The Winning of the West, Volume Four
Part 5 out of 6
type really intended, and exactly how guilty his various temporary
friends and allies were. Part of the conspirator's business is to
dissemble the truth, and in after-time it is nearly impossible to
differentiate it from the false, even by the most elaborate sifting of
the various untruths he has uttered. Burr told every kind of story, at
one time or another, and to different classes of auditors. It would be
unsafe to deny his having told a particular falsehood in any given case
or to any given man. On the other hand when once the plot was unmasked
those persons to whom he had confided his plans were certain to insist
that he had really kept them in ignorance of his true intention. In
consequence it is quite impossible to say exactly how much guilty
knowledge his various companions possessed. When it comes to treating of
his relationship with Wilkinson all that can be said is that no single
statement ever made by either man, whether during the conspiracy or
after it, whether to the other or to an outsider, can be considered as
either presumptively true or presumptively false.
It is therefore impossible to say exactly how far the Westerners with
whom Burr was intimate were privy to his plans. It is certain that the
great mass of the Westerners never seriously considered entering into
any seditious movement under him. It is equally certain that a number of
their leaders were more or less compromised by their associations with
him. It seems probable that to each of these leaders he revealed what he
thought would most attract him in the scheme; but that to very few did
he reveal an outright proposition to break up the Union. Many of them
were very willing to hear the distinguished Easterner make vague
proposals for increasing the power of the West by means which were
hinted at with sinister elusiveness; and many others were delighted to
go into any movement which promised an attack upon the Spanish
territory; but it seems likely that there were only a few
men--Wilkinson, for instance, and Adair of Kentucky--who were willing to
discuss a proposition to commit downright treason.
Burr and Andrew Jackson.
Burr stopped at Cincinnati, in Ohio, and at one or two places in
Kentucky. In both States many prominent politicians, even United States
Senators, received him with enthusiasm. He then visited Nashville where
he became the guest of Andrew Jackson. Jackson was now Major General of
the Tennessee militia; and the possibility of war, especially of war
with the Spaniards, roused his hot nature to uncontrollable eagerness.
[Footnote: Adams, III., 221.] Burr probably saw through Jackson's
character at once, and realized that with him it was important to dwell
solely upon that part of the plan which contemplated an attack upon the
Threatened Hostilities with Spain.
Jackson's Eagerness to Assail Spain.
The United States was at this time on the verge of war with Spain. The
Spanish Governor and Intendant remained in New Orleans after the
cession, and by their conduct gave such offence that it finally became
necessary to order them to leave. Jefferson claimed, as part of
Louisiana, portions of both West Florida and Texas. The Spaniards
refused to admit the justice of the claim and gathered in the disputed
territories armies which, though small, outnumbered the few regular
troops that Wilkinson had at his disposal. More than once a collision
seemed imminent. The Westerners clamored for war, desiring above all
things to drive the Spaniards by force from the debatable lands. For
some time Jefferson showed symptoms of yielding to their wishes; but he
was too timid and irresolute to play a high part, and in the end he
simply did nothing. However, though he declined to make actual war on
the Spaniards, he also refused to recognize their claims as just, and
his peculiar, hesitating course, tended to inflame the Westerners, and
to make them believe that their government would not call them to
account for acts of aggression. To Jackson doubtless Burr's proposals
seemed quite in keeping with what he hoped from the United States
Government. He readily fell in with views so like his own, and began
to make preparations for an expedition against the Spanish dominions;
an expedition which in fact would not have differed essentially from the
expeditions he actually did make into the Spanish Floridas six or eight
years afterward, or from the movement which still later his fellow
Tennessean, Houston, headed in Texas.
Burr and Wilkinson.
From Nashville Burr drifted down the Cumberland, and at Fort Massac, on
the Ohio, he met Wilkinson, a kindred spirit, who possessed neither
honor nor conscience, and could not be shocked by any proposal.
Moreover, Wilkinson much enjoyed the early stages of a seditious
agitation, when the risk to himself seemed slight; and as he was at this
time both the highest military officer of the United States, and also
secretly in the pay of Spain, the chance to commit a double treachery
gave an added zest to his action. He entered cordially into Burr's
plans, and as soon as he returned to his headquarters, at St. Louis, he
set about trying to corrupt his subordinates, and seduce them from their
Burr Visits New Orleans.
Meanwhile Burr passed down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where he
found himself in the society of persons who seemed more willing than any
others he had encountered to fall in with his plans. Even here he did
not clearly specify his purposes, but he did say enough to show that
they bordered on the treasonable; and he was much gratified at the
acquiescence of his listeners. His gratification, however, was
over-hasty. The Creoles, and some of the Americans, were delighted to
talk of their wrongs and to threaten any course of action which they
thought might yield vengeance; but they had little intention of
proceeding from words to deeds. Claiborne, a straightforward and honest
man, set his face like a flint against all of Burr's doings.
From New Orleans Burr retraced his steps and visited Wilkinson at St.
Louis. But Wilkinson was no longer in the same frame of mind as at Fort
Massac. He had tested his officers, to see if they could be drawn into
any disloyal movement, and had found that they were honorable men, firm
in their attachment to the Union; and he was beginning to perceive that
the people generally were quite unmoved by Burr's intrigues.
Accordingly, when Burr reached him he threw cold water on his plans, and
though he did not denounce or oppose them, he refrained from taking
further active part in the seditious propaganda.
Burr Returns to Washington.
After visiting Harrison, the Governor of the Indiana territory, Burr
returned to Washington. If he had possessed the type of character which
would have made him really dangerous as a revolutionist, he would have
seen how slight was his hope of stirring up revolt in the West; but he
would not face facts, and he still believed he could bring about an
uprising against the Union in the Mississippi Valley. His immediate need
was money. This he hoped to obtain from some foreign government. He
found that nothing could be done with Great Britain; and then,
incredible though it may seem, he turned to Spain, and sought to obtain
from the Spaniards themselves the funds with which to conquer their own
His Burlesque Proposals to Spain.
This was the last touch necessary to complete the grotesque fantasy
which his brain had evolved. He approached the Spanish Minister first
through one of his fellow conspirators and then in his own person. At
one time he made his request on the pretence that he wished to desert
the other filibusterers, and save Spain by committing a double
treachery, and betraying the treasonable movement into which he had
entered; and again he asked funds on the ground that all he wished to do
was to establish a separate government in the West, and thus destroy the
power of the United States to molest Spain. However, his efforts came to
naught, and he was obliged to try what he could do unaided in the West.
His Second Trip to the West.
In August, 1806, he again crossed the Alleghenies. His first stop of
importance was at Blennerhassett's. Blennerhassett was the one person of
any importance who took his schemes so seriously as to be willing to
stake his fortune on their success. Burr took with him to
Blennerhassett's his daughter, Theodosia, a charming woman, the wife of
a South Carolinian, Allston. The attractions of the daughter, and Burr's
own address and magnetism, completely overcame both Blennerhassett and
his wife. They gave the adventurer all the money they could raise, with
the understanding that they would receive it back a hundred-fold as the
result of a land speculation which was to go hand in hand with the
expected revolution. Then Blennerhassett began, in a very noisy and
ineffective way, to make what preparations were possible in the way of
rousing the Ohio settlers, and of gathering a body of armed men to serve
under Burr when the time came. It was all done in a way that savored of
farce rather than of treason.
Again Visits Jackson.
There was much less comedy however in what went on in Kentucky and
Tennessee where Burr next went. At Nashville he was received with open
arms by Jackson and Jackson's friends. This was not much to Jackson's
credit, for by this time he should have known Burr's character; but the
temptation of an attack on the Spaniards proved irresistible. As Major
General, he called out the militia of West Tennessee, and began to make
ready in good earnest to invade Florida or Mexico. At public dinners he
and his friends and Burr made speeches in which they threatened
immediate war against Spain, with which country the United States was at
peace; but they did not threaten any attack on the Union, and indeed
Jackson exacted from Burr a guarantee of his loyalty to the Union.
His Experience in Kentucky.
From Nashville the restless conspirator returned to Kentucky to see if
he could persuade the most powerful of the Western States to take some
decided step in his favor. Senator John Adair, former companion-in-arms
of Wilkinson in the wars against the Northwestern Indians, enlisted in
support of Burr with heart and soul. Kentucky society generally received
him with enthusiasm. But there was in the State a remnant of the old
Federalist party, which although not formidable in numbers, possessed
weight because of the vigor and ability of its leaders. The chief among
them were Humphrey Marshall, former United States Senator, and Joseph H.
Daveiss, who was still District Attorney, not having, as yet, been
turned out by Jefferson. [Footnote: For the Kentucky episode, see
Marshall and Greene. Gayarre is the authority for what occurred in New
Orleans. For the whole conspiracy, see Adams.] These men saw--what
Eastern politicians could not see--the connection between Burr's
conspiracy and the former Spanish intrigues of men like Wilkinson,
Sabastian, and Innes. They were loyal to the Union; and they felt a
bitter factional hatred for their victorious foes in whose ranks were to
be found all the old time offenders; so they attacked the new conspiracy
with a double zest. They not only began a violent newspaper war upon
Burr and all the former conspirators, but also proceeded to invoke the
aid of the courts and the legislature against them. Their exposure of
the former Spanish intrigues, as well as of Burr's plots, attracted
widespread attention in the West, even at New Orleans [Footnote:
Gayarre, IV., 180.]; but the Kentuckians, though angry and ashamed, were
at first reluctant to be convinced. Twice Daveiss presented Burr for
treason before the Grand Jury; twice the Grand Jury declared in his
favor; and the leaders of the Kentucky Democracy gave him their
countenance, while Henry Clay acted as his counsel. Daveiss, by a
constant succession of letters, kept Jefferson fully informed of all
that was done. Though his attacks on Burr for the moment seemed
failures, they really accomplished their object. They created such
uneasiness that the prominent Kentuckians made haste to clear themselves
of all possible connection with any treasonable scheme. Henry Clay
demanded and received from Burr a formal pledge that his plans were in
no wise hostile to the Union; and the other people upon whom Burr
counted most, both in Ohio and Kentucky, hastily followed this example.
This immediate defection showed how hopeless Burr's plans were. The
moment he attempted to put them into execution, their utter futility was
certain to be exposed.
Friction with the Spaniards.
Meanwhile Jefferson's policy with the Spaniards, which neither secured
peace nor made ready for war, kept up constant irritation on the border.
