Letter from William Henry Harrison

Vincennes, 4th Dec. 1811.

Sir -- I have the honour to inform you that two principal chiefs of the Kickapoos of the Prairie arrived here bearing a flag on the evening before last. They informed me that they came in consequence of a message from the Chief of that part of the Kickapoos which had joined the Prophet, requiring them to do so, and that the said chief is to be here himself in a day or two. The account which they give of the late confederacy under the Prophet is as follows.

"The Prophet with his Shawanoes [Shawnees] is at a small Huron village about twelve miles from his former residence, on this side of the Wabash, where also, are twelve or fifteen Hurons. The Kickapoos are encamped near the Tippicanoe. The Potawatimies [Potawatomi] have scattered and gone to different villages of that tribe. The Winebagoes [Winnebago] had all set out on their return to their own country excepting one chief and nine men who remained at their former village.. The latter had attended Tecumseh in his tour to the southward, and had only returned to the Prophet's town the day before the action. The Prophet had sent a message to the Kickapoos of the prairie, to request that he might be permitted to retire to their town -- this was positively refused, and a warning sent to him not to come there. He then sent to request that four of his men might attend the Kickapoo chief here -- this was also refused. These chiefs say on the whole, that all the tribes who lost warriors in the late action, attribute their misfortunes to the Prophet alone. That they constantly reproach him with their misfortunes, and threaten him with death -- that they are desirous of making their peace with the U. S. and will send deputations to me for that purpose, as soon as they are informed that they will be well received. The two chiefs further say, that they were sent by Governor Harrison and gen. Clarke, sometime before the action to endeavor to bring off the Kickapoos from the Prophet's town -- that they used their best endeavors to effect it, but unsuccessfully -- that the Prophet's followers were fully impressed with a belief that they could defeat us with ease -- that it was their intention to have attacked us at Fort Harrison if we had gone no higher -- that Racoon creek was then fixed on and finally Pine creek, and that the latter would probably have been the place, if the usual route had not been abandoned and a crossing made higher up -- that the attack made on our centinels at F. Harrison was intended to shut the door against accommodation -- that the Winebagoes had forty warriors killed in the action, and the Kickapoos eleven and ten wounded -- they have never heard how many Potawatimies and other tribes were killed -- that the Potawatimie chief left by me on the battle ground is since dead of his wounds, but that he faithfully delivered my speech to the different tribes and warmly urged them to abandon the Prophet and submit to my terms.

I cannot say, sir, how much of the above may be depended on. I believe, however, that the statement made by the chief is generally correct, particularly with regard to the present disposition of the Indians. It is certain that our frontiers have never enjoyed more profound tranquility than at this time.  No injury of any kind that I can hear of has been done either to the persons or property of our citizens. Before the expedition, not a fortnight passed over without some vexatious depredation being committed. The Kickapoo chiefs certainly tell an untruth, when they say there was but eleven of this tribe killed and ten wounded. It is impossible to believe that fewer were wounded than killed. They acknowledge, however, that the Indians have never sustained so severe a defeat since their acquaintance with the white people.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your humble servant,


P. S. The chief of the Vermillion Kicapoos has this moment arrived.

Hon. William Eustis, Secretary of War.

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


How to cite this article:  William Henry Harrison, letter, Western Spy (Cincinnati, Ohio), 4 Jan. 1812, p. 2, available at http://history.hanover.edu/texts/1811.