louis. The site of Pontiac's grave was soon
forgotten, and today the people of a great city trample over and
about it without heed.

Chapter II. "A Lair Of Wild Beasts"

Benjamin Franklin, who was in London in 1760 as agent of the
Pennsylvania Assembly, gave the British ministers some wholesome
advice on the terms of the peace that should be made with France.
The St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes regions, he said, must be
retained by England at all costs. Moreover, the Mississippi
Valley must be taken, in order to provide for the growing
populations of the seaboard colonies suitable lands in the
interior, and so keep them engaged in agriculture. Otherwise
these populations would turn to manufacturing, and the industries
of the mother country would suffer.

The treaty of peace, three years later, brought the settlement
which Franklin suggested. The vast American back country, with
its inviting rivers and lakes, its shaded hills, and its sunny
prairies, became English territory. The English people had,
however, only the vaguest notion of the extent, appearance, and
resources of their new possession. Even the officials who drew
the treaty were as ignorant of the country as of middle Africa.
Prior to the outbreak of the war no widely known English writer
had tried to describe it; and the absorbing French books of
Lahontan, Hennepin, and Charlevoix had reached but a small
circle. The prolonged conflict in America naturally stimulated
interest in the new country. The place-names of the upper Ohio
became household words, and enterprising publishers put out not
only translations of the French writers but compilations by
Englishmen designed, in true journalistic fashion, to meet the
demands of the hour for information.

These publications displayed amazing misconceptions of the lands
described. They neither estimated aright the number and strength
of the French settlements nor dispelled the idea that the western
country was of little value. Even the most brilliant Englishman
of the day, Dr. Samuel Johnson, an ardent defender of the treaty
of 1763, wrote that the large tracts of America added by the war
to the British dominions were "only the barren parts of the
continent, the refuse of the earlier adventurers, which the
French, who came last, had taken only as better than nothing." As
late indeed as 1789, William Knox, long Under-Secretary for the
Colonies, declared that Americans could not settle the western
territory "for ages," and that the region must be given up to
barbarism like the plains of Asia, with a population as unstable
as the Scythians and Tartars. But the shortsightedness of these
distant critics can be forgiven when one recalls that Franklin
himself, while conjuring up a splendid vision of the western
valleys teeming with a thriving population, supposed that the
dream would not be realized for "some centuries." None of these
observers dreamt that the territories transferred in 1763 would
have within seventy-five years a population almost equal to that
of Great Britain.

The ink with which the Treaty of Paris was signed was hardly dry
before the King and his ministers were confronted with the task
of providing government for the new possessions and of solving
problems of land tenure and trade. Still more imperative were
measures to conciliate the Indians; for already Pontiac's
rebellion had been in progress four months, and the entire back
country was aflame. It must be confessed that a continental
wilderness swarming with murderous savages was an inheritance
whose aspect was by no means altogether pleasing to the English

The easiest solution of the difficulty was to let things take
their course. Let seaboard populations spread at will over the
new lands; let them carry on trade in their own way, and make
whatever arrangements with the native tribes they desire.
Colonies such as Virginia and New York, which had extensive
western claims, would have been glad to see this plan adopted.
Strong objections, however, were raised. Colonies which had no
western claims feared the effects of the advantages which their
more fortunate neighbors would enjoy. Men who had invested
heavily in lands lying west of the mountains felt that their
returns would be diminished and delayed if the back country were
thrown open to settlers. Some people thought that the Indians had
a moral right to protection against wholesale white invasion of
their hunting-grounds, and many considered it expedient, at all
events, to offer such protection.

After all, however, it was the King and his ministers who had it
in their power to settle the question; and from their point of
view it was desirable to keep the western territories as much as
possible apart from the older colonies, and to regulate, with
farsighted policy, their settlement and trade. Eventually, it was
believed, the territories would be cut into new colonies; and
experience with the seaboard dependencies was already such as to
suggest the desirability of having the future settlements more
completely under government control from the beginning.

After due consideration, King George and his ministers made known
their policy on October 7, 1763, in a comprehensive proclamation.
The first subject dealt with was government. Four new provinces--
"Quebec, East Florida, West Florida, and Grenada"*--were set up
in the ceded territories, and their populations were guaranteed
all the rights and privileges enjoyed by the inhabitants of the
older colonies. The Mississippi Valley, however, was included in
no one of these provinces; and, curiously, there was no provision
whatever for the government of the French settlements lying
within it. The number and size of these settlements were
underestimated, and apparently it was supposed that all the
habitants and soldiers would avail themselves of their privilege
of withdrawing from the ceded territories.

* The Proclamation of 1763 drew the boundaries of "four distinct
and separate governments." Grenada was to include the island of
that name, together with the Grenadines. Dominico, St. Vincent,
and Tobago. The Floridas lay south of the bounds of Georgia and
east of the Mississippi River. The Apalachicola River was to be
the dividing line between East and West Florida. Quebec included
the modern province of that name and that part of Ontario lying
north of a line drawn from Lake Nipissing to the point where the
forty-fifth parallel intersects the St. Lawrence River.

The disposition made of the great rectangular area bounded by the
Alleghanies, the Mississippi, the Lakes, and the Gulf, was fairly
startling. With fine disregard of the chartered claims of the
seaboard colonies and of the rights of pioneers already settled
on frontier farms, the whole was erected into an Indian reserve.
No "loving subject" might purchase land or settle in the
territory without special license; present residents should
"forthwith remove themselves"; trade should be carried on only by
permit and under close surveillance; officers were to be
stationed among the tribes to preserve friendly relations and to
apprehend fugitives from colonial justice.

The objects of this drastic scheme were never clearly stated.
Franklin believed that the main purpose was to conciliate the
Indians. Washington agreed with him. Later historians have
generally thought that what the English Government had chiefly in
mind was to limit the bounds of the seaboard colonies, with a
view to preserving imperial control over colonial affairs. Very
likely both of these motives weighed heavily in the decision. At
all events, Lord Hillsborough, who presided over the meetings of
the Lords of Trade when the proclamation was discussed,
subsequently wrote that the "capital object" of the Government's
policy was to confine the colonies so that they should be kept in
easy reach of British trade and of the authority necessary to
keep them in due subordination to the mother country, and he
added that the extension of the fur trade depended "entirely upon
the Indians being undisturbed in the possession of their

* But as Lord Hillsborough had just taken office and adopted
bodily a policy formulated by his predecessor, he is none too
good an authority. See Alvord's "Mississippi Valley in British
Politics," vol. I, pp. 203-4.

It does not follow that the King and his advisers intended that
the territory should be kept forever intact as a forest preserve.
They seem to have contemplated that, from time to time, cessions
would be secured from the Indians and tracts would be opened for
settlement. But every move was to be made in accordance with
plans formulated or authorized in England. The restrictive policy
won by no means universal assent in the mother country. The Whigs
generally opposed it, and Burke thundered against it as "an
attempt to keep as a lair of wild beasts that earth which God, by
an express charter, has given to the children of men."

In America there was a disposition to take the proclamation
lightly as being a mere sop to the Indians. But wherever it was
regarded seriously, it was hotly resented. After passing through
an arduous war, the colonists were ready to enter upon a new
expansive era. The western territories were theirs by charter, by
settlement, and by conquest. The Indian population, they
believed, belonged to the unprogressive and unproductive peoples
of the earth. Every acre of fertile soil in America called to the
thrifty agriculturist; every westward flowing river invited to
trade and settlement as well, therefore, seek to keep back the
ocean with a broom as to stop by mere decree the tide of
homeseekers. Some of the colonies made honest attempts to compel
the removal of settlers from the reserved lands beyond their
borders, and Pennsylvania went so far as to decree the death
penalty for all who should refuse to remove. But the law was
never enforced.

The news of the cession of the eastern bank of the Mississippi to
the English brought consternation to the two or three thousand
French people living in the settlements of the Kaskaskia,
Illinois, and Wabash regions. The transfer of the western bank to
Spain did not become known promptly, and for months the habitants
supposed that by taking up their abode on the opposite side of
the stream they would continue under their own flag. Many of them
crossed the Mississippi to find new abodes even after it was
announced that the land had passed to Spain.

>From first to last these settlements on the Mississippi, the
Wabash, and the Illinois had remained, in French hands, mere
sprawling villages. The largest of them, Kaskaskia, may have
contained in its most flourishing days two thousand people, many
of them voyageurs, coureurs-de-bois, converted Indians, and
transients of one sort or another. In 1765 there were not above
seventy permanent families. Few of the towns, indeed, attained a
population of more than two or three hundred. All French colonial
enterprise had been based on the assumption that settlers would
be few. The trader preferred it so, because settlements meant
restrictions upon his traffic. The Jesuit was of the same mind,
because such settlements broke up his mission field. The
Government at Paris forbade the emigration of the one class of
people that cared to emigrate, the Huguenots.

