Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shawnee War Chief - Blue Jacket



In the campaign of general Harmar, in the year 1790, Blue Jacket—an influential Shawnee chief—was associated with the Miami chief, Little Turtle, in the command of the Indians. In the battle of the 20th 038of August 1794, when the combined army of the Indians was defeated by general Wayne, Blue Jacket had the chief control. The flight previous to the battle, while the Indians were posted at Presque Isle, a council was held, composed of chiefs from the Miamis, Potawatimies, Delawares, Shawnee, Chippewas, Ottawas and Senecas—the seven nations engaged in the action. They decided against the proposition to attack general Wayne that night in his encampment. The expediency of meeting him the next day then came up for consideration. Little Turtle was opposed to this measure, but being warmly supported by Blue Jacket, it was finally agreed upon. The former was strongly inclined to peace, and decidedly opposed to risking a battle under the circumstances in which the Indians were then placed. "We have beaten the enemy," said he, "twice, under separate commanders. We cannot expect the same good fortune always to attend us. The Americans are now led by a chief who never sleeps. The night and the day are alike to him; and, during all the time that he has been marching upon our villages, notwithstanding the watchfulness of our young men, we have never been able to surprise him. Think well of it. There is something whispers me, it would be prudent to listen to his offers of peace." The councils of Blue Jacket, however, prevailed over the better judgment of Little Turtle. The battle was fought and the Indians defeated.

In the month of October following this defeat, Blue Jacket concurred in the expediency of sueing for peace, and at the head of a deputation of chiefs, was about to bear a flag to general Wayne, then at Greenville, when the mission was arrested by foreign influence. Governor Simcoe, colonel McKee and the Mohawk chief, captain John Brant, having in charge one hundred and fifty Mohawks and Messasagoes, arrived at the rapids of the Maumee, and invited the chiefs of the combined army to meet them at the mouth of the Detroit river, on the 10th of October. To this Blue Jacket assented, for the purpose of hearing what the British officers had to propose. Governor Simcoe urged the Indians to retain their hostile attitude towards the United 039States. In referring to the encroachments of the people of this country on the Indian lands, he said, "Children: I am still of the opinion that the Ohio is your right and title. I have given orders to the commandant of fort Miami to fire on the Americans whenever they make their appearance again. I will go down to Quebec, and lay your grievances before the great man. From thence they will be forwarded to the king, your father. Next spring you will know the result of every thing what you and I will do." He urged the Indians to obtain a cessation of hostilities, until the following spring, when the English would be ready to attack the Americans, and by driving them back across the Ohio, restore their lands to the Indians.[24] These counsels delayed the conclusion of peace until the following summer.

Blue Jacket was present at the treaty of Greenville in 1795, and conducted himself with moderation and dignity. Upon his arrival at that place, in excuse for not having met general Wayne at an earlier period, he said, "Brother, when I came here last winter, I did not mean to deceive you. What I promised you I did intend to perform. My wish to conclude a firm peace with you being sincere, my uneasiness has been great that my people have not come forward so soon as you could wish, or might expect. But you must not be discouraged by these unfavorable appearances. Some of our chiefs and warriors are here; more will arrive in a few days. You must not, however, expect to see a great number. Yet, notwithstanding, our nation will be well represented. Our hearts are open and void of deceit."
On the second day of the council, Blue Jacket made a remark, showing the relation subsisting between the Shawnee and some other tribes, to which allusion has been made already.
"Brothers: I hope you will not take amiss my changing my seat in this council. You all know the Wyandots are our uncles, and the Delawares our grandfathers, 040and that the Shawanoes are the elder brothers of the other nations present. It is, therefore, proper that I should sit next my grandfathers and uncles. I hope, younger brothers, you are all satisfied with what your uncles said yesterday, and that I have done every thing in my power to advise and support you."
At the conclusion of the treaty Blue Jacket rose and said:
"Elder Brother, and you, my brothers, present: you see me now present myself as a war-chief to lay down that commission, and place myself in the rear of my village chiefs, who for the future will command me. Remember, brother's, you have all buried your war hatchet. Your brothers, the Shawanoes, now do the same good act. We must think of war no more.
"Elder Brother: you see now all the chiefs and warriors around you, have joined in the good work of peace, which is now accomplished. We now request you to inform our elder brother, general Washington, of it; and of the cheerful unanimity which has marked their determination. We wish you to enquire of him if it would be agreeable that two chiefs from each nation should pay him a visit, and take him by the hand; for your younger brothers have a strong desire to see that great man and to enjoy the pleasure of conversing with him."
We are indebted to major Galloway of Xenia, for the following anecdote of this chief:
"In the spring of 1800, Blue Jacket and another chief, whose name I have forgotten, boarded for several weeks at my father's, in Green county, at the expense of a company of Kentuckians, who engaged Blue Jacket, for a valuable consideration, to show them a great silver mine, which tradition said was known to the Indians, as existing on Red river, one of the head branches of the Kentucky. A Mr. Jonathan Flack, agent of this company, had previously spent several months among the Shawnee, at their towns and hunting camps, in order to induce this chief to show this great treasure. At the time agreed on, ten or twelve of the company came from Kentucky to meet Blue Jacket at my father's, where a day or two was 041spent in settling the terms upon which he would accompany them; the crafty chief taking his own time to deliberate on the offers made him, and rising in his demands in proportion to their growing eagerness to possess the knowledge which was to bring untold wealth to all the company. At length the bargain was made; horses, goods and money were given as presents, and the two chiefs with their squaws, were escorted in triumph to Kentucky, where they were feasted and caressed in the most flattering manner, and all their wants anticipated and liberally supplied. In due time and with all possible secrecy, they visited the region where this great mine was said to be emboweled in the earth. Here the wily Shawanoe spent some time in seclusion, in order to humble himself by fastings, purifications and pow-wowings, with a view to propitiate the Great Spirit; and to get His permission to disclose the grand secret of the mine. An equivocal answer was all the response that was given to him in his dreams; and, after many days of fruitless toil and careful research, the mine, the great object so devoutly sought and wished for, could not be found. The cunning Blue Jacket, however, extricated himself with much address from the anticipated vengeance of the disappointed worshippers of Plutus, by charging his want of success to his eyes, which were dimmed by reason of his old age; and by promising to send his son on his return home, whose eyes were young and good, and who knew the desired spot and would show it. The son, however, never visited the scene of his father's failure; and thus ended the adventures of the celebrated mining company of Kentucky."