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title:“George Rogers Clark to George Mason”
authors:George Rogers Clark
date written:1779-11-19

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https://consource.org/document/george-rogers-clark-to-george-mason-1779-11-19/20130122084128/
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:41 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 15, 2018, 1:48 a.m. UTC

transcription
citation:
Clark, George Rogers. "Letter to George Mason." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 555-88. Print.
manuscript
source:
Recipient's Copy, Filson Club Library, Louisville, Ky.

George Rogers Clark to George Mason (November 19, 1779)

Louisville, Falls of Ohio Novr. 19 1779.
MY D[EA]R SIR
Continue to favour me with your valuable Lessons. Continue your Repremands as though I was your Son: when suspicious, think not that promotion or confer'd Honour will occation any unnecessary pride in me. You have infus'd too many of your Valuable precepts in me to be guilty of the like, or to shew any indifference to those that ought to be dear to me. It is with pleasure that I obey in transmitting to you a short sketch of my enterprise and proceeding in the Illinois as near as I can Recollect or gather from memorandums.
After disingageing myself from Kentucky, I set out for Williamsburg in Augt. 1777 in order to settle my Acts. I had just Reasons known to few but myself that occationed me to resolve not to have any farther Command whatever, without I should find a very great call for Troops and my Country in danger in such case I was determined to loose my Life rather we should submit. On my arrival at Town I found to appearance a friend in many Gentlemen of note that offered [th]eir Interest to me in case I should offer at any Post. Many was surpris'd that I would not selicit for some Birth. I must confess that I think myself often to blame for not makeing use of Intrest for my promotion but to merit it first is such a fixed principal with me that I never could, and I hope never shall ask for a Post of Honour, as I think the Publick ought to be the best Judge whether a Person deserves it or not, if he did he would certainly be Rewarded according to the Virtue they had. But finding that we were in [an] alarming situation, the Indians desperate on one side, the Britains on the other I immediately Resolved to encourage an Expedition to the Illinois. But to make it publick was a certain loss of it. I proposed the plan to a few Gentlemen, they communicated it to the Governour it was immediately determined on, to be put in Execution as soon as a Bill could be passed to enable the Governour to order it; it accordingly pass'd though but a few in the House knew the real intent of it. After giving the Council all the intiligence I possibly could, I resolved to pursue my other Plans, But being desired by the Governour to stay some time in Town, I wated with impatience; he I suppose believeing that I wanted the Command, and was determined to give it to me; But it was far from my Inclination at that time. I was Summoned to attend the Council-Board; the instructions an[d] necessary papers was ready for puting in the name of the Person to ComMand: I believe they expected me to selicit for it, but I resolved not to do [so], for reasons I hinted you before. However I excepted it after being told the Command of this little Army was designd for me—I then got every request granted and fully impowered to raise as many Men as I could not exceeding a Certain Number. After being engaged, I was then as Determined to prosecute it with Vigour, as I was before indifferent about the Command. I had since the beginning of the War taken pains to make myself acquainted with the true situation of the British posts on the Fronteers; and since find that I was not mistaken in my judgment—I was ordered to Attact the Illinois in case of Success to carry my Arms to any Quarter I pleased I was certain that with five hundred Men I could take the Illinois, and by my treating the Inhabitants as fellow Citizens, and shew them that I ment to protect rather than treat them as a Conquered People Engageing the Indians to our Interest &c. It might probably have so great an effect on their Country men at Detroyet, (they already disliked their Master,) that it would be an easy prey for me. I should have mentioned my design to his Excellency but was convinced, or afraid that it might lessen his esteem for me, as it was a general oppinion that it would take several thousand to approach that Place. I was happy with the thoughts of fair prospect of undeceiveing the Publick respecting their formidable Enemies on our Fronteers. I left Williamsburg January the 18th, made as quick dispatch as possible to the fronteers, and by the end of the month had Recruiting Parties disposed from Pitsburg to Carolina, had my little Army Recruited in half the time I expected —Elivated with the thoughts of the great service we should do our Country in some measure; puting an end to the Indian War on our fronteers. It may appear to you [to] be a mear presumption in me, but I was always too jealous of myself to be far wrong in plans, that I had so long studied, and since find that I could have executed it with the greatest ease if it had not been [for the] following Conduct of many leading Men in the fronteers, that had liked to have put an end to the enterprise, not knowing my Distination, and through a spirit of obstinacy they combined and did every thing that lay in their power to stop the Men that had Enlisted, and set the whole Fronteers in an uproar, even condescended to harbor and protect those that Deserted. I found my case desperate, the longer I remained the worse it was. I plainly saw that my Principal Design was baffled—I was resolved to push to Kentucky with what men I could gather in West Augusta; being Joined by Capts. Bowman and Helms who had each raised a Compy. for the Expedition, but two thirds of them was stopt by the undesign'd Enemies to the Country that I before mentioned. In the whole I had about one hundred & fifty Men Collected and set Sail for the Falls. I had previous to this received Letters from Capt. Smith on Holdston enforming me that he intended to meet me at that place with near two hundred Men, which encouraged me much as I was in hopes of being enabled by that reinforcemt, at least to attact the Illinois with a probability of Success &c—.
I set out from Red Stone the 12th of may leaving the Country in great confusion, much distressed by the Indians—General Hand, pleased with my Intentions furnished me with every necessary I wanted and the ____ of may I arrived at the Canoweay to the Joy of the Garrison as they were very weak, & had the day before been attacted by a large Body of Indians. Being Joined by Capt. Oharrads Compy. on his way to the Osark; after spending a day or two, We set out and had a very pleasant Voyage to the falls of Ohio having sent Expresses to the Stations on Kentucky from the mouth of the River, for Capt. Smith to join me immediately as I made no doubt but that he was wateing for me. But you may easily guess at my mortification on being informed that he had not arrived; that all his Men had been stopt by the insessant labours of the populace, except part of a Compy. that had arrived under Command of one Capt. Delland Some on their March being threatened to be put into Prison if they did not return; this information made me as Desperate as I was before Determined.
Reflecting on the Information that I had of some of my greatest opponents censureing the Governour for his Conduct, as they thought, ordering me for the Protection of Kentucky only; that and some other secret impulses Occationed me in spite of all Council to Risque the Expedition to convince them of their error until that moment, secret to the Principal Officers I had. I was sensible of the impression it would have on many, to be taken near a thousand [miles] from the Body of their Country to attact a People five times their number, and merciless Tribes of Indians their Allies and determined Enemies to us.