Though some of the settlements had picturesque sites and others
drew distinction from their fortifications, in general they
presented a drab appearance. There were usually two or three
long, narrow streets, with no paving, and often knee-deep with
mud. The houses were built on either side, at intervals
sufficient to give space for yards and garden plots, each
homestead being enclosed with a crude picket fence. Wood and
thatch were the commonest building materials, although stone was
sometimes used; and the houses were regularly one story high,
with large vine-covered verandas. Land was abundant and cheap.
Every enterprising settler had a plot for himself, and as a rule
one large field, or more, was held for use in common. In these,
the operations of ploughing, sowing, and reaping were carefully
regulated by public ordinance. Occasionally a village drew some
distinction from the proximity of a large, well-managed estate,
such as that of the opulent M. Beauvais of Kaskaskia, in whose
mill and brewery more than eighty slaves were employed.

Agriculture was carried on somewhat extensively, and it is
recorded that, in the year 1746 alone, when there was a shortage
of foodstuffs at New Orleans, the Illinois settlers were able to
send thither "upward of eight hundred thousand weight of flour."
Hunting and trading, however, continued to be the principal
occupations; and the sugar, indigo, cotton, and other luxuries
which the people were able to import directly from Europe were
paid for mainly with consignments of furs, hides, tallow, and
beeswax. Money was practically unknown in the settlements, so
that domestic trade likewise took the form of simple barter.
Periods of industry and prosperity alternated with periods of
depression, and the easy-going habitants--"farmers, hunters,
traders by turn, with a strong admixture of unprogressive Indian
blood"--tended always to relapse into utter indolence.

Some of these French towns, however, were seats of culture; and
none was wholly barren of diversions. Kaskaskia had a Jesuit
college and likewise a monastery. Cahokia had a school for Indian
youth. Fort Chartres, we are gravely told, was "the center of
life and fashion in the West." If everyday existence was humdrum,
the villagers had always the opportunity for voluble conversation
"each from his own balcony"; and there were scores of Church
festivals, not to mention birthdays, visits of travelers or
neighbors, and homecomings of hunters and traders, which invited
to festivity. Balls and dances and other merrymakings at which
the whole village assembled supplied the wants of a people
proverbially fond of amusement. Indeed, French civilization in
the Mississippi and Illinois country was by no means without

Kaskaskia, in the wonderfully fertile "American Bottom,"
maintained its existence, in spite of the cession to the English,
as did also Vincennes farther east on the Wabash. Fort Chartres,
a stout fortification whose walls were more than two feet thick,
remained the seat of the principal garrison, and some traces of
French occupancy survived on the Illinois. Cahokia was deserted,
save for the splendid mission-farm of St. Sulpice, with its
thirty slaves, its herd of cattle, and its mill, which the
fathers before returning to France sold to a thrifty Frenchman
not averse to becoming an English subject. A few posts were
abandoned altogether. Some of the departing inhabitants went back
to France; some followed the French commandant, Neyon de
Villiers, down the river to New Orleans; many gathered up their
possessions, even to the frames and clapboards of their houses,
and took refuge in the new towns which sprang up on the western
bank. One of these new settlements was Ste. Genevieve,
strategically located near the lead mines from which the entire
region had long drawn its supplies of shot. Another, which was
destined to greater importance, was St. Louis, established as a
trading post on the richly wooded bluffs opposite Cahokia by
Pierre Laclede in 1764.

Associated with Laclede in his fur-trading operations at the new
post was a lithe young man named Pierre Chouteau. In 1846--
eighty-two years afterwards--Francis Parkman sat on the spacious
veranda of Pierre Chouteau's country house near the city of St.
Louis and heard from the lips of the venerable merchant stories
of Pontiac, Saint-Ange, Croghan, and all the western worthies,
red and white, of two full generations. "Not all the magic of a
dream," the historian remarks, "nor the enchantments of an
Arabian tale, could outmatch the waking realities which were to
rise upon the vision of Pierre Chouteau. Where, in his youth, he
had climbed the woody bluff, and looked abroad on prairies dotted
with bison, he saw, with the dim eye of his old age, the land
darkened for many a furlong with the clustered roofs of the
western metropolis. For the silence of the wilderness, he heard
the clang and turmoil of human labor, the din of congregated
thousands; and where the great river rolls down through the
forest, in lonely grandeur, he saw the waters lashed into foam
beneath the prows of panting steamboats, flocking to the broad

Pontiac's war long kept the English from taking actual possession
of the western country. Meanwhile Saint-Ange, commanding the
remnant of the French garrison at Fort Chartres, resisted as best
he could the demands of the redskins for assistance against their
common enemy and hoped daily for the appearance of an English
force to relieve him his difficult position. In the spring of
1764 an English officer, Major Loftus, with a body of troops
lately employed in planting English authority in "East Florida"
and "West Florida," set out from New Orleans to take possession
of the up-river settlements. A few miles above the mouth of the
Red, however, the boats were fired on, without warning, from both
banks of the stream, and many of the men were killed or wounded.
The expedition retreated down the river with all possible speed.
This display of faintheartedness won the keen ridicule of the
French, and the Governor, D'Abadie, with mock magnanimity,
offered an escort of French soldiery to protect the party on its
way back to Pensacola! Within a few months a second attempt was
projected, but news of the bad temper of the Indians caused the
leader, Captain Pittman, to turn back after reaching New Orleans.

Baffled in this direction, the new commander-in-chief, General
Gage, resolved to accomplish the desired end by an expedition
from Fort Pitt. Pontiac, however, was known to be still plotting
vengeance at that time, and it seemed advisable to break the way
for the proposed expedition by a special mission to placate the
Indians. For this delicate task Sir William Johnson selected a
trader of long experience and of good standing among the western
tribes, George Croghan. Notwithstanding many mishaps, the plan
was carried out. With two boats and a considerable party of
soldiers and friendly Delawares, Croghan left Fort Pitt in May,
1765. As he descended the Ohio he carefully plotted the river's
windings and wrote out an interesting description of the fauna
and flora observed. All went well until he reached the mouth of
the Wabash. There the party was set upon by a band of Kickapoos,
who killed half a dozen of his men. Fluent apologies were at once
offered. They had made the attack, they explained, only because
the French had reported that the Indians with Croghan's band
were Cherokees, the Kickapoos' most deadly enemies. Now that
their mistake was apparent, the artful emissaries declared, their
regret was indeed deep.

All of this was sheer pretense, and Croghan and his surviving
followers were kept under close guard and were carried along with
the Kickapoo band up the Wabash to Vincennes, where the trader
encountered old Indian friends who soundly rebuked the captors
for their inhospitality. Croghan knew the Indian nature too well
to attempt to thwart the plans of his "hosts." Accordingly he
went out with the band to the upper Wabash post Ouiatanon, where
he received deputation after deputation from the neighboring
tribes, smoked pipes of peace, made speeches, and shook hands
with greasy warriors by the score. Here came a messenger from
Saint-Ange asking him to proceed to Fort Chartres. Here, also,
Pontiac met him, and, after being assured that the English had no
intention of enslaving the natives, declared that he would no
longer stand in the conquerors' path. Though in unexpected
manner, Croghan's mission was accomplished, and, with many
evidences of favor from the natives, he went on to Detroit and
thence to Niagara, where he reported to Johnson that the
situation in the West was ripe for the establishment of English

There was no reason for further delay, and Captain Thomas
Sterling was dispatched with a hundred Highland veterans to take
ever the settlements. Descending the Ohio from Fort Pitt, the
expedition reached Fort Chartres just as the frosty air began to
presage the coming of winter. On October 10, 1765,--more than two
and a half years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris,--
Saint-Ange made the long-desired transfer of authority. General
Gage's high-sounding proclamation was read, the British flag was
run up, and Sterling's red-coated soldiery established itself in
the citadel. In due time small detachments were sent to Vincennes
and other posts; and the triumph of the British power over
Frenchman and Indian was complete. Saint-Ange retired with his
little garrison to St. Louis, where, until the arrival of a
Spanish lieutenant-governor in 1770, he acted by common consent
as chief magistrate.

The creoles who passed under the English flag suffered little
from the change. Their property and trading interests were not
molested, and the English commandants made no effort to displace
the old laws and usages. Documents were written and records were
kept in French as well as English. The village priest and the
notary retained their accustomed places of paternal authority.
The old idyllic life went on. Population increased but little;
barter, hunting, and trapping still furnished the means of a
simple subsistence; and with music, dancing, and holiday
festivities the light-hearted populace managed to crowd more
pleasure into a year than the average English frontiersman got in
a lifetime.

For a year or two after the European pacification of 1763 Indian
disturbances held back the flood of settlers preparing to enter,
through the Alleghany passes, the upper valleys of the westward
flowing rivers. Neither Indian depredations nor proclamations of
kings, however, could long interpose an effectual restraint. The
supreme object of the settlers was to obtain land. Formerly there
was land enough for all along the coasts or in the nearer
uplands. But population, as Franklin computed, was doubling in
twenty-five years; vacant areas had already been occupied; and
desirable lands had been gathered into great speculative
holdings. Newcomers were consequently forced to cross the
mountains--and not only newcomers, but all residents who were
still land-hungry and ambitious to better their condition.

