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farms, and came into the town.42 Vincennes then consisted of upward of three hundred houses. The Americans numbered some sixty families, and had built an American quarter, with a strong blockhouse. They only ventured out to till their cornfields in bodies of armed men, while the French worked their lands singly and unarmed.
The Indians came freely into the French quarter of the town, and even sold to the inhabitants plunder taken from the Americans; and when complaint of this was made to the creole magistrates, they paid no heed. One of the men who suffered at the hands of the savages was a wandering schoolmaster, named John Filson,48 the first historian of Kentucky, and the man who took down, and put into his own quaint and absurdly stilted English, Boone's so-called "autobiography.” Filson, having drifted West, had traveled up and down the Ohio and Wabash by canoe and boat. He was much struck with the abundance of game of all kinds which he saw on the northwestern side of the Ohio, and especially by the herds of buffaloes which lay on the sand-bars; his party lived on the flesh of bears, deer, wild turkeys, coons, and water-turtles. In 1785 the Indians whom he met seemed friendly; but on June 2, 1786, while on the Wabash, his canoe was attacked by the savages, and two of his men were slain. He himself escaped with difficulty, and reached Vin
42 Do., Moses Henry to G. R. Clark, June 7, 1786.
cennes after an exhausting journey, but having kept possession of his “two small trunks.” 44
Two or three weeks after this misadventure of the unlucky historian, a party of twenty-five Americans, under a captain named Daniel Sullivan,45
were attacked while working in their cornfields at Vincennes.46 They rallied and drove back the Indians, but two of their number were wounded. One of the wounded fell for a moment into the hands of the Indians and was scalped; and though he afterward recovered, his companions at the time expected him to die. They marched back to Vincennes in furious anger, and finding an Indian in the house of a Frenchman, they seized and dragged him to their block-house, where the wife of the scalped man, whose name was Donelly, shot and scalped him.
This greatly exasperated the French, who kept a guard over the other Indians who were in town, and next day sent them to the woods. Then their head men, magistrates, and officers of the militia, summoned the Americans before a council, and ordered all who had not regular passports from the local court to leave at once, “bag and baggage.” This created the utmost consternation among the Americans, whom the French outnumbered five to one,
44 Do., Filson's Journal.
45 Do., Daniel Sullivan to G. R. Clark, June 23, 1786. Small's letter says June 21st.
46 State Dept. MSS. Papers Continental Congress, No. 150, Vol. II, Letter of J. M. P. Legrace. “Au Général George Rogé Clarck-a la Chûte" (at the Falls-Louisville), July 22,
while the savages certainly would have destroyed them had they tried to go back to Kentucky. Their leaders again wrote urgent appeals for help to Clark, asking that a general guard might be sent them if only to take them out of the country. Filson had already gone overland to Louisville and told the authorities of the straits of their brethren at Vincennes, and immediately an expedition was sent to their relief under Captains Hardin and Patton.
Meanwhile, on July 15th, a large band of several hundred Indians, bearing red and white flags, came down the river in forty-seven canoes to attack the Americans at Vincennes, sending word to the French that if they remained neutral they would not be molested. The French sent envoys to dissuade them from their purpose, but the war chiefs and sachems answered that the red people were at last united in opposition to "the men wearing hats," and gave a belt of black wampum to the wavering Piankeshaws, warning them that all Indians who refused to join against the whites would thenceforth be treated as foes. However, their deeds by no means corresponded with their threats. Next day they assailed the American block-house or stockaded fort, but found they could make no impression and drew off. They burned a few outlying cabins and slaughtered many head of cattle, belonging both to the Americans and the French; and then, seeing the French under arms, held further parley with them, and retreated, to the relief of all the inhabitants.
At the same time the Kentuckians, under Hardin
and Patton, stumbled by accident on a party of Indians, some of whom were friendly Piankeshaws and some hostile Miamis. They attacked them without making any discrimination between friend and foe, killed six, wounded seven, and drove off the remainder. But they themselves lost one man killed and four wounded, including Hardin, and fell back to Louisville without doing anything more.47
These troubles on the Wabash merely hardened the determination of the Kentuckians no longer to wait until the Federal Government acted. With the approval of Governor Patrick Henry, they took the initiative themselves. Early in August the field officers of the district of Kentucky met at Harrodsburg, Benjamin Logan presiding, and resolved on an expedition, to be commanded by Clark, against the hostile Indians on the Wabash. Half of the militia of the district were to go; the men were to assemble, on foot or on horseback, as they pleased, at Clarksville, on September roth.48 Besides pack-horses,
47 Letter of Legrace and Filson's Journal. The two contradict one another as to which side was to blame. Legrace blames the Americans heavily for wronging both the French and the Indians; and condemns in the strongest terms, and probably with justice, many of their number, and especially Sullivan. He speaks, however, in high terms of Henry and Small; and both of these, in their letters referred to above, paint the conduct of the French and Indians in very dark colors, throwing the blame on them. Legrace is certainly disingenuous in suppressing all mention of the wrongs done to the Americans. For Filson's career and death in the woods, see the excellent Life of Filson, by Durrett, in the Filson Club publications.
48 Draper MSS. Minutes of meetings of the officers of the VOL. VII.-8
salt, flour, powder, and lead were impressed,49 not always in strict compliance with law, for some of the officers impressed quantities of spirituous liquors also.50 The troops themselves, however, came in slowly.51 Late in September, when twelve hundred men had been gathered, Clark moved forward. But he was no longer the man he had been. He failed to get any hold on his army. His followers, on their side, displayed all that unruly fickleness which made the militia of the Revolutionary period a weapon which might at times be put to good use in the absence of any other, but which was really trusted only by men whose military judgment was as fatuous as Jefferson's.
After reaching Vincennes the troops became mutinous, and at last flatly refused longer to obey orders, and marched home as a disorderly mob, to the disgrace of themselves and their leader. Nevertheless, the expedition had really accomplished something, for it overawed the Wabash and Illinois Indians, and effectively put a stop to any active expressions of disloyalty or disaffection on the part of the French. Clark sent officers to the Illinois towns, and established a garrison of one hundred and fifty men at Vincennes,52 besides seizing the district of Kentucky, Aug. 2, 1786. State Dept. MSS., No. 150, Vol. II. Letter of P. Henry, May 16, 1786.
49 Draper MSS. J. Cox to George Clark, Aug. 8, 1786.
50 State Dept. MSS., Madison papers. Letter of Caleb Wallace, Nov. 20, 1786.
51 State Dept. MSS., Papers Continental Congress. No. 150, Vol. II. Letter of Major Wm. North, Sept. 15, 1786. 52 Do. Virginia State Papers. G. R. Clark to Patrick