NEW ECHOTA, JUNE 23, 1832
A good deal has been said of late in the newspapers of an Indian war that was likely to break out between the inhabitants of Illinois and a portion of the Sac and Fox Indians. It appears from late accounts that hostilities have actually commenced between the contending parties, and that a battle has already been fought and won. We are grieved to think that these poor handful of Indians should be so far deluded as to raise the tomahawk, even in the defence of what they conceive to be their rights, because we know full well the utter uselessness of such an unequal contest, and the feeling of animosity which will be arrayed against them. Already has the decree gone out, and 'blood and carnage' must follow. Unfortunately for the red man, the alarm of 'Indian hostilities,' the 'tomahawk' and the 'scalping knife,' is, with a large portion of the community, sufficient to justify his extirpation. It is an appeal to the prejudices of the people, which never goes unanswered. In this case we expect nothing but that the Sacs and Fox Indians will be exterminated, and their leaders taken by conquest.
We know not the precise cause from which this war has originated, but its existence and the defeat of a body of mounted militia by the Indians have been fully confirmed by the following proclamation of the Governor of Illinois.
DIXON'S FERRY, ON ROCK RIVER
To the Militia of the State of Illinois
It becomes by duty again to call on your service for your country. The state is not only invaded by the hostile Indians, but many of your citizens have been slain in battle. A detachment of volunteers commanded by Major Stillman, of about 275 in number, were overpowered by the hostile Indians, on Sycamore Creek, distance from this place thirty miles, and a considerable number of them killed. This is an act of hostility which cannot be misconstrued.
I am of opinion that the Pottawatamies and Winnabagoes have joined the Sacs and Foxes, and all may be considered as waging war against the United States.
To subdue these Indians and drive them out of the State, it will require a force of at least two thousand mounted volunteers more, in addition to the troops already n the field.
I have made the necessary requisitions on the proper officers for the above number of mounted men, and have no doubt that the citizen soldiers of the State will obey the call of their country. They will meet in Hennepin, on the Illinois River, in companies of fifty men each, on the 10th of June next, to be organized into a brigade.
Commander in Chief
The particulars of the battle and defeat, alluded to by Governor Reynolds are related at some length in the Missouri Republican of May 22.
Defeat of the Militia- From a source, on which reliance may be placed, we have learned the following particulars. The detachment concerned in the engagement (about 275 men) had been encamped at Dixon's Ferry for several days before the arrival of the main body of the Militia under the Command of General Whitesides. Immediately thereafter a request was preferred by Major Stillman, who commanded the detachment, to be allowed to go out upon a scouting expedition; which was granted by Gen. Whitesides.- On Monday, the 14th the detachment met a small party of Indians, and killed two, and made two other prisoners. They continued their route, and encamped for the night in an advantageous position,-a dense wood, surrounded by prairie. Almost as soon as they had dismounted, turned their horses loose and commenced preparation for supper, a small party of Indians were discovered in the neighborhood of the encampment, bearing with them a white flag. Captain Eades, with a few men, was sent out to meet them, when the Indians commenced a precipitate retreat. This officer being acquainted with the mode of Indian warfare, and suspecting an ambush, followed them as far as he deemed prudent, and then ordered his men to fall back upon the main party. Although it was near dark, the whole detachment had been ordered to remount, and were met upon the route by the men who were returning.
The pursuit was conducted without any regard to discipline, and had continued for several miles, the Indians receding as the troops advanced, until they had decoyed them across the Sycamore Creek; as it is called in the proclamation. This they did in disorder, and as each man successfully reached it. Being thus decoyed into the midst of the main body of the Indians, and without being allowed time to form, hostilities were commenced. The Indians showed themselves on every quarter, mounted and armed. They commenced the attack with their guns, and after firing them, resorted to the use of tomahawks and knives. As soon as their desperate situation was known, Maj Stillman ordered a retreat across the creek, after an ineffectual fire at the enemy. The savages followed close upon them. No time was allowed for them to form ont the opposite bank of the creek. A company under the command of Captain Adams, of Tazewell County, who were in the rear, endeavored to make a stand against them and fought with desperation. About half of the missing are thought to have belonged to this company. The battle was fought by moonlight, in an open prairie, and the pursuit was kept up for ten or twelve miles. The survivors began to arrive at Dixon's Ferry, about one o'clock in the morning, and after a sufficient time had elapsed the next day, for them all to have come in the roll was called, and fifty two were found to be missing. A few of those who escaped were wounded and many had their hats and clothes perforated with bullet holes. Some of the savages were killed, but the number could not be ascertained. Various estimates are given of the strength of the Indians; the number is probably between 12 and 1600 warriors. By this victory they obtained possession of the horses of the slain, and of the camp equipage, blankets, ammunition, and provisions of the routed Militia, and are moreover encouraged to further hostilities by the propitious omen of the first victory.
On Tuesday last, the Militia at Dixon's Ferry, amounting to 1200 men, were paraded, to bury their deceased comrades. When our informant left them, an immediate pursuit and attack of the Indians was anticipated, but we hope wiser counsel may have prevailed, as defeat would be almost certain to follow such a course.
The Militia are exasperated beyond all bounds at the death of their countrymen, and a cruel and exterminating war must be the consequence. On the other hand, the Indians have the advantage of a perfect knowledge of the country--are inured to fatigue and privations of every kind, and can at any time seek refuge in the swamps which abound in that quarter.
Fears were entertained at head quarters for the safety of two or three small parties of men successively sent with dispatches to General Atkinson. Nothing had been heard from any of them; nor, indeed was it known in what situation Gen. A. was when our informant left.
Prior to the engagement, the Regular army, and the Militia had formed a junction at Rock Island, and Gen. Atkinson was vested with the entire command. The Militia, under Gen Whitesides, being mostly mounted men, proceeded to Dixon's Ferry by land. Gen. Atkinson, with 300 Regulars and 300 Militia, ascended to the Rapids of Rock River in boats, and information received here from him, states, that he had effected a passage over the Rapids. He must at that time have been about 30 miles from Dixon's Ferry.
It is said, that orders have been transmitted from the War Department, to the commanding officer of the expedition, to prosecute the war in the most energetic manner, and no longer to listen to the Talks of the Indians--as has been too often done already.
LATER- We have counter, and less disastrous reports by a short steam boat passage from Galena.- It was reported there, by persons who were in the engagement, that 25 or 27 men only were killed. In the other particulars, the above details are nearly correct. Business was entirely suspended at Galena, and the families in the surrounding country were moving in for protection. As proof of the rapidity with which the Indians traverse the country, it is stated, that a runner from Black Hawk and his allies, bearing to the Missouri Indians news of the defeat of the Militia, arrived at the Des Moines Rapids twenty four hours before the express sent by Gov. Reynolds.-Missouri Repub.
The Louisville Public Advertiser of the 4th inst. (says the Nashville Banner) contains extracts from the Missouri Republican of the 29th May, which exhibit somewhat in detail the horrid massacres perpetrating by the Indians upon our defenseless frontiers. The movement among the tribes seems to be general, and the war that of the tomahawk and scalping knife-sparing no age, sex or condition. Desperation governs the counsels of these deluded, infuriated savages, and we fear, much blood will be shed before tranquility can be restored. It is gratifying to discover that the defeat of Col. Stillman was attended by the loss of by 13 men, instead of 52, as at first reported.
The extracts say, that disastrous accounts are brought by every arrival from above, of the massacre of families residing near the scene of Indian hostilities. It is stated that the Indians were spreading devastation in every direction, having separated into small parties.
Gen. Atkinson had joined General Whitesides' brigade, amounting to 14000 men, was despatched up Sycamore Creek, to pursue the trail of the Indians and to compel them into submission if practicable. Gen. A. had determined to maintain his present position to prevent the falling the Saucks. Should it be necessary on further information for him to cross the Fox River and operate against the Saucks, it was his design promptly to do so. Forty or fifty miles would bring him into their neighborhood.
The frontier citizens are suffering great distress for the want of provisions. The most intelligent of the citizens assert that there is not in the country a large sufficient provisions owing to the failure of the crops and the destruction by the Indians to subsist the population, sparse as it is, for ten days, and at many points there is not even one day's provisions, where there is something like fifty or seventy people to feed.
A letter dated at Hennepin, Illinois River, May 23d, says:- 'Gen. Atkinson and the Governor are together, and moving on the Indians, who have thus far escaped, burning and destroying property of all kinds in retreat. It is not yet known whether the main body of the enemy is on Rock River or whether it has crossed over to the Fox River of the Illinois, and is ascending that towards the Lakes. I can give you no definite idea of the probable length of the campaign.'
The Steamboat Souvenir arrived yesterday from the Illinois River. - She brings news that Gen. Whitesides was still in pursuit of the Indians, who were heading their course towards the 'Big Woods'. The whole frontier was in a state of complete alarm and confusion.
On the arrival at Washington of official intelligence of the defeat of Col. Stillman's volunteers, the following letter was forthwith communicated from the Secretary of War to the chairman of the Military Committee in the Senate.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR.
May 31, 1832
Sir:- Official intelligence has this morning reached the Department, that a detachment of the militia called out to repel an invasion of a disaffected band of the Sax and Fox Indians had been attacked by the latter, and defeated with considerable loss. The Governor of Illinois has called out two thousand additional troops and Gen. Clark, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, states that the disaffected band is daily increasing. Captain Brant, the Assistant Quarter Master, has informed the Quarter Master General, that the necessary supplies cannot well be well provided without immediate payment.