To such the appeal of the great West was irresistible. The
English Government might indeed regard the region as a "barren
waste" or a "profitless wilderness," but not so the Scotch-Irish,
Huguenot, and Palatine homeseekers who poured by the thousands
through the Chesapeake and Delaware ports. Pushing past the
settled seaboard country, these rugged men of adventure plunged
joyously into the forest depths and became no less the founders
of the coming nation than were the Pilgrims and the Cavaliers.

Ahead of the home-builder, however, went the speculator. It has
been remarked that "from the time when Joliet and La Salle first
found their way into the heart of the great West up to the
present day when far-off Alaska is in the throes of development,
'big business' has been engaged in western speculation."* In
pre-revolutionary days this speculation took the form of
procuring, by grant or purchase, large tracts of western land
which were to be sold and colonized at a profit. Franklin was
interested in a number of such projects. Washington, the Lees,
and a number of other prominent Virginians were connected with an
enterprise which absorbed the old Ohio Company; and in 1770
Washington, piloted by Croghan, visited the Ohio country with a
view to the discovery of desirable areas. Eventually he acquired
western holdings amounting to thirty-three thousand acres, with a
water-front of sixteen miles on the Ohio and of forty miles on
the Great Kanawha.

* Alvord, Mississippi Valley in "British Politics," vol. I, p.86.

In 1773 a company promoted by Samuel Wharton, Benjamin Franklin,
William Johnson, and a London banker, Thomas Walpole, secured the
grant of two and a half million acres between the Alleghanies and
the Ohio, which was to be the seat of a colony called Vandalia.
This departure from the policy laid down in the Proclamation of
1763 was made reluctantly, but with a view to giving a definite
western limit to the seaboard provinces. The Government's purpose
was fully understood in America, and the project was warmly
opposed, especially by Virginia, the chartered claimant of the
territory. The early outbreak of the Revolutionary War wrecked
the project, and nothing ever came of it--or indeed of any
colonization proposal contemporary with it. By and large, the
building of the West was to be the work, not of colonizing
companies or other corporate interests, but of individual
homeseekers, moving into the new country on their own
responsibility and settling where and when their own interests
and inclinations led.

Chapter III. The Revolution Begins

One of the grievances given prominence in the Declaration of
Independence was that the English Crown had "abolished the free
system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing
therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so
as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for
introducing the same arbitrary rule into these colonies." The
measure which was in the minds of the signers was the Quebec Act
of 1774; and the feature to which they especially objected was
the extension of this peculiarly governed Canadian province to
include the whole of the territory north of the Ohio and east of
the Mississippi.

The Quebec Act was passed primarily to remedy a curious mistake
made by King George's ministers eleven years earlier. The
Proclamation of 1763 had been intended to apply to the new French
speaking possessions in only a general way, leaving matters of
government and law to be regulated at a later date. But through
oversight it ordained the establishment of English law, and even
of a representative assembly, precisely as in the other new
provinces. The English governors were thus put in an awkward
position. They were required to introduce English political forms
and legal practices. Yet the inexperience and suspicion of the
people made it unwise, if not impossible, to do so. When, for
example, jury trial was broached, the peasants professed to be
quite unable to understand why the English should prefer to have
matters of law decided by tailors and shoemakers rather than by a
judge; and as for a legislature, they frankly confessed that
assemblies "had drawn upon other colonies so much distress, and
had occasioned so much riot and bloodshed, that they had hoped
never to have one."

The Act of 1774 relieved the situation by restoring French law in
civil affairs, abolishing jury trial except in criminal cases,
rescinding the grant of representative government, and confirming
the Catholic clergy in the rights and privileges which they hard
enjoyed under the old regime. This would have aroused no great
amount of feeling among New Englanders and Virginians if the new
arrangements had been confined to the bounds of the original
province. But they were not so restricted. On the contrary, the
new province was made to include the great region between the
Alleghanies and the Mississippi, southward to the Ohio; and it
was freely charged that a principal object of the English
Government was to sever the West from the shore colonies and
permanently link it with the St. Lawrence Valley rather than with
the Atlantic slope.

At all events, the Quebec Act marked the beginning of civil
government in the great Northwest. On November 9, 1775, Henry
Hamilton appeared as Lieutenant-Governor at the new capital,
Detroit. Already the "shot heard round the world" had been fired
by the farmers at Lexington; and Hamilton had been obliged to
thread his way through General Montgomery's lines about Montreal
in the guise of a Canadian. Arrived at his new seat of authority,
he found a pleasant, freshly fortified town whose white
population had grown to fifteen hundred, including a considerable
number of English-speaking settlers. The country round was
overrun with traders, who cheated and cajoled the Indians without
conscience; the natives, in turn, were a nondescript lot, showing
in pitiful manner the bad effects of their contact with the

As related by a contemporary chronicler--a Pennsylvanian who
lived for years among the western tribes--an Indian hunting party
on arriving at Detroit would trade perhaps a third of the
peltries which they brought in for fine clothes, ammunition,
paint, tobacco, and like articles. Then a keg of brandy would be
purchased, and a council would be held to decide who was to get
drunk and who to keep sober. All arms and clubs were taken away
and hidden, and the orgy would begin. It was the task of those
who kept sober to prevent the drunken ones from killing one
another, a task always hazardous and frequently unsuccessful,
sometimes as many as five being killed in a night. When the keg
was empty, brandy was brought by the kettleful and ladled out
with large wooden spoons; and this was kept up until the last
skin had been disposed of. Then, dejected, wounded, lamed, with
their fine new shirts torn, their blankets burned, and with
nothing but their ammunition and tobacco saved, they would start
off down the river to hunt in the Ohio country and begin again
the same round of alternating toil and debauchery. In the history
of the country there is hardly a more depressing chapter than
that which records the easy descent of the red man, once his
taste for "fire water" was developed, to bestiality and

The coming on of the Revolution produced no immediate effects in
the West. The meaning of the occurrences round Boston was but
slowly grasped by the frontier folk. There was little indeed that
the Westerners could do to help the cause of the eastern
patriots, and most of them, if left alone, would have been only
distant spectators of the conflict. But orders given to the
British agents and commanders called for the ravaging of the
trans-Alleghany country; and as a consequence the West became an
important theater of hostilities.

The British agents had no troops with which to undertake military
operations on a considerable scale, but they had one great
resource--the Indians--and this they used with a reckless
disregard of all considerations of humanity. In the summer of
1776 the Cherokees were furnished with fifty horse-loads of
ammunition and were turned loose upon the back country of Georgia
and the Carolinas. Other tribes were prompted to depredations
farther north. White, half-breed, and Indian agents went through
the forests inciting the natives to deeds of horror; prices were
fixed on scalps--and it is significant of the temper of these
agents that a woman's scalp was paid for as readily as a man's.

In every corner of the wilderness the bloody scenes of Pontiac's
war were now reenacted. Bands of savages lurked about the
settlements, ready to attack at any unguarded moment; and
wherever the thin blue smoke of a settler's cabin rose, prowlers
lay in wait. A woman might not safely go a hundred yards to milk
a cow, or a man lead a horse to water. The farmer carried a gun
strapped to his side as he ploughed, and he scarcely dared
venture into the woods for the winter's supply of fuel and game.
Hardly a day passed on which a riderless horse did not come
galloping into some lonely clearing, telling of afresh tragedy on
the trail.

The rousing of the Indians against the frontiersmen was an odious
act. The people of the back country were in not the slightest
degree responsible for the revolt against British authority in
the East. They were non-combatants, and no amount of success in
sweeping them from their homes could affect the larger outcome.
The crowning villainy of this shameful policy was the turning of
the redskins loose to prey upon helpless women and children.

The responsibility for this inhumanity must be borne in some
degree by the government of George III. "God and nature," wrote
the Earl of Suffolk piously, "hath put into our hands the
scalping-knife and tomahawk, to torture them into unconditional
submission." But the fault lay chiefly with the British officers
at the western posts--most of all, with Lieutenant-Governor
Hamilton at Detroit. Probably no British representative in
America was on better terms with the natives. He drank with them,
sang war-songs with them, and received them with open arms when
they came in from the forests with the scalps of white men
dangling at their belts. A great council on the banks of the
Detroit in June, 1778, was duly opened with prayer, after which
Hamilton harangued the assembled Chippewas, Hurons, Mohawks, and
Potawatomi on their "duties" in the war and congratulated them on
the increasing numbers of their prisoners and scalps, and then
urged them to redoubled activity by holding out the prospect of
the complete expulsion of white men from the great interior

Scarcely were the deputations attending this council well on
their way homewards when a courier arrived from the Illinois
country bringing startling news. The story was that a band of
three hundred rebels led by one George Rogers Clark had fallen
upon the Kaskaskia settlements, had thrown the commandant into
irons, and had exacted from the populace an oath of allegiance to
the Continental Congress. It was reported, too, that Cahokia had
been taken, and that, even as the messenger was leaving
Kaskaskia, "Gibault, a French priest, had his horse ready saddled
to go to Vincennes to receive the submission of the inhabitants
in the name of the rebels."