I knew that my case was desperate, but the more I reflected on my weakness the more I was pleased with the Enterprize. Joined by a few of the Kentuckyans, under Colo. Montgomery to stop the desertion I knew would ensue on the Troops knowing their Destination I had encamped on a small Island in the middle of the Falls, kept strict Guards on the Boats, but Lieutenant Hutchings of Dillards Compy contrived to make his escape with his party after being refused leave to return, luckely a few of his Men was taken the next day by a Party sent after them. On this Island I first began to discipline my little Army knowing that to be the most essential point towards success. Most of them determined to follow me, the rest seeing no probability of making their escape I soon got that subbordination as I could wish for. About twenty families that had followed me much against my Inclination I found now to be of service to me in guarding a Block house that I had erected on the Island to secure my Provisions. I got every thing in Readiness on the 26th of June, set off from the Falls, double Man'd our Oars and proceeded day and Night until we run into the mouth of the Tenesse River the fourth day landed on an Island to prepare Ourselves for a March by Land, a few hours after we took a Boat of Hunters but eight days from Kaskaskias; before I would suffer them to answer any Person a Question after their taking the oath of allegiance I examined them particularly. They were Englishmen, & appear'd to be in our Interest, their inteligence was not favourable, they asked leave to go on the Expedition, I granted it, and ordered them what to relate particularly on pain of Suffering, they observed my instructions which put the whole in the greatest spirits. Sure by what they heard of success, in the evening of the same day I run my Boats into a small Creek about one mile above the old Fort Missack; Reposed ourselves for the night, and in the morning, took a Rout to the Northwest and had a very fatiegueing Journey for about fifty miles, until we came into those level Plains that is frequent throughout this extensive Country. As I knew my Success depended on secrecy, I was much affraid of being discovered in these Meadows as we might be seen in many places for several miles. Nothing extraordinary happened dureing our Route Excepting my guide loosing himself and not being able, as we judged by his confusion of giving a Just account of himself. It put the whole Troops in the greatest Confusion. I never in my life felt such a flow of Rage—to be wandering in a Country where every Nation of Indians could raise three, or four times our Number, and a certain loss of our enterprise by the Enemie's getting timely notice. I could not bear the thoughts of returning; in short every idea of the sort served to put me in that passion that I did not master for some time. But in a Short time after our circumstance had a better appearance for I was in a moment determined to put the guide to Death if he did not find his way that Evening. I told him his doom, the poor fellow scared almost out of his wits, begged that I would stay awhile where I was and suffer him to go and make some discovery of a Road that could not be far from us, which I would not suffer for fear of not seeing him again, but ordered him to lead on the party, that his fate depended on his success. After some little pause he begged that I would not be hard with him, that he could find the Path that Evening. He accordingly took his course and in two hours got within his knowledge, On the Evening of the 4th of July we got within three miles of the Town Kaskaskias, having a River of the same name to cross to the Town. After making ourselves ready for any thing that might happen, we marched after night to a Farm that was on the same side of the River about a mile above the Town, took the family Prisoners, & found plenty of Boats to Cross in; and in two hours Transported ourselves to the other Shore with the Greatest silence. I learned that they had some suspician of being attacted and had made some preparations, keeping out Spies, but they making no discoveries, had got off their Guards. I immediately divided my little Army into two Divisions ordered one to surround the Town, with the other I broke into the Fort, secured the Governour Mr. Rochblave in 15 minutes had every Street secured, sent Runners through the Town ordering the People on the pane of Death to keep close to their Houses, which they observ'd and before daylight had the whole disarmed. Nothing could excell the Confusion these People seemed to be in, being taught to expect nothing but Savage treatment from the Americans. Giving all for lost [,] their Lives were all they could dare beg for, which they did with the greatest fervancy; they were willing to be Slaves to save their Families. I told them it did not suit me to give them an answer at that time; they repared to their houses trembling as if they were led to Execution; my principal would not suffer me to distress such a number of People, except, through policy it was necessary. A little reflection convinced me that it was my Intrest to Attach them to me, according to my first Plan; for the Town of Cohos & St. Vincents and the numerous Tribes of Indians attached to the French was yet to enfluence, for I was too weak to treat them any other way. I sent for all the Principal Men of the Town who came in as if to a Tribunal that was to determine their fate forever Cursing their fortune that they were not apprised of us time to have defended themselves. I told them that I was sorry to find that they had been taught to harbour so base an oppinion of the Americans and their Cause: Explain'd the nature of the dispute to them in as clear a light as I was capaple of, it was certain that they were a Conquered People and by the fate of War was at my mercy and that our Principal was to make those we Reduced free insted of enslaving them as they immagined, that if I could have surety of their Zeal and Attachment to the American Cause, they should immediately enjoy all the priviledges of our Government, and their property secured to them that it was only to stop farther effusion of Innocent Blood by the Savages under the influence of their Governour, that made them an object of our attention &c. No sooner had they heard this than Joy sparkled in their Eyes and [they] fell into Transports of Joy that really surprised me. As soon as they were a little moderated they told me that they had always been kept in the dark as to the dispute between America & Britain that they had never heard any thing before but what was prejuditial and tended to insence them against the Americans, that they were now convinced that it was a Cause they ought to Espouse; that they should be happy of an oppertunity to convince me of their Zeal, and think themselves the happyest People in the World if they were united with the Americans and beg'd that I would receive what [they] said [as] their real sentiments (expected policy [? ] ). In order to be more Certain of their sincerety, I told them that an Oath of fedility was required from the Citizens and to give them time to reflect on it, I should not Administer it for a few days in the mean time any of th[em] that chose, was at liberty to leave the Country with their Families; except two or three particular Persons, that they might repair to their families conduct themselves as usial without any dread. The Priest that had lately come from Canada had made himself a little acquainted with our dispute; [ (]Contrary to the principal of his Brother in Canada) was rather prejudiced in favour of us. He asked if I would give him liberty to perform his duty in his Church. I told him that I had nothing to do with Churches more than to defend them from Insult. That by the laws of the State his Religion had as great Previledges as any other. This seem'd to compleat their happiness. They returned to their families, and in a few Minutes the scean of mourning and distress was turned to an excess of Joy, nothing else seen nor heard. Addorning the Streets with flowers & Pavilians of different colours, compleating their happiness by singing &c. In mean time I prepar'd a Detachment on Horse back, under Capt. Bowman to make a Descent on Cohos, about sixty miles up the Country; the Inhabitants told me that one of their Townsmen was enough to put me in possession of that place, by carrying the good news that the People would rejoice. However I did not altogether chuse to trust them, dispatched the Captain, Attended by a considerable number of the Inhabittants who got into the middle of the Town before they were discovered; the French Gentlemen Calling aloud to the People to submit to their happier fate, which they did with very little hesitation. A number of Indians being in Town, on hearing of the Big knives, immediately made their Escape. In a few days the Inhabittants of the Country took the Oath Subscribed by Law; and every Person appeard to be happy. Our friends the Spanyards, [were] doing every thing in their power to convince me of their friendship. A Correspondance immediately commenced between the Governour and myself. Post St. Vincent, a Town about the Size of Williamsburg was the next Object in my view. As the whole [countryside] was appris'd of me, I was by no means able to march against it (their Governour a few months before going to Detroyet). I was resolved if possible to win their affection which I thought myself in a fair way of doing more fully to know the sentiments of the Inhabbitants about there; And to execute my Plans I pretended that I was about to send an Express to the falls of Ohio for a Body of Troops to Join me at a certain place in order to attact it. It soon had the desired effect. Advocates immediately appear'd among the people in their behalf. Mr. Jeboth, the Priest, to fully convince me of his Attachment offered to undertake to win that Town for me if I would permit him and let a few of them go; they made no doubt of gaining their friends at St. Vincents to my Interest; the Priest told me he would do himself, and gave me to understand, that although he had nothing to do with temporal business, that he would give them such hints in the Spiritual way that would be very conducive to the business. In a few days the Priest, Doctr. Lefont, the Principal, with a few others set out, and a Proclamation I sent, for that purpose, and other instructions in case of success. In a few weeks they returned with intiligence agreable to my wishes. I now found myself in possession of the whole, in a Country where I found I could do more real service than I expected, which occationed my situation to be the more disagreeable as I wanted Men. The greatest part of my Men was for returning, as they were no longer Ingaged Surrounded by numerous Nations of Savages, whose minds had been long poisoned by the English. It was with difficulty that I could Support that Dignity that was necessary to give my orders that force that was necessary. But by great preasents and promises I got about one hundred of my Detachment Enlisted for eight months, and to colour my staying with so few Troops I made a faint of returning to the Falls, as though I had sufficient confidence in the People, hoping that the Inhabitants would remonstrate against my leaving them, which they did in the warmest terms proving the necessity of the Troops at that place that they were affraid if I returned the English would again possess the Country. Then seemingly by their request I agreed to stay with two Companies of Troops, and that I hardly thought, as they alledg'd, that so many was necessary; but if more was wanted I could get them at any time from the Falls; where they were made to believe was a Considerable Garrison. As soon as possible [I] sent off those that could not be got to stay, with Mr. Rochblanch, and Letters to his Excellency letting him know my situation and the necessity of Troops in the Country. Many of the French [were] fond of the service, the different Companies soon got Compleat. I stationed Capt. Bowman at Cohos, Capt. Helms comd at St. Vincents Superintendant &c. Domestick affairs being partly well settled the Indian Department came next the object of my attention and of the greatest importance, my sudden appearance in their Country put them under the greatest consternation. They was generally at War against us, but the French and Spainyards appearing so fond of us confused them, they counciled with the French Traders to know what was best to be done, and of course was advised to come and selicit for peace, and did not doubt but we might be good Friends. It may appear otherwise to you, but [I] always thought we took the wrong method of treating with Indians, and strove as soon as possible to make myself acquainted with the French and Spanish mode which must be preferrable to ours, otherwise they could not possibly have such great influence among them. When thoroughly acquainted with [their method,] it exactly Coinsided with my own idea, and Resolved to follow that same Rule as near as Circumstances would permit. The Kaskaskias, Peoreanas & Mechegames immediately treated for peace. I sent letters and speaches by Capt. Helms to the Chief of the Kickebues & Peankeshaws residing at Post St. Vincents desireing them to lay down their Tomahawk, and if they did not chuse it to behave like Men and fight for the English as they had done; but they would see their great father as they called him given to the Dogs to eat (gave Harsh language to supply the want of Men; well knowing that it was a mistaken notion in many that soft speeches was best for Indians). But if they thought of giving their hands to the Big knives to give their Hearts also, and that I did not doubt but after being acquainted, that they would find that the Big knives of better Principals than what the bad Birds the English had taught them to believe. They received the Speeches from the Capt. with another of his own, and after some Consultation they resolved to take the Big Knives by the hand and came to a conclusion of Peace—And said the Americans must be Warriers and no deceivers, or they would never have spoke as they did; that they liked such People; and that the English was Liers and they would listen to them no longer; that by what they had heard of the Big knives, the Indians had as great a right to fight the English as they had, that they was convinced that it was the truth. What they alluded to was, part of the Speech that I had sent to them, explaining to them the nature of the War, in the following manner. That a great many Years ago, our forefathers lived in England, but the King oppresed them in such a manner that they were obliged to Cross the great Waters to get out of his way; But he not being satisfied to loose so many Subjects sent Governours and Soldiers among them to make them obey his Laws, but told his Governours to treat them well and to take but little from them until they grew Populus, that then they would be able to pay a great deal. By the good treatment we got, we grew to be a great People and flourished fast. The King then wrote to his Gouvernour & Officers that we had got Rich and numerous enough, that it was time to make us pay tribute, that he did not care how much they took, so as they left us enough to eat, and that he had sent them a great many Soldiers to make the Americans pay if they refused, that when they had made the Americans do as they pleased, they would then make the Indians pay likewise; But for fear the Indians should find it out by the Big Knives that the English intended to make them also pay, & Should get mad with the English for their treatment to their Neighbours the Big Knives, that they, his Governours should make us Quarrel &c. We bore their Taxes for many Years, at last they were so hard that if we killed a Deer they would take the Skin away and leave us only the Meat, and made us buy Blankets with Corn to fead their Soldiers with. By such usage we got Poor and was obliged to go naked; And at last we complained. The King got mad and made his Soldiers Kill some of our People and Burn some of our Villages. The Old Men then held a great Council and made the Tomahawk very sharp and put it into the hand of the young Men, told them to be strong & Strike the English as long as they could find one on this Island. They immediately struck and Killed a great many of the English. The French King hearing of it sent to the Americans and told them to be strong and fight the English like Men, that if they wanted help or Tomahawks he would furnish them &c. &c.