Under these circumstances, I would respectfully recommend that the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars be added to the appropriation already asked for, to defray the expense of these operations, so as to make the whole appropriation three hundred thousand dollars. It is difficult with the facts before the Department, to form an opinion of the course of events upon that frontier, or a correct estimate of the expenditures which will be incurred. The desperate nature of the contest on the part of the Indians may be judged, from the fact which is reported, that they deceived the commanding officer of the detachment by approaching him with a flag of truce. It is obviously important that sufficient funds to put a speedy and final termination to these unprovoked hostilities should be placed at the disposition of the Government.
I am, sir 'c.
To the Hon. Thomas H. Benton
Chairman of the Military Committee, Senate.
House of Representatives May 22
The Indian appropriation Bills were then taken up as reported from the Committee of the Whole.
Mr. WICKLIFFE moved an amendment to that one which provides for carrying into effect certain Indian treaties by striking out as much of it as went to apply 20,000 dollars to the purchase of Indian improvements, abandoned during the present year.
After some conversation between Messrs BELL, WICKLIFFE, and VERPLANCK the amendment was agreed to and the sum appropriated by the bill was reduced from 90,000 to 70,000 dollars.
Mr. BATES of Mass. moved and obtained the reconsideration of the bill making provision for the payment of Indian annuities, and thereupon offered an amendment restoring the mode of paying these annuities to that practiced previous to the 4th of March 1829, unless in cases where the Indians themselves should prefer it otherwise. Mr. B. went at length into an exposition of his views on this subject, protesting against the changes in the mode of payment which had been made by order of the late Secretary of War, on the ground chiefly that payments to individuals were not payments to the tribes in their national capacity, and did not discharge the dept of the United States to the tribe as such. He objected to the multiplication of vouchers, and the complication of accounts occasioned by the new arrangement, and insisted that Congress had no evidence that the annuities had been paid over to the Indians at all.
Mr. BELL replied at length to these objections, and though he did not consider the question as of vital interest at all, yet the amendment involved and imputation on the conduct of the Government, from which it was necessary to vindicate it. He waived the question as to the independent national character of the Indian tribes; explained a reply of Mr. Jefferson's to the Upper Creeks, which had been commented on by Mr. BATES, and insisted that Mr. J's. view of Indian policy was to govern the tribes by intercourse and by regulating their commerce. He insisted that the manner in which we withheld the annuities as an offset when depredations had been committed, the amount of which depredations was liquidated by this Government alone, was a proof of the dependent light in which the tribes had always been viewed and treated; and that the legislation of this country with respect to the Indians had always been governed by a policy which regarded the interests of the United States. The evidence he said was in the Department in regular annual returns which showed how far the annuities had been paid. The two modes of payment were equal as to expense.
Mr. VINTON moved to postpone the subject until Friday week,but in consequence of a representation by Mr. BELL that some of the tribes were suffering for want of their annuities, he changed his motion for Friday next.
It was however rejected- Ayes 56-Noes 73.
Mr. VERPLANCK then went into an explanation of the manner in which the $360,000 of annuities were paid to the eighty different tribes of Indians who received them, and showed that the alteration complained of by Mr. BATES was not a general, but a particular regulation having reference to the Cherokees alone. The mode of payment was different in different tribes. The amendment, though founded on the condition of the Cherokees, would, if adopted, apply to every tribe alike, and thereby involve in some cases an express violation of treaty. Fearing that the amendment would lead to gross abuses, Mr. V. was opposed to its adoption.
Mr. ROOT, with a view to get rid of the present discussion, by which it appeared to him a new principle was sought to be introduced, to stop the course of all the Indian appropriation bills; and, in order to get the action of the House on the
Silk Bill, which was the special order of the day, was induced to call for the previous question.
The call for the previous question being sustained, ayes 85, noes 69-
The bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading.
The idea having been generally received, that during the recent trial of the Cherokee case, there were but three of the Judges of the Supreme Court present, the following certificate has been published to correct the error.
Supreme Court of the United States. Sam'l A. Worcester pliff. in error, vs. The State of Georgia and E. Butler, pliff. in error, vs. the State of Georgia. In error to the Supreme Court for the county of Gwinnett, in the State of Georgia:
I, William Thomas Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States, do hereby certify, that on the trial of the above named cases, on the 3d of March 1832, there were present, the Hons. John Marshall, Gabriel David, Joseph Story, Smith Thomason, John M'Lean, and Henry Baldwin, the Chief Justice, and Associate Justices of said Court, as appears from the minutes of said Court.-
WM. THOS. CARROLL.