In 1810 a series of massacres and depredations were committed by the Indians of Illinois Territory, upon citizens of Louisiana Territory, which led to a long correspondence between the Governor of Louisiana Territory and Governor EDWARDS of Illinois Territory. The most daring of these, and which caused great excitement at the time, was committed at Portage du Sioux, on July 19th, which resulted in the killing of four white men and the serious wounding of a fifth. After some correspondence in which it was made evident to Governor EDWARDS that the Potawotamies were guilty of the outrage, and a requisition having been made on him for the murderers, Captain Samuel LEVERING, on the 24th of July, 1811, was commissioned by Governor EDWARD’S to visit the tribes on the Illinois River, and demand of them, the author of the murders which had been committed. (Edwards Ill.)
On this expedition, Ninian W. EDWARDS (in his History of Illinois), says: "Captain LEVERING departed on that day (July 24, 1811) from Kaskaskia, and arrived at Mr. JARROT’S in the village of Cahokia, on the next day at 11 P. M. Captain EBERT had engaged part of the crew for a boat, and on the 25th of July, the boat having been furnished by Governor CLARK with the necessary equipment, provisions, etc., they left the boat for Peoria, with the crew, consisting of Captain LEVERING, Captain HEBRON, Henry SWEARINGEN, N. RECTOR, a Frenchman (who passed as an interpreter) Pierre LAPARCHE, Joseph TROTIER, Frances PENSONEAU, Louis BEVANNO, Thomas HULL (alias WOODS), Pierre VOEDRE and Joseph GRAMMASON, all of who signed the articles of agreement as boatmen and soldier of the expedition." (Edwards’ History Illinois p____.) This expedition was met at Portage due Siox three days afterward by Captain WHITESIDES and his men, "who had just arrived from a blockhouse near the mouth of the Illinois River."
Of Captain WHITESIDES’ Company, the records of this office show a muster roll of the date of November 13th, 1812. We publish this roll complete.
A muster roll of a detachment of mounted riflemen commanded by Ensign Samuel WHITESIDES of St. Clair county, Illinois Territory. By order of his Excellency, Ninian EDWARDS, Governor of Illinois Territory. From August 7th to August 22, 1812:
The record in Edward’s History continues: "On the morning of the 29th day of July, they arrived at Prairie Marcot, about nineteen miles above the mouth of the Illinois River, where Lieut. John CAMPBELL was stationed, with seventeen men." The records in this office contain no roll of these men.
On the arrival of the party at Peoria a parley was held between Captain LEVERING and a chief named GOMO, of the Pottawotamies. After several conferences, GOMO gave up two stolen horses, which he found in the possession of his men, but claimed that he could not find the murderers. Little Chief promised to deliver two more horses to Captain HEALD at Chicago, and GOMO promised to deliver the murderers when they could be found. At this conference it was ascertained that the Missouri murderers were near Prophet'’ town. Tippecanoe -–and hopes were entertained of catching them in the fall. By exposure incurred and disease contracted on this expedition. Captain LEVERING died soon after his return to Kaskaskia.
Throughout the whole summer of 1811, the English emissaries kept up, industriously, the dastardly work of setting the Indians on the white settlers. Encouraged by their promises, TECUMSEH had conceived the plan of combining the Southern tribes into a league with the Northern Indians to make war on the United States until their lands were restored to them.
His attach on General HARRISON with a force of over 700 men under cover of darkness and his ultimate defeat and flight, with a serious loss of killed and wounded, is a part of the history of our country which concerns us only, as our Illinois troops participated in the victory. This battle, which took place on the 6th day of November, 1811, cost the lives of 37 killed outright and 25 mortally wounded who afterwards died, and these were the very flower of the young settlers of Indiana and Illinois Territories. Among the killed in this battle was Captain Isaac WHITE (for whom White county was afterward named), who commanded a company of Illinois troops raised in Saline county, of which we possess no roll. Here also fell Major Joe DAVIESS, whose name is also perpetuated in the county of that name; and of the others whose names are not recorded – nor have they been perpetuated – we can only say that they did their duty bravely, and the sacrifice of their own lives saved those of hundreds of women and children who might otherwise have fallen ready victims to the cruelty of the victorious savages.
The rolls of companies of rangers mustered into the United States service during the summer and fall of 1811 are no doubt preserved at the War Department. Of the militia who from time to time were called out by Governor EDWARDS, there are but few of the rolls preserved. We find however, a pay roll of militia from July 4th, to July 29th, 1811, as follows:
Pay roll of company of militia commanded by Captain William ALEXANDER, of the county of Randolph, Illinois Territory, by order of Ninian EDWARDS, Governor of said Territory.
|CHAFFIN, John F.|
|LIVELY, John (see campaign of 1813)|
|LONDROW, Jean B.|
|PERA, John Baptiste|
|PURE, Jerome F.|
|WHITE, John F.|
During the winter of 1811-12 the Indians on the upper Mississippi were very hostile, and committed many murders.