Both the Spanish Governor Folch, in West Florida, and the Spanish
General Herrera, in Texas, menaced the Americans. [Footnote: Gayarre,
IV., 137, 151, etc.] Wilkinson hurried with his little army towards
Herrera, until the two stood face to face, each asserting that the other
was on ground that belonged to his own nation. Just at this time Burr's
envoys, containing his final propositions, reached Wilkinson. But
Wilkinson now saw as cleanly as any one that Burr's scheme was
foredoomed to fail; and he at once determined to make use of the only
weapon in which he was skilled,--treachery. At this very time he, the
commander of the United States Army, was in the pay of Spain, and was in
secret negotiation with the Spanish officials against whom he was
supposed to be acting; he had striven to corrupt his own army and had
failed; he had found out that the people of the West were not disloyal.
He saw that there was no hope of success for the conspirators; and he
resolved to play the part of defender of the nation, and to act with
vigor against Burr. Having warned Jefferson, in language of violent
alarm, about Burr's plans, he prepared to prevent their execution. He
first made a truce with Herrera in accordance with which each was to
retire to his former position, and then he started for the Mississippi.
Burr Flees Down the Mississippi.
When Burr found that he could do nothing in Kentucky and Tennessee, he
prepared to go to New Orleans. The few boats that Blennerhassett had
been able to gather were sent hurriedly down stream lest they should be
interfered with by the Ohio authorities. Burr had made another visit to
Nashville. Slipping down the Cumberland, he joined his little flotilla,
passed Fort Massac, and began the descent of the Mississippi.
The plot was probably most dangerous at New Orleans, if it could be said
to be dangerous anywhere. Claiborne grew very much alarmed about it,
chiefly because of the elusive mystery in which it was shrouded. But
when the pinch came it proved as unsubstantial there as elsewhere. The
leaders who had talked most loosely about revolutionary proceedings grew
alarmed, as the crisis approached, lest they might be called on to make
good their words; and they hastened to repudiate all connection with
Burr, and to avow themselves loyal to the Union. Even the
Creole militia,--a body which Claiborne regarded with just
suspicion,--volunteered to come to the defence of the Government when it
was thought that Burr might actually attack the city.
Collapse of the Conspiracy.
But Burr's career was already ruined. Jefferson, goaded into action, had
issued a proclamation for his arrest; and even before this proclamation
was issued, the fabric of the conspiracy had crumbled into shifting
dust. The Ohio Legislature passed resolutions demanding prompt action
against the conspirators; and the other Western communities followed
suit. There was no real support for Burr anywhere. All his plot had been
but a dream; at the last he could not do anything which justified, in
even the smallest degree, the alarm and curiosity he had excited. The
men of keenest insight and best judgment feared his unmasked efforts
less than they feared Wilkinson's dark and tortuous treachery.
[Footnote: E. G. Cowles Meade; see Gayarre, IV., 169.] As he drifted
down the Mississippi with his little flotilla, he was overtaken by
Jefferson's proclamation, which was sent from one to another of the
small Federal garrisons. Near Natchez, in January, 1807, he surrendered
his flotilla, without resistance, to the Acting-Governor of Mississippi
Territory. He himself escaped into the land of the Choctaws and Creeks,
disguised as a Mississippi boatman; but a month later he was arrested
near the Spanish border, and sent back to Washington.
Thus ended ingloriously the wildest, most spectacular, and least
dangerous, of all the intrigues for Western disunion. It never contained
within itself the least hope of success. It was never a serious menace
to the National government. It was not by any means even a good example
of Western particularistic feeling. It was simply a sporadic
illustration of the looseness of national sentiment, here and there,
throughout the country; but of no great significance, because it was in
no sense a popular movement, and had its origin in the fantastic
imagination of a single man.
After-Effects in the West.
It left scarcely a ripple in the West. When the danger was over
Wilkinson appeared in New Orleans, where he strutted to the front for a
little while, playing the part of a fussy dictator and arresting, among
others, Adair of Kentucky. As the panic subsided, they were released. No
Louisianian suffered in person or property from any retaliatory action
of the Government; but lasting good was done by the abject failure of
the plot and by the exhibition of unused strength by the American
people. The Creoles ceased to mutter discontent, and all thought of
sedition died away in the province.
Sufferers from the Conspiracy.
The chief sufferers, aside from Blennerhassett, were Sebastian and
Innes, of Kentucky. The former resigned from the bench, and the latter
lost a prestige he never regained. A few of their intimate friends also
suffered. But their opponents did not fare much better. Daveiss and
Marshall were the only men in the West whose action toward Burr had been
thoroughly creditable, showing alike vigor, intelligence, and loyalty.
To both of them the country was under an obligation. Jefferson showed
his sense of this obligation in a not uncharacteristic way by removing
Daveiss from office; Marshall was already in private life, and all that
could be done was to neglect him.
The Trial of Burr.
As for Burr, he was put on trial for high treason, with Wilkinson as
state's evidence. Jefferson made himself the especial champion of
Wilkinson; nevertheless the General cut a contemptible figure at the
trial, for no explanation could make his course square with honorable
dealing. Burr was acquitted on a technicality. Wilkinson, the double
traitor, the bribe-taker, the corrupt servant of a foreign government,
remained at the head of the American Army.
THE EXPLORERS OF THE FAR WEST, 1804-1807.
The Far West.
The Far West, the West beyond the Mississippi, had been thrust on
Jefferson, and given to the nation, by the rapid growth of the Old West,
the West that lay between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi. The
actual title to the new territory had been acquired by the United States
Government, acting for the whole nation. It remained to explore the
territory thus newly added to the national domain. The Government did
not yet know exactly what it had acquired, for the land was not only
unmapped but unexplored. Nobody could tell what were the boundary lines
which divided it from British America on the north and Mexico on the
south, for nobody knew much of the country through which these lines
ran; of most of it, indeed, nobody knew anything. On the new maps the
country now showed as part of the United States; but the Indians who
alone inhabited it were as little affected by the transfer as was the
game they hunted.
Need for its Exploration.
Even the Northwestern portion of the land definitely ceded to the United
States by Great Britain in Jay's treaty was still left in actual
possession of the Indian tribes, while the few whites who lived among
them were traders owing allegiance to the British Government. The
head-waters of the Mississippi and the beautiful country lying round
them were known only in a vague way; and it was necessary to explore and
formally take possession of this land of lakes, glades, and forests.
Beyond the Mississippi all that was really well known was the territory
in the immediate neighbourhood of the little French villages near the
mouth of the Missouri. The creole traders of these villages, and an
occasional venturous American, had gone up the Mississippi to the
country of the Sioux and the Mandans, where they had trapped and hunted
and traded for furs with the Indians. At the northern most points that
they reached they occasionally encountered traders who had travelled
south or southwesterly from the wintry regions where the British fur
companies reigned supreme. The headwaters of the Missouri were
absolutely unknown; nobody had penetrated the great plains, the vast
seas of grass through which the Platte, the Little Missouri, and the
Yellowstone ran. What lay beyond them, and between them and the Pacific,
was not even guessed at. The Rocky Mountains were not known to exist, so
far as the territory newly acquired by the United States was concerned,
although under the name of "Stonies" their northern extensions in
British America were already down on some maps.
The National Government Undertakes the Work.
The West had passed beyond its first stage of uncontrolled
individualism. Neither exploring nor fighting was thenceforth to be the
work only of the individual settlers. The National Government was making
its weight felt more and more in the West, because the West was itself
becoming more and more an important integral portion of the Union. The
work of exploring these new lands fell, not to the wild hunters and
trappers, such as those who had first explored Kentucky and Tennessee,
but to officers of the United States army, leading parties of United
States soldiers, in pursuance of the command of the Government or of its
representatives. The earliest and most important expeditions of
Americans into the unknown country which the nation had just purchased
were led by young officers of the regular army.
Jefferson Entitled to the Credit.
The first of these expeditions was planned by Jefferson himself and
authorised by Congress. Nominally its purpose was in part to find out
the most advantageous places for the establishment of trading stations
with the Indian tribes over which our government had acquired the
titular suzerainty; but in reality it was purely a voyage of
exploration, planned with intent to ascend the Missouri to its head, and
thence to cross the continent to the Pacific. The explorers were
carefully instructed to report upon the geography, physical
characteristics, and zoology of the region traversed, as well as upon
its wild human denizens. Jefferson was fond of science, and in
appreciation of the desirability of non-remunerative scientific
observation and investigation he stood honorably distinguished among
the public men of the day. To him justly belongs the credit of
originating this first exploring expedition ever undertaken by the
United States Government.
Lewis and Clark Chosen.
The two officers chosen to carry through the work belonged to families
already honorably distinguished for service on the Western border. One
was Captain Meriwether Lewis, representatives of whose family had served
so prominently in Dunmore's war; the other was Lieutenant (by courtesy
Captain) William Clark, a younger brother of George Rogers Clark.
[Footnote: He had already served as captain in the army; see Coues'
edition of the "History of the Expedition," lxxi.] Clark had served with
credit through Wayne's campaigns, and had taken part in the victory of
the Fallen Timbers. [Footnote: See his letters, quoted in Chap. II.
There is a good deal of hitherto unused material about him in the Draper
MSS.] Lewis had seen his first service when he enlisted as a private in
the forces which were marshalled to put down the whisky insurrection.
Later he served under Clark in Wayne's army. He had also been President
Jefferson's private secretary.
The young officers started on their trip accompanied by twenty-seven men
who intended to make the whole journey. Of this number one, the
interpreter and incidentally the best hunter of the party, was a
half-breed; two were French voyageurs; one was a negro servant of Clark;
nine were volunteers from Kentucky; and fourteen were regular soldiers.
All, however, except the black slave, were enlisted in the army before
starting, so that they might be kept under regular discipline. In
addition to these twenty-seven men there were seven soldiers and nine
voyageurs who started only to go to the Mandan villages on the Missouri,
where the party intended to spend the first winter. They embarked in
three large boats, abundantly supplied with arms, powder, and lead,
clothing, gifts for the Indians, and provisions.
The starting point was St. Louis, which had only just been surrendered
to the United States Government by the Spaniards, without any French
intermediaries. The explorers pushed off in May, 1804, and soon began
stemming the strong current of the muddy Missouri, to whose unknown
sources they intended to ascend. For two or three weeks they
occasionally passed farms and hamlets. The most important of the little
towns was St. Charles, where the people were all Creoles; the explorers
in their journal commented upon the good temper and vivacity of these
_habitants_, but dwelt on the shiftlessness they displayed and their
readiness to sink back towards savagery, although they were brave and
hardy enough. The next most considerable town was peopled mainly by
Americans, who had already begun to make numerous settlements in the new
land. The last squalid little village they passed claimed as one of its
occasional residents old Daniel Boone himself.