George Rogers Clark was a Virginian, born in the foothills of
Albemarle County three years before Braddock's defeat. His family
was not of the landed gentry, but he received some education, and
then, like Washington and many other adventuresome young men of
the day, became a surveyor. At the age of twenty-two he was a
member of Governor Dunmore's staff. During a surveying expedition
he visited Kentucky, which so pleased him that in 1774 he decided
to make that part of the back country his home. He was even then
a man of powerful frame, with broad brow, keen blue eyes, and a
dash of red in his hair from a Scottish ancestress--a man, too,
of ardent patriotism, strong common sense, and exceptional powers
of initiative and leadership. Small wonder that in the rapidly
developing commonwealth beyond the mountains he quickly became a
dominating spirit.

With a view to organizing a civil government and impressing upon
the Virginia authorities the need of defending the western
settlements, the men of Kentucky held a convention at Harrodsburg
in the spring of 1775 and elected two delegates to present their
petition to the Virginia Assembly. Clark was one of them. The
journey to Williamsburg was long and arduous, and the delegates
arrived only to find that the Legislature had adjourned. The
visit, none the less, gave Clark an opportunity to explain to the
new Governor--"a certain Patrick Henry, of Hanover County," as
the royalist Dunmore contemptuously styled his successor--the
situation in the back country and to obtain five hundred pounds
of powder. He also induced the authorities to take steps which
led to the definite organization of Kentucky as a county of

In the bloody days that followed, most of the pioneers saw
nothing to be done except to keep close guard and beat off the
Indians when they came. A year or two of that sort of desperate
uncertainty gave Clark an idea. Why not meet the trouble at its
source by capturing the British posts and suppressing the
commandants whose orders were mainly responsible for the
atrocities? There was just one obstacle: Kentucky could spare
neither men nor money for the undertaking.

In the spring of 1777 two young hunters, disguised as traders,
were dispatched to the Illinois country and to the neighborhood
of Vincennes, to spy out the land. They brought back word that
the posts were not heavily manned, and that the French-speaking
population took little interest in the war and was far from
reconciled to British rule. The prospect seemed favorable.
Without making his purpose known to anyone, Clark forthwith
joined a band of disheartened settlers and made his way with them
over the Wilderness Trail to Virginia. By this time a plan on the
part of the rebels for the defense of the Kentucky settlements
had grown into a scheme for the conquest of the whole Northwest.

Clark's proposal came opportunely. Burgoyne's surrender had given
the colonial cause a rosy hue, and already the question of the
occupation of the Northwest had come up for discussion in
Congress. Governor Henry thought well of the plan. He called
Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and George Wythe into conference,
and on January 2, 1778, Clark was given two sets of orders--one,
for publication, commissioning him to raise seven companies of
fifty men each "in any county of the Commonwealth" for militia
duty in Kentucky, the other, secret, authorizing him to use this
force in an expedition for the capture of the "British post at
Kaskasky." To meet the costs, only twelve hundred pounds in
depreciated continental currency could be raised. But the
Governor and his friends promised to try to secure three hundred
acres of land for each soldier, in case the project should
succeed. The strictest secrecy was preserved, and, even if the
Legislature had been in session, the project would probably not
have been divulged to it.

Men and supplies were gathered at Fort Pitt and Wheeling and were
carried down the Ohio to "the Falls," opposite the site of
Louisville. The real object of the expedition was concealed until
this point was reached. On learning of the project, the men were
surprised, and some refused to go farther. But in a few weeks one
hundred and seventy-five men, organized in four companies, were
in readiness. The start was made on the 24th of June. Just as the
little flotilla of clumsy flatboats was caught by the rapid
current, the landscape was darkened by an eclipse of the sun. The
superstitious said that this was surely an evil omen. But Clark
was no believer in omens, and he ordered the bateaux to proceed.
He had lately received news of the French alliance, and was surer
than ever that the habitants would make common cause with his
forces and give him complete success.

To appear on the Mississippi was to run the risk of betraying the
object of the expedition to the defenders of the posts. Hence the
wily commander decided to make the last stages of his advance by
an overland route. At the deserted site of Fort Massac, nine
miles below the mouth of the Tennessee, the little army left the
Ohio and struck off northwest on a march of one hundred and
twenty miles, as the crow flies, across the tangled forests and
rich prairies of southern Illinois.

Six days brought the invaders to the Kaskaskia River, three miles
above the principal settlement. Stealing silently along the bank
of the stream on the night of the 4th of July, they crossed in
boats which they seized at a farmhouse and arrived at the
palisades wholly unobserved. Half of the force was stationed in
the form of a cordon, so that no one might escape. The remainder
followed Clark through an unguarded gateway into the village.

According to a story long current, the officials of the post were
that night giving a ball, and all of the elite, not of Kaskaskia
alone but of the neighboring settlements as well, were joyously
dancing in one of the larger rooms of the fort. Leaving his men
some paces distant, Clark stepped to the entrance of the hall,
and for some time leaned unobserved against the door-post, grimly
watching the gayety. Suddenly the air was rent by a warwhoop
which brought the dancers to a stop. An Indian brave, lounging in
the firelight, had caught a glimpse of the tall, gaunt, buff and
blue figure in the doorway and had recognized it. Women shrieked;
men cursed; the musicians left their posts; all was disorder.
Advancing, Clark struck a theatrical pose and in a voice of
command told the merrymakers to go on with their dancing, but to
take note that they now danced, not as subjects of King George
but as Virginians. Finding that they were in no mood for further
diversion, he sent them to their homes; and all night they
shivered with fear, daring not so much as to light a candle lest
they should be set upon and murdered in their beds.

This account is wholly unsupported by contemporary testimony, and
it probably sprang from the imagination of some good frontier
story-teller. It contains at least this much truth, that the
settlement, after being thrown into panic, was quickly and easily
taken. Curiously enough, the commandant was a Frenchman,
Rocheblave, who had thriftily entered the British service. True
to the trust reposed in him, he protested and threatened, but to
no avail. The garrison, now much diminished, was helpless, and
the populace--British, French, and Indian alike--was not disposed
to court disaster by offering armed resistance. Hence, on the
morning after the capture the oath of fidelity was administered,
and the American flag was hoisted for the first time within view
of the Father of Waters. After dispatching word to General
Carleton that he had been compelled to surrender the post to "the
self-styled Colonel, Mr. Clark," Rocheblave was sent as a captive
to Williamsburg, where he soon broke parole and escaped. His
slaves were sold for five hundred pounds, and the money was
distributed among the troops. Cahokia was occupied without
resistance, and the French priest, Father Pierre Gibault, whose
parish extended from Lake Superior to the Ohio, volunteered to go
to Vincennes and win its inhabitants to the American cause.

Like Kaskaskia and Cahokia, the Wabash settlement had been put in
charge of a commandant of French descent. The village, however,
was at the moment without a garrison, and its chief stronghold,
Fort Sackville, was untenanted. Gibault argued forcefully for
acceptance of American sovereignty, and within two days the
entire population filed into the little church and took the oath
of allegiance. The astonished Indians were given to understand
that their former "Great Father," the King of France, had
returned to life, and that they must comply promptly with his
wishes or incur his everlasting wrath for having given aid to the
despised British.

Thus without the firing of a shot or the shedding of a drop of
blood, the vast Illinois and Wabash country was won for the
future United States. Clark's plan was such that its success was
assured by its very audacity. It never occurred to the British
authorities that their far western forts were in danger, and they
were wholly unprepared to fly to the defense of such distant
posts. British sovereignty on the Mississippi was never
recovered; and in the autumn of 1778 Virginia took steps to
organize her new conquest by setting up the county of Illinois,
which included all her territories lying "on the western side of
the Ohio."

Chapter IV. The Conquest Completed

Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton had many faults, but sloth was not
one of them; and when he heard what had happened he promptly
decided to regain the posts and take the upstart Kentucky
conqueror captive. Emissaries were sent to the Wabash country to
stir up the Indians, and for weeks the Detroit settlement
resounded with preparations for the expedition. Boats were built
or repaired, guns were cleaned, ammunition was collected in
boxes, provisions were put up in kegs or bags, baubles for the
Indians were made or purchased. Cattle and wheels, together with
a six-pounder, were sent ahead to be in readiness for use at
various stages of the journey.