Governor REYNOLDS charges in his "Own Times" that the British agent at Prairie-du-Chien – it was reported by Indian traders "had engaged all the warriors of that region to descend the Mississippi and exterminate the settlements on both sides of the river."
A few marauding parties penetrated far down in the State, killing Andrew MOORE and his son on the middle fork of Big Muddy (Moore’s Prairie, in Jefferson county, was named for him.). Later in the same year they attacked Hill’s fort, and were repulsed.
In view of the troubled state of affairs Governor EDWARDS, in March, 1812, dispatched Captain Edward HEBERT as a friendly messenger to the Indians living on the Illinois River, inviting them to a counsel, which met on the 16th day of April, at Cahokia, and in which all the tribes in the State were represented. After protracted speech-making, in which the Indians rather had the advantage, they came away loaded with substantial presents. REYNOLDS says:
"The wild men exercised the most diplomacy, and made the Governor believe that the Indians were for peace, and that the whites need dread nothing from them. They promised enough to obtain presents, and went off laughing at the credulity of the whites."
Some of the same Indians who participated in this council were engaged in the Chicago massacre the August following.
The Indians of the Northwest however, did not desire peace. They had been kept stirred up and excited by the British agents, so that when Congress, on the 19th day of June, 1812, declared war against Great Britain, they were ready to take advantage of the fact and throw their aid with the enemy in a general warfare against the settlers on the whole American frontier. In Illinois, the militia was thoroughly organized in anticipation of the outbreak, and additional forts were built, one near the mouth of Little Wabash, and another at the mouth of La Motte creek.
The greatest massacre ever committed in the State occurred on the 15th day of August, 1812, near the site of the present city of Chicago. In 1804 the General Government had erected Fort Dearborn at the mouth of the Chicago River, on the site of an old fort built by the French in the 17th century, and maintained in it a small garrison, usually consisted of 50 men and three pieces of artillery. Under this precarious protection there had gathered quite a number of Indian traders and their families, and a few settlers had established their homes in the immediate vicinity. For the eight years of the existence of the fort, the history of the garrison had been free from incident. The relations of the officers, the soldiers, and even of the settlers and traders, with the savages, were supposed to be of the most cordial nature. At the time of the massacre the garrison consisted of 75 men, few of whom were __?__ive soldiers. The officers were Captain HEALD, Lieutenant HELM, Ensign RONAN ___?___ Surgeon VOORHEES.
On The 7th of August, Captain HEALD received an order from Governor HULL, commander-in-chief, to evacuate the fort. The Captain and Lieut. HELM, as well as John KINZIE, the principal trader, had families there, and their condition was all the more critical. Mr. KINZIE, who was seconded strongly by the sagacious chief who __?____ the order, Winnemeg, strongly advised against the evacuation, not believing it to be safe to leave the protection of the block-houses. But the commander, impelled more with his duty of obedience than of fear of danger, which he did not consider imminent, without consultation with his subordinates gave the order to evacuate the following morning. The other officers immediately added their resistances, and urged the improbability of being able to make a successful retreat with so small a force to so great a distance as Fort Wayne, through the country of so vigilant and hostile a foe.
The publication of this order for a week previous to the intended evacuation no doubt added much to the danger.
Captain HEALD called together the Pottawotamies in council on the 12th, and promised them the goods belonging to the government, and in return, they promised to escort his force to Fort Wayne.
Captain HEALD, when too late, found that it was indiscreet to give the ammunition and whisky to the Indians, so on the night of the 13th he destroyed all the ammunition by throwing it in a well, broke the extra guns and stove the whisky barrels to prevent them falling into the hands of the Indians. A council of the savages held on the 14th expressed great indignation at this breach of faith on the part of the whites. Notice of the unfriendly attitude of the Indians was given during this day by Black PARTRIDGE, but Captain WELLS with 15 friendly Miami’s having arrived from Fort Wayne, the despondency of the whites was somewhat dispelled. Captain WELLS was a brother of Mrs. HEALD, and hearing of the intended evacuation, had hastened to strengthen the escort with the few men he could command at a short notice.
The reserved ammunition, 25 rounds to the man, was issued, and the baggage wagons for the sick, and women and children, made ready, and on the morning of the the 15th of August, notwithstanding another message from a friendly Indian to Mr. KINZIE warning them of danger, they started on their ill-advised journey, leaving the fort at 9 in the morning, headed by a band of martial music; about a mile and a half from the fort. They encountered the Indians, hid behind the sand-hills which follow the course of the beach of Lake Michigan. The troops fought bravely, but were overborne by numbers; only 28 out of 66 surrendered. Captain HEALD in his report gives them at 54 regulars and 12 militia, of which 26 regulars and all the militia were, killed all the other officers, including Captain WELLS, except the Captain and Lieut. HELM, and most of the women and children were killed outright, one savage tomahawking 12 children in one wagon alone.