After leaving the final straggling log cabins of the settled country,
the explorers, with sails and paddles, made their way through what is
now the State of Missouri. They lived well, for their hunters killed
many deer and wild turkey and some black bear and beaver, and there was
an abundance of breeding water fowl. Here and there were Indian
encampments, but not many, for the tribes had gone westward to the great
plains of what is now Kansas to hunt the buffalo. Already buffalo and
elk were scarce in Missouri, and the party did not begin to find them in
any numbers until they reached the neighborhood of what is now southern
They Reached the Great Plains.
From there onwards the game was found in vast herds and the party began
to come upon those characteristic animals of the Great Plains which were
as yet unknown to white men of our race. The buffalo and the elk had
once ranged eastward to the Alleghanies and were familiar to early
wanderers through the wooded wilderness; but in no part of the east had
their numbers ever remotely approached the astounding multitudes in
which they were found on the Great Plains. The curious prong-buck or
prong-horned antelope was unknown east of the Great Plains. So was the
blacktail, or mule deer, which our adventurers began to find here and
there as they gradually worked their way northwestward. So were the
coyotes, whose uncanny wailing after nightfall varied the sinister
baying of the gray wolves; so were many of the smaller animals, notably
the prairie dogs, whose populous villages awakened the lively curiosity
of Lewis and Clark.
Good Qualities of Lewis and Clark.
In their note-books the two captains faithfully described all these new
animals and all the strange sights they saw. They were men with no
pretensions to scientific learning, but they were singularly close and
accurate observers and truthful narrators. Very rarely have any similar
explorers described so faithfully not only the physical features but the
animals and plants of a newly discovered land. Their narrative was not
published until some years later, and then it was badly edited, notable
the purely scientific portion; yet it remains the best example of what
such a narrative should be. Few explorers who did and saw so much that
was absolutely new have written of their deeds with such quiet absence
of boastfulness, and have drawn their descriptions with such complete
freedom from exaggeration.
Their Dealings with the Indians.
Moreover, what was of even greater importance, the two young captains
possessed in perfection the qualities necessary to pilot such an
expedition through unknown lands and among savage tribes. They kept good
discipline among the men; they never hesitated to punish severely any
wrong-doer; but they were never over-severe; and as they did their full
part of the work, and ran all the risks and suffered all the hardship
exactly like the other members of the expedition, they were regarded by
their followers with devoted affection, and were served with loyalty and
cheerfulness. In dealing with the Indians they showed good humor and
common-sense mingled with ceaseless vigilance and unbending resolution.
Only men who possessed their tact and daring could have piloted the
party safely among the warlike tribes they encountered. Any act of
weakness or timidity on the one hand, or of harshness or cruelty on the
other, would have been fatal to the expedition; but they were careful to
treat the tribes well and to try to secure their good-will, while at the
same time putting an immediate stop to any insolence or outrage. Several
times they were in much jeopardy when they reached the land of the
Dakotas and passed among the various ferocious tribes whom they knew,
and whom we yet know, as the Sioux. The French traders frequently came
up river to the country of the Sioux, who often maltreated and robbed
them. In consequence Lewis and Clark found that the Sioux were inclined
to regard the whites as people whom they could safely oppress. The
resolute bearing of the new-comers soon taught them that they were in
error, and after a little hesitation the various tribes in each case
Councils with the Indians.
With all the Indian tribes the two explorers held councils, and
distributed presents, especially medals, among the head chiefs and
warriors, informing them of the transfer of the territory from Spain to
the United States and warning them that henceforth they must look to the
President as their protector, and not to the King, whether of England or
of Spain. The Indians all professed much satisfaction at the change,
which of course they did not in the least understand, and for which they
cared nothing. This easy acquiescence gave much groundless satisfaction
to Lewis and Clark, who further, in a spirit of philanthropy, strove to
make each tribe swear peace with its neighbors. After some hesitation
the tribe usually consented to this also, and the explorers, greatly
gratified, passed on. It is needless to say that as soon as they had
disappeared the tribes promptly went to war again; and that in reality
the Indians had only the vaguest idea as to what was meant by the
ceremonies, and the hoisting of the American Flag. The wonder is that
Clark, who had already had some experience with Indians, should have
supposed that the councils, advice, and proclamations would have any
effect of the kind hoped for upon these wild savages. However, together
with the love of natural science inculcated by the fashionable
philosophy of the day, they also possessed the much less admirable,
though entirely amiable, theory of universal and unintelligent
philanthropy which was embodied in this philosophy. A very curious
feature of our dealings with the Indians, not only in the days of Lewis
and Clark, but since, has been the combination of extreme and indeed
foolish benevolence of purpose on the part of the Government, with, on
the part of the settlers, a brutality of action which this benevolent
purpose could in no wise check or restrain.
They Winter at the Mandan Villages.
As the fall weather grew cold the party reached the Mandan village,
where they halted and went into camp for the winter, building huts and a
stout blockade, which they christened Fort Mandan. Traders from St.
Louis and also British traders from the North reached these villages,
and the inhabitants were accustomed to dealing with the whites.
Throughout the winter the party was well treated by the Indians, and
kept in good health and spirits; the journals frequently mention the
fondness the men showed for dancing, although without partners of the
opposite sex. Yet they suffered much from the extreme cold, and at times
from hunger, for it was hard to hunt in the winter weather, and the game
was thin and poor. Generally game could be killed in a day's hunt from
the fort; but occasionally small parties of hunters went off for a trip
of several days, and returned laden with meat; in one case they killed
thirty-two deer, eleven elk, and a buffalo; in another forty deer,
sixteen elk, and three buffalo; thirty-six deer and fourteen elk, etc.,
etc. The buffalo remaining in the neighborhood during the winter were
mostly old bulls, too lean to eat; and as the snows came on most of the
antelope left for the rugged country farther west, swimming the Missouri
in great bands. Before the bitter weather began the explorers were much
interested by the methods of the Indians in hunting, especially when
they surrounded and slaughtered bands of buffalo on horseback; and by
the curious pens, with huge V-shaped wings, into which they drove
They Start Westward in the Spring.
In the spring of 1805, Lewis and Clark again started westward, first
sending down-stream ten of their companions, to carry home the notes of
their trip so far, and a few valuable specimens. The party that started
westward numbered thirty-two adults, all told; for one sergeant had
died, and two or three persons had volunteered at the Mandan villages,
including a rather worthless French "squaw-man," with an intelligent
Indian wife, whose baby was but a few weeks old.
From this point onwards, when they began to travel west instead of
north, the explorers were in a country where no white man had ever trod.
It was not the first time the continent had been crossed. The Spaniards
had crossed and recrossed it, for two centuries, farther south. In
British America Mackenzie had already penetrated to the Pacific, while
Hearne had made a far more noteworthy and difficult trip than Mackenzie,
when he wandered over the terrible desolation of the Barren Grounds,
which lie under the Arctic circle. But no man had ever crossed or
explored that part of the continent which the United States had just
acquired; a part far better fitted to be the home of our stock than the
regions to the north or south. It was the explorations of Lewis and
Clark, and not those of Mackenzie on the north or of the Spaniards in
the south, which were to bear fruit, because they pointed the way to the
tens of thousands of settlers who were to come after them, and who were
to build thriving commonwealths in the lonely wilderness which they had
Wonderful Hunting Grounds.
From the Little Missouri on to the head of the Missouri proper the
explorers passed through a region where they saw few traces of Indians.
It literally swarmed with game, for it was one of the finest hunting
grounds in all the world. [Footnote: It so continued for three quarters
of a century. Until after 1880 the region around the Little Missouri was
essentially unchanged from what is was in the days of Lewis and Clark;
game swarmed, and the few white hunters and trappers who followed the
buffalo, the elk, and the beaver, were still at times in conflict with
hunting parties from various Indian tribes. While ranching in this
region I myself killed every kind of game encountered by Lewis and
Clark.] There were great numbers of sage fowl, sharp-tailed prairie
fowl, and ducks of all kinds; and swans, and tall white cranes; and
geese, which nested in the tops of the cottonwood trees. But the hunters
paid no heed to birds, when surrounded by such teeming myriads of big
game. Buffalo, elk, and antelope, whitetail and blacktail deer, and
bighorn sheep swarmed in extraordinary abundance throughout the lands
watered by the upper Missouri and the Yellowstone; in their journals the
explorers dwell continually on the innumerable herds they encountered
while on these plains, both when travelling up-stream and again the
following year when they were returning. The antelopes were sometimes
quite shy; so were the bighorn; though on occasions both kinds seemed to
lose their wariness, and in one instance the journal specifies the fact
that, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, the deer were somewhat shy, while
the antelope, like the elk and buffalo, paid no heed to the men
whatever. Ordinarily all the kinds of game were very tame. Sometimes one
of the many herds of elk that lay boldly, even at midday, on the
sandbars, or on the brush-covered points, would wait until the explorers
were within twenty yards of them before starting. The buffalo would
scarcely move out of the path at all, and the bulls sometimes, even when
unmolested, threatened to assail the hunters. Once, on the return
voyage, when Clark was descending the Yellowstone River, a vast herd of
buffalo, swimming and wading, plowed its way across the stream where it
was a mile broad, in a column so thick that the explorers had to draw up
on shore and wait for an hour, until it passed by, before continuing
their journey. Two or three times the expedition was thus brought to a
halt; and as the buffalo were so plentiful, and so easy to kill, and as
their flesh was very good, they were the mainstay for the explorers'
table. Both going and returning this wonderful hunting country was a
place of plenty. The party of course lived almost exclusively on meat,
and they needed much; for, when they could get it, they consumed either
a buffalo, or an elk and a deer, or four deer, every day.
First Encounters with the Grizzly Bear.
There was one kind of game which they at times found altogether too
familiar. This was the grizzly bear, which they were the first white men
to discover. They called it indifferently the grizzly, gray, brown, and
even white bear, to distinguish it from its smaller, glossy,
black-coated brother with which they were familiar in the Eastern woods.
They found that the Indians greatly feared these bears, and after their
first encounters they themselves treated them with much respect. The
grizzly was then the burly lord of the Western prairie, dreaded by all
other game, and usually shunned even by the Indians. In consequence it
was very bold and savage. Again and again these huge bears attacked the
explorers of their own accord, when neither molested nor threatened.
They galloped after the hunters when they met them on horseback even in
the open; and they attacked them just as freely when they found them on
foot. To go through the brush was dangerous; again and again one or
another of the party was charged and forced to take to a tree, at the
foot of which the bear sometimes mounted guard for hours before going
off. When wounded the beasts fought with desperate courage, and showed
astonishing tenacity of life, charging any number of assailants, and
succumbing but slowly even to mortal wounds. In one case a bear that was
on shore actually plunged into the water and swam out to attack one of
the canoes as it passed. However, by this time all of the party had
become good hunters, expert in the use of their rifles, and they killed
great numbers of their ursine foes.