This Speech had a greater effect than I could have immagined, and did more service than a Regiment of Men cou'd have done.
It was with astonishment that [I] viewed the Amazeing number of Savages that soon flocked into the Town of Cohos to treat for peace, and to hear what the Big Knives had to say many of them Soo miles distant Chipoways, Otoways, Petawatomies, Missesogies Puans, Sacks, Foxes, Sayges, Tauways, Mawmies and a number of other Nations all living east of the Messicippa, and many of them, then at War against us. I must confess that I was under some apprehention among such a number of Devils, and it proved to be just for the second or third night, a party of puans & others endeavored to force by the Guards into my Lodgings to Bear me off; but was happily Detected and made Prisoners by the elacrity of the Sergeat. The Town took the alarm and was immediately under Arms which convinced the Savages that the French were in our Interest. I was determined to follow the Principal that I had set out upon, let the consequence be what it would. I immediately ordered the Chiefs to be put into Irons by the French Militia. They insisted that it was only to see whether the French would take part with the Americans or not, that they had no ill Design. This treatment of some of the greatest Chiefs among them, occationed great confusion among the rest of the Savages. The Prisoners, with great submission celicited to speak to me, but was refused. They then made all the interest they possibly could amongst the other Indians (who was much at a loss what to do as their was Strong Guards through every Quarter of the Town) to get to speak to me; but I told the whole that I believed they were a set of Villians, that they had Joined the English, and they were welcome to continue in the Cause they had espoused; that I was a Man and a Warner: that I did not care who was my Friends or Foes; and had no more to say to them. Such conduct Alarmed the whole Town: but I was sensible that it would gain us no more Enemies than we had already, and if they after selicited for terms, that it would be more sincere, and probably a lasting good effect on the Indian Nations. Distrust was visible in the Countenance of almost every Person during the latter part of the day. To shew the Indians that I disregarded them, I remained in my Lodging in the Town about one hundred Yards from the Fort seemingly without a Guard, but kept about fifty Men conceild in a Parlour adjoining, and the Garrison under Arms. There was great Counciling among the Savages dureing the Night, But to make them have the greater idea of my Indifferency about them, I assembled a Number of Gentlemen & Ladies, and danced nearly the whole Night. In the morning I summoned the different Nations to a grand Council, and the Chief under Guard released, and invited to Council that I might speak to them in presence of the whole. After the Common Cerimonies was over, I produced a Bloody Belt of wampom and spoke to them in the following manner: I told the Chief that was Guilty, that ——— fight Men under Arms, which was commendable; that there was the War Belt, we should soon see which of us would make it the most Bloody &c. Then [I] told them that it was customary among all Brave Men to treat their Enemies well when assembled as we were; that I should give them Provisions & Rum while they staid, but by their behavior I could not conceive that they deserved that appellation, and I did not care how soon they left me after that day. I observed that their Countenances and attitude favourd my real design: the whole looked like a parcel of Criminals. The other Nations rose and made many submissive Speeches excusing themselves for their conduct in a very pretty manner and something noble in their sentiments (their talk I enclose). They alledged that they were persuaded to War by the English, and made to harbour a wrong oppinion of the Americans, but they now believed them to be Men and Warriers, and could wish to take them by the hand as Brothers, that they did not speak from their lips only, but that I should hereafter find that they spoke from their Hearts, and that they hoped I would pitty their blindness and their Women and Children; and also selicited for their Friends that had been Guilty of the late crime. I told them that I had instructions from the Great Man of the Big Knives not to ask Peace from any People but to offer Peace and War, and let them take their Choice, Except a few of the worst Nation to whom I was to grant no Piece, for as the English could fight us no longer he was affraid our Young Warriers would get rusty without they could get somebody to fight &c. I presented them with a Peace & War Belt and told them to take their choice; excepting those who had been Imprisoned. They with a great deal of seeming Joy took the Belt of Peace. I told them I would refer [defer?] Smokeing the Peace Pipe until I heard that they had called in all their Warriers, and then we would conclude the Treaty with all the Ceremony necessary for so important Occasion. They immediately selicited for some Persons to go with them to be witness of their Conduct, and hoped that I would favour their Guil [fly Friends, which I refused; and was pleased to see them set trembling, as Persons frightened at the apprehension of the worst fate. Their speaker then rose and made a most lamentable speach; such as I could have wished for: Beging Mercy for their Women and Children: for the French Gentlemen whom they put the greatest confidence in had given them lessons that favour'd my Purpose. I recommended it to them to go to their father the English, as he had told them that he was Strong perhaps he might help them as he had promised; that they could blame no Person but themselves when their Nation should be given with the English to the Dogs to eat. When they had tried their Elloquence to no purpose, they pitched on two Young Men for to be put to Death as an attonement for the rest hoping that would passify me. It would have surprised you to have seen how submissively those two Young Men presented themselves for Death, advancing into the middle of the floor, setting down by each other and covering their heads with their Blankets to receive the Tomahawk (Peace was what I wanted with them if I got it on my own terms) but this stroke Prejudiced me in their favour, and for a few moments was so adjutated that I dont doubt but that I should without reflection killed the first Man that would have offered to have hurt them. My wishes respecting this Treaty was now compleat; And I since find no room to blame myself for any omission in what follow'd in the Treaty: which time has already p[r]oved the good effects of it throughout the Illinois Country. Our Influence now began to spread among the Nations even to the Border of the Lakes. I sent Agents into every Quarter. I continued about five weeks in the Town of Cohos; in which time I had setled a Peace with ten or twelve different Nations.