Of all who started out on the fatal morning, was left the Captain, First Lieut. 25 enlisted men, and 11 women and children, fortunately including among the latter the brave wife of Lieut. HELM who herself and Mrs. HEALD, who although seriously wounded, escaped most fortunately with her life.
A most notable incident of this massacre was the fact that Mr. KINZIE and family were unharmed, and restored to their house the next day, with the loss of but a small part of their goods; they, however, ran a close chance of destruction on the day following by a party of Wabash Pottawotamies, who arrived too late for the main attack, and were only saved by the presence of mind of Billy CALDWELL, a half-breed Wyandott, who placated them with good speeches in recommendation of Mr. KINZIE’S kindness to the Indians, and friendship for them.
In the meantime, Governor EDWARDS had not been idle. Anticipating for some months the action of the General Government, he had, on his individual credit, thoroughly organized and equipped the militia of the territory, built forts, and made every possible effort.
General HULL having surrendered at Detroit on the 16th day of August, the British and Indians had full sway in the whole northwest, with the exception of Forts Wayne and Harrison. This emboldened them to penetrate further and further into the interior, even encroaching on the settlements in Southern Illinois. The British had descended the Mississippi to Rock Island, and were distributing goods to the Indians through their notorious agent, Samuel GIRTY.
In the latter part of August, General HARRISON superseded General HULL in the command of the Northwest.
The State of Kentucky had raised a force of 7,000 men, a portion of which under the command of General HOPKINS and Colonel William RUSSELL was directed to the aid of Indiana and Illinois. On the 11th day of October, Colonel RUSSELL with two companies started from Vincennes to join Governor EDWARDS in an expedition then fitting out at Camp Russell. These companies were commanded by Captains PERRY and MODRELL. General HOPKINS, in command at Vincennes with over 2,000 of the Kentuckians, were to move off the Wabash to Fort Harrison, pass over into Illinois, march across the prairies on the headwaters of the Sangamon and Vermillion Rivers, destroying the Indian villages in the course of his march, and to finally effect a function with EDWARDS and RUSSELL on the Illinois, and, combined, to sweep the Indians from the whole length of that river.
It having been reported to Governor EDWARDS that the French settlers at Peoria were inciting the Indians to attacks on the settlers he dispatched Capt. Thomas H. CRAIG, of Shawneetown, with his company (see roll) in advance of the expedition with two boats on the Illinois River, one boat loaded with provisions, and tools to build a fort, the others armed with blunderbusses and a swivel, as a sort of a gun boat while both were "fortified so that the enemies bullets could not enter their sides", CRAIG was to wait at Peoria for further orders from the commander-in-chief, and was to make offensive war on the French inhabitants of that town. The latter instruction was carried out fully, by burning the place and taking prisoners the white inhabitants, who were afterwards sent as prisoners to Camp Russell and from there sent to St. Louis, and discharged some months afterwards. Governor COLES in a report made to the Secretary of the Treasury, several years afterwards, gives the names of these settlers as, Thomas FORSYTHE, Jacques METTE, P. LARASLER (alias CHAMBERLAIN), Antoine Leclaire, Michael Lacroix, Francis RACINE, Sr., Francis RACINE, Jr., Felix FONTAINE, Hypolyte MAILLET, Francis BANCHE, heirs of Charles LABELLE, Antoine Lapance, Antoine BARBONNE and Louis PENECNNAU. The above list does not include women and children, the number of prisoners in the aggregate numbering.
On the 18th day of October, Governor EDWARDS and his army took up their march. The route was up the west side of Cahokia Creek, thence to the Macoupin, which they crossed near the present town of Carlinville, thence in a northwest direction, they crossed the Sangamon below the junction of the north and south forks east of the present city of Springfield; passing thence east to Elkhart Grove, they crossed Salt Creek near the site of the present city of Lincoln; from thence marching still northward, they came upon a deserted Kickapoo village on Sugar Creek, which they set on fire and destroyed. After this, their course was directed to the head of Peoria Lake, where was located the village of Black Partridge, a chief of the Potawotamies. Having approached within a few miles of the town, Thomas CARLIN (afterwards Governor of the State), and Robert STEPHEN and David WHITESIDES, were sent to reconnoiter the enemy, which they successfully accomplished by passing through and over the town in the night without discovery.
Early on the following morning the army, with Captain JUDY and his spy company in advance, under the cover of a dense fog moved upon the village, but the troops becoming entangled in the swamps, the Indians were apprised of their approach and fled without fighting or encountering any serious loss. Following the fleeing Indians for several miles across the yielding swamps, a small Indian town was reached and burned. The Indians having all made good their escape, and no news having been received from Governor HOPKINS, and a rainy season having set in, the Governor deemed it prudent to retire. As Governor REYNOLDS quaintly observes in his "Own Times," "Our army returned home with all convenient speed."