Sunday, August 28, 2016

Indigenous Peoples in 18C America - Massacre of the Christian Indians


From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.


Sketch & Narrative From Henry Howe's 1852 book Historical Collections of the Great West, "Slaughter of Moravian Leanpe Indians 1781"

A melancholy disaster, about the same time, befell a body of one hundred & seven United States troops, under Capt. Laherty, on their way down the Ohio to Fort Steuben, at the Falls of the Ohio. They were attacked by an overwhelming force of Indians, near the mouth of the Great Miami, and, although making a brave resistance, were compelled to retreat, with the loss of about fifty slain. Massacre of the Moravian or Christian Indians. As early as the year 1762, the Moravian missionaries, Post & Heckewelder, established a mission among the Indians on the Tuscarawas. Before the close of the war of the revolution, they had three flourishing stations Or villages, viz: Shoenbrun, Gnadenhutten & Salem. These were respectively about five miles apart, & stood near fifty miles west of the site of Steubenville, Ohio. In the war, their position was eminently dangerous. They were midway between the hostile towns on the Sandusky & the frontier settlements, & being on the direct route of war parties of either, were compelled occasionally to give sustenance & shelter to both. This excited the jealousy of the contending races, although they preserved a strict neutrality, & looked with horror upon the shedding of blood. In February, 1782, many murders were committed upon the upper Ohio & the Monongahela, by the hostile Indians. The settlers believing that the Moravians were either concerned in these murders, or had harbored those who were, determined to destroy their towns, the existence of which, they deemed dangerous to their safety. Accordingly, in March, about ninety volunteers assembled under the command of Col. David Williamson, in the Mingo Bottom, just below the site of Steubenville. Arriving in the vicinity of Gnadenhutten, they, on the morning of the 8th, surrounded & entered the town, where they found a large party of Indians in a field, gathering corn. They informed the Indians that they had come on an errand of peace & friendship that they were going to take them to Fort Pitt for protection. The unsuspecting Indians, pleased at the prospect of their removal, delivered up their arms which they used for hunting, & commenced preparing breakfast for themselves & guests. An Indian messenger was dispatched to Salem, to apprise the brethren there of the new arrangement, & both companies then returned to Gnadenhutten. On reaching the village, a number of mounted militia started for the Salem settlement, but ere they reached it, found that the Moravian Indians at that place had already left their corn-fields, by the advice of the messenger, & were on the road to join their brethren at Gnadenhutten. Measures had been adopted by the militia to secure the Indians whom they had at first decoyed into their power. They were bound, confined in two houses, & well guarded. On the arrival of the Indians from Salem, (their arms having been previously secured without suspicion of any hostile intention,) they were also fettered, & divided between the two prison-houses, the males in one, the females in the other. The number thus confined in both, including men, women & children, have been estimated from ninety to ninety-six. A council was then held to determine how the Moravian Indians should be disposed of. This self-constituted military court embraced both officers & privates. The late Dr. Dodridge, in his published notes on Indian wars, says:

"Colonel Williamson put the question, whether the Moravian Indians should be taken prisoners to Fort Pitt, or put to death?" requesting those who were in favor of saving their lives to step out & form a second rank. Only eighteen out of the whole number stepped forth as advocates of mercy. In these, the feelings of humanity were not extinct. In the majority, which was large, no sympathy was manifested. They resolved to murder (for no other word can express the act) the whole of the Christian Indians in their custody. Among these were several who had contributed to aid the missionaries in the work of conversion & civilization two of whom emigrated from New Jersey after the death of their spiritual pastor, the Rev. David Brainard. One woman, who could speak good English, knelt before the commander & begged his protection. Her supplication was unavailing. They were ordered to prepare for death. But the warning had been anticipated. Their firm belief in their new creed was shown forth in the sad hour of their tribulation, by religious exercises of preparation. The orisons of these devoted people were already ascending the throne of the Most High! the sound of the Christian's hymn & the Christian's prayer found an echo in the surrounding woods, but no responsive feeling in the bosoms of their executioners. With gun, & spear, & tomahawk, & scalping-knife, the work of death progressed in these slaughter-houses, until not a sigh or moan was heard to proclaim the existence of human life within all, save two two Indian boys escaped, as if by a miracle, to be witnesses in after times of the savage cruelty of the white man toward their unfortunate race. Of the number thus cruelly murdered by the backwoodsmen of the upper Ohio, between fifty & sixty were women & children some of them innocent babes. No resistance was made; one only attempted to escape. The whites finished the tragedy by setting fire to the town, including the slaughter-houses with the bodies in them, all of which were consumed. A detachment was sent to the upper town, Shoenbrun, but the people having received information of what was transpiring below, had deserted it. Those engaged in the campaign, were generally men of standing, at home. When the expedition was formed, it was given out to the public that its sole object was to remove the Moravians to Pittsburgh, & by destroying the villages, deprive the hostile savages of a shelter. In their towns, various articles plundered from the whites, were discovered. One man is said to have found the bloody clothes of his wife & children, who had recently been murdered. These articles, doubtless, had been purchased of the hostile Indians. The sight of these, it is said, bringing to mind the forms of murdered relations, wrought them up to an uncontrollable pitch of frenzy which nothing but blood could satisfy. In the year 1799, when the remnant of the Moravian Indians were recalled by the United States to reside on the same spot, an old Indian, in company with a young man by the name of Carr, walked over the desolate scene, & showed to the white man an excavation, which had formerly been a cellar, & in which were still some moldering bones of the victims, though seventeen years had passed since their tragic death the tears, in the meantime, falling down the wrinkled face of this aged child of the Tuscarawas. Crawford's Defeat. At the time of the massacre, less than half of the Moravian Indians were at their towns, on the Tuscarawas, the remainder having been carried off, by the hostile Indians, to Sandusky, had settled these in their vicinity. Immediately after the return of Williamson's men, what may be called a second Moravian campaign, was projected; the object being first to finish the destruction of the christian Indians, at their new establishment, on the Sandusky, & then destroy the Wyandot towns on the same river.