Other Brute Enemies.
Nor were the bears their only brute enemies. The rattlesnakes were often
troublesome. Unlike the bears, the wolves were generally timid, and
preyed only on the swarming game: but one night a wolf crept into camp
and seized a sleeper by the hand; when driven off he jumped upon another
man, and was shot by a third. A less intentional assault was committed
by a buffalo bull which one night blundered past the fires, narrowly
escaped trampling on the sleepers, and had the whole camp in an uproar
before it rushed off into the darkness. When hunted the buffalo
occasionally charged; but there was not much danger in their chase.
The Scourge of Mosquitos.
All these larger foes paled into insignificance compared with the
mosquitos. There are very few places on earth where these pests are so
formidable as in the bottom lands of the Missouri, and for weeks and
even months they made the lives of our explorers a torture. No other
danger, whether from hunger or cold, Indians or wild beasts, was so
dreaded by the explorers as these tiny scourges.
Pleasant Life in the Plains Country.
In the Plains country the life of the explorers was very pleasant save
only for the mosquitos and the incessant clouds of driving sand along
the river bottoms. On their journey west through these true happy
hunting grounds they did not meet with any Indians, and their encounters
with the bears were only just sufficiently dangerous to add excitement
to their life. Once or twice they were in peril from cloud bursts, and
they were lamed by the cactus spines on the prairie, and by the stones
and sand of the river bed while dragging the boats against the current;
but all these trials, labors, and risks were only enough to give zest to
their exploration of the unknown land. At the Great Falls of the
Missouri they halted, and were enraptured with their beauty and majesty;
and here, as everywhere, they found the game so abundant that they lived
in plenty. As they journeyed up-stream through the bright summer
weather, though they worked hard, it was work of a kind which was but a
long holiday. At nightfall they camped by the boats on the river bank.
Each day some of the party spent in hunting, either along the river
bottoms through the groves of cottonwoods with shimmering, rustling
leaves, or away from the river where the sunny prairies stretched into
seas of brown grass, or where groups of rugged hills stood, fantastic in
color and outline, and with stunted pines growing on the sides of their
steep ravines. The only real suffering was that which occasionally
befell someone who got lost, and was out for days at a time, until he
exhausted all his powder and lead before finding the party.
Crossing the Mountains.
Fall had nearly come when they reached the head-waters of the Missouri.
The end of the holiday-time was at hand, for they had before them the
labor of crossing the great mountains so as to strike the head-waters of
the Columbia. Their success at this point depended somewhat upon the
Indian wife of the Frenchman who had joined them at Mandan. She had been
captured from one of the Rocky Mountains tribes and they relied on her
as interpreter. Partly through her aid, and partly by their own
exertions, they were able to find, and make friends with, a band of
wandering Shoshones, from whom they got horses. Having cached their
boats and most of their goods they started westward through the
forest-clad passes of the Rockies; before this they had wandered and
explored in several directions through the mountains and the foot-hills.
The open country had been left behind, and with it the time of plenty.
In the mountain forests the game was far less abundant than on the
plains and far harder to kill; though on the tops of the high peaks
there was one new game animal, the white antelope-goat, which they did
not see, though the Indians brought them hides. The work was hard, and
the party suffered much from toil and hunger, living largely on their
horses, before they struck one of the tributaries of the Snake
sufficiently low down to enable them once more to go by boat.
The Indians they Met.
They now met many Indians of various tribes, all of them very different
from the Indians of the Western Plains. At this time the Indians both
east and west of the Rockies, already owned numbers of horses. Although
they had a few guns, they relied mainly on the spears and tomahawks, and
bows and arrows with which they had warred and hunted from time
immemorial; for only the tribes on the outer edges had come in contact
with the whites, whether with occasional French and English traders who
brought them goods, or with the mixed bloods of the northern Spanish
settlements, upon which they raided. Around the mouth of the Columbia,
however, the Indians knew a good deal about the whites; the river had
been discovered by Captain Gray of Boston thirteen years before, and
ships came there continually, while some of the Indian tribes were
occasionally visited by traders from the British fur companies.
With one or two of these tribes the explorers had some difficulty, and
owed their safety to their unceasing vigilance, and to the prompt
decision with which they gave the Indians to understand that they would
tolerate no bad treatment; while yet themselves refraining carefully
from committing any wrong. By most of the tribes they were well
received, and obtained from them not only information of the route, but
also a welcome supply of food. At first they rather shrank from eating
the dogs which formed the favorite dish of the Indians; but after a
while they grew quite reconciled to dog's flesh; and in their journals
noted that they preferred it to lean elk and deer meat, and were much
more healthy while eating it.
Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific Coast.
They reached the rain-shrouded forests of the coast before cold weather
set in, and there they passed the winter; suffering somewhat from the
weather, and now and then from hunger, though the hunters generally
killed plenty of elk, and deer of a new kind, the blacktail of the
They Start Eastward Again.
In March, 1806, they started eastward to retrace their steps. At first
they did not live well, for it was before the time when the salmon came
up-stream, and game was not common. When they reached the snow-covered
mountains there came another period of toil and starvation,
and they were glad indeed when they emerged once more on the happy
hunting-grounds of the Great Plains. They found their caches
undisturbed. Early in July they separated for a time, Clark descending
the Yellowstone and Lewis the Missouri, until they met at the junction
of the two rivers. The party which went down the Yellowstone at one time
split into two, Clark taking command of one division, and a sergeant of
the other; they built their own canoes, some of them made out of
hollowed trees, while the others were bull boats, made of buffalo hides
stretched on a frame. As before they revelled in the abundance of the
game. They marvelled at the incredible numbers of the buffalo whose
incessant bellowing at this season filled the air with one continuous
roar, which terrified their horses; they were astonished at the
abundance and tameness of the elk; they fought their old enemies the
grizzly bears; and they saw and noted many strange and wonderful beasts
The Adventure of Lewis and the Indians.
To Lewis there befell other adventures. Once, while he was out with
three men, a party of eight Blackfoot warriors joined them and suddenly
made a treacherous attack upon them and strove to carry off their guns
and horses. But the wilderness veterans sprang to arms with a readiness
that had become second nature. One of them killed an Indian with a knife
thrust; Lewis himself shot another Indian, and the remaining six fled,
carrying with them one of Lewis' horses, but losing four of their own,
which the whites captured. This was the beginning of the long series of
bloody skirmishes between the Blackfeet and the Rocky Mountain explorers
and trappers. Clark, at about the same time, suffered at the hands of
the Crows, who stole a number of his horses.
He is Shot by one of his Own Party.
None of the party were hurt by the Indians, but some time after the
skirmish with the Blackfeet Lewis was accidentally shot by one of the
Frenchmen of the party and suffered much from the wound. Near the mouth
of the Yellowstone Clark joined him, and the reunited company floated
down the Missouri. Before they reached the Mandan villages they
encountered two white men, the first strangers of their own color the
party had seen for a year and a half. These were two American hunters
named Dickson and Hancock, who were going up to trap the head-waters of
the Missouri on their own account. They had come from the Illinois
country a year before, to hunt and trap; they had been plundered, and
one of them wounded, in an encounter with the fierce Sioux, but were
undauntedly pushing forwards into the unknown wilderness towards the
They Meet Two Hunters.
These two hardy and daring adventurers formed the little vanguard of the
bands of hunters and trappers, the famous Rocky Mountain men, who were
to roam hither and hither across great West in lawless freedom for the
next three quarters of a century. They accompanied the party back to the
Mandan village; there one of the soldiers joined them, a man name
Colter, so fascinated by the life of the wilderness that he was not
willing to leave it, even for a moment's glimpse of the civilization,
from which he had been so long exiled. [Footnote: For Colter, and the
first explorers of this region, see "The Yellowstone National Park," by
Captain H. M. Chittenden.] The three turned their canoe up-stream, while
Lewis and Clark and the rest of the party drifted down past the Sioux.
They Return to St. Louis.
The further voyage of the explorers was uneventful. They had
difficulties with the Sioux of course, but they held them at bay. They
killed game in abundance, and went down-stream as fast as sails, oars,
and current could carry them. In September they reached St. Louis and
forwarded to Jefferson an account of what they had done.
After-Careers of Lewis and Clark.
They had done a great deed, for they had opened the door into the heart
of the far West. Close on their tracks followed the hunters, trappers,
and fur traders who themselves made ready the way for the settlers whose
descendants were to possess the land. As for the two leaders of the
explorers, Lewis was made Governor of Louisiana Territory, and a couple
of years afterwards died, as was supposed, by his own hand, in a squalid
log cabin on the Chickasaw trace--though it was never certain that he
had not been murdered. Clark was afterwards Governor of the territory,
when its name had been changed to Missouri, and he also served honorably
as Indian agent. But neither of them did anything further of note; nor
indeed was it necessary, for they had performed a feat which will always
give them a place on the honor roll of American worthies.
Pike and his Explorations.
While Lewis and Clark were descending the Columbia and recrossing the
continent from the Pacific coast, another army officer was conducting
explorations which were only less important than theirs. This was Lieut.
Zebulon Montgomery Pike. He was not by birth a Westerner, being from New
Jersey, the son of an officer of the Revolutionary army; but his name
will always be indelibly associated with the West. His two voyages of
exploration, one to the head-waters of the Mississippi, the other to the
springs of the Arkansas and the Rio Grande, were ordered by Wilkinson,
without authority from Congress. When Wilkinson's name was smirched by
Burr's conspiracy the Lieutenant likewise fell under suspicion, for it
was believed that his south-western trip was undertaken in pursuance of
some of Wilkinson's schemes. Unquestionably this trip was intended by
Pike to throw light on the exact nature of the Spanish boundary claims.
In all probability he also intended to try to find out all he could of
the military and civil situation in the northern provinces of Mexico.
Such information could be gathered but for one purpose; and it seems
probable that Wilkinson had hinted to him that part of his plan which
included an assault of some kind or other on Spanish rule in Mexico; but
Pike was an ardent patriot, and there is not the slightest ground for
any belief that Wilkinson dared to hint to him his own disloyalty to the
He Ascends the Mississippi.
In August, 1805, Pike turned his face towards the head-waters of the
Mississippi, his purpose being both to explore the sources of that
river, and to show to the Indians, and to the British fur traders among
them, that the United States was sovereign over the country in fact as
well as in theory. He started in a large keel boat, with twenty soldiers
of the regular army. The voyage up-stream was uneventful. The party
lived largely on game they shot, Pike himself doing rather more hunting
than anyone else and evidently taking much pride in his exploits; though
in his journal he modestly disclaimed any pretensions to special skill.
