« AnteriorContinuar »
terms. Those who know any thing of the history of the last war, need not be informed, that Tecumseh was substantially, as well as nominally, the head and life of the Anglo-Indian Department, and that greater forces were collected by his influence, and embodied under his command, than in any other instance from the first settlement of the country. He brought in six hundred Wabash recruits in one body, early in 1813. In the attack made upon Fort Stephenson, in the summer of the same year, the enemy numbered but five hundred British regulars, for eight hundred Indians, (under Dickson,) while Tecumseh was at the same time stationed on the road to Fort Meigs with a body of two thousand more, for the purpose of cutting off the American reinforcements on that route.
In the decisive battle of the Moravian Towns, he commanded the right wing of the allied army, and was posted in the only part of it which was engaged with the American troops. Here was his last struggle. Disdaining to fly, when all were flying around him but his own nearest followers, he pressed eagerly into the heart of the contest, encouraging the savages by his voice, and plying the tomahawk with a tremendous energy. He appeared to be advancing, it is said, directly upon Colonel Johnson, who was hastening towards him on the other side, at the head of his mounted infantry. Suddenly a wavering was perceived in the Indian ranks; there was no longer a cry of command among them. Tecumseh had fallen, and his bravest men, still surviving, were defeated by the same blow. They fled, leaving thirty-three dead on the field, most of whom were found near Tecumseh.
Upon the question, who had the honor of shooting the great chief,—as all the world admits he was shot,we shall spend but few words. In the language of another, “there is a possibility that he fell by a pistolshot from the hand of Colonel Johnson. He was certainly killed in that part of the line where the Col
onel was himself wounded;" and this is all that can well be said upon a subject which has occasioned so much controversy. The British Government granted a pension to his widow and family, which probably continues to this day. The Prophet, who survived the war, and was little exposed in it, was supplied in the same manner until his death, which took place a few years since. He is believed to have been older than his brother, who died about forty-five.
The grave, in which Tecumseh's remains were deposited by the Indians after the return of the American army, is still visible near the borders of a willow marsh, on the north line of the battle-ground, with a large fallen oak-tree lying beside. The willow and wild rose are thick around it, but the mound itself is cleared of shrubbery, and is said to owe its good condition to the occasional visits of his countrymen* Thus repose, in solitude and silence, the ashes of the • INDIAN BONAPARTE. In truth have they
Left him alone with his glory.'
* Western Paper.
Remarks on the character of Tecumseh and the Prophet
Their facilities for cooperation-Difficulties the latter had to overcome-His perseverance and ingenuityMeans by which he protected_his person-Anecdotes of the Battle of Tippecanoe-Frankness of Tecumseh in disclosing his schemes-Causes of his hostility to the Americans-Trespasses of the whites, and other abuses—Object of the belligerent combination-Anecdotes of Tecumseh's first visit to Vincennes, in 1810–His dignity, independence and courage-His ideas of the British policy–His speech to General Proctor, and remarks on his oratory-His humanityHis genius.
The reputation of the Prophet has suffered from the complete ultimate failure of his plans. It has suffered the more from the very circumstances which mark him as an extraordinary man,-his career as a prophet. Tecumseh knew his own talent better than to play a game like this; but he also knew, without doubt, that Elsk watawa was capable of doing more for the advancement of their common object, by acting this coordinate or subordinate part, than by adopting the same course with himself, even had he possessed the same species of ability. Together, they were endowed with a complete system of qualities necessary to accomplish their design; but neither could act alone. Tecumseh was frank, warlike, persuasive in his oratory, popular in his manners, irreproachable in his habits of life. Elskwatawa had more cunning than courage; and a stronger disposition to talk, than to fight, or exert himself in any other way. But he was subtle, fluent, persevering and self-possessed ; and this was enough. He becaine an inspired man, and Tecumseh was his first convert. Others of the tribe might be intrusted with the secret. They had, at all events, a great respect for these men; and being both a proud and warlike people, they received with avidity the well-contrived doctrine of their superiority over other tribes, and entered upon a course of projects likely to produce war,—though of war nothing might yet be seen or said, with the fury of bloodhounds upon a track.
Hence the murders and robberies which so much alarmed and irritated the frontier settlers, and which we have very little doubt were generally committed by individuals of the Prophet's "banditti,' without his authority, and perhaps against his wishes. His young men, especially, like those who brought on Philip's war, were wrought up till the master-spirit himself lost his control over them; and to make the matter worse, most of them were of such a character, in the first instance, that horse-stealing and house-breaking were as easy to them as breathing. Like the refugees of Romulus, they were outcasts, vagabonds and criminals, --in a great degree brought together by the novelty of the preacher's reputation, by curiosity to hear his doctrines, by the fascination of extreme credulity, by restlessness, by resentment against the whites, and by poverty and unpopularity at home.
These things should be taken into consideration, when the success of the Prophet is estimated. His ingenuity was tasked to the utmost, in getting and keeping these people together in the first place. Then it was necessary to instruct them just so far, as to put them in the way of preparing themselves for what might happen, and to make them serviceable in collecting and convincing others, without committing the cause too unreservedly to noisy tongues, and to rash hands. Then complaints were made by American authorities, and these must be pacified. Offers of assistance came in from other quarters, and these must be kept secret. At other times, the banditti were reduced to an extreme scarcity of provisions, as might be expected from the numbers collected together, and the kind of life which they led. At first, they were given to understand that corn and pumpkins would be raised for them supernaturally ; but the Prophet deemed it easier on the whole to produce these essential articles by other means,—and here was another reason for maintaining a good understanding with his American neighbors. Hence he gave out that he proposed visiting the Governor at Vincennes, with the view of begging provisions,—for the white people had always encouraged him to preach the word of God to the Indians.' This purpose was carried into execution; and on that occasion it was, that the Governor was completely deceived," by the Prophet's appearance and language. So late as 1811, a quantity of salt was sent up the Wabash for the Prophet's use, together with another quantity intended for the Kickapoos and other Indians. He seems to have balanced some time between necessity and policy before this temptation, but finally adopted the middle course of detaining the entire cargo, and sending a very civil apology to the Governor in payment.
On the whole, we are inclined to put small faith in the popular theory which represents the Prophet as a fool." Possibly he assumed that character on some occasions, knowing the proverbial reverence of the Indians for an idiot. Allowance should be made also for the reaction produced by his failure at Tippecanoe, although his influence was in some degree restored after that eventy-the misfortune being sagely attributed by many to the important circumstance of his wife having touched some of his sacred utensils. Nothing but a series of triumphs on the part of the American forces, the death of his brother, and the loss of all his best friends of his own tribe, (for the Kishopokes were reduced to about twenty warriors during the war,) finally destroyed his character as a Prophet. When this was effected, it was human nature to degrade him below the level of a man.
It might have been expected, that a person of his pretensions, with so many rivals and enemies, would be