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emergency, and as he probably would have done, had there not been some coolness between him and Ensign Ronan.
The lieutenant and ensign, after the promulgation of this order, waited on Captain Heald to learn his intentions; and being apprised, for the first time, of the course he intended to pursue, they remonstrated against it. “ We do not,” said they to Captain Heald, “ believe that our troops can pass in safety through the country of the Pottawatomies, to Fort Wayne. Although a part of their chiefs were opposed to an attack upon us last autumn, they were actuated by motives of private friendship for some particular individuals, and not from a regard to the Americans in general; and it can hardly be supposed that, in the present excited state of feeling among the Indians, those chiefs will be able to influence the whole tribe, now thirsting for vengeance. Besides," said they, “our march must be slow, on account of the women and children. Our force, too, is small. Some of our soldiers are superannuated, and some of them are invalids. We think, therefore, as your orders are discretionary, that we had better fortify ourselves as strongly as possible, and remain where we are. Succor may reach us before we shall be attacked from Mackinaw; and, in case of such an event, we had better fall into the hands of the English, than become victims of the savages.” Captain Heald replied, that his force was inadequate to contend with the Indians, and that he should be censured were he to continue in garrison, when the prospect of a safe retreat to Fort Wayne was so apparent. He therefore deemed it advi. sable to assemble the Indians, and distribute the public property among them, and ask of them an escort thither, with the promise of a considerable sum of money to be paid on their safe arrival; adding, that he had per. fect confidence in the friendly professions of the Indians, from whom, as well as from the soldiers, the capture of Mackinaw had studiously been concealed.
From this time forward, the junior officers stood aloof from their commander, and, considering his project as little short of madness, conversed as little upon the subject as possible. Dissatisfaction, however, soon filled the camp; the soldiers began to murmur, and insubordination assumed a threatening aspect.
The savages, in the meantime, became more and more troublesome ;* entered the fort occasionally, in defiance of the sentinels, and even made their way without ceremony into the quarters of its commanding officer. On one occasion an Indian, taking up a rifle, fired it in the parlor of Captain Heald. Some were of opinion that this was intended as the signal for an attack. The old chiefs at this time passed back and forth among the assembled groups, apparently agitated; and the squaws seemed much
* An Indian runner had previously arrived in the Pottawatomy camp with a message from Tecumseh, informing them of the capture of Mackinaw, the defeat of Van Horne, and the retreat of General Hull from Canada. He desired them to arm immediately ; and intimated, that he had no doubt but General Hull would, in a short time, be compelled to surrender.
excited, as though some terrible calamity was impending. No further manifestations, however, of ill feeling were exhibited, and the day passed without bloodshed. So infatuated, at this time, was Captain Heald, that he supposed he had wrought a favorable impression upon the savages, and that the little garrison could now march forth in safety.
From the 8th to the 12th of August, the hostility of the Indians was more and more apparent ; and the feelings of the garrison, and of those connected with, and dependent upon it for their safety, more and more intense. Distrust everywhere at length prevailed, and the want of unanimity among the officers, was appalling. Every inmate retired to rest, expecting to be aroused by the war-whoop; and each returning day was regarded by all as another step on the road to massacre.
The Indians from the adjacent villages having at length arrived, a council was held on the 12th of August. It was attended, however, only by Captain Heald on the part of the military ; the other officers refused to attend, having previously learned that massacre was intended.
This fact was communicated to Captain Heald ; he insisted, however, on their going, and they resolutely persisted in their refusal. When Captain Heald left the fort, they repaired to the blockhouse, which overlooked the ground where the council was in session, and opening the port-holes, pointed their cannon in its direction. This circumstance, and their ab. sence, it is supposed, saved the whites from massacre.
Captain Heald informed the Indians in council, that he would, next day, distribute among them all the goods in the United States factory, to. gether with the ammunition and provisions with which the garrison was supplied; and desired of them an escort to Fort Wayne, promising them a reward on their arrival thither, in addition to the presents they were about to receive. The savages assented, with professions of friendship, to all he proposed, and promised all he required.
The council was no sooner dismissed, than several, observing the tone of feeling which prevailed, and anticipating from it no good to the garrison, waited on Captain Heald, in order to open his eyes, if possible, to their condition.
