To the politeness of Capt. William Wells we are indebted for the following information.
Copy of a letter from Captain Nathan Heald, commanding Fort Dearborne, to Capt. William Wells, at Fort Wayne.

Chicago, 5th April, 1812

Dear Sir,

On the 6th of this month [April], a party of eleven Indians, supposed to be Winnebagoes [Winnebago], came to Messrs. Russel and Leigh's cabin on the Portage, a branch of the Chicago River, about three miles above the garrison, where they found three men and a boy; one of the men and the boy cleared out for the garrison, soon after the Indians came to the house; the other two being less apprehensive of the intention of the savages, chose to remain, and were shortly murdered.  One of the men, by the name of Liberty White, was shockingly butchered.  He received two balls through his body, nine stabs with a knife in his breast, and one in his hip; his throat was cut from ear to ear, his nose and lips were both taken off in one piece, and his head bore the marks of the tomahawk and scalping knife.  Indeed, sir, I think he was the most horrible object I ever beheld in my life.

The other man had not been long here, and I do not know his name; but he was a Canadian Frenchman, and I believe the Indians spared him a little on that account, for they only shot him through the neck and scalped him.  Since the murder of these men, several other parties have been lurking about us, but they have not been able to take any more scalps.

Mr. Kinzie has moved into the garrison.  Mr. Lalime and the Chicago militia, consisting of about fifteen men, are quartered in house formerly occupied by Major Jouett, and I have furnished them with arms and ammunition.

I forbid the Indians from coming to this place until I can find out to what nation the murderers belong.

I have lately received information from the St. Joseph, that the Indians in that quarter are gone to your post in order to hold a council.  If so, please to inform me of the result.

Our situation here will be very disagreeable for a while, as we are obliged to keep close to the garrison or be in danger of losing our scalps.

The party of Winebagoes that wintered near this place are mostly gone back to the Prophet [Tenskwatawa], as I am told by other Indians.

Since writing this letter three of our militia have deserted, one Frenchman and two half Indians.  It is believed they have taken salt with them, ten or eleven horses, and gone towards Milwaukee.


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


How to cite this article:  Nathan Heald, letter to William Wells,  Louisiana Gazette (St. Louis, Louisiana Territory), 30 May 1812, pg. 3, available at