Further weeks were consumed in awaiting reenforcements which
never came; and in early October, when the wild geese were
scudding southward before the first snow flurries of the coming
winter, the commandant started for the reconquest with a motley
force of thirty-six British regulars, forty-five local
volunteers, seventy-nine local militia, and sixty Indians.
Reenforcements were gathered on the road, so that when Vincennes
was reached the little army numbered about five hundred. From
Detroit the party dropped easily down the river to Lake Erie,
where it narrowly escaped destruction in a blinding snowstorm. By
good management, however, it was brought safely to the Maumee, up
whose sluggish waters the bateaux were laboriously poled. A
portage of nine miles gave access to the Wabash. Here the water
was very shallow, and only by building occasional dikes to
produce a current did the party find it possible to complete the
journey. As conferences with the Indians further delayed them, it
was not until a few days before Christmas that the invaders
reached their goal.

The capture of Vincennes proved easy enough. The surrender, none
the less, was made in good military style. There were two iron
three-pounders in the wretched little fort, and one of these was
loaded to the muzzle and placed in the open gate. As Hamilton and
his men advanced, so runs a not very well authenticated story,
Lieutenant Helm stood by the gun with a lighted taper and called
sternly upon the invaders to halt. The British leader demanded
the surrender of the garrison. Helm parleyed and asked for terms.
Hamilton finally conceded the honors of war, and Helm
magnanimously accepted. Hamilton thereupon drew up his forces in
a double line, the British on one side and the Indians on the
other; and the garrison--one officer and one soldier--solemnly
marched out between them! After the "conquerors" had regained
their equanimity, the cross of St. George was once more run up on
the fort. A body of French militia returned to British allegiance
with quite as much facility as it had shown in accepting American
sovereignty under the eloquence of Father Gibault; and the French
inhabitants, gathered again in the church, with perfectly
straight faces acknowledged that they had "sinned against God and
man" by taking sides with the rebels, and promised to be loyal
thereafter to George III.

Had the British forces immediately pushed on, this same scene
might have been repeated at Kaskaskia and Cahokia. Clark's
position there was far from strong. Upon the expiration of their
term of enlistment most of his men had gone back to Kentucky or
Virginia, and their places had been taken mainly by creoles,
whose steadfastness was doubtful. Furthermore, the Indians were
restless, and it was only by much vigilance and bravado that they
were kept in a respectful mood. All this was well known to
Hamilton, who now proposed to follow up the recapture of the
Mississippi posts by the obliteration of all traces of American
authority west of the Alleghanies.

The difficulties and dangers of a midwinter campaign in the
flooded Illinois country were not to be lightly regarded, and
weeks of contending with icy blasts and drenching rains lent a
seat by an open fire unusual attractiveness. Hence the completion
of the campaign was postponed until spring--a decision which
proved the salvation of the American cause in the West. As means
of subsistence were slender, most of the Detroit militia were
sent home, and the Indians were allowed to scatter to their
distant wigwams. The force kept at the post numbered only about
eighty or ninety whites, with a few Indians.

Clark now had at Kaskaskia a band of slightly over a hundred men.
He understood Hamilton's army to number five or six hundred. The
outlook was dubious, until Francois Vigo, a friendly Spanish
trader of St. Louis, escaping captivity at Vincennes, came to
Kaskaskia with the information that Hamilton had sent away most
of his troops; and this welcome news gave the doughty Kentuckian
a brilliant idea. He would defend his post by attacking the
invaders while they were yet at Vincennes, and before they were
ready to resume operations. "The case is desperate," he wrote to
Governor Henry, "but, sir, we must either quit the country or
attack Mr. Hamilton." He had probably never heard of Scipio
Africanus but, like that indomitable Roman, he proposed to carry
the war straight into the enemy's country. "There were
undoubtedly appalling difficulties," says Mr. Roosevelt, "in the
way of a midwinter march and attack; and the fact that Clark
attempted and performed the feat which Hamilton dared not try,
marks just the difference between a man of genius and a good,
brave, ordinary commander."

Preparations were pushed with all speed. A large, flat-bottomed
boat, the Willing, was fitted out with four guns and was sent
down the Mississippi with forty men to ascend the Ohio and the
Wabash to a place of rendezvous not far from the coveted post. By
early February the depleted companies were recruited to their
full strength; and after the enterprise had been solemnly blessed
by Father Gibault, Clark and his forces, numbering one hundred
and thirty men, pushed out upon the desolate, windswept prairie.

The distance to be covered was about two hundred and thirty
miles. Under favorable circumstances, the trip could have been
made in five or six days and with little hardship. The rainy
season, however, was now at its height, and the country was one
vast quagmire, overrun by swollen streams which could be crossed
only at great risk. Ten days of wearisome marching brought the
expedition to the forks of the Little Wabash. The entire region
between the two channels was under water, and for a little time
it looked as if the whole enterprise would have to be given up.
There were no boats; provisions were running low; game was
scarce; and fires could not be built for cooking.

But Clark could not be turned back by such difficulties. He
plunged ahead of his men, struck tip songs and cheers to keep
them in spirit, played the buffoon, went wherever danger was
greatest, and by an almost unmatched display of bravery, tact,
and firmness, won the redoubled admiration of his suffering
followers and held them together. Murmurs arose among the
creoles, but the Americans showed no signs of faltering. For more
than a week the party floundered through the freezing water,
picked its way from one outcropping bit of earth to another, and
seldom found opportunity to eat or sleep. Rifles and powder-horns
had to be borne by the hour above the soldiers' heads to keep
them dry.

Finally, on the 23d of February, a supreme effort carried the
troops across the Horseshoe Plain, breast-deep in water, and out
upon high ground two miles from Vincennes. By this time many of
the men were so weakened that they could drag themselves along
only with assistance. But buffalo meat and corn were confiscated
from the canoes of some passing squaws, and soon the troops were
refreshed and in good spirits. The battle with the enemy ahead
seemed as nothing when compared with the struggle with the
elements which they had successfully waged. No exploit of the
kind in American history surpasses this, unless it be Benedict
Arnold's winter march through the wilderness of Maine in 1775 to
attack Quebec.

Two or three creole hunters were now taken captive, and from them
Clark learned that no one in Vincennes knew of his approach. They
reported, however, that, although the habitants were tired of the
"Hair-Buyer's" presence and would gladly return to American
allegiance, some two hundred Indians had just arrived at the
fort. The Willing had not been heard from. But an immediate
attack seemed the proper course; and the young colonel planned
and carried it out with the curious mixture of bravery and
braggadocio of which he was a past master.

First he drew up a lordly letter, addressed to the inhabitants of
the town, and dispatched it by one of his creole prisoners.
"Gentlemen," it ran, "being now within two miles of your village
with my army...and not being willing to surprise you, I take
this step to request such of you as are true citizens, and
willing to enjoy the liberty I bring you, to remain still in your
houses. And those, if any there be, that are friends to the King,
will instantly repair to the fort and join the Hair-Buyer General
and fight like men." Having thus given due warning, he led his
"army" forward, marching and counter-marching his meager forces
among the trees and hills to give an appearance of great numbers,
while he and his captains helped keep up the illusion by
galloping wildly here and there on horses they had confiscated,
as if ordering a vast array. At nightfall the men advanced upon
the stockade and opened fire from two directions.

Not until a sergeant reeled from his chair with a bullet in his
breast did the garrison realize that it was really under attack.
The habitants had kept their secret well. There was a beating of
drums and a hurrying to arms, and throughout the night a hot
fusillade was kept up. By firing from behind houses and trees,
and from rifle pits that were dug before the attack began, the
Americans virtually escaped loss; while Hamilton's gunners were
picked off as fast as they appeared at the portholes of the fort.
Clark's ammunition ran low, but the habitants furnished a fresh
supply and at the same time a hot breakfast for the men. In a few
hours the cannon were silenced, and parleys were opened. Hamilton
insisted that he and his garrison were "not disposed to be awed
into an action unworthy of British subjects," but they were
plainly frightened, and Clark finally sent the commandant back to
the fort from a conference in the old French church with the
concession of one hour's time in which to decide what he would
do. To help him make up his mind, the American leader caused half
a dozen Indians who had just returned from the forests with white
men's scalps dangling at their belts to be tomahawked and thrown
into the river within plain view of the garrison.

Surrender promptly followed. Hamilton and twenty-five of his men
were sent off as captives to Virginia, where the commandant
languished in prison until, in 1780, he was paroled at the
suggestion of Washington. On taking, an oath of neutrality, the
remaining British sympathizers were set at liberty. For a second
time the American flag floated over Indiana soil, not again to be

Immediately after the capitulation of Hamilton, a scouting-party
captured a relief expedition which was on its way from Detroit
and placed in Clark's hands ten thousand pounds' worth of
supplies for distribution as prize-money among his deserving men.
The commander's cup of satisfaction was filled to the brim when
the Willing appeared with a long-awaited messenger from Governor
Henry who brought to the soldiers the thanks of the Legislature
of Virginia for the capture of Kaskaskia and also the promise of
more substantial reward.