The impolicy of furnishing the Indians with arms and ammunition, to be used against themselves, struck Captain Heald with so much force, that he resolved, without consulting his officers, to destroy all not required for immediate use.
On the next day, (August 13th,) the goods in the factory store were distributed among the Indians; and in the evening the ammunition, and also the liquor belonging to the garrison, were carried, the former into the sally port and thrown into the well, and the latter through the south gate, as silently as possible, to the river bank, where the heads of the barrels were knocked in, and their contents discharged into the stream.
The Indians, however, suspecting the game, approached as near as possible, and witnessed the whole scene. The spare muskets were
broken up, and thrown into the well, together with bags of shot, flints, and gun-screws, and other things; all, however, of but little value.
On the 14th, the despondency of the garrison was for a while dispelled by the arrival of Captain Wells, and fifteen friendly Miamies. Having heard at Fort Wayne of the order to evacuate Chicago, and knowing the hostile intentions of the Pottawatomies, he hastened thither, in order to save, if possible, the little garrison from its doom. He was the brother of Mrs. Heald, and having been reared from childhood among the savages, knew their character; and something whispered him “ that all was not well.” He was the son of General Wells of Kentucky, who was distinguished alike for his courage and patriotism. Captain Wells, when a child, was taken prisoner by the Indians, and adopted into the family of Little Turtle, the most celebrated forest warrior between the days of Pontiac and Tecumseh. In the defeat of General Harmar, Captain Wells had borne a distinguished part; and in the defeat of St. Clair, he commanded three hundred savage warriors posted in front of the artillery, who caused extraordinary carnage among those who served it; and, uninjured himself, picked off the artillerists, until “ their bodies were heaped up almost to the height of their pieces.”
Supposing that the whites, roused by their reverses, would eventually prevail, he resolved to abandon the savages and rejoin his countrymen. The manner in which he announced his intentions, accorded with the simple and sententious habits of the forest warrior. While travelling the woods one morning in company with his adopted father, the “Little Turtle,” he pointed to the heavens, and said : “ When the sun reaches the meridian, I leave you for the whites, and when you meet me in battle, you must kill me, as I shall endeavor to kill you.” The bonds, however, of affection, which had bound these singular and gifted men together were not severed or weakened by this abrupt dereliction. Captain Wells immediately joined the army of General Wayne, and by his intimacy with the wilderness, his knowledge of the Indian haunts, habits, and modes of warfare, became a powerful auxiliary. He served faithfullyfought bravely through the campaign, and at its close, when peace had restored the Indians again to amity, he rejoined his foster father, the “ Little Turtle," and their friendship continued unbroken.*
This intrepid warrior of the woods, hearing that his friends at Chicago were in danger, and chagrined at the obstinacy of Captain Heald, who was thus hazarding their safety, came thither to save his friends, or participate in their fate. He arrived, however, too late to effect the former, but just in time to effect the latter. Having, on his arrival, learned that the ammunition had been destroyed, and the provisions distributed among the Indians, he saw there was no alternative. Preparations were therefore made for marching on the morrow.
In the afternoon, a second council was held with the Indians, at which
* Colonel Whiting's Historical Discourses, delivered at Detroit in 1832.
they expressed their resentment at the destruction of the ammunition and liquor, in the severest terms.* Notwithstanding the precautions which had been observed, the knocking in of the heads of the whiskey barrels had been heard by the Indians, and the river next morning tasted, as some of them expressed it, “ like strong grog.” Murmurs and threats were everywhere heard ; and nothing, apparently, was wanting but an oppor. tunity for some public manifestation of their resentment.
Among the chiefs, there were several who participated in the general hostility of their tribe, and retained, at the same time, a regard for the few white inhabitants of the place. It was impossible, however, even for them to allay the angry feelings of the savage warriors, when provocation after provocation had thus been given; and their exertions, therefore, were futile.
Among this class was Black Partridge, a chief of some renown. Soon after the council had adjourned, this magnanimous warrior repaired to the quarters of Captain Heald, and taking off a medal he had long worn, said: “ Father, I have come to deliver up to you the medal I wear. It was given me by your countrymen, and I have long worn it, as a token of our friendship. Our young men are resolved to imbrue their hands in the blood of the whites. I cannot restrain them, and will not wear a to. ken of peace when compelled to act as an enemy.”
