The Land of the Miamis Part 15

An excellent portrait of Judge Isaac Naylor now hangs in the court room at Williamsport, Indiana. He was one of the first judges of the Montgomery circuit which formerly embraced both Warren and Benton.

Naylor was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, in 1790, and removed to Clark county, Indiana, in 1805. In 1810 he made a journey to New Orleans on a flatboat. While preparing for college the Tippecanoe campaign came on, and he joined Harrison's army at Vincennes. His account of the battle is as follows:

"I became a volunteer member of a company of riflemen, and on the 12th of September, 1811, we commenced our march toward Vincennes, and arrived there in about six days, marching about 120 miles. We remained there about a week and took up the march to a point on the Wabash river, sixty miles above, on the east bank of the river, where we erected a stockade fort, which we named Fort Harrison. This was three miles above where the city of Terre Haute now stands.

Col. Joseph H. Daviess, who commanded the dragoons, named the fort. The glorious defense of this fort nine months after by Captain Zachary Taylor was the first step in his brilliant career that afterwards made him President of the United States.

A few days later we took up the march again for the seat of Indian warfare, where we arrived on the evening of November 6th, 1811.

"When the army arrived in view of the Prophet's Town, an Indian was seen coming toward General Harrison with a white flag suspended on a pole. Here the army halted, and a parley was had between General Harrison and an Indian delegation, who a.s.sured the General that they desired peace, and solemnly promised to meet him next day in council, to settle the terms of peace and friendship between them and the United States.

"General Marston G. Clark, who was then brigade major, and Waller Taylor, one of the judges of the General Court of the Territory of Indiana, and afterwards a Senator of the United States from Indiana (one of the General's aides), were ordered to select a place for the encampment, which they did. The army then marched to the ground selected about sunset. A strong guard was placed around the encampment, commanded by Captain James Bigger and three lieutenants. The troops were ordered to sleep on their arms. The night being cold, large fires were made along the lines of encampment and each soldier retired to rest, sleeping on his arms.

"Having seen a number of squaws and children at the town I thought the Indians were not disposed to fight. About ten o'clock at night Joseph Warnock and myself retired to rest, he taking one side of the fire and I the other, the other members of our company being all asleep. My friend Warnock had dreamed, the night before, a bad dream which foreboded something fatal to him or to some of his family, as he told me. Having myself no confidence in dreams, I thought but little about the matter, although I observed that he never smiled afterwards.

"I awoke about four o'clock the next morning, after a sound and refreshing sleep, having heard in a dream the firing of guns and the whistling of bullets just before I awoke from my slumber. A drizzling rain was falling and all things were still and quiet throughout the camp. I was engaged in making a calculation when I should arrive home.

"In a few moments I heard the crack of a rifle in the direction of the point where now stands the Battle Ground House, which is occupied by Captain DuTiel as a tavern. I had just time to think that some sentinel was alarmed and fired his rifle without a real cause, when I heard the crack of another rifle, followed by an awful Indian yell all around the encampment. In less than a minute I saw the Indians charging our line most furiously and shooting a great many rifle b.a.l.l.s into our camp fires, throwing the live coals into the air three or four feet high.

"At this moment my friend Warnock was shot by a rifle ball through his body. He ran a few yards and fell dead on the ground. Our lines were broken and a few Indians were found on the inside of the encampment. In a few moments they were all killed. Our lines closed up and our men in their proper places. One Indian was killed in the back part of Captain Geiger's tent, while he was attempting to tomahawk the Captain.

"The sentinels, closely pursued by the Indians, came to the lines of the encampment in haste and confusion. My brother, William Naylor, was on guard. He was pursued so rapidly and furiously that he ran to the nearest point on the left flank, where he remained with a company of regular soldiers until the battle was near its termination. A young man, whose name was Daniel Pett.i.t, was pursued so closely and furiously by an Indian as he was running from the guard line to our lines, that to save his life he c.o.c.ked his rifle as he ran and turning suddenly around, placed the muzzle of his gun against the body of the Indian and shot an ounce ball through him. The Indian fired his gun at the same instant, but it being longer than Pett.i.t's, the muzzle pa.s.sed by him and set fire to a handkerchief which he had tied around his head. The Indians made four or five most fierce charges on our lines, yelling and screaming as they advanced, shooting b.a.l.l.s and arrows into our ranks. At each charge they were driven back in confusion, carrying off their dead and wounded as they retreated.

"Colonel Owen, of Shelby County, Kentucky, one of General Harrison's volunteer aides, fell early in action by the side of the General. He was a member of the legislature at the time of his death. Colonel Daviess was mortally wounded early in the battle, gallantly charging the Indians on foot with his sword and pistols, according to his own request. He made this request three times of General Harrison, before he was permitted to make the charge. The charge was made by himself and eight dragoons on foot near the angle formed by the left flank and front line of the encampment. Colonel Daviess lived about thirty-six hours after he was wounded, manifesting his ruling pa.s.sions in life--ambition, patriotism and an ardent love of military glory. During the last hours of his life he said to his friends around him that he had but one thing to regret--that he had military talents; that he was about to be cut down in the meridian of life without having an opportunity of displaying them for his own honor, and the good of his country. He was buried alone with the honors of war near the right flank of the army, inside of the lines of the encampment, between two trees. On one of these trees the letter 'D' is now visible.

Nothing but the stump of the other remains. His grave was made here, to conceal it from the Indians. It was filled up to the top with earth, and then covered with oak leaves. I presume the Indians never found it. This precautionary act was performed as a mark of peculiar respect for a distinguished hero and patriot of Kentucