17. A Black Snake who never sleeps

August 1794    Fort Recovery and Kekionga

There arrived at Fort Washington, in April 1793, a well-organized army under the command of General Anthony Wayne.  This time the army was made up on professionals, not a group of conscripted misfits.  Wayne spent the summer at Fort Washington sending peace envoys to the Western Confederation at Kekionga. By summer’s end, General Wayne realized that getting the hostile tribes to negotiate terms of peace was not going to happen.  On October 7th, 1793, Wayne marched north our of Fort Washington with an army of twenty-six hundred regulars, about forty Chickasaw and Choctaw guides, a few spies, and three-hundred and sixty mounted militia. To many defeats by the tribes of the Northwest Confederation was costing too many lives, delaying expansion, but most of all, draining the treasury of the newly formed United States. This time, the effort to defeat the tribes was in earnest, and the army was well equipped and supplied. Eighty miles north of Fort Washington, Wayne arrived at the spot where St. Clair had camped before suffering his humiliating defeat.  Here they built a large, well fortified fort, able to resist any hostile attack, and named it after Nathaniel Green – Fort Greenville.  Not long after it was finished, a supply train heading to the fort under the command of Lt. Lowery and Ensign Boyd headed for Fort Greenville when, five miles north of Fort St. Clair, Little Turtle struck.  Lowery and Boyd, along with thirteen other non-commissioned officers and privates were all killed.  Seventy pack horses full of supplies were either stolen or run off. Little Turtle had not been sitting on his mat in his wigwam, waiting for something to happen.

General Wayne and his army wintered at Fort Greenville, and in June of 1794 he had another fort – Fort Recovery – built further north, but he garrisoned it thinly.  On June 30, Little Turtle struck with a large force of over fifteen hundred Miami, Shawnee, Delaware, Wea, Pottawatomie, and other warriors combined with about three companies of Canadians who had blackened their faces and attired themselves in Indian dress.  Due to the timely arrival of a supply train, which entered the fort, the garrison withstood the attack which lasted several days.  Little Turtle and his large war party were forced to retreat.

“I sit here in the great council house where I listen to our great sachems speak, and both are angry at each other. We tried for three sleeps to defeat the Long Knives at their new fort which their great general placed on our land.  We were hungry and in need of food and supplies.  The night before we began the attack, many of us ate the flesh of some of our pack horses.  What else were we to do.  We had many numbers of warriors, but some reinforcements arrived to help the garrison.  The soldiers inside the fort had canons. Each time we attacked, they cut us to pieces. We are not as many as the White man, and we could lose no more warriors so we quit the fight and came home.  It was always us that were victorious, but now………..  Perhaps the Creator Manitou is not pleased with us, and he has chosen to punish his children.  I now listen as the Miami principal sachem, Little Turtle, is talking about making peace with Mad Anthony, who he calls ‘a Black Snake who never sleeps.’  Now Blue Jacket, the leader of my own tribe of Shawnee, is calling Little Turtle a traitor, and is telling the warriors that we will not be frightened off by this general and his army, and that we will defeat them as we have always done in the past.  I hope Blue Jacket is right, and that the spirits are with him.  But no matter,I will fight, and if I must die in battle then so it must be.  For I will never find myself in my wigwam telling my children that their father has been defeated by the Shamanese, and that they no longer may live on this sacred land.  No, never will I tell them that.”

Lame Wolf,  Kispoko Shwness

2019-12-30T00:06:55+00:00December 30th, 2019|Uncategorized|