Being much fatiegued I returned to Kaskaskia's leaving Major Bowman to act in which he did himself much Honour. An intamacy had commenced between Don Leybrau Lieut. Governour of Western Illinois and myself he omited nothing in his Power to prove his Attachment to the Americans with such openness as left no room for a doubt; as I was never before in Compy. of any Spanish gent. I was much surprised in my expectations; for instead of finding that reserve thought peculiar to that Nation, I here saw not the least simptoms of it, freedom almost to excess gave the greatest Pleasure; at my return to Kaskaskias I found every thing as well as I could have expected. Having so far fixed matters as to have a moments Leasure which was taken up with deeper Reflections that I ever before was Acquainted with. My situation and weekness convinced me that more depended on my own Behaviour and Conduct, than all the Troops that I had far removed from the Body of my Country. [I was] Situated among French, Spanyards and Numerous Bands of Savages on every Quarter: [all] Watching my Actions, ready to receive impressions favourable or not so of us; which might be hard to remove, and wou'd perhaps produce lasting good, or ill effects. It was now that I saw my work was only began. Maturely examineing every circumstance of my past Actions fixing such Resolutions, that in case of misfortune or loss of Interest, it should be for want of Judgment only. Strict subbordination among the Troops was my first object, and [I] soon effected it. It being a matter of the greatest consequence to Persons in our situation. Our Troops being all Raw and undissiplined. You must [be] sensible of the pleasure I felt when harangueing them on Perade. Telling them my Resolutions, and the necessity of strict duty for our own preservation &c. For them to return me for Answer, that it was their Zeal foi their Country that induced them to engage in the Service, that they were sencible of their situation and Danger; that nothing could conduce more to their safety and happiness, than good order, which they would try to adhere to and hoped that no favour would be shewn those that would neglect it. In a short time perhaps no Garrisson could boast of better order, or a more Valuable set of Men. By this time the English party at Detroit, finding their influence among the Savages abateing, sent out messengers through the different Nations as far as they dare venture, Redoubled their Presents and insinuations to little purpose; as I had a Number of Persons well acquainted with the Indians, Spread through the whole that had treated with me, and Spies continually in and about Detroit for a considerable time. One of the British Agents residing at Oueaugh, about eighty Leagues above St. Vincents hurt our growing Interest much, the Indians in that Quarter being inclin'd to desert the British Interest, but in some measure kept from their good intention by that Person. I Resolved if possible to take him off, and sent a Detachment of Men from Kaskaskias under Command of Lieut. Bailey to join Capt. Helms at St Vincents and if possible surprise him; the Capt. with about one hundred Men in number, part french Militia and Indians, set out by water. The Agent hearing of it collected a few Savages from the neighbourhood that he could trust in order to give Battle (the Indians in general Neutrals) but a few days before the Captains arrival Mr. Celeron thought proper to make his Escape, leaving his friendly Indians in the Fort, who being Assembled in a Grand Council to determine what was best to be done, neglecting to shut the Gate or keep Sentinals (not supposeing the Enemies to be so near) in the hith [height? ] of their deliberation Capt. Helms and Bayley [and] his Small Party entered the Fort and ordered them to surrender before they were appris'd About forty in number being made Prisoners. The Capt. made a Valuable Treaty; Gave them their Liberty; this stroke compleated our Interest on the Wabache St. Vincents being a Post of great Importance, and not being able to spare many Men to Garrisson it I took uncommon pains intirely to Attach them to our Interest as well as the Inhabitants of the Illinois Knowing no other kind of Government than what might be expected from the lust of Power, Pride and Avarice of the Officers Commanding in that Country Whose will was a Law to the whole and certain destruction to disobey the most trifleing Command. Nothing could have been more to my Advantage, as I could temper the Government as I pleased, and every new privilidge appear'd to them as fresh Laurels to the American Cause. I by degrees laid aside every unnecessary Restriction they laboured under, As I was convinced that it was the mercinary views of their former Governours that Established them, paying no regard to the happiness of the People, and those Customs Strictly observed that was most conducive to good order. I made it a Point to guard the happiness and Tranquility of the Inhabitants supposing that their happy change reaching the ears of their Brothers and Country men on the Lakes and about Detroit, would be paving my way to that Place; and a good Effect on the Indians. I soon found it had the desired Effect; for the greatest part of the French Gent. and Traders among the Indians declared for us many Letters of Congratulation, sent from Detroit to the Gent. of the Illinois which gave me much Pleasure. I let slip no oppertunity, in Cultivating our growing Interest in every Quarter where there was the least appearance of a future advantage; and had as great Success as I had any right to expect. Great tranquility appeared in every countenance, being apprehensive that the British Party at Detroit finding it hard to regain their lost Interest among the Savages would probably make a Descent on the Illinois if they found themselves Cap [ac]itated, for fear of their finding out our Numbers (parties of Men coming & going from Kentucky and other places Recruits &c.) I suffered no Parrade except the Guards for a considerable time, and took every other precaution to keep every Person ignorant of our numbers which was generally thought to be nearly double what we really had. I found that my Ideas, respecting the movement of the English just, having certain Accounts by our Spies that Governour Hammilton was on his march from Detroet with a Considerable Party, taking his Rout up the Meamies River. In a few days receiveing certain intiligence that General McIntosh had left Pitsburg for Detroet with a Considerable Army. Knowing the weakness of the Fortifycation of that Post at that time their numbers &c. I made no doubt of its being shortly in our Possession. And that Governour Hambleton, Sensible that there was no probability of his defending the Fort, had marched with his whole force to encourage the Indians to Harrass the Oubach with eight hundred Men French, Indians and Regulars; took possession of Post St. Vincents on the i7th day of Decemr he had Parties on the Road that took some of our Spies—hard weather immediately seting in I was at a loss to know what to do, many supposed that he had Quit his design and came no farther than Ome. But no Intiligence from St. Vincents. I was Still under some doubt of his being there, except the Comd. had kept back the Express on account of the High waters. In this situation we remain'd for many Days. I intended to evacuate the Garrisson of Cohos in case of a Siege; But was anctious to have a Conferrence with the Principal Inhabitants that I knew to be Zealous in our Interest, to fix on certain Plans for their Conduct when in possession of the English, if it should be the case; And [so I] set out on the ____ day of Januy. 1779 for that Town with an Intention of staying but a few days.
Mr. Hammilton in mean time had sent a party of 4o Savages headed by white Men from St. Vincent in order if possible to take me Prisoner, and gave such Instructions for my treatment as did him no dishonour. This Party lay conceald keeping a small Party near the Road to see who Passed; they lay by a Small Branch about three miles from Kaskaskias, there being Snow on the Ground. I had a Guard of about six or seven Men and a few Gent. in Chairs, one of them Swampt [i.e., stuck] within one hundred Yards of the Place where these fellows lay hid, where we had to delay upwards of an hour. I believe nothing here saved me, but the Instruction they had, not to Kill me or the fear of being over Powered, not having an oppertunity to Alarm the main Body (which lay half a mile off) without being discovered themselves. We arrived safe at the Town of Lapraryderush about twelve miles above Kaskaskias. The Gentlemen & Ladies immediately assembled at a Ball for our Entertainment; we spent the fore part of the night very agreeably; but about 12 Oclock there was a very sudden change by an Express Arriveing enforming us that Governour Hammilton was within three miles of Kaskaskias with eight hundred Men, and was determined to Attact the Fort that night; which was expected would be before the Express got to me, for it seems that those fellows were discovered by a hunter and after missing their aim on me, discovered themselves to a Party of Negroes and told them a story as suited their Purpose. I never saw greater confusion among a small Assembly than was at that time, every Person having their eyes on me as if my word was to determine their good or Evil fate. It required but a moments hesitation in me to form my Resolution. [I] Communicated them to two of my Officers that accompyd. me, which they Approved of. I ordered our Horses Sadled in order if possible to get into the Fort before the Attact could be made. Those of the Company that had recovered their Surprise so far as to enable them to speak, begged of me not to attempt to Return, that the Town was certainly in possession of the Enemy and the Fort warmly Attacted. Some proposed Conveying me to the Spanish Shore; some one thing and some another. I thanked them for the Care they had of my Person, and told them it was the fate of War. That a good Soldier never ought to be affraid of his Life where was a Probability of his doing service by ventureing of it which was my Case. That I hoped they would not let the news Spoil our Divirsion sooner than was necessary, that we would divirt ourselves until our horses was ready, forced them to dance and endeavoured to appear as unconcerned as if no such thing was in Adjutation. This Conduct inspired the Young Men in such a manner that many of them was getting their Horses to Share fate with me. But chusing to loose no time as soon [5701 1779 as I could write a few lines on the back of my Letter to Captain Bowman at Cohos, I set out for Kaskaskias. Each Man [carried] a Blanket, that in case the Fort was attacted we were to wrap ourselves in them fall in with the Enemies fire at the Fort until we had an oppertunity of getting so near as to give the proper signals knowing that we should be let in. But on our Arrival we found every thing as calm as we could expect. The weather being bad, it was then thought the Attact would not commence until it cleared up. But no Person seem'd to doubt of the Enemies being at hand, and from many circumstances I could not but Suppose it was the case, that they deferd the Attact for some time in order to give us time to Retreat; which I supposed they wou'd rather chuse by their proceedings; But I was determined that they should be disappointed if that was their wishes. There was no time lost during the Night puting every thing in as good order as Possible. The Priest, of all Men the most affraid of Mr. Hammilton, he was in the greatest consternation, determined to Act agreeable to my Instruction. I found by his Consternation that he was sure the Fort would be taken, Except Reinforced by the Garrisson at Cohos which I did not chuse to let him know would be the case although I knew him to be a Zealous Friend. I pretended that I wanted him to go to the Spanish side with Publick Papers and Money. The Proposition pleas'd him well, he immediately started & getting into an Island the Ice passing so thick down the Messicippi, that he was obliged to Encamp three days in the most obscure part of the Island with only a Servant to attend him. I spent many serious reflections during the night. The Inhabitants had always appeared to be attached to us: but I was convinced that I should in the morning have a Sufficient trial of their fxdility. (Several of their Young Men had turned into the Fort in order to defend it.) But [I was] Sensible at the same time that in case they took Arms to defend the Town that the whole would probably be lost, as I should be obliged to give the Enemy Battle in the Commons. I would have chose to have had those without families to Reinforce the Garrisson, and the rest to have lain Neuter. I resolved to burn part of the Town that was near the Fort and Guard it, as I knew the greatest service we possibly could do, was to Sell the Fort as Dear as possible; there being no probability of escaping after Attact, or expectation of Reinforcements, as we were too far detached from the Body of our Country. The only probable chance of safety was Capt. Bowmans joining me which I expected the next evening down the Messicippi, to defend ourselves until Mr. Hamiltons Indians got tired