The whole of the Illinois and Indiana country was now in American
hands. Tenure, however, was precarious so long as Detroit
remained a British stronghold, and Clark now broadened his plans
to embrace the capture of that strategic place. Leaving Vincennes
in charge of a garrison of forty men, he returned to Kaskaskia
with the Willing and set about organizing a new expedition.
Kentucky pledged three hundred men, and Virginia promised to
help. But when, in midsummer, the commander returned to Vincennes
to consolidate and organize his force, he found the numbers to be
quite insufficient. From Kentucky there came only thirty men.

Disappointment followed disappointment; he was ordered to build a
fort at the mouth of the Ohio--a project of which be had himself
approved; and when at last he had under his command a force that
might have been adequate for the Detroit expedition, he was
obliged to use it in meeting a fresh incursion of savages which
had been stirred up by the new British commandant on the Lakes.
But Thomas Jefferson, who in 1779 succeeded Henry as Governor of
Virginia, was deeply interested in the Detroit project, and at
his suggestion Washington gave Clark an order on the commandant
of Fort Pitt for guns, supplies, and such troops as could be
spared. On January 22, 1781, Jefferson appointed Clark
"brigadier-general of the forces to be embodied on an expedition
westward of the Ohio." Again Clark was doomed to disappointment.
One obstacle after another interposed. Yet as late as May, 1781,
the expectant conqueror wrote to Washington that he had "not yet
lost sight of Detroit." Suitable opportunity for the expedition
never came, and when peace was declared the northern stronghold
was still in British hands.

Clark's later days were clouded. Although Virginia gave him six
thousand acres of land in southern Indiana and presented him with
a sword, peace left him without employment, and he was never able
to adjust himself to the changed situation. For many years he
lived alone in a little cabin on the banks of the Ohio, spending
his time hunting, fishing,and brooding over the failure of
Congress to reward him in more substantial manner for his
services. He was land-poor, lonely, and embittered. In 1818 he
died a paralyzed and helpless cripple. His resting place is in
Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville; the finest statue of him stands
in Monument Circle, Indianapolis--"an athletic figure, scarcely
past youth, tall and sinewy, with a drawn sword, in an attitude
of energetic encouragement, as if getting his army through the
drowned lands of the Wabash."*

* Hosmer, "Short History of the Mississippi Valley." p. 94.

The capture of Vincennes determined the fate of the Northwest.
Frontier warfare nevertheless went steadily on. In 1779 Spain
entered the contest as an ally of France, and it became the
object of the British commanders on the Lakes not only to recover
the posts lost to the Americans but to seize St. Louis and other
Spanish strongholds on the west bank of the Mississippi. In 1780
Lieutenant-Governor Patrick Sinclair, a bustling, garrulous old
soldier stationed at Michilimackinac, sent a force of some nine
hundred traders, servants, and Indians down the Mississippi to
capture both the American and Spanish settlements. An attack on
St. Louis failed, as did likewise a series of efforts against
Cahokia and Kaskaskia, and the survivors were glad to reach their
northern headquarters again, with nothing to show for their pains
except a dozen prisoners.

Not to be outdone, the Spanish commandant at St. Louis sent an
expedition to capture British posts in the Lake country. An
arduous winter march brought the avengers and their Indian allies
to Fort St. Joseph, a mile or two west of the present city of
Niles, Michigan. It would be ungracious to say that this post was
selected for attack because it was without a garrison. At all
events, the place was duly seized, the Spanish standard was set
up, and possession of "the fort and its dependencies" was taken
in the name of his Majesty Don Carlos III. No effort was made to
hold the settlement permanently, and the British from Detroit
promptly retook it. Probably the sole intention had been to add
somewhat to the strength of the Spanish position at the
forthcoming negotiations for peace.

The war in the West ended, as it began, in a carnival of
butchery. Treacherous attacks, massacres, burnings, and
pillagings were everyday occurrences, and white men were hardly
less at fault than red. Indeed the most discreditable of all the
recorded episodes of the time was a heartless massacre by
Americans of a large band of Indians that had been Christianized
by Moravian missionaries and brought together in a peaceful
community on the Muskingum. This slaughter of the innocents at
Gnadenhutten ("the Tents of Grace") reveals the frontiersman at
his worst. But it was dearly paid for. From the Lakes to the Gulf
redskins rose for vengeance. Villages were wiped out, and
murderous bands swept far into Virginia and Pennsylvania, evading
fortified posts in order to fall with irresistible fury on
unsuspecting traders and settlers.

In midsummer, 1782, news of the cessation of hostilities between
Great Britain and her former seaboard colonies reached the back
country, and the commandant at Detroit made an honest effort to
stop all offensive operations. A messenger failed, however, to
reach a certain Captain Caldwell, operating in the Ohio country,
in time to prevent him from attacking a Kentucky settlement and
bringing on the deadly Battle of Blue Licks, in which the
Americans were defeated with a loss of seventy-one men. George
Rogers Clark forthwith led a retaliatory expedition against the
Miami towns, taking prisoners, recapturing whites, and destroying
British trading establishments; and with this final flare-up the
Revolution came to an end in the Northwest.

The soldier had won the back country for the new nation. Could
the diplomat hold it? As early as March 19, 1779,--just three
weeks after Clark's capture of Vincennes,--the Continental
Congress formally laid claim to the whole of the Northwest; and a
few months later John Adams was instructed to negotiate for peace
on the understanding that the country's northern and western
boundaries were to be the line of the Great Lakes and the
Mississippi. When, in 1781, Franklin, Jefferson, Jay, and Laurens
were appointed to assist Adams in the negotiation, the new
Congress of the Confederation stated that the earlier
instructions on boundaries represented its "desires and

It might have been supposed that if Great Britain could be
brought to accept these terms there would be no further
difficulty. But obstacles arose from other directions. France had
entered the war for her own reasons, and looked with decidedly
more satisfaction on the defeat of Great Britain than on the
prospect of a new and powerful nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Furthermore, she was in close alliance with Spain; and Spain had
no sympathy whatever with the American cause as such. At all
events, she did not want the United States for a neighbor on the

The American commissioners were under instructions to make no
peace without consulting France. But when, in the spring of 1782,
Jay came upon the scene of the negotiations at Paris, he
demurred. He had been for some time in Spain, and he carried to
Paris not only a keen contempt for the Spanish people and Spanish
politics, but a strong suspicion that Spain was using her
influence to keep the United States from getting the territory
between the Lakes and the Ohio. France soon fell under similar
suspicion, for she was under obligations, as everyone knew, to
satisfy Spain; and little time elapsed before the penetrating
American diplomat was semiofficially assured that his suspicions
in both directions were well founded.

The mainspring of Spanish policy was the desire to make the Gulf
of Mexico a closed sea, under exclusive Spanish control. This
plan would be frustrated if the Americans acquired an outlet on
the Gulf; furthermore, it would be jeopardized if they retained
control on the upper Mississippi. Hence, the States must be kept
back from the great river; safety dictated that they be confined
to the region east of the Appalachians.

An ingenious plan was thereupon developed. Spain was to resume
possession of the Floridas, insuring thereby the coveted unbroken
coast line on the Gulf. The vast area between the Mississippi and
the Appalachians and south of the Ohio was to be an Indian
territory, half under Spanish and half under American
"protection." The entire region north of the Ohio was to be kept
by Great Britain, or, at the most, divided--on lines to be
determined--between Great Britain and the United States. From
Rayneval, confidential secretary of the French foreign minister
Vergennes, Jay learned that the French Government proposed to
give this scheme its support.

Had such terms as these been forced on the new nation, the
hundreds of Virginian and Pennsylvanian pioneers who had given up
their lives in the planting of American civilization in the back
country would have turned in their graves. But Jay had no notion
of allowing the scheme to succeed. He sent an emissary to England
to counteract the Spanish and French influence. He converted
Adams to his way of thinking, and even raised doubts in
Franklin's mind. Finally he induced his colleagues to cast their
instructions to the winds and negotiate a treaty with the mother
country independently.

This simplified matters immensely. Great Britain was a beaten
nation, and from the beginning her commissioners played a losing
game. There was much haggling over the loyalists, the fisheries,
debts; but the boundaries were quickly drawn. Great Britain
preferred to see the disputed western country in American hands
rather than to leave a chance for it to fall under the control of
one of her European rivals.

Accordingly, the Treaty of Paris drew the interior boundary of
the new nation through the Great Lakes and connecting waters to
the Lake of the Woods; from the most northwestern point of the
Lake of the Woods due west to the Mississippi (an impossible
line); down the Mississippi to latitude 31 degrees; thence east,
by that parallel and by the line which is now the northern
boundary of Florida, to the ocean. Three nations, instead of two,
again shared the North American Continent: Great Britain kept the
territory north of the Lakes; Spain ruled the Floridas and
everything west of the Mississippi; the United States held the
remainder--an area of more than 825,000 square miles, with a
population of three and one half millions.

Chapter V. Wayne, The Scourge Of The Indians

"This federal republic," wrote the Spanish Count d'Aranda to his
royal master in 1782, "is born a pigmy. A day will come when it
will be a giant, even a colossus. Liberty of conscience, the
facility for establishing a new population on immense lands, as
well as the advantages of the new government, will draw thither
farmers and artisans from all the nations."