Had doubts previously existed, they were now at an end. The devoted garrison continued, however, their preparations as before ; and amid the surrounding gloom, a few gallant spirits still cheered their companions with hopes of security.
The ammunition reserved, twenty-five rounds to each soldier, was now distributed. The baggage-wagons designed for the sick, the women and the children, containing also a box of cartridges, were now made ready, and the whole party, anticipating a fatiguing, if not a disastrous march, on the morrow, retired to enjoy a few moments of precarious repose.
The morning of the 15th dawned as usual. The sun rose with uncom. mon splendor, and Lake Michigan “ was a sheet of burnished gold.”
Early in the day a message was received in the American camp, from To-pee-na-bee, a chief of the St. Josephs band, informing them that mischief was brewing among the Pottawatomies, who had promised them protection.
A bout nine o'clock, the troops left the fort with martial music, and in military array. Captain Wells, at the head of the Miamies, led the van, his face blackened after the manner of the Indians. The garrison, with loaded arms, followed, and the wagons with the baggage, the women and children, the sick, and the lame, closed the rear. The Pottawatomies, about five hundred in number, who had promised to escort them in safety to Fort Wayne, leaving a little space, afterward followed. The party in
* Black Hawk always insisted, that the massacre was caused by the violation of good faith on the part of the Americans.
advance took the beach road. They had no sooner arrived at the sandhills, which separate the prairie from the beach, about a mile and a half from the fort, when the Pottawatomies, instead of continuing in rear of the Americans, left the beach and took to the prairie. The sand-hills of course intervened, and presented a barrier between the Pottawatomies, and the American and Miami line of march. This divergence had scarcely been effected, when Captain Wells, who, with the Miamies, was considerably in advance, rode back, and exclaimed : “ They are about to attack us ; form instantly and charge upon them.” The word had scarcely been uttered, before a volley of musketry from behind the sand-hills was poured in upon them. The troops were brought immediately into a line, and charged up the bank. One man, a veteran of seventy, fell as they ascended. The battle at once became general. The Miamies fled in the outset; their chief rode up to the Pottawatomies, charged them with duplicity, and brandishing his tomahawk, said, “ he would be the first to head a party of Americans, and return to punish them for their treachery.” He then turned his horse and galloped off in pursuit of his companions, who were then scouring across the prairie, and nothing was seen or heard of them more.
The American troops behaved gallantly. Though few in number, they sold their lives as dearly as possible. They felt, however, as if their time had come, and sought to forget all that was dear on earth.
While the battle was raging, the surgeon, Doctor Voorhes, who was badly wounded, and whose horse had been shot from under him, ap. proaching Mrs. Helm, the wife of Lieutenant Helm, (who was in the action, participating in all its vicissitudes,) observed : “ Do you think,” said he, “they will take our lives? I am badly wounded, but I think not mortally. Perhaps we can purchase safety by offering a large reward. Do you think,” continued he, “there is any charce ?" “ Doctor Voorhes,” replied, Mrs. Helm, “ let us not waste the few moments which yet remain, in idle or, ill-founded hopes. Our fate is inevitable. We must soon appear at the bar of God. Let us make such preparations as are yet in our power.” “Oh!" said he, “ I cannot die. I am unfit to die! If I had a short time to prepare !—Death !--ch, how awful!"
At this moment, Ensign Ronan was fighting at a little distance, with a tall and portly Indian ; the former, mortally wounded, was nearly down, and struggling desperately upon one knee. Mrs. Helm pointing her finger, and directing the attention of Docter Voorhes thither, observed : “Look," said she,
“at that young man, he dies like a soldier.” “ Yes,” said Doctor Voorhes, but he has no terrors of the future; he is an unbeliever."
A young savage immediately raised his tomahawk to strike Mrs. Helm. She sprang instantly aside, and the blow intended for her head fell upon her shoulder. She thereupon seized him around his neck, and while exerting all her efforts to get possession of his scalping-knife, was seized by another Indian, and dragged forcibly from his grasp.