Unlike the later explorers, but like Lewis and Clark, Pike could not
avail himself of the services of hunters having knowledge of the
country. He and his regulars were forced to be their own pioneers and to
do their own hunting, until, by dint of hard knocks and hard work, they
grew experts, both as riflemen and as woodsmen.
Encounters with Indians.
The expedition occasionally encountered parties of Indians. The savages
were nominally at peace with the whites, and although even at this time
they occasionally murdered some solitary trapper or trader, they did not
dare meddle with Pike's well armed and well prepared soldiers, confining
themselves to provocation that just fell short of causing conflict. Pike
handled them well, and speedily brought those with whom he came into
contact to a proper frame of mind, showing good temper and at the same
time prompt vigor in putting down any attempt at bullying. On the
journey up stream only one misadventure befell the party. A couple of
the men got lost while hunting and did not find the boat for six days,
by which time they were nearly starved, having used up all their
ammunition, so that they could not shoot game.
Winters on the Headwaters of the Mississippi.
The winter was spent in what is now Minnesota. Pike made a permanent
camp where he kept most of his men, while he himself travelled hither
and thither, using dog sleds after the snow fell. They lived almost
purely on game, and Pike, after the first enthusiasm of the sport had
palled a little, commented on the hard slavery of a hunter's life and
its vicissitudes; for on one day he might kill enough meat to last the
whole party for a week and when that was exhausted they might go three
or four days without anything at all. [Footnote: Pike's Journal, entry
of November 16, 1805.] Deer and bear were the common game, though they
saw both buffalo and elk, and killed several of the latter. Pike found
his small-bore rifle too light for the chase of the buffalo.
Council with the Sioux.
At the beautiful falls of St. Anthony, Pike held a council with the
Sioux, and got them to make a grant of about a hundred thousand acres in
the neighborhood of the falls; and he tried vainly to make peace between
the Sioux and the Chippewas. In his search for the source of the
Mississippi he penetrated deep into the lovely lake-dotted region of
forests and prairies which surrounds the head-waters of the river. He
did not reach Lake Itasca; but he did explore the Leech Lake drainage
system, which he mistook for the true source.
Hoists the American Flag.
At the British trading-posts, strong log structures fitted to repel
Indian attacks, Pike was well received. Where he found the British flag
flying he had it hauled down and the American flag hoisted in its place,
making both the Indians and the traders understand that the authority of
the United States was supreme in the land. In the spring he floated down
stream and reached St. Louis on the last day of April, 1806.
Returns to St. Louis and Starts Westward.
In July he was again sent out, this time on a far more dangerous and
important trip. He was to march west to the Rocky Mountains, and explore
the country towards the head of the Rio Grande, where the boundary line
between Mexico and Louisiana was very vaguely determined. His party
numbered twenty-three all told, including Lieutenant J. B. Wilkinson, a
son of the general, and a Dr. J. H. Robinson, whose special business it
was to find out everything possible about the Spanish provinces, or, in
plain English, to act as a spy. The party was also accompanied by fifty
Osage Indians, chiefly women and children who had been captured by the
Potowatomies, and whose release and return to their homes had been
brought about by the efforts of the United States Government. The
presence of these redeemed captives of course kept the Osages in good
humor with Pike's party.
Pike Journeys to the Osage and Pawnee Villages.
The party started in boats, and ascended the Osage River as far as it
was navigable. They then procured horses and travelled to the great
Pawnee village known as the Pawnee Republic, which gave its name to the
Republican River. Before reaching the Pawnee village they found that a
Spanish military expedition, several hundred strong, under an able
commander named Malgares, had anticipated them, by travelling through
the debatable land, and seeking to impress upon the Indians that the
power of the Spanish nation was still supreme. Malgares had travelled
from New Mexico across the Arkansas into the Pawnee country; during much
of his subsequent route Pike followed the Spaniard's trail. The Pawnees
had received from Malgares Spanish flags, as tokens of Spanish
sovereignty. Doubtless the ceremony meant little or nothing to them; and
Pike had small difficulty in getting the chiefs and warriors of the
village to hoist the American flag instead. But they showed a very
decided disinclination to let him continue his journey westward.
However, he would not be denied. Though with perfect good temper, he
gave them to understand that he would use force if they ventured to bar
his passage; and they finally let him go by. Later he had a somewhat
similar experience with a large Pawnee war party.
The Swarms of Game.
The explorers had now left behind them the fertile, tree-clad country,
and had entered on the great plains, across which they journeyed to the
Arkansas, and then up that river. Like Lewis and Clark, Pike found the
country literally swarming with game; for all the great plains region,
from the Saskatchewan to the Rio Grande, formed at this time one of the
finest hunting grounds to be found in the whole world. At one place just
on the border of the plains Pike mentions that he saw from a hill
buffalo, elk, antelope, deer, and panther, all in sight at the same
moment. When he reached the plains proper the three characteristic
animals were the elk, antelope, and, above all, the buffalo.
The myriads of huge shaggy-maned bison formed the chief feature in this
desolate land; no other wild animal of the same size, in any part of the
world, then existed in such incredible numbers. All the early travellers
seem to have been almost equally impressed by the interminable seas of
grass, the strange, shifting, treacherous plains rivers, and the
swarming multitudes of this great wild ox of the West. Under the blue
sky the yellow prairie spread out in endless expanse; across it the
horseman might steer for days and weeks through a landscape almost as
unbroken as the ocean. It was a region of light rainfall; the rivers ran
in great curves through beds of quicksand, which usually contained only
trickling pools of water, but in times of freshet would in a moment fill
from bank to bank with boiling muddy torrents. Hither and thither across
these plains led the deep buffalo-trails, worn by the hoofs of the herds
that had passed and re-passed through countless ages. For hundreds of
miles a traveller might never be out of sight of buffalo. At noon they
lay about in little groups all over the prairie, the yellow calves
clumsily frisking beside their mothers, while on the slight mounds the
great bulls moaned and muttered and pawed the dust. Towards nightfall
the herds filed down in endless lines to drink at the river, walking at
a quick, shuffling pace, with heads held low and beards almost sweeping
the ground. When Pike reached the country the herds were going south
from the Platte towards their wintering grounds below the Arkansas. At
first he passed through nothing but droves of bulls. It was not until he
was well towards the mountains that he came upon great herds of cows.
The prairie was dotted over with innumerable antelope. These have always
been beasts of the open country; but the elk, once so plentiful in the
great eastern forests, and even now plentiful in parts of the Rockies,
then also abounded on the plains, where there was not a tree of any
kind, save the few twisted and wind-beaten cottonwoods that here and
there, in sheltered places fringed the banks of the rivers.
Lewis and Clark had seen the Mandan horsemen surround the buffalo herds
and kill the great clumsy beasts with their arrows. Pike records with
the utmost interest how he saw a band of Pawnees in similar fashion
slaughter a great gang of elk, and he dwells with admiration on the
training of the horses, the wonderful horsemanship of the naked
warriors, and their skill in the use of bow and spear. It was a wild
hunting scene, such as belonged properly to times primeval. But indeed
the whole life of these wild red nomads, the plumed and painted
horse-Indians of the great plains, belonged to time primeval. It was at
once terrible and picturesque, and yet mean in its squalor and laziness.
From the Blackfeet in the north to the Comanches in the south they were
all alike; grim lords of war and the chase; warriors, hunters, gamblers,
idlers; fearless, ferocious, treacherous, inconceivably cruel;
revengeful and fickle; foul and unclean in life and thought; disdaining
work, but capable at times of undergoing unheard-of toil and hardship,
and of braving every danger; doomed to live with ever before their eyes
death in the form of famine or frost, battle or torture, and schooled to
meet it, in whatever shape it came, with fierce and mutterless
fortitude. [Footnote: Fortunately these horse-Indians, and the game they
chiefly hunted, have found a fit historian. In his books, especially
upon the Pawnees and Blackfeet, Mr. George Bird Grinnell has portrayed
them with a master hand; it is hard to see how his work can be
Wilkinson Descends the Arkansas.
When the party reached the Arkansas late in October Wilkinson and three
or four men journied down it and returned to the settled country.
Wilkinson left on record his delight when he at last escaped from the
bleak windswept plains and again reached the land where deer supplanted
the buffalo and antelope and where the cottonwood was no longer the only
Pike Reaches Pike's Peak.
The others struck westward into the mountains, and late in November
reached the neighborhood of the bold peak which was later named after
Pike himself. Winter set in with severity soon after they penetrated the
mountains. They were poorly clad to resist the bitter weather, and they
endured frightful hardships while endeavoring to thread the tangle of
high cliffs and sheer canyons. Moreover, as winter set in, the blacktail
deer, upon which the party had begun to rely for meat, migrated to the
wintering grounds, and the explorers suffered even more from hunger than
from cold. They had nothing to eat but the game, not even salt.
Sufferings from Cold and Hunger.
The travelling through the deep snow, whether exploring or hunting, was
heart-breaking work. The horses suffered most; the extreme toil, and
scant pasturage weakened them so that some died from exhaustion; others
fell over precipices and the magpies proved evil foes, picking the sore
backs of the wincing, saddle-galled beasts. In striving to find some
pass for the horses the whole party was more than once strung out in
detachments miles apart, through the mountains. Early in January, near
the site of the present Canyon City, Pike found a valley where deer were
plentiful. Here he built a fort of logs, and left the saddle-band and
pack-animals in charge of two of the members of the expedition;
intending to send back for them when he had discovered some practicable
He Strikes Across the Mountains on Foot.
He himself, with a dozen of the hardiest soldiers, struck through the
mountains towards the Rio Grande. Their sufferings were terrible. They
were almost starved, and so cold was the weather that at one time no
less than nine of the men froze their feet. Pike and Robinson proved on
the whole the hardiest, being kept up by their indomitable will, though
Pike mentions with gratification that but once, in all their trials, did
a single member of the party so much as grumble.
The Party almost Perishes from Starvation.
Pike and Robinson were also the best hunters; and it was their skill and
stout-heartedness, shown in the time of direst need, that saved the
whole party from death. In the Wet Mountain valley, which they reached
mid-January, 1807, at the time that nine of the men froze their feet,
starvation stared them in the face. There had been a heavy snowstorm; no
game was to be seen; and they had been two days without food. The men
with frozen feet, exhausted by hunger, could no longer travel. Two of
the soldiers went out to hunt, but got nothing. At the same time, Pike
and Robinson started, determined not to return at all unless they could
bring back meat. Pike wrote that they had resolved to stay out and die
by themselves, rather than to go back to camp "and behold the misery of
our poor lads." All day they tramped wearily through the heavy snow.
Towards evening they came on a buffalo, and wounded it; but faint and
weak from hunger, they shot badly, and the buffalo escaped; a
disappointment literally as bitter as death. That night they sat up
among some rocks, all night long, unable to sleep because of the intense
cold, shivering in their thin rags; they had not eaten for three days.