Aranda correctly weighed the value of the country's vast
stretches of free and fertile land. The history of the United
States has been largely a story of the clearing of forests, the
laying out of farms, the erection of homes, the construction of
highways, the introduction of machinery, the building of
railroads, the rise of towns and of great cities. The Germans of
Wisconsin and Missouri, the Scandinavians of Minnesota and the
Dakotas, the Poles and Hungarians of Chicago, the Irish and
Italians of a thousand communities, attest the fact that the
"farmers and artisans from all the nations" have had an honorable
part in the achievement.

In laying plans for the development of the western lands the
statesmanship of the evolutionary leaders was at its best. In the
first place, the seven States which had some sort of title to
tracts extending westward to the Mississippi wisely yielded these
claims to the nation; and thus was created a single, national
domain which could be dealt with in accordance with a consistent
policy. In the second place, Congress, as early as 1780, pledged
the national Government to dispose of the western lands for the
common benefit, and promised that they should be "settled and
formed into distinct republican states, which shall become
members of the federal union, and have the same rights of
sovereignty, freedom; and independence as the other states."

Finally, in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 there was mapped out
a scheme of government admirably adapted to the liberty-loving,
yet law-abiding, populations of the frontier. It was based on the
broad principles of democracy, and it was sufficiently flexible
to permit necessary changes as the scattered settlements
developed into organized Territories and then into States.
Geographical conditions, as well as racial inheritances,
foreordained that the United States should be an expanding,
colonizing nation; and it was of vital importance that wholesome
precedents of territorial control should be established in the
beginning. Louisiana, Florida, the Mexican accessions, Alaska,
and even the newer tropical dependencies, owe much to the
decisions that were reached in the organizing of the Northwest a
century and a quarter ago.

The Northwest Ordinance was remarkable in that it was framed for
a territory that had practically no white population and which,
in a sense, did not belong to the United States at all. Back in
1768 Sir William Johnson's Treaty of Fort Stanwix had made the
Ohio River the boundary between the white and red races of the
West. Nobody at the close of the Revolution supposed that this
division would be adhered to; the Northwest had not been won for
purposes of an Indian reserve. None the less, the arrangements of
1768 were inherited, and the nation considered them binding
except in so far as they were modified from time to time by new
agreements. The first such agreement affecting the Northwest was
concluded in 1785, through George Rogers Clark and two other
commissioners, with the Wyandots, Delawares, Chippewas, and
Ottawas. By it the United States acquired title to the
southeastern half of the present State of Ohio, with a view to
surveying the lands and raising revenue by selling them.
Successive treaties during the next thirty years gradually
transferred the whole of the Northwest from Indian hands to the
new nation.

Officially, the United States recognized the validity of the
Indian claims; but the pioneer homeseeker was not so certain to
do so. From about 1775 the country south of the Ohio filled
rapidly with settlers from Virginia and the Carolinas, so that by
1788 the white population beyond the Blue Ridge was believed to
be considerably over one hundred thousand. For a decade the
"Indian side," as the north shore was habitually called, was
trodden only by occasional hunters, traders, and explorers. But
after Clark's victories on the Mississippi and the Wabash, the
frontiersmen grew bolder. By 1780 they began to plant camps and
cabins on the rich bottom-lands of the Miamis, the Scioto, and
the Muskingum; and when they heard that the British claims in the
West had been formally yielded, they assumed that whatever they
could take was theirs. With the technicalities of Indian claims
they had not much patience. In 1785 Colonel Harmar, commanding at
Fort Pitt, sent a deputation down the river to drive the
intruders back. But his agents returned with the report that the
Virginians and Kentuckians were moving into the forbidden country
"by the forties and fifties," and that they gave every evidence
of proposing to remain there. Surveyors were forthwith set to
work in the "Seven Ranges," as the tract just to the west of the
Pennsylvania boundary was called; and Fort Harmar was built at
the mouth of the Muskingum to keep the over-ardent settlers back.

The close of the Revolution brought not only a swift revival of
emigration to the West but also a remarkable outburst of
speculation in western land. March 3, 1786, General Rufus Putnam
and some other Continental officers met at the "Bunch of Grapes"
Tavern in Boston and decided that it would be to their advantage
to exchange for land in the Seven Ranges the paper certificates
in which they had been paid for their military services.
Accordingly an "Ohio Company" was organized, and Dr. Manasseh
Cutler--"preacher, lawyer, doctor, statesman, scientist, land
speculator"--was sent off to New York to push the matter in
Congress. The upshot was that Congress authorized the sale of one
and a half million acres east of the Scioto to the Ohio Company,
and five million acres to a newly organized Scioto Company.

The Scioto Company fell into financial difficulties and, after
making an attempt to build up a French colony at Gallipolis,
collapsed. But General Putnam and his associates kept their
affairs well in hand and succeeded in planting the first legal
white settlement in the present State of Ohio. An arduous winter
journey brought the first band of forty-eight settlers, led by
Putnam himself, to the mouth of the Muskingum on April 7, 1788.
Here, in the midst of a great forest dotted with terraces, cones,
and other fantastic memorials of the mound-builders, they erected
a blockhouse and surrounded it with cabins. For a touch of the
classical, they called the fortification the Campus Martius; to
be strictly up to date, they named the town Marietta, after Marie
Antoinette, Queen of France. In July the little settlement was
honored by being made the residence of the newly arrived Governor
of the Territory, General Arthur St. Clair. Before the close of
the year Congress sold one million acres between the two Miamis
to Judge Symmes of New Jersey; and three little towns were at
once laid out. To one of them a pedantic schoolmaster gave the
name L-os-anti-ville, "the town opposite the mouth of the
Licking." The name may have required too much explanation; at all
events, when, in 1790, the Governor transferred the capital
thither from Marietta, he rechristened the place Cincinnati, in
honor of the famous Revolutionary society to which he belonged.

Land speculators are confirmed optimists. But Putnam, Cutler,
Symmes, and their associates were correct in believing that the
Ohio country was at the threshold of a period of remarkable
development. There was one serious obstacle--the Indians.
Repeated expeditions from Kentucky had pushed most of the tribes
northward to the headwaters of the Miami, Scioto, and Wabash; and
the Treaty of 1785 was supposed to keep them there. But it was
futile to expect such an arrangement to prove lasting unless
steadily backed up with force. In their squalid villages in the
swampy forests of northern Ohio and Indiana the redskins grew
sullen and vindictive. As they saw their favorite hunting-grounds
slipping from their grasp, those who had taken part in the
cession repented their generosity, while those who had no part in
it pronounced it fraudulent and refused to consider themselves
bound by it. Swiftly the idea took hold that the oncoming wave
must be rolled back before it was too late. "White man shall not
plant corn north of the Ohio" became the rallying cry.

Back of this rebelliousness lay a certain amount of British
influence. The Treaty of 1783 was signed in as kindly spirit as
the circumstances would permit, but its provisions were not
carried out in a charitable manner. On account of alleged
shortcomings of the United States, the British Government long
refused to give up possession of eight or ten fortified posts in
the north and west. One of these was Detroit; and the officials
stationed there systematically encouraged the hordes of redskins
who had congregated about the western end of Lake Erie to make
all possible resistance to the American advance. The British no
longer had any claim to the territories south of the Lakes, but
they wanted to keep their ascendancy over the northwestern
Indians, and especially to prevent the rich fur trade from
falling into American hands. Ammunition and other supplies were
lavished on the restless tribes. The post officials insisted that
these were merely the gifts which had regularly been made in
times of peace. But they were used with deadly effect against the
Ohio frontiersmen; and there can be little doubt that they were
intended so to be used.

By 1789 the situation was very serious. Marauding expeditions
were growing in frequency; and a scout sent out by Governor St.
Clair came back with the report that most of the Indians
throughout the entire Northwest had "bad hearts." Washington
decided that delay would be dangerous, and the nation forthwith
prepared for its first war since independence. Kentucky was asked
to furnish a thousand militiamen and Pennsylvania five hundred,
and the forces were ordered to come together at Fort Washington,
near Cincinnati.

The rendezvous took place in the summer of 1790, and General
Josiah Harmar was put in command of a punitive expedition against
the Miamis. The recruits were raw, and Harmar was without the
experience requisite for such an enterprise. None the less, when
the little army, accompanied by three hundred regulars, and
dragging three brass field-pieces, marched out of Fort Washington
on a fine September day, it created a very good impression. All
went well until the expedition reached the Maumee country. On the
site of the present city of Fort Wayne they destroyed a number of
Indian huts and burned a quantity of corn. But in a series of
scattered encounters the white men were defeated, with a loss of
nearly two hundred killed; and Harmar thought it the part of
wisdom to retreat. He had gained nothing by the expedition; on
the contrary, he had stirred the redskins to fresh aggressions,
and his retreating forces were closely followed by bands of
merciless raiders.

