George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
RENEWED INDIAN WAR

ALTHOUGH the masterly handling of the Indians at the Miami treaty gave Congress the Shawnee lands it wanted, its demand of them had antagonized the northwestern tribes generally. They foresaw the loss of their own lands unless they combined and struck to save them; and combine and strike they did. They formed a great league, called the ' Wabash Confederacy,' which was planned to take in all the tribes east of the Mississippi and drive out the white intruders. Soon squatters and troops north of the Ohio and Kentuckians alike were being waylaid and tomahawked. Even the French on the Wabash suffered, although the Indians were much more friendly to them than to the other whites. At Vincennes the French and Americans were themselves almost at war, and even common danger could seldom reconcile them. The Americans, being the weaker party and the special objects of Indian hatred, were forced to flee to the fort and were reduced to desperate straits.1 For three days they were besieged by some four hundred and fifty savages, and twenty were killed -- some with horrible brutality. 'Two expresses were immediately despatched by land and water to General Clark at the Falls of Ohio to inform him of their distress,'2 and two hastily gathered companies were sent to their relief.

Nor were the Vincennes French much better off than the Americans, for Congress had left them for two years without laws, and chaos reigned. In their distress they appealed to Clark to use his influence to secure them a lawful government; but he was at this time very ill and powerless to help them. March 29th, his father wrote one of his sons: 'Your brother, George, [is] with me very sick, his complaint being of such a nature as keeps us in doubt'; and a month later, 'I thank God your brother, George, are like to get well, after a very dangerous spell of sickness. He wishes to be remembered to all his friends, but at present. . .not capable of writing himself.'3

____________________
1
Filson's Narrative, Draper MSS. 10 CC; Small and Henry to Clark, id., 53 J 32, 36; Vincennes Petition to Congress, id., 31.
2
Filson's Narrative, supra.
3
Draper MSS. 2 L 22, 23.

-276-

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