But they were men of indomitable spirit, and next day trudging painfully
on, they at last succeeded, after another heart-breaking failure, in
killing a buffalo. At midnight they staggered into camp with the meat,
and all the party broke their four days' fast. Two men lost their feet
through frost-bite, and had to be left in this camp, with all the food.
Only the fact that a small band of buffalo was wintering in the valley
had saved the whole expedition from death by starvation.
Pike Reaches the Rio Grande.
After leaving this valley Pike and the remaining men of the expedition
finally reached the Rio Grande, where the weather was milder and deer
abounded. Here they built a little fort over which they flew the United
States flag, though Pike well knew that he was in Spanish territory.
When the Spanish commander at Santa Fe learned of their presence he
promptly sent out a detachment of troops to bring them in, though
showing great courtesy, and elaborately pretending to believe that Pike
had merely lost his way.
Pike is Sent Home by the Spaniards.
From Santa Fe Pike was sent home by a roundabout route through
Chihuahua, and through Texas, where he noted the vast droves of wild
horses, and the herds of peccaries. He was much impressed by the strange
mixture of new world savagery and old world feudalism in the provinces
through which he passed. A nobility and a priesthood which survived
unchanged from the middle ages held sway over serfs and made war upon
savages. The Apache and Comanche raided on the outlying settlements; the
mixed bloods, and the "tame" Indians on the great ranches and in the
hamlets were in a state of peonage; in the little walled towns, the
Spanish commanders lived in half civilized, half barbaric luxury, and
shared with the priests absolute rule over the people roundabout. The
American lieutenant, used to the simplicity of his own service, was
struck by the extravagance and luxury of the Spanish officers, who
always travelled with sumpter mules laden with delicacies; and he was no
less struck with the laxity of discipline in all ranks. The Spanish
cavalry were armed with lances and shields; the militia carried not only
old fashioned carbines but lassos and bows and arrows. There was small
wonder that the Spanish authorities, civil, military, and ecclesiastical
alike, should wish to keep intruders out of the land, and should
jealously guard the secret of their own weakness.
His Subsequent Career.
When Pike reached home he found himself in disfavor, as was everyone who
was suspected of having any intimate relations with Wilkinson. However,
he soon cleared himself, and continued to serve in the army. He rose to
be a brigadier-general and died gloriously in the hour of triumph, when
in command of the American force which defeated the British and captured
Lewis, Clark, and Pike had been the pioneers in the exploration of the
far West. The wandering trappers and traders were quick to follow in
their tracks, and to roam hither and thither exploring on their own
accord. In 1807 one of these restless adventurers reached Yellowstone
Lake, and another Lake Itasca; and their little trading stations were
built far up the Missouri and the Platte.
The West Gradually Fills with Population.
While these first rough explorations of the far West were taking place,
the old West was steadily filling with population and becoming more and
more a coherent portion of the Union. In the treaties made from time to
time with the Northwestern Indians, they ceded so much land that at last
the entire northern bank of the Ohio was in the hands of the settlers.
But the Indians still held Northwestern Ohio and the northern portions
of what are now Indiana and Illinois, so that the settlement at Detroit
was quite isolated; as were the few little stockades, or groups of
fur-traders' huts, in what are now northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The
Southern Indians also surrendered much territory, in various treaties.
Georgia got control of much of the Indian land within her State limits.
All the country between Knoxville and Nashville became part of
Tennessee, so that the eastern and middle portions of the State were no
longer sundered by a jutting fragment of wilderness, infested by Indian
war parties whenever there were hostilities with the savages. The only
Indian lands in Tennessee or Kentucky were those held by the Chickasaws,
between the Tennessee and the Mississippi; and the Chickasaws were
friendly to the Americans.
Power of the West.
Year by year the West grew better able to defend itself if attacked, and
more formidable in the event of its being necessary to undertake
offensive warfare. Kentucky and Tennessee had become populous States, no
longer fearing Indian inroads; but able on the contrary to equip
powerful armies for the aid of the settlers in the more scantily peopled
regions north and south of them. Ohio was also growing steadily; and in
the territory of Indiana, including what is now Illinois, and the
territory of Mississippi, including what is now northern Alabama, there
were already many settlers.
Dangers Threatening the West.
Nevertheless the shadow of desperate war hung over the West. Neither the
northern nor the southern Indians were yet subdued; sullen and angry
they watched the growth of the whites, alert to seize a favorable moment
to make one last appeal to arms before surrendering their hunting
grounds. Moreover in New Orleans and Detroit the Westerners possessed
two outposts which it would be difficult to retain in the event of war
with England, the only European nation that had power seriously to
injure them. These two outposts were sundered from the rest of the
settled Western territory by vast regions tenanted only by warlike
Indian tribes. Detroit was most in danger from the Indians, the British
being powerless against it unless in alliance with the formidable tribes
that had so long battled against American supremacy. Their superb navy
gave the British the power to attack New Orleans at will. The Westerners
could rally to the aid of New Orleans much more easily than to the aid
of Detroit; for the Mississippi offered a sure channel of communication,
and New Orleans, unlike Detroit, possessed some capacity for
self-defence; whereas the difficulties of transit through the
Indian-haunted wilderness south of the Great Lakes were certain to cause
endless dangers and delays if it became necessary for the Westerners
either to reinforce or to recapture the little city which commanded the
straits between Huron and Erie.
During the dozen years which opened with Wayne's campaigns, saw the
treaties of Jay and Pinckney, and closed with the explorations of Lewis,
Clarke, and Pike, the West had grown with the growth of a giant, and for
the first time had achieved peace; but it was not yet safe from danger
of outside attack. The territories which had been won by war from the
Indians and by treaty from Spain, France, and England, and which had
been partially explored, were not yet entirely our own. Much had been
accomplished by the deeds of the Indian-fighters, treaty-makers, and
wilderness-wanderers; far more had been accomplished by the steady push
of the settler folk themselves, as they thrust ever westward, and carved
states out of the forest and the prairie; but much yet remained to be
done before the West would reach its natural limits, would free itself
forever from the pressure of outside foes, and would fill from frontier
to frontier with populous commonwealths of its own citizens.
THE END OF VOL. IV.
It is a pleasure to be able to say that the valuable Robertson
manuscripts are now in course of publication, under the direction of a
most competent editor in the person of Mr. W. R. Garrett, Ph.D. They are
appearing in the _American Historical Magazine_, at Nashville,
Tennessee; the first instalment appeared in January, and the second in
April, 1896. The _Magazine_ is doing excellent work, exactly where this
work is needed; and it could not render a better service to the study of
American history than by printing these Robertson papers.
After the present volume was in press Mr. Oswald Garrison Villard, of
Harvard, most kindly called my attention to the Knox Papers, in the
archives of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, of
Boston. These papers are of great interest. They are preserved in a
number of big volumes. I was able to make only a most cursory
examination of them; but Mr. Villard with great kindness went carefully
through them, and sent me copies of those which I deemed important.
There are a number of papers referring to matters connected with the
campaigns against the western Indians. The most interesting and valuable
is a long letter from Col. Darke giving a very vivid picture of St.
Clair's defeat, and of the rout which followed. While it can hardly be
said to cast any new light on the defeat, it describes it in a very
striking manner, and brings out well the gallantry of the officers and
the inferior quality of the rank and file; and it gives a very
unpleasant picture of St. Clair and Hamtranck.
Besides the Darke letter there are several other manuscripts containing
information of value. In Volume XXIII., page 169, there is a letter from
Knox to General Harmar, dated New York, September 3, 1790. After much
preliminary apology, Knox states that it "has been reported, and under
circumstances which appear to have gained pretty extensive credit on the
frontiers, that you are too apt to indulge yourself to excess in a
convivial glass"; and he then points out the inevitable ruin that such
indulgence will bring to the General.
A letter from St. Clair to Knox, dated Lexington, September 4, 1791,
runs in part: "Desertion and sickness have thinned our ranks. Still, if
I can only get them into action before the time of the levies expires, I
think my force sufficient, though that opinion is founded on the
calculation of the probable number that is opposed to us, having no
manner of information as to the force collected to oppose us." On the
15th he writes from Ft. Washington about the coming expiration of
enlistments and says: "I am very sensible how hazardous it is to
approach, under such circumstances, and my only expectation is that the
men will find themselves so far engaged that it will be obviously better
to go forward than to return, at the same time it precludes the
establishment of another post of communication however necessary, but
that indeed is precluded also from our decreasing numbers, and the very
little dependence that is to be placed upon the militia."
Col. Winthrop Sargent writes to General Knox from Ft. Washington, on
January 2, 1792. He states that there were fourteen hundred Indians
opposed to St. Clair in the battle, and repeats a rumor that six hundred
Indians from the Lakes quarrelled with the Miamis over the plunder, and
went home without sharing any part, warning their allies that thereafter
they should fight their battles alone. Sargent dwells upon the need of
spies, and the service these spies would have rendered St. Clair. A few
days afterwards he writes in reference to a rumor that his own office is
to be dispensed with, protesting that this would be an outrage, and that
he has always discharged his duties well, having entered the service
simply from a desire to be of use to his country. He explains that the
money he receives would hardly do more than equip him, and that he only
went into the army because he valued reputation and honor more than
The letters of the early part of 1792 show that the survivors of St.
Glair's army were torn by jealousy, and that during the winter following
his defeat there was much bitter wrangling among the various officers.
Wilkinson frequently wrote to Knox giving his estimate of the various
officers, and evidently Knox thought very well of him. Wilkinson spoke
well of Sargent; but most of the other officers, whom he mentions at
all, he mentions with some disfavor, and he tells at great length of the
squabbles among them, his narrative being diversified at times by an
account of some other incident such as "a most lawless outrage" by "a
party of the soldiery on the person of a civil magistrate in the village
of Cincinnati." Knox gives his views as to promotions in a letter to
Washington, which shows that he evidently felt a good deal of difficulty
in getting men whom he deemed fit for high command, or even for the
command of a regiment.
One of the worst quarrels was that of the Quartermaster, Hodgdon, first
with Major Zeigler and then with Captain Ford. The Major resigned, and
the captain publicly insulted the Quartermaster and threated to
In one letter Caleb Swan, on March 11, 1792, advises Wilkinson that he
had been to Kentucky and had paid off the Kentucky militia who had
served under St. Clair. Wilkinson in a letter of March 13th, expresses
the utmost anxiety for the retention of St. Clair in command. Among the
numerous men whom Wilkinson had complained of was Harmar, who, he said,
was not only addicted to drink, but was also a bad disciplinarian. He
condemned the quartermaster also, although less severely than most of
the other officers.