The long continuance of the Indian war, the many murders & barbarities committed upon the frontiers, had so wrought upon the inhabitants, as to create an indiscriminate thirst for revenge. Having had a taste of blood & plunder, in their recent expedition, without loss or danger on their part, it was now determined not to spare the lives of any Indians who might fall into their hands, whether friends or foes. On the 25th of May, 1782, four hundred & eighty men, principally from the upper Ohio, assembled at the Old Mingo towns, near the site of Steubenville. At this place, they chose Col. Wm. Crawford commander, his competitor being Col. Williamson. Crawford* accepted the office with great reluctance. Soon after, his men exhibited such an utter disregard to military order, that he was depressed with a presentiment of evil. Notwithstanding the secrecy & dispatch of the enterprise, the Indian spies discovered their rendezvous, on the Mingo Bottom, knew their number & destination. They visited every encampment on their leaving it, & saw written on the barks of trees & scraps of paper, that " no quarter was to be given to any Indian, whether man, woman or child." Their route was by the "Williamson trail," through the burnt Moravian towns. On the 6th of June, they arrived at the site of the Moravian villages, on a branch of the Sandusky. Here, instead of meeting with Indians & Elunder, they found nothing but vestiges of desolation. A few huts, surrounded by high grass, alone remained; their intended victims having, some time before, moved to the Scioto, some eighteen miles south. A council then decided to march on north one day longer, & if then, no Indian towns were reached, to retreat. About 2 o'clock, the next day, while on their march through the Sandusky plains, the advanced guard were driven in by Indians concealed in great numbers in the high grass. The action then became general, & the firing was incessant & heavy until dark, for In this battle, the whites had the advantage, & lost but a few men. The Indians were driven from the woods & prevented from gaining a strong position on the right flank, by the vigilance & bravery of Major Leet. During the night, both armies lay upon their arms behind a line of fires, to prevent surprise. The next day, the Indians were seen in large bodies traversing the plains, while others were busy carrying off their dead & wounded. At a council of officers, Col. Williamson proposed marching, with one hundred & fifty volunteers, to upper Sandusky; but the commander opposed it, stating that the Indians, whose numbers were hourly increasing, would attack & conquer their divided forces in detail. The dead were buried, & preparations made for a retreat after dark. The Indians perceiving their intention, about sunset, attacked them with great fury in all directions, except that of Sandusky. In the course of the night, the army commenced their retreat, regained their old trail by a circuitous route, & continued on with but slight annoyance from the enemy. Unfortunately, when the retreat commenced, a large number erroneously judging that the Indians would follow the main body, broke off into small parties & made their way toward their homes, in different directions. These the Indians, for days, pursued in detachments, with such activity that but very few escaped, some being killed almost within sight of the Ohio River.