and returned in four or five Weeks which I expected the greatest Part would do if they had not that Success that they expected. I had no occasion to consult the Garrisson in any Resolution I should fix upon as I knew that they was all as Spirited as I could wish them to be, and took pains to make them as desperate as possible. If you rightly Consider our Situation & Circumstance, you must conceive it to be desperate. In the morning the first thing I did was to assemble all the Inhabitants in order to know their Resolutions; as they had been the night Counciling with each other they expected some orders Issued which I did not chuse to do; at the Assembly I asked them what they thought of doing, whether they would endeavour to defend The Town or not. If they did I would Quit the Fort leaving a Small Guard, and head them with the Troops; and if the Enemy lay until the weather Broke, we might probably in the meantime discover their Camp and get some advantage of them. They appear'd to be in great confusion, and all my fear was, that they would agree to defend themselves, and if the Enemy was as numerous as was expected the whole would be lost. But I need not have been uneasy about that, for they had too maturely studied their own Interest to think of fighting, which they certainly would have done if I had only as many Troops as would have given any probability of suckcess. They displai'd their situation in such a manner as was really moving and with great truth. But denied to Act either on one side or the other; And begged that I would believe them to be in the American Interest: But my whole force joined with them would make but a poor figure against so considerable a party and gave hints that they could wish us to take Spanish Protection as they could not conceive we could keep possession a Single day as the Enemy would immediately set the adjacent Houses on fire which would fire the Fort (not knowing that I intended to Burn them myself as soon as the wind shifted.) I very seldom found but I could govern my temper at pleasure: But this declaration of theirs and some other Circumstances put me in a most violent Rage, and as soon as I could curb my Passion gave a Lecture suitable for a set of Traitors, (although I could not conceive the whole of them to be such). I ordered them out of the Garrisson, and told them that I no longer thought they deserved favor from me, that I consequently must conceive them to be my secret Enemies and should treat them as such. They endeavoured to soothe me into pitty, but to have listened to them would have destroyed my intention. I determined to make myself appear to them as desperate as Possible that it might have a Greater effect on the Enemy (they asked me to issue an order for all the Provision[s] in the Town to be brought into the Fort immediately, by which I was convinced that it was their desire that I should be able to stand the Siege as long as possible, and only wanted an excuse to [give] the Person they expected every moment to be their Master for making the supplies). I told them that I would have all the Provisions and then Burn the Town to the Enemies hand: that they might send the Provision[s] if they chose it, and send them out of the Fort: and immediately had fire set to some out Houses. Never was a set of People in more distress, their Town set on fire by those that they wished to be in friendship with; at the same time Surrounded by the Savages, as they expected: from whom they had but little else but destruction to expect. The Houses being covered with Snow, the fire had no effect only on those it was set to; the Inhabitants looking on without daring to say a word. I told them that I intended to set fire to all those that had much Provision for fear of the Enemie's getting it. They were not in so great a Leathergy, but they took the hint and before night they brought six months Provisions of all sorts; by which they were in hopes to come on better Terms: but a fresh Circumstance Alarmed them. One of the Inhabitants Riding into the Field met a Man that told him he saw a Party of the Enemy going on the Island to take the Priest, he returning to Town met the Priest's Brother in Law and told him what he had hear'd, and begged of him not to tell me of it. The Poor fellow, half scared to death about his Brother, made all haste and told me. I took his Evidence; sent for the Citizen who could not deny it. I immediately ordered him hanged. The Town took the Alarm hasted about the walls of the Fort, if possible to save their Friend. The Poor fellow given up to the Soldiers who dragged him to the place of Execution, each striving to be foremost in the Execution as if they thirsted after Blood: some was for Tomahawking him, some for hanging & Others for Burning. They got to Qu[a]rrelling about it; which at last saved his life; the Inhabitants having time to supplicate in his favour; but nothing would have saved his life but the appearance of his Wife and seven small Children, which sight was too moving not to have granted them the life of their Parent on terms that put it out of his power to do any damage to me.
The weather clearing away Capt. Bowman Arrived the following day with his own and a compy. of Volunteers from Cohos; we now began to make a tolerable appearance and seemed to defie the Enemy: and sent out Spies on every Quarter to make discovery of them hoping we might get some Advantage of them, chusing for many important Reasons to attact them two to one in the field rather than suffer them [to] take possession of the Town, which by the form and manner of Picquiting the Yards and Gardens was very Strong. I was convinced that the Inhabitants now wished that they had behaved in another manner. I took the advantage of the favourable oppertunity to Attach them intirely in my Interest, and instead of Treating them more sevear as they expected on my being Reinforced, I altered my Conduct towards them and treated them with the greatest kindness, granting them every request [and] my Influence among them, in a few hours was greater than ever; they condemning themselves and thought that I had treated them as they deserved; and I believe had Mr. Hammilton appear'd we should have defeated him with a good deal of ease not [because the troops were] so numerous but the Men being better. Our Spies returning and found the great Army that gave the alarm consisted only of about forty Whites and Indians making their Retreat as fast as possible to St. Vincents; sent for no other purpose as we found after but to take me. We were now Sensible that St. Vincents was in possession of the English; and consequently we might shortly expect an Attact though no danger at present, and had some time to make preparation for what we were certain of. I had reason to expect a Reinforcement on the presumption that Government ordered one on the Receipt of my first Letter; still encouraged each other and hoped for the best: But suffered more uneasiness than when I was certain of an immediate Attact, as I had more time to reflect: the Result of which was that the Illinois in a few months would be in the possession of the English except the Garrison which I knew would not be disposed to surrender without the greatest distress. I sent off the Horsemen to St. Vincents to take a prisoner by which we might get intiligence, but found it impractable on account of the high waters; but in the hight of our anxiety on the evening of the 29th of Januy. 1779 Mr. Vague a Spanish Mercht. Arrived from St. Vincents, and was there the time of its being taken, and gave me every Intiligence that I could wish to have. Governour Hamiltons Party consisted of about eight hundred when he took possession of that Post on the 17th day of december past: finding the Season too far spent for his intention against Kaskaskias [Hamilton] had sent nearly the whole of his Indians out in different Parties to War: But to embody as soon as the wealther would permit and compleat his design: he had also sent messengers to the southern Indians, five hundred of whom he expected to join him. Only eighty Troops in Garrisson (our Situation still appeared desperate, it was at this moment I would have bound myself seven years a Slave, to have had five hundred Troops) I saw the only probability of our maintaining the Country was to take the advantage of his present weakness, perhaps we might be fortunate. I considered the Inclemency of the season, the badness of the Roads &c. as an advantage to us, as they would be more off their Guard on all Quarters. I collected the Officers, told them the probability I thought there was of turning the scale in our favour. I found it the sentiment of every one of them and eager for it. Our Plans immediately concluded on; and sent an Express to Cohos for the Return of Capt. McCarty & his Volunteers, and set about the necessary preparations in order to Transport my Artillery Stores &c.
I had a Large Boat prepared and Rigged mounting two four pounders [fitted with?] large Swevels Manned with a fine Compy. Command[e]d by Lieut. Rogers. She set out in the evening of the 4th of Jany. with orders to force her way if possible within ten Leagues of St. Vincents and lay until further Orders. This Vessel when Compleat was much admired by the Inhabitants as no such thing had been seen in the Country before. I had great Expectations from her. I conducted myself as though I was sure of taking Mr. Hammilton, instructed my Officers to observe the same Rule. In a day or two the Country seemed to believe it, many anctious to Retrieve their Characters turned out. The Ladies began also to be spirited and interest themselves in the Expedition, which had great Effect on the Young men. By the 4th day of Januy. [February] I got every thing Compleat and on the 5th. I marched being joined by two Volunteer Compys. of the Principal Young Men of the Illinois Commandd by Capt. McCarty & Francis Charlaville. Those of the Troops was Captns. Bowman & William Worthingtons of the light Horse. We were Conducted out of the Town by the Inhabitants: and Mr. Jeboth the Priest, who after a very suitable Discourse to the purpose, gave us all Absolution And we set out on a Forlorn hope indeed; for our whole Party with the Boats Crew consisted of only a little upwards of two hundred. I cannot account for it but I still had inward assurance of success; and never could when weighing every Circumstance doubt it: But I had some secret check. We had now a Rout before us of two hundred and Forty miles in length, through, I suppose one of the most beautiful Country in the world; but at this time in many parts flowing with water and exceeding bad [for] marching. My greatest care was to divert the Men as much as possible in order to keep up their spirits. The first obstruction of any consequence I met with was on the 13th. Arriveing at the two little Wabachees although three miles asunder they now make but one, the flowed water between them being at Least three feet deep, and in many places four: Being near five miles to the opposite Hills, the shallowest place, except about one hundred Yards was three feet. This would have been enough to have stop'ed any set of men that was not in the same temper that we was. But in three days we contrived to cross, by building a large Canoe, ferried across the two Channels, the rest of the way we waded; Building scaffolds at each to lodge our Baggage on until the Horses Crossed to take them; it Rained nearly a third of our March; but we never halted for it. In the evening of the 17th. we got to the low Lands of the River Umbara which we found deep in water, it being nine miles to St. Vincents which stood on the East side of the Wabache and every foot of the way covered with deep water. We Marched down the little River in order to gain the Banks of the main which we did in about three Leagues, made a small Canoe and sent an Express to meet the Boat and hurry it up. From the spot we now lay on was about ten miles to Town, and every foot of the way put together that was not three feet and upwards under water would not have made the length of two miles and a half and not a mouthful of Provision; To have waited for our Boat, if possible to avoid it, would have been Impolitic If I was sensible that you wou'd let no Person see this relation I would give you a detail of our suffering for four days in crossing those waters, and the manner it was done; and I am sure that you wou'd Credit it. But it is too incredible for any Person to believe except those that are as well acquainted with me as you are, or had experienced something similar to it. I hope you will excuse me until I have the pleasure of seeing you personally. But to our inexpressible Joy in the evening of the 23d. we got safe on Terra firma within half a League of the Fort, covered by a small Grove of Trees [and thus] had a full view of the wished for spot. (I should have crossed at a greater distance from the Town but the White River comeing in jest below us we were affraid of getting too near it.) We had Already taken some Prisoners that was coming from the Town. Laying in this Grove some time to dry our Clothes by the Sun we took another Prisoner known to be a friend by which we got all the Intiligence we wished for but would not suffer him to see our Troops except a few.