Darke's letter is worth quoting in full. Its spelling and punctuation
are extraordinary; and some of the words can not be deciphered.
Letter from Col. Darke to George Washington, president of the U. S.,
dated at Fort Washington, Nineth of Novr. 1791,
(_Knox_ Papers, Vol. xxx., p. 12.)
I take the liberty to Communicate to your Excellency the disagreeable
News of our defeat.
We left fort Washington the Begining of Septr a Jornel of our march to
the place of action and the whole proseeding on our march I hoped to
have had the honour to inclose to you but that and all other papers
cloathing & &c., was Taken by the Indians. this Jornel I know would have
gave you pain but thought it not amis to Give you a State of facts and
Give you every Information in my power and had it Ready to Send to you
the Very Morning we were actacked.
We advanced 24 miles from fort Washington and bult a Small fort which we
I thought were long about from thence we advanced along the banks of the
Meamme River where the fort was arected 44-1/2 Miles on a Streight Line
by the Compass west 1/4 north though farther the way the Road went and
bult another fort which we Left on the 23 October and from that time to
the 3d Novr Got 31 Miles where we incamped in two Lines about 60 yards
apart the Right whing in frunt Commanded by General Butler, the Left in
the Rear which I commanded, our piccquets Decovered Some Sculking
Indians about Camp in the Night and fired on them. Those we expected
were horsstealers as they had Taken Many of our horses near fort
Washington, and on the way and killed a few of our Men.
As Soon as it was Light in the Morning of the 4th Novr the advanced
Guards of the Meletia fired the Meletia Being in-camped a Small distance
in frunt a Scattering fire Soon Commenced The Troops were instandly
formed to Reserve them and the pannack Struck Meletia Soon broke in to
the Center of our incampment in a few Munites our Guards were drove in
and our whole Camp Surrounded by Savages advencing up nere to our Lines
and Made from behind trees Logs &c., Grate Havoke with our Men I for
Some time having no orders [indevanced?] to pervent the Soldiers from
braking and Stil finding the enemy Growing More bold and Coming to the
very Mouths of our Cannon and all the brave artilery officers Killed I
ordered the Left whing to Charge which with the assistance of the
Gallent officers that were then Left I with deficuaty prevailed on them
to do, the Second U S Regt was then the Least disabled the Charge begat
with them on the Left of the Left whing I placed a Small Company of
Rifelmen on that flank on the Bank of a Small Crick and persued the
enemy about four hundred yards who Ran off in all directions but this
time the Left flank of the Right whing Gave way and Number of the
Indians Got into our Camp and Got possession of the Artilery and Scalped
I Sopose a hundred men or more I turned back and beat them quite off the
Ground and Got posesion of the Cannon and had it been possible to Get
the troops to form and push them we Should then have Soon beat them of
the Ground but those that Came from the Lelf whing Run in a huddle with
those of the Right the enemys fire being allmost over for Many Munites
and all exertions Made by many of the brave officer to Get them in Some
order to persue Victory was all in Vain. they would not form in any
order in this Confution they Remained until the enemy finding they were
not pushed and I dare say Active officers with them and I beleive
Several of them white they Came on again, and the whole Army Ran
toGether Like a Mob at a fair and had it not been for the Gratest
Exertions of the officers would have stood there til all killed the Genl
then Sent to me if possible to Get them off that Spot by Making a Charge
I found my Endevours fruitless for Some time but at Length Got Several
Soldiers together that I had observed behaving brave and Incoraged them
to lead off which they did with charged bayonetts Success the whole
followed with Grate Rapidity I then endevoured to halt the frunt to Get
them in Some order to turn and fire a few Shots but the horse I Rode
being Good for little and I wounded in the thigh Early in the Action and
having fatigued my Self much was So Stif I could make a poor hand of
Running. the Confution in the Retreat is beyound description the Men
throughing away their arms not withstanding all the indevour of the few
Remaining Brave officers I think we must have Lost 1000 Stand of arms
Meletia included. It is impossible to Give any Good account of the Loss
of men at this time but from the Loss of officers you may Give Some Gess
a list of their Names you have In Closed the Brave and Much to be
Lemented G. B. at their Head I have Likewise in Closed you a Small Rough
Scetch of the feald of battle. I at this time am Scarcely able to write
being worn out with fatigue Not having Slept 6 hours Since the defeat.
This fatigue has bean occationed by the Cowardly behaviour of Major John
F. Hamtramck, and I am Sorry to say Not the Same exertions of the
Govenor that I expected. Hamtramck was about Twenty four Miles in our
Rear with the first U S Regiment Consisting of upwards of 300 effective
men and on hearing of our defeat insted of Coming on as his orders was I
believe to follow us Retreated back 7 miles to fort Jefferson we knowing
of his being on his march after us and was in hopes of Grate Releif from
him in Covering the Retreat of perhaps upwards of 200 or 300 wounded men
Many of whom might easily bean Saved with that fresh Regiment with whom
I should not have bean arraid to have passed the whole Indian army if
they had persued as the would have bean worn down with the Chace and in
Grate Disorder when we Got to the fort 31 miles in about 9 hours no one
having eat any from the day before the action we found the Garison
without more than than one days bred and no meat having bean on half
alowence two days there was a Council Called to which I aftar I beleive
they had agreed what was to be done was called it was Concluded to march
of & Recommence the Retreat at 10 oclock which was begun I think an hour
before that time more than 300 wounded and Tired in our Rear the Govenor
assured me that he expected provition on every hour I at first Concluded
to stay with my Son who was very dangerously and I expected Mortaly
wounded but after Geting Several officers dressed and as well provided
for as possible and Seing the Influance Hamtramck had with the Genl
about twelve oclock I got a horse and followed the army as I thought
from apearences that Major Hamtramck had Influance anough to pervent the
Garison from being Supplied with the provition Coming on by Keeping the
first Regt as a guard for himself I Rode alone about ten Miles from
twelve oclock at night until I overtook the Regiment and the Genl I
still kept on until I met the pack horses about daylight Much alarmed at
having heard Something of the defeat, the Horse master Could Not prevail
on the drivers to Go on with him until I assured then I would Go back
with them Lame as I was I ordered the horses to be loaded immediately
and I Returned as fast as I could to hault the first Regiment as a
guard, and when I met them told them to halt and make fires to Cook
immediately as I made Sure they would be sent back with the provitions,
but when I met the Govenor and Major Hamtramck I pervailed with Genl St.
Clair to order 60 men back only which was all I could possibly get and
had the bulock drivers known that was all the guard they were to have
they would not have gone on nuther would the horse drivers I believe in
Sted of the 120 hors loads Got on all the Rest went back with the army
and though the Men had bean So Long Sterving and we then 47 miles from
the place of action I could not pervail on them the Genl and his fammily
or [advisers?] to halt for the sterved worn down Soldiers to Cook, nor
did they I believe even Kill a bullock for their Releaf I went back to
fort Jefferson that Night with the flour beaves &c. where they was No
kind of provision but a Miserable Poor old horse and many Valuable
officers wound there and perhaps 200 soldiers it was Night when I Got
back I Slept not one moment that Night my son and other officers being
in Such Distress. the next day I was busy all day--Getting--made to
Carry of the wounded officers there being no Medison there Nor any
Nurishment not even a quart of Salt but they were not able to bare the
Motion of the horses. That Night I Set off for this place and Rode til
about 12 oclock by which time my thigh was amassingly Sweld Near as
large as my body and So hot that I could feel the warmth with my hand 2
foot off of it I could Sleep none and have Slept very Little Since the
wounds begin to Separate and are much esier I am aprehensive that fort
Jeferson is now beseiged by the indians as Certain Information has bean
Received that a large body were on Sunday night within fifteen miles of
it Coming on the Road we Marched out and I am Sorey to Se no exertions
to Releive it I Cannot tel whether they have the Cannon they took from
us or Not if they have not, they Cannot take it Nor I don't think they
Can with for want of Ball which they have No Grate Number of. They took
from us eight pieces of ordenence 130 bullocks, about 300 horses upwards
of 200 Tents and a Considerable quantity of flour amunition and all the
officers and Soldiers Cloathing and bagage except what they had on I
believe they gave quarters to none as most of the Women were Killed
before we left the Ground I think the Slaughter far Grater than Bradocks
there being 33 brave officers Killd Dead on the Ground 27 wounded that
we know of and Some Mising exclusive of the Meletia and I know their
Cole, and two Captains were Killed I do not think our Loss so Grate as
to Strike the Surviving officers with Ideas of despair as it Seems to.
the Chief of the Men Killd are of the Levies and indeed many of them are
as well out of the world as in it as for the Gallent officers they are
much to be Lamented as the behaviour of allmost all of them would have
done honour to the first Veterans in the world. The few that escaped
without wounds it was Chiefly axedent that Saved them as it is
impossible to Say more in their praise than they deserve.
In the few horse officers though they had no horses Good for anything
Capt. Truman Lieut. Sedam Debuts Boins and Gleer behaved Like Soldiers.
Capt. Snowder is I think Not Calculated for the army and Suliven
Quartermaster and Commt is as Grate a poltoon as I ever saw in the
world. [Footnote: Written and lined as above.] Ensign Shambury of the
first United States Regiment is as brave Good and determined a Hero as
any in the work Lieutenent James Stephenson from Berkeley of the Levies
aded to one of the most unspoted and Respectable Carectors in the world
in private Life as Good an officer as ever drew breth, his Gallent
behavior in Action drew the attention of every officer that was Near him
more than any other. There is one Bisel perhaps a volenteer in the
Second U S Regiment who Richly deserved preferment for his bravery
through the whole action he made the freeest use of the Baonet of any
Man I noticed in the Carcases of the Savages. John Hamelton I cant say
too much in praise of who was along with the army a packhorse master he
picked up the dead mens guns and used them freely when he found them
Loaded and when the Indians entered the Camp he took up an ax and at
them with it. I am Intirely at a loss to Give you any idea what General
St. Clair intends to do. I well know what I would do if I was in his
place and would venture to forfet my Life if the Indians have not moved
the Cannon farther than the Meamme Towns if I did not Retake them by
Going there in three days insted of two months I well know the have Lost
many of their braves & wariors and I make no doubt the have Near 100
wounded Their killed I cannot think Bare any perpotion to ours as they
Lay so Concealed but many I know were killd and those the most dareing
fellows which has weakened them Grately and I know we were able to beat
them and that a violent push with one hundred brave men when the Left
whing Returned from persuing them would have turned the Scale in our
favor indeed I think fifty would in the Scatered State they were in and
five or Six hundred Mounted Riflemen from Conetuck aded to the force we
have would Be as Sure of Suchsess as they went many have offer to Go
with me a number of officers ofer to Go as privates and I never was
Treated with So much Respect in any part of the world as I have bean
this day in this wilderness in the time I am offered My Choice of any
horse belonging to the town as I Lost all my own horses I shall Se the
General in the morning and perhaps be no more Satisfied than I am now.