Washington knew what the effect of this reverse would be.
Accordingly he called St. Clair to Philadelphia and ordered him
to take personal command of a new expedition, adding a special
warning against ambush and surprise. Congress aided by voting two
thousand troops for six months, besides two small regiments of
regulars. But everything went wrong. Recruiting proved slow; the
men who were finally brought together were poor material for an
army, being gathered chiefly from the streets and prisons of the
seaboard cities; and supplies were shockingly inadequate.

St. Clair was a man of honest intention, but old, broken in
health, and of very limited military ability; and when finally,
October 4, 1791, he led his untrained forces slowly northwards
from Fort Washington, he utterly failed to take measures either
to keep his movements secret or to protect his men against sudden
attack. The army trudged slowly through the deep forests,
chopping out its own road, and rarely advancing more than five or
six miles a day. The weather was favorable and game was abundant,
but discontent was rife and desertions became daily occurrences.
As most of the men had no taste for Indian warfare and as their
pay was but two dollars a month, not all the commander's threats
and entreaties could hold them in order.

On the night of the 3d of November the little army--now reduced
to fourteen hundred men--camped, with divisions carelessly
scattered, on the eastern fork of the Wabash, about a hundred
miles north of Cincinnati and near the Indiana border. The next
morning, when preparations were being made for a forced march
against some Indian villages near by, a horde of redskins burst
unexpectedly upon the bewildered troops, surrounded them, and
threatened them with utter destruction. A brave stand was made,
but there was little chance of victory. "After the first on set,"
as Roosevelt has described the battle, "the Indians fought in
silence, no sound coming from them save the incessant rattle of
their fire, as they crept from log to log, from tree to tree,
ever closer and closer. The soldiers stood in close order, in the
open; their musketry and artillery fire made a tremendous noise,
but did little damage to a foe they could hardly see. Now and
then through the hanging smoke terrible figures flitted, painted
black and red, the feathers of the hawk and eagle braided in
their long scalp-locks; but save for these glimpses, the soldiers
knew the presence of their somber enemy only from the fearful
rapidity with which their comrades fell dead and wounded in the

At last, in desperation St. Clair ordered his men to break
through the deadly cordon and save themselves as best they could.
The Indians kept up a hot pursuit for a distance of four miles.
Then, surfeited with slaughter, they turned to plunder the
abandoned camp; otherwise there would have been escape for few.
As it was, almost half of the men in the engagement were killed,
and less than five hundred got off with no injury. The survivors
gradually straggled into the river settlements, starving and

The page on which is written the story of St. Clair's defeat is
one of the gloomiest in the history of the West. Harmar's
disaster was dwarfed; not since Braddock and his regulars were
cut to pieces by an unseen foe on the road to Fort Duquesne had
the redskins inflicted upon their hereditary enemy a blow of such
proportions. It was with a heavy heart that the Governor
dispatched a messenger to Philadelphia with the news. Congress
ordered an investigation; and in view of the unhappy general's
high character and his courageous, though blundering, conduct
during the late campaign, he was exonerated. He retained the
governorship, but prudently resigned his military command.

The situation was now desperate. Everywhere the forests resounded
with the exultant cries of the victors, while the British from
Detroit and other posts actively encouraged the belief not only
that they would furnish all necessary aid but that England
herself was about to declare war on the United States. Eventually
a British force from Detroit actually invaded the disputed
country and built a stockade (Fort Miami) near the site of the
present city of Toledo, with a view to giving the redskins
convincing evidence of the seriousness of the Great White
Father's intentions. Small wonder that, when St. Clair sought to
obtain by diplomacy the settlement which he had failed to secure
by arms, his commissioners were met with the ultimatum:
"Brothers, we shall be persuaded that you mean to do us justice,
if you agree that the Ohio shall remain the boundary line between
us. If you will not consent thereto, our meeting will be
altogether unnecessary."

It is said that Washington's first choice for the new western
command was "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. But considerations of rank
made the appointment inexpedient, and "Mad Anthony" Wayne was
named instead. Wayne was the son of a Pennsylvania frontiersman
and came honestly by his aptitude for Indian fighting. In early
life he was a surveyor, and in the Revolution he won distinction
as a dashing commander of Pennsylvania troops at Ticonderoga,
Brandywine, Germantown, Stony Point, and other important
engagements. Finally he obtained a major-general's commission in
Greene's campaign in Georgia, and at the close of the war he
settled in that State as a planter. His vanity--displayed chiefly
in a love of fine clothes--brought upon him a good deal of
criticism; and Washington, who in a Cabinet meeting characterized
him as "brave and nothing else," was frankly apprehensive lest in
the present business Wayne's impetuosity should lead to fresh
disaster. Yet the qualities that on a dozen occasions had enabled
Wayne to snatch success from almost certain defeat--alertness,
decisiveness, bravery, and sheer love of hard fighting--were
those now chiefly in demand.

The first task was to create an army. A few regulars were
available; but most of the three or four thousand men who were
needed had to be gathered wheresoever they could be found. A call
for recruits brought together at Pittsburgh, in the summer of
1792, a nondescript lot of beggars, criminals, and other
cast-offs of the eastern cities, no better and no worse than the
adventurers who had taken service under St. Clair. Few knew
anything of warfare, and on one occasion a mere report of Indians
in the vicinity caused a third of the sentinels to desert their
posts. But, as rigid discipline was enforced and drilling was
carried on for eight and ten hours a day, by spring the survivors
formed a very respectable body of troops. The scene of operations
was then transferred to Fort Washington, where fresh recruits
were started on a similar course of development. Profitting by
the experience of his predecessors, Wayne insisted that
campaigning should begin only after the troops were thoroughly
prepared; and no drill-master ever worked harder to get his
charges into condition for action. Going beyond the ordinary
manual of arms, he taught the men to load their rifles while
running at full speed, and to yell at the top of their voices
while making a bayonet attack.

In October, 1793, the intrepid Major-General advanced with
twenty-six hundred men into the nearer stretches of the Indian
country, in order to be in a position for an advantageous spring
campaign. They built Fort Greenville, eighty miles north of
Cincinnati, and there spent the winter, while, on St. Clair's
fatal battle-field, an advance detachment built a post which they
hopefully christened Fort Recovery. Throughout the winter
unending drill was kept up; and when, in June, 1794, fourteen
hundred mounted militia arrived from Kentucky, Wayne found
himself at the head of the largest and best-trained force that
had ever been turned against the Indians west of the Alleghanies.
Even before the arrival of the Kentuckians, it proved its worth
by defending its forest headquarters, with practically no loss,
against an attack by fifteen hundred redskins.

On the 27th of July the army moved forward in the direction of
the Maumee, with closed ranks and so guarded by scouts that no
chance whatever was given for surprise attacks. Washington's
admonitions had been taken to heart, and the Indians could only
wonder and admire. News of the army's advance traveled ahead and
struck terror through the northern villages, so that many of the
inhabitants fled precipitately. When the troops reached the
cultivated lands about the junction of the Maumee and Auglaize
rivers, they found only deserted huts and great fields of corn,
from which they joyfully replenished their diminished stores.
Here a fort was built and given the significant name Defiance;
and from it a final offer of peace was sent out to the hostile
tribes. Never doubting that the British would furnish all
necessary aid, the chieftains returned evasive answers. Wayne
thereupon moved his troops to the left bank of the Maumee and
proceeded cautiously downstream toward the British stronghold at
Fort Miami.

A few days brought the army to a place known as Fallen Timbers,
where a tornado had piled the trunks and branches of mighty trees
in indescribable confusion. The British post was but five or six
miles distant; and there behind the breastworks which nature had
provided, and in easy reach of their allies, the Indians chose to
make their stand. On the morning of the 20th of August, Wayne,
now so crippled by gout that he had to be lifted into his saddle,
gallantly led an assault. The Indian fire was murderous, and a
battalion of mounted Kentuckians was at first hurled back. But
the front line of infantry rushed up and dislodged the savages
from their covert, while the regular cavalry on the right charged
the enemy's left flank. Before the second line of infantry could
get into action the day was won. The whole engagement lasted less
than three-quarters of an hour, and not a third of Wayne's three
thousand men actually took part in it.

The fleeing redskins were pursued to the walls of the British
fort, and even there many were slain. The British soldiery not
only utterly failed to come to the relief of their hard-pressed
allies, but refused to open the gates to give them shelter. The
American loss was thirty-three killed and one hundred wounded.
But the victory was the most decisive as yet gained over the
Indians of the Northwest. A warfare of forty years was ended in
as many minutes.

>From the lower Maumee, Wayne marched back to Fort Defiance, and
thence to the junction of the St. Mary's and St. Joseph rivers,
where he built a fort and gave it the name still borne by the
thriving city that grew up around it--Fort Wayne. Everywhere the
American soldiers destroyed the ripened crops and burned the
villages, while the terrified inhabitants fled. In November the
army took up winter quarters at Fort Greenville.

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