Indian News


To the Editors of Liberty Hall
 Fort Wayne, Nov. 30, 1811

Sirs -
The annual meeting of the Indians at this post for the purpose of holding their annual conference and receiving the annuities due to them from the U. States, took place on the 22d inst. The Delawares, Shawanoes [Shawnees], Miamies [Miami],
Putawatamies [Potawatomi] and Eelriver Miamies were represented by the ancient and respectable chiefs of those tribes. The meeting was not near as numerous as in former years, owing to the late period at which their annuities reached this post and owing to the general alarm which pervaded and still pervades the Indian country in consequence of the battle recently fought on the Wabash.

During an acquaintance of many years with the Indians of this agency, I have not seen more friendship and good will manifested than at the late meeting. They renewed with us all their former engagements, declaring their firm determination to maintain inviolate the several treaties now in force. They disclaim all agency in the late hostile attack and entered into an arrangement among themselves to remove the Indians from the Prophet [Tenskwatawa] back to the several tribes to which they belonged. I engaged, in the name of the government that all those who should return to their former homes and conduct themselves peaceably in future, should be pardoned and their offences no more remembered.  All the information respecting the battle which has reached this post, has been derived from the Indians. The last account was by a friendly chief, Winneman, or the Catfish of the Putawatamies. It appears that the Kickapoos, Winebagoes [Winnebago] and Putawatamies, the very Indians whom the Prophet so lately [commanded had] him in custody;m that they charged him with the whole misfortune and were determined to kill him. He preached up to his followers, before the battle that the Great Spirit would render the arms of the Americans unavailing! that then bullets could make no impression on the Indians; that it would be total darkness among the Americans, so that they could not see the enemy and light as day with the Indians. With these impressions firmly riveted in their minds, they proceeded to the attack. They soon found their mistake when they saw their people began to fall and then they began to upbraid their leader with having deceived them.  He then began to sing and call on the Almighty and told the Indians to fight on, that it would soon be as he had said. Finally, finding that none of his promises were likely to be fulfilled, the poor deluded wretches took to flight and abandoned the ground. It does not appear that they were pursued. Such of the Indians as remained wounded on the field were, agreeably to the Indian account, humanely treated by Governor Harrison.

The Prophet is now about 40 years of age; Tecumseh his brother is about 50. They are brothers by the same father and mother. Neither of them were chiefs in their nation previous to their separation from the Shawanoes, which was about six or seven years ago. Their father was chief of the Kiskupoo tribe, Tecumseh has been a warrior of note, and was in almost all the actions during the former Indian wars with us; the Prophet never was known as a warrior. The Indians of his tribe, lately told me, that in the action with General Wayne, he ran away and never halted until he came to Detroit. We are told that he did not attempt fighting in the late attack on gov. Harrison but kept a distance from danger.  All the accounts we have had agree that the Indians are determined to kill him and his brother, on this head I have told them that they (the Prophet and his brother) were in their hands and that whatever punishment they might think proper to inflict on them would be agreeable to the President of the United States, that we held the ancient and legitimate chiefs, who were parties to all our treaties, responsible for the peace of the county; that if the war became more general than at present, our troops would enter their country at all points and would not be able to distinguish between friends and enemies; that now was the time to act and crush any further attempts among the disaffected.

I have very good reason to believe that no further mischief will ensue and that the Prophet's followers [will] return to their respective tribes - -  After the army moved away, the Indians returned to the battle ground, [dug] up the bodies of our dead, stripped them and left them lying above ground.  -- The Indians state that the militia burned the houses and all their corn, and add, that they understood it was contrary to the orders of gov. Harrison.  My impression at  this time, is, that the Indians will assassinate the Prophet and his brother and that peace will ensue.  In my speech to them, at this place, offering in the name of the President pardon and forgiveness to all those who should immediately abandon their leader, return home and conduct themselves peacably in future, I excepted the Prophet and his brother, declaring that we could not on any terms suffer such villany to reside within the limits of our authority.  It was proposed to deliver them up here or at Vincennes, this offer I declined accepting, and told the Indians we left the punishment of those persons to themselves, and calculated confidently on their justice.  In the action agreeably to their account there were 28 Indians killed and a number wounded, some of whom are since dead.

The whole of the Prophet's force, at the time of the action, did not exceed 350 fighting men.  Those were chiefly Kickapoos and Winebagos, with a few Shawanoes and Putawatamies.  There was not a single Miamie or Delaware with him.  The public may rest assured that the late attach on our troops, is as much disapproved of by the bulk of the Indians, as by the whites, and that there is not any danger to be apprehended at present on any part of our frontier. The government agents at our several stations throughout the Indian country will give early information of any approaching danger and until such information is received, our citizens may rest in safety.

John Johnston

Made possible by the Rivers Institute and the
History Department of Hanover College.


How to cite this article:  John Johnson, "Indian News," Western Spy (Cincinnati, Ohio), 28 Dec. 1811, p. 1, available at