A thousand Ideas flashed in my Head at this moment I found that Govr. Hamilton was able to defend himself for a considerable time, but knew that he was not able to turn out of the Fort; that if the Seige Continued long a Superior number might come against us, as I knew there was a Party of English not far above in the River: that if they found out our Numbers might raise the disaffected Savages and harrass us. I resolved to appear as Darring as possible, that the Enemy might conceive by our behaviour that we were very numerous and probably discourage them. I immediately wrote to the Inhabitants in general, Informing them where I was and what I determined to do desireing the Friends to the States to keep close in their Houses those in the British Interest to repair to the fort and fight for their King: otherways there should be no mercy shewn them &c. &c. Sending the Compliments of several Officers that was known to be Expected to reinforce me, to several Gentlemen of the Town: I dispatched the Prisoner off with this letter waiting until near sunset, giving him time to get near the Town before we marched. As it was an open Plain from the Wood that covered us; I march'd time enough to be seen from the Town before dark but taking advantage of the Land, disposed the lines in such a manner that nothing but the Pavilions could be seen, having as many of them as would be sufficient for a thousand Men, which was observed by the Inhabitants, who had Just Receiv'd my letter counted the different Colours and Judged our number accordingly. But I was careful to give them no oppertunity of seeing our Troops before dark, which it would be before we could Arrive. The Houses obstructed the Forts observing us and were not Allarmed as I expected by many of the Inhabitants. I detached Lieut. Bayley and party to Attact the Fort at a certain Signal, and took possession of the strongest Posts of the Town with the main Body. The Garrisson had so little suspicion of what was to happen that they did not believe the Fireing was from an Enemy, until a Man was wounded through the Ports (which happened the third or fourth shot) Expecting it to be some drunk Indians. The Fireing commenced on both sides very warm. A second division Joined the first. A considerable number of British Indians made their escape out of Town. The Kickepous and Peankeshaws to the amount of about one hundred that was in Town immediately Armed themselves in our favour and Marched to attact the Fort. I thanked the Chief for his intended service, told him the Ill consequence of our People being mingled in the dark; that they might lay in their Quarters until light. He Approved of it and sent off his Troops, appeared to be much elivated himself and staid with me giving all the Information he could. (I knew him to be a friend.) The Artillery from the Fort played briskly but did no execution. The Garrisson was intirely surrounded within eighty and a hundred Yards behind Houses Palings and Ditches &c &c. Never was a heavier fireing kept up between both sides for eighteen Hours with so little damage done. In a few hours I found my Prize sure, Certain of taking every Man that I could have wished for, being the whole of those that incited the Indians to War. All my past sufferings vanished: never was a man more happy. It wanted no encouragement from any officer to inflame our Troops with a Martial Spirit. The Knowledge of the Person they attacted and the thoughts of their massecred friends was Sufficient. I Knew that I could not afford to loose Men, and took the greatest care of them that I possibly could: at the same time encouraged them to be daring, but prudent. Every place near the fort that could cover them was crouded, and a very heavy firing [continued] during the Night: having flung up a considerable Intrenchment before the gate where I intended to plant my Artillery when [it] Arrived. I had learnt that one Masonville had arived that evening with two prisoners taken on the Ohio discovering some sign of us, supposed to be spies from Kentucky, immediately on his arrival Capt. Lemote was sent out to intercept them; being out on our Arival could not gain the Fort; in attempting several of his men was made Prisoners, himself and party hovering round the Town. I was convinced that they wou'd make off to the Indians at day brake if they cou'd not join their friends; finding all endeavours fruitless to take him I withdrew the Troops a little before from the Garrisson in order to give him an oppertunity to get in which he did (much to his Credit and my satisfaction: as I would rather it should Receive that Reinforcement, than they should be at Large among the Savages D ]. The firing again commenced. A number of the Inhabitants Joining the Troops & Behaved exceeding well in General; knowing of the Prisoners lately taken and by the discription I had of them I was sure of there being the Express from Williamsburg (but was mistaken). To save the papers and Letters; about Eight o-clock in the morning I ordered the fireing to cease and sent a flag into the Garrisson with a hard Bill Recommended Mr. Hamilton to surrender his Garrisson & severe threats if he should destroy any Letters &c. He return'd an Answ. to this purpose; that the Garrisson was not disposed to be awed into any thing unbecomeing British Soldiers. The Attact was Renewed with greater Vigour than ever and continued for about two hours; I was determined to listen to no Terms whatever until I was in Possession of the Fort; and only ment to keep them in Acttion with part of my Troops, while I was making necessary preparations with the other (neglected calling on any of the Inhabitants for Assistants although they wished for it). A flag appeard from the Fort with a Proposition from Mr. Hamilton for three days Cessation. A desire of a Conferrence with me immediately, that if I should make any difficulty of comeing into the Fort, he would meet me at the Gate. I at first had no notion of listening to any thing he had to say as I could only consider himself & Officers as Murderers, And intended to treat them as such. But after Some deliberation I sent Mr. Hamilton my Compliments, and beged leave to inform him that I should agree to no other terms than his surrendering himself and Garrisson Prisoners at discretion; but if he was desirous of a Conferrence with me I would meet him at the Church. We accordingly met, he Offered to surrender but we could not agree upon terms. He received such treatment on his Conferrence as a Man of his known Barbarity deserv'd. I would not come upon terms with him, recommendd. to him to defend himself with spirit and Bravery, that it was the only thing that would induce me to treat him and his Garrisson with Lenity in case I strormed it which he might expect. He asked me what more I could Require than the offers he had already made. I told him (which was really the truth) that I wanted a sufficient excuse to put all the Indians & partisans to death, as the greatest part of those Villians was then with him: all his propositions was refus'd: he asked me if nothing would do but fighting. I knew of nothing else: he then begged me to stay until he should return to the Garrisson and consult his Officers. Being indifferent about him and wanted a few moments for my Troops to refresh themselves I told him that the firing should not commence until such an hour, that during that time he was at Liberty to pass with safety. Some time before a Party of Warriers sent by Mr. Hamilton against Kentucky, had taken two Prisoners, was discover'd by the Kickebues who gave information of them. A Party was immediately Detached to meet them which hapned in the Commons. They conceived our Troops to be a Party sent by Mr. Hamilton to conduct them in; an honr. commonly paid them. I was highly pleased to see each Party hooping, hollowing and Striking each others Breasts as they approached in the open fields, each seemed to try to outdo the other in the greatest signs of Joy. The Poor Devils never discovered their mistake until it was too late for many of them to escape. Six of them was made Prisoners, two of them Scalped and the rest so wounded as we afterwards learnt, but one Lived. I had now a fair oppertunity of making an impression on the Indians that I could have wished for; that of convincing them that Governour Hamilton could not give them that protection that he had made them to believe he could. In some measure to insence the Indians against him for not Exerting himself to save their Friends [I] Ordered the Prisoners to be Tomahawked in the face of the Garrisson. It had the effect that I expected: insted of making their friends inviterate against us, they upbraided the English Parties in not trying to save their friends and gave them to understand that they believed them to be hers and no Warriers. A remarkable Circumstance hapned that I think worthy our notice. An old French Gent. of the name of St. Croix Lieut. of Capt. McCarty's Volunteers from Cohos had but one Son who headed these Indians and was made Prisoner. The Question was put whether the White Man Should be saved. I ordered them to put him to Death, through Indignation which did not extend to the Savages. For fears he would make his escape, his father drew his Sword and stood by him in order to Run him through in case he should stir; being painted could not know him. The Wretch on seeing the Executioners Tomahawk raised to give the fatal Stroke, raised his eyes as if making his last Addresses to heaven; Cried out 0 Save me. The father knew his Son's voice. You may easily guess of the adgetation and behaviour of these two Persons comeing to the knowledg of each other at so critical a moment. I had so little mercy for such Murderers, and so valuable an oppertunity for an Example; knowing there would be the greatest selicitations made to save him, that I immediately absconded myself: but by the warmest Selicitations from his father who had behaved so exceedingly well in our Service; and some of the Officers, I granted his Life on certain conditions.