Though I have Spoke of all the officers with that Respect they Richly
deserve I Cannot in Justice to Capt. Hannah help mentioning him as when
all his men were killed wounded and Scatered except four Got a ( ?) that
belonged to Capt. Darkes Company when the Cannon was Retaken the
Artilery men being all killed and Lying in heaps about the Peases who he
Draged away and Stood to the Cannon himSelf til the Retreat and then
within a few yards of the enemy Spiked the Gun with his Baonet Capt.
Brack (?) and all the Captains of the Maryland Line I cannot Say too
much in their praise. I have taken the Liberty of Writing So perticculer
to you as I think no one Can Give a better account nor do I think you
will Get an account from any that Saw So much of the action Genl. St.
Clair not Being able to Run about as I was if his inclination had been
as Grate I hope in the Course of the winter to have the pleasure of
Seeing you when I may have it in my power to answer any questions you
are pleased to ask Concerning the unfortunate Campain. I
Have the Honour to be
your Excellencys most obt.
and most humble servent
10 Novr. I have prevailed on the Good Genl. to send a Strong party To
Carry Supplies to fort Jeferson which I hope will be able to Releve it
and as I have polticed wound and the Swelling much Asswaged if I find
myself able to Set on hors back will Go with the party as I Can be very
warm by Laping myself with blankets
The President of the United States.
skirmish with Indians,
relations with Burr,
arrested by Wilkinson.
reluctant to war against Indians;
culpably lax in defence of their honor.
Augusta, treaty at.
Backwoods folk, their deeds;
their pressure on the Spanish dominions;
they were the real factors in acquiring Louisiana.
Barbe Marbois, sound advice to Napoleon.
Beard, John, militia captain;
Bishop of Louisiana, hatred of Americans and Protestants.
Bloody Fellow, Indian chief.
made governor of Southwestern Territory;
his tact and ability;
treats with Cherokees;
helps cause of education;
good faith towards Indians;
Superintendent of Indian Affairs;
tries to restrain militia;
and avert a general war;
deceived by the Cherokees;
deceived by Chickamaugas;
puts down horse thieves;
prevents outrages on Indians;
controversy with Seagrove;
efforts to avert war;
successfully directs the war;
desires a national war;
excellent conduct in stopping filibustering;
disapproves Jay's treaty;
his extraordinary land-grabbing scheme;
expelled from Senate;
his handsome house.
Bonham, killed at St. Clair's defeat.
Books in the backwoods.
meets English traveller;
becomes a Spanish official;
Bowles, tory adventurer among Creeks.
Brady, attacks Indians.
Brant, the Iroquois chief,
kindness to prisoners;
advises war against Americans;
pleased with Dorchester's speech;
anger with British.
Brickell, captivity of.
hostile to Americans;
treachery of, on Northwestern frontier.
Brown, Senator from Kentucky,
Buchanan's Station, attack on.
his former career;
his relations to the West;
his treasonable schemes;
he starts West;
vagueness of his schemes;
his intrigues with Wilkinson, Jackson, and various other Western
his second trip West;
his plans foiled by the Kentucky Federalists;
crumbling of his plans;
Butler, John, British colonel,
reads Dorchester's speech to the Indians.
Butler, Richard, General,
failings as a commander;
Butler, Thomas, Major,
gallantry of, at St. Clair's defeat.
Caldwell, British partisan.
Campbell, Captain Mis,
killed at Fallen Timbers.
attacked by Indians;
charge to Grand Jury.
corresponds with Simcoe;
incites savages to war against Americans;
intrigues with Southern Indians;
intrigues with Westerners;
correspondence with Wayne;
failure of his negotiations with the Westerners;
declines to carry out treaty.
make open war;
their towns destroyed.
Claiborne, Governor of Mississippi,
proposes attack on Louisiana;
Governor of Orleans;
his establishment of a little freebooter state.
Clark, George Rogers,
wishes to acquire Spanish territory;
intrigues with French;
accepts a French commission;
collapse of expedition.
killed at St. Clair's defeat.
serves under Wayne;
defeats Indians in skirmish;
at Fallen Timbers;
his ability respected by Spaniards;
starts across continent with Lewis;
their voyage up the Missouri;
their wonder at the strange animals;
their good qualities as explorers;
their attitude towards the Indians;
they halt at Mandan for the winter;
start west in the spring;
travel through vast hunting grounds;
cross the Rocky Mountains;
their return voyage;
adventures and accidents;
Clay, Henry, and Burr.
Cocke, William, "the mulberry man".
Collins, envoy of De Lemos.
County, the unit of organization.
raid on Georgians;
bad faith of;
ravaged by Indians;
the settlers retaliate;
rapid growth of.
Currency in the backwoods.
gallantry of, at St. Clair's defeat.
Daveiss, Joseph H.,
Burr's most formidable foe;
ingratitude, shown to, by Jefferson.
Defiance, Fort, built by Wayne.
Democratic societies, seditious conduct of.
Denny, St. Clair's aide,
at St. Clair's defeat;
carries the news to Washington.
Disunionists, folly and treachery of.
Doak, founds a college.
correspondence with land speculators.
Dunlop's Station, attack on.
Education, in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Elliott, British partisan.
Ellicott, Andrew, Surveyor-General at Natchez.
Explorers, of the Far West.
Fallen Timbers, battle of.
Federalist party, wrong in its attitude
Filibusters at New Orleans.
Folch, Spanish Governor.
tend to retrograde;
hatred of Indians;
some of them profit by Indian wars;
fondness for a lonely life;
engage in river trade;
but fundamentally farmers;
build few and small towns;
capacity for self-help;
traits of those who became permanent settlers;
their political organization;
join together for common objects;
hardness of life;
existence in a log cabin;
Americans the pioneers;
failure of old-world immigrants on frontier;
pioneers suspicious of merchants;
sometimes repudiate debts;
viciousness of their military system;
their individualism in religious matters;
they strain against Spanish boundaries;
hated and feared by Spaniards;
their advantages over Spaniards.
Galphinton, treaty at.
Game, vast herds of, on the great plains.
Gayoso de Lemos,
sound advice to Carondelet;
builds fort at Chickasaw Bluffs;
negotiations with Wilkinson;
anxiety over murder of his envoy;
endeavors to check Protestantism among the settlers.
Genet, French Ambassador,
his preposterous career;
wishes to procure the conquest of Louisiana;
checked by Washington;
makes her own treaties with Creeks;
lawlessness of her backwoodsmen;
they and the Indians commit brutal outrages on one another.
one of, with treacherous Delawares;
go with war parties of Indians;
Simon, at Fallen Timbers.
Glass, Indian Chief.
Godoy, Prince of Peace, makes treaty with Pinckney.
Greeneville, Fort and afterwards Town of,
founded by Wayne;
connection with Yazoo frauds.
Guyon, Isaac, Captain.
Hardin, Col. John, treacherously slain by Indians.
Harrison, W. H.
Hawkins, Benjamin, his advice to Blount.
Hearne, Arctic explorer.
Herrera, Spanish General.
Holston, treaty of, with Cherokees.
Horse-thieves, white allies of.
misjudged by Easterners;
Northwestern, hold great council at Miami Rapids;
band in open war against Americans;
victory over St. Clair;
serve British as a protection, and as police;
innumerable obscure conflicts with;
Creeks and Cherokees;
the chief fact in early Tennessee history;
typical character of these Tennessee wars;
treachery of the Southern Indians;
their peculiar warfare necessitates offensive returns;
the divided state of the Creeks and Cherokees only increases the
trouble of the settlers;
extraordinary names among;
Chickamaugas and Lower Cherokees as hostile as the Creeks;
mixed war party beaten back from Buchanan's Station;
conflicts with militia,
Creeks and Georgians;
Indians and frontiersmen;
Chickasaws assail Creeks;
are helped by frontiersmen;
Creeks and Cherokees forced to make peace;
Chickasaws and Spaniards;
their war with Creeks;
division among them;
play into the hands of Spaniards;
the Indians of the Far West.
lukewarm towards Federal Government;
bad conduct of;
honorable attitude towards slavery;
assailed by Daveiss.
Irwin, Thomas, the packhorse-man.
wars on criminals;
goes to Congress;
relations with Burr.
wrath of Westerners at his treaty;
its good effects;
its effects on Pinckney's treaty.
his intrigues against Washington;
secretly aids the French;
tries to buy Louisiana;
tries to impress Napoleon;
abandons his former theories;
Louisiana thrust upon him;
his great services to science.
but the champion of the West.
Judicial officers, ride circuits.
Kenton, fight with Indians.
anger over Jay's treaty;
handsome houses of gentry;
they are lawyers, manufacturers;
but more than all, large landowners;
compared with Virginians;
habits of life.
Knox, misunderstands Indian question.
Federalist and anti-Jacobin;
no sympathy with Genet;
pathetic advertisements in;
public address on wrongs of Tennesseeans.
La Chaise, French agent.
centres for fur trade and Indian intrigue;
British cling to;
taken possession of by Americans.
their connection with British and Spanish intrigues,
Land sales, unwise system of.
Lasselle, Antoine, the Canadian.
Laussat, French Prefect.
_See_ William Clark.
Little Otter, Indian chief,
his Wyandots and Ottowas defeat one of Wayne's detachments.
Little Turtle, Miami chief,
at St. Clair's defeat;
Livingston, Robert R.
offers to join Clark;
beaten for Governor of Kentucky.
really won for the United States by the Western settlers themselves;
the diplomats really played a small part in acquiring it;
the Mississippi no barrier to the backwoodsmen;
they covet the mouth of the Mississippi;
for the moment New Orleans of more consequence than the
fury of West when Louisiana was ceded to France by Spain;
fate of Louisiana inevitable;
cession finally made;
obtained purely because of growth of West;
brief French occupation;
apathy of Creoles;
discontent in, at change;
friction between Creoles and Americans;
made into Territory of Orleans;
composite character of the population
of New Orleans;
the Creoles and slavery;
New Orleans offers a field for Burr's arts.
Mackenzie, Canadian explorer.
his frank Kentucky correspondent;
Secretary of State;
fear of West.
Mahaffy, a scout.
Malgares, Spanish Commander.
Mansker, Kaspar, the Tennessee Indian fighter.
Marietta, settlements near, raided.
Massac, Wayne builds fort at.
May, a scout, death of.
McClellan, Robert, one of Wayne's scouts.
repudiated by Creeks;
loss of influence;
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