{Col. W. Crawford was a native of Virginia, but at this time was residing near Brownsville, Pa. He was a captain in the old French war, & in the revolution, raised a regiment of continentals by his own exertions. He was an intimate friend of Washington a man of character, & of noted bravery. At this time, he was about fifty years of age. The battle was fought three miles north of upper Sandusky. The large tree on the right of the engraving (Eng. p. 110) & others in the vicinity, even to the present day, show marks of the bullets.}


Soon after the retreat began, Col. Crawford having missed his son & several of his connections, halted & unsuccessfully searched the line for them as it passed on, & then, owing to the weariness of his horse, was unable to overtake the retreating army. Falling in company with Dr. Knight & others, they kept on until the third day, when they were attacked, & Crawford & Knight captured. They were taken to an Indian encampment in the vicinity, where they found nine other prisoners, & all, the next morning, were conducted toward the Tyemochte, by Pipe & Wingenund, Delaware chiefs, except four of them, who were killed & scalped on the way. At a Delaware town on the Tyemochte, a few miles northwesterly from the site of upper Sandusky, preparations were made for the burning of Col. Crawford. In the vicinity, the remaining five of the nine prisoners were tomahawked & scalped by squaws & boys. Crawford's son & son-in-law were executed at a Shawanese town. The account of the burning of Crawford is thus given by Dr. Knight, his companion, who subsequently escaped. When we went to the fire, the colonel was stripped naked, ordered to sit down by the fire, & then they beat him with sticks & their fists. Presently after, I was treated in the same manner. They then tied a rope to the foot of a post about fifteen feet high, bound the colonel's hands behind his back & fastened the rope to the ligature between his wrists. The rope was long enough for him to sit down or walk round the post once or twice, & return the same way. The colonel then called to Girty, & asked if they intended to burn him? Girty answered, yes. The colonel said he would take it all patiently. Upon this, Captain Pipe, a Delaware chief, made a speech to the Indians, viz: about thirty or forty men, & sixty or seventy squaws & boys. When the speech was finished, they all yelled a hideous & hearty assent to what had been said. The Indian men then took up their guns & shot powder into the colonel's body, from his feet as far up as his neck. I think that not less than seventy loads were discharged upon his naked body. They then crowded about him, & to the best of my observation, cut off his ears; when the throng had dispersed a little, I saw the blood running from both sides of his head in consequence thereof. The fire was about six or seven yards from the post to which the colonel was tied; it was made of small hickory poles, burnt quite through in the middle, each end of the poles remaining about six feet in length. Three or four Indians, by turns, would take up, individually, one of these burning pieces of wood, & apply it to his naked body, already burnt black with the powder. These tormentors presented themselves on every side of him with the burning fagots & poles. Some of the squaws took broad boards, upon which they would carry a quantity of burning coals & hot embers, & throw on him, so that in a short time, he had nothing but coals of fire & hot ashes to walk upon. In the midst of these extreme tortures, he called to Simon Girty, & begged of him to shoot him; but Girty making no answer, he called to him again. Girty then, by way of derision, told the colonel he had no gun, at the same time turning about to an Indian who was behind him, laughed heartily, & by all his gestures, seemed delighted at the horrid scene. Girty then came up to me & bade me prepare for death. He said, however, I was not to die at that place, but to be burnt at the Shawanese towns. He swore by G d I need not expect to escape death, but should suffer it in all its extremities. Col. Crawford, at this period of his sufferings, besought the Almighty to have mercy on his soul, spoke very low, & bore his torments with the most manly fortitude.


He continued in all the extremities of pain for an hour & hour & three quarters or two hours longer, as near as I can judge, when at last, being almost exhausted, he lay down on his belly; they then scalped him, & repeatedly threw the scalp in my face, telling me, " that was my great captain." An old squaw (whose appearance every way answered the ideas people entertain of the devil) got a board, took a parcel of coals & ashes & laid them on his back & head, after he had been scalped; he then raised himself upon his feet & began to walk round the post; they next put a burning stick to him, as usual, but he seemed more insensible of pain than before. The Indian fellow who had me in charge, now took me away to Captain Pipes house, about three-quarters of a mile from the place of the colonel's execution. I was bound all night, & thus prevented from seeing the last of the horrid spectacle. Next morning, being June 12th, the Indian untied me, painted me Black, & we set off for the Snawanese town, which he told me was somewhat less than forty miles distant from that place. We soon came to the spot where the colonel had been burnt, as it was partly in our way; I saw his bones lying among the remains of the fire, almost burnt to ashes; I suppose, after he was dead, they laid his body on the fire. The Indian told me that was my big captain, & gave the scalp halloo. Most of the prisoners taken in this campaign, were burned to death, with cruel tortures, in retaliation for the massacre of the Moravian Indians, who were principally Delaware's. This invasion was the last made from the region of the upper Ohio during the war. But the Indians, encouraged by their successes, overran these settlements with scalping parties. In September, three hundred Indians, for three days, unsuccessfully invested the fort at Wheeling. A detachment of one hundred of these, made an attack upon Rice's Fort, twelve miles north. Although defended by only 6 men, they were obliged to retire with loss.



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