Mr. Hamilton and myself again met: he produced certain Articles which was refused; but towards the close of the Evening I sent him the following Articles-
1st. That Lieut. Governour Hamilton engages to deliver up to Colo. Clark, Fort Sackville as it is at present with all the Stores &c-
2d. The Garrisson are to deliver themselves up Prisoners of War and March out with their Arms and Accoutriments &c &c-
3rd. The Garrison to [be] Deliverd up tomorrow at ten Oclock-
4th. Three days time be allowed the Garreson to settle their Accompts with the Traders and Inhabitants of this Place-
5thly. The Officers of the Garrisson to be allowed their necessary Baggage &c &c—
Which was agreed to and fullfilled the next day knowing that Governour Hamilton had sent a Party of Men up the Ouabach to Ome for Stores that he had left there which must be on the return. I waited about twelve hours for the Arrival of the Galley to Intercept them; but fearing their getting Intiligence, dispatch'd Capt. Helms with a Party in Armed Boats who suppresed and made Prisoners of forty, among which was Dejeane, Grand Judge of Detroit with a large Packet from Detroit, and seven Boats load of Provisions, Indian Goods &c. Never was a Person more mortified than I was at this time to see so fair an oppertunity to push a Victory, Detroit lost for want of a few Men; knowing that they would immediately make greater Preparations expecting me. The Galley had taken up on her passage the Express from Williamsburg with letters from his Excellency. Having at once all the intiligence I could wish for from both sides, I was better able to fix my future Plans of operation against Du Troit. By his Excellencies Letter I might expect to have a Compleat Battallian in a few months, the Militia of the Illinois I knew would turn out, did not doubt of getting two or three hundred Men from Kentucky Consequently put the matter out of doubt. I contented myself on that Presumption having almost as many Prisoners as I had Men.
Seeing the necessity of geting rid of many of the Prisoners, not being able to guard them; not doubting but my good treatment to the Volunteers Inhabetants of Detroit would Promote my Interest there I discharged the greatest Part of them that had not been with Indian Parties, on their taking the Oath of Neutrility. They went off huzzaing for the Congress and declared though they could not fight against the Americans they would [fight] for them. (As I after this had Spies constant to and from Detroit I learnt they answered every purpose that I could have wished for, by prejudiceing their friends in favour of America. [ ) ] So certain was the Inhabitants of that Post of my Marching immediately against it, that they made Provision for me in defiance of the Garrison. Many of them has paid dear for it since.
I dispatched off Capt. Williams and Compy with Governour Hamilton, his principal Officers and a few Soldiers to the Falls of Ohio, to be sent to Williamsburg, and in a few days sent my letters to the Govourr. Having matters a little setled, the Indian Department became the next Object. I knew that Mr. Hamilton had endeavoured to make them believe that we intinded at last to take all their Lands from them and that in case of Success we should shew no greater Mercy for those that did not Join him than those that did. I indeavoured to make myself acquainted [with] the Arguments he used: And calling together the Neighbouring Nations, Peankeshaws, Kickepoes, & others that would not listen to him Indeavoured to undeceive them. I made a very long Speach to them in the Indian manner, Extol'd them to the Skies for their Manly behaviour and fedility; told them that we were so far from having any design on their Lands, that I looked upon it that we were then on there Land where the Fort stood, that we claimed no Land in their Country; that the first Man that offered to take their Lands by Violence must strike the tomhk. in my head; that it was only necessary that I should be in their Country during the War and keep a Fort in it to drive off the English, who had a design against all People; after that I might go to some place where I could get Land to support me. The Treaty was concluded to the satisfaction of both parties; they were much pleased at what they hear'd and begged me to favour them the next day with my Compy. at a Council of theirs. I accordingly Attended; greatest part of the time spent in Ceremony; they at last told me that they had been meditating on what I had said the day before: that all the Nations would be rejoiced to have me always in their Country as their great Father and Protector. And as I had said I would claim no Land in their Country, they were determind that they would not loose me on that Account: and Resolved to give me a piece, but larger than they had given to all the French at that Village, and laying down what they would wish me to do &c. I was well pleased at their offer as I had then an oppertunity to deny the exceptance, & farther convince them that we did not want their Land; they appear'd dejected at my Refusial; I waved the discourse upon other Subjects: Recommended a frolick to them that night as the Sky was clearer than ever; gave them a Qunty. of Taffy and Provisions to make merry on and left them. In a few days some Chepoways and others that had been with Mr. Hamilton, came in and begged me to excuse their blindness and take them into favour; after the warmest Silicitations for Mercy. I told them that the Big Knives was merciful which Proved them to be Warriers: that I should send Belts and a Speech to all the Nations; that they after hearing of it might do as they pleased but must blame themselves for future misfortunes and dispatched them. Nothing destroys Your Interest among the Savages so soon as wavering sentiments or speeches that shew the least fear. I consequently had observed one steady line of conduct among them. Mr. Hamilton, who was almost Deifyed among them being captured by me, it was a sufficient confirmation to the Indians of every thing I had formerly said to them and gave the greatest weight to the Speeches I intended to send them: expecting that I should shortly be able to fullfill my threats with a Body of Troops sufficient to penetrate into any part of their Country: and by Reducing Detroit bring them to my feet. I sent the following Speech to the different Tribes near the Lakes that was at war with us. to wit
To the Warriers of the different Nations—
MEN and Warriers; it is a long time since the Big Knives sent Belts of peace among You Siliciting of you not to listen to the bad talks and deceit of the English as it would at some future day tend to the Destruction of your Nations. You would not listen, but Joined the English against the Big Knives and spilt much Blood of Women & Children. The Big Knives then resolved to shew no mercy to any People that hereafter would refuse the Belt of Peace which should be offered, at the same time One for War; You remember last summer a great many People took me by the hand, but a few kept back their Hearts. I also sent Belts of Peace and War among the Nations to take their choice. Some took the Peace Belt; others still listned to their great father (as they call him) at Detroit, and Joined him to come to War against me. The Big Knives are Warriers and look on the English as old Women and all those that Join him, and are ashamed when they fight them because they are no Men.
I now send two Belts to all the Nations, one for Peace and the other for War. The one that is for War has Your great English fathers Scalp tied to it, and made red with his Blood; all you that call yourselves his Children, make your Hatchets sharp &come out and Revenge his Blood on the Big knives fight like Men that the Big Knives may not be ashamed when they fight you; that the old Women may not tell us that we only fought Squaws. If any of you is for taking the Belt of Peace send the Bloody Belt back to me that I may know who to take by the hand as Brothers. For you may be Assured that no peace for the future will be granted to those that do not lay down their Arms immediatily. Its as you will I don't care whether you are for Peace or War; as I Glory in War and want Enemies to fight us, as the English cant fight us any longer, and are become like Young Children begging the Big Knives for Mercy and a little Bread to eat; this is the last Speech you may ever expect from the Big Knives, the next thing will be the Tomahawk. And you may expect in four Moons to see Your Women & Children given to the Dogs to eat, while those Nations that have kept their words with me will Flourish and grow like the Willow Trees on the River Banks under the care and nourishment of their father the Big Knives.
In a few weeks great Numbers came into St. Vincents and treated for Peace being laughed at by those that had strictly adhear'd to their former Treaty with me. After fixing every Department so as to promise future advantage sending Letters to County Lieut. of Kentucky siliciting him to make some preparetory strokes towards Joining me when called on with all the force he could Raise, leaving a sufficient Garrison on the loth of march I set out for Kaskaskias by Water with a Guard of eighty Men, spending much time in making some observation at different Places; consequently Arrived too late to have hindred a War that commenced between the few Delawares residing in this part of the World and the Inhabitants. A few of them that had joined the British Party knowing what had hapned went to Kaskaskias, as was supposed to compromise matters; but getting drunk with some loose Young fellows gave some thereats on each side; one of the Indians snaping a Gun at a Womans Breast two of them was immediately Killed the rest pursu'd by the Townsmen some distance down the River one Killed and some others wounded. The War was carried on Pretty equal on both sides for several Months: but they at last thought proper to Silicit a Peace. During my absence Capt. Robert George Commandg. the Compy. formerly Capt. Willings; had Arrived from Orleans taking charge of the Garrison which was a considerable Reinforcement to our little Party. Every thing having the Appearance of Tranquility, I resolved to spend a few weeks in Divertions which I had not done since my Arrival in the Illinois, but found it impossible when I had any matter of importance in view, the Reduction of Detroit was always uppermost in my mind, not from a motive of Applause; but from the desire I had of Establishing a Profound Peace on our Fronteers; being so well acquainted with its situation, Strength and Influence; that in case I was not disappointed in Number of Troops I expected I even Accounted Detroit my own. [Upon] Receiveing letters from Colo. Bowman at Kentucky enforming me that I might expect him to Reinforce me with three hundd. men when ever I should call on him If it lay in his Power; at the same time receiveing Intiligence from Colo. Montgomery I now thought my Success reduced to a certainty. [I] immediately set about making provision for the Expedition to be ready against the Arrival of the Troops to give the Enemy as little time as Possible to compleat the new fortifications I Knew they were then about. I sent an Express to Colo. Bowman desireing him to Join me on the loth. of June at St. Vincents with all the force he Possibly could raise agreeable to his Letters to me; sent out Capt. Lanctot among the different Nations of Indians to receive their Congratulation on our late Success receive the submission of those that Resolved to Desert the English &c as well as to get fresh Intiligence from Detroit. The Civil Departmt. In the Illinois had heretofore rob'd me of too much of my time that ought to be spent in Military reflections. I was now likely to be Relieved by Colo. Jno. Todd appointed by Government for that Purpose; I was anctious for his Arrival & happy in his appointment as the greatest intimacy and friendship subsisted between us; and on the ____ of may had the Pleasure of seeing him safely Landed at Kaskaskias to the Joy of every Person. I now saw myself happily rid of a Piece of trouble that I had no delight in. In a few days Colo. Montgomery arrived [but] to my Mortification, found that he had not half the Men that I expected; immediately receiveing a letter from Colo. Bowman with fresh Assurances of a considerable Reinforcement. The Officers in Genl. being anctious for the Expedition, Resolved to Rendevous according to appointment; and if not deceived by the Kentuckyans I should still be able to compleat my design, as I only wanted men sufficient to make me appear Respectable in Passing through the Savages by which means I could on the March Command those friendly at my ease, and defy my Enemies. Three hundred Men being at this time sufficient to Reduce the Garrisson of Detroit, as the new Works was not Compleat, nor could not be according. to the Plan before my Arrival. The Gentlemen of Detroit not being Idle (having sufficient reason to be convinced, that they were in no danger from the Dept. of Pitsburg always suspicious of any Attacting them, sensible of my growing Interest among the Savages. In order to give themselves more time to fortify by making some divirtion on the Illinois) engaged a considerable number of their Savages to make an Attempt on St. Vincents. Those Indians that had declared for the American Interest; in order to shew their Zeal [I] sent word to them that if they had a mind to fight the Bostonians at St. Vincents; they must first cut their way through them, as they were Big Knives too. This effectually stopt their operation. Knowing that the Expedition depended intirely on the Kentuckians turning out, I began to be suspicious of a disappointment on hearing of their Marching against the Shownee Towns which Proved too true for on my arrival at St. Vincents the first of July, enstead of two or three hundred Men that I was promised; I found only about thirty Volunteers, [after] meeting with a Repulse from the Shawnees got discouraged. Consequently not in the power of the Comd to March them as Militia. Being for some time, (as I hinted before) suspitious of a disappointment, I had conducted matters so as to make no Ill impression on the minds of the Savages in case I should not proceed as the whole had suspected that my design was against Detroit. Several Nations silicited me to go and suffer them to Join me. Various was the conjectures respecting the Propriety of the Attempt with the Troops we had (about three hundd. & fifty) at a Council of War held for the purpose there was only two casting voices against it and I pretend[ed] it was on account of Genl. Sullivants Marching against Niagary, which we Just heard that stopt us, that there was no doubt of his success Detroit would fall of course; and consequently was not worth our while Marching against it: although I knew at same time Detroit would not fall with Niagary, as they had an easy communication with Montreal through another Channel by way of the Grand River. A number of Indians visited me at this time renewing the Chain of friendship &c. To all of whom I gave Genl. satisfaction, except that of my refutial of a Tract of Land that their Chief had formerly offered me; I inquired of several Gentlemen acquainted with them, why they were Silicitus about it. Their oppinions was that the Indians being exceedingly Jealous of their Lands being taken without their Consent, being told by the English that I had a design on their Country as their Chief and Guardian and that my refusial had given them suspicion; in order to Remove it I made a suitable Speech to them which gave Genl. satisfaction and in a few days they with a great deal of Ceremony presented me the following Deed of gift.
BY THE TOBACOES SON Grand Chief of all the Peankeshaws Nations, & of all the Tribes. Grand Dore to the Quabache as ordered by the master of Life, holding the Tomahawk in one hand and Peace in the other: Judging the Nations, giving entrance for those that are for Peace, and making them a Clear Road &c—
DECLARATION
WHEREAS for many Years past, this once Peaceable Land hath been put in confusion by the English encouraging all People to Raise the Tommahawk Against the Big Knives, saying that they were a bad People, Rebellious, and ought to be put from under Sun and their names to be no more—
But as the Sky at our Councils was always Misty and never Clear we still was at a loss to know what to do, hoping that the Master of Life would one Day or other make the Sky Clear and put us in the right Road. He taking Pitty on us sent a father among us (Colo. George Rogers Clark) that has cleared our eyes And made our Paths straight defending our Lands &c—So that we now enjoy Peace from the Rising to the Seting of Sun; and the Nations even to the heads of the great River (meaning the Messicippi) are happy and will no more listen to Bad Birds; but abide by the Councils of their great father, A Chief of the Big Knives that is now among us—
And whereas it is our desire that he should long remain among us, that we may take his Council and be happy; it also being our desire to give him Lands to reside on in our Country that we may at all times speak to him. After many Silicitations to him to make choice of a Tract he chusing the Lands adjoining the Falls of Ohio on the west side of said River—
I do hereby in the names of all the Great Chiefs and Warriers of the Ouabash and their Allies, Declare that so much Lands at the falls of Ohio contained in the following bounds, to wit, Beginning opposite the middle of the first Island below the Falls, Bounded upwards by the west Bank of the River so far as to include two Leagues and a half on a straight line from the beginning, thence at right angles with said line two Leagues & half in Breadth, in all its Parts shall hearafter and ever be the sole property of our great father (Colo. Clark) with all things thereto belonging, either above or below the earth shall be and is his; except a Road through the said Land to his Door which shall remain ours, and for us to walk on to speak to our father. All Nations from the Rising to the seting of the Sun, that are not in alliance with us are hereby warned to esteem the said gift as sacred and not to make that Land taste of Blood; that all People either at peace of War may repair in safety to get Council of their father. Who ever first darkens that Land shall no longer have a Name. This declaration shall forever be a Witness between all Nations and our present Gt. father; that the said Lands are forever hereafter his property. In witness whereof I do in the name of all the Great Chiefs and Warriers of the Ouabash in open Council affix my mark and Seal done at St. Vincents this 16th day of June 1779
(Sign'd) Francis son of Tobacco.
Which Deed, I excepted, and Indeavoured to convince them how much I Prised so liberal a gift &c as I had no Idea of haveing Property in the Lands myself, knowing the Laws of my Country Justly against it. I chose it at the falls of Ohio suspecting that I might hearafter find it necessary to fortify that Place for conveniency of free Intercourse. Having a Number of supernumerary Officers I sent them Into the Settlement Recruiting. Finding the Interest of the Department required me to spend a few months at the Falls of Ohio being also Induced with the hopes of giving the Shawneess a Drubing in case a sufficient force Could be again raised at Kentucky; After giving proper Instructions for the direction of the Comds. of the different Posts I set out for the falls where I arrived safe on the 20 day of August I Received an Express from his Excellency much to my Satisfaction having fresh Assurance of a sufficient Reinforcement and his Intention of Errecting a Fortification at or near the Mouth of Ohio, so much the desire of every Person it being a Place of great Importance, and by having a Strong fortification &c it would immediately be the Mart and Key of the Western Country. All my Expectations in my being here has been disappointed (except laying up a considerable Quantity of Beef) by lowness of the Ohio which [is] so remarkable that it would be worth Recording few being able to navagate it with the smallest Canoes for several months Past.
I shall not for the future leave it in Your Power to accuse me for a Neglect of friendship, but shall continue to transmit to you whatever I think worth your notice
I am Sir with Esteem Yours
N. B. As for the description of the Illinois Country which you sem so anctious for you may expect to have [it] by the ensuing fall as I expect by that Period to be able to give you a more Genl. Idea of it. This you may take for granted that its more Beautiful that any Idea I could have formed of a Country almost in a state of Nature, every thing you behold is an Additional Beauty. On the River you'll find the finest Lands the Sun ever shone on. In the high Country you will find a Variety of Poor & Rich Lands with large Meadows extending beyond the reach of your Eyes Variagated with groves of Trees appearing like Islands in the Seas covered with Buff [a]loes and other Game. In many Places with a good Glass you may see all those that is on their feet in half a Million Acres; so level is the Country which some future day will excell in Cattle. The Settlements of the Illinois commenced about one hundred Years ago by a few Traders from Canada. My Reflections on that head its cituation the probability of a flourishing Trade the State of the Country at Present what its capable of Producing My oppinion Respecting the cause of those extensive Plains &c. the Advantages arising by strong fortifications and Settlements at the mouth of Ohio. The different Nations of Indians their Traditions Numbers &c. you may expect in my next.
G R CLARK

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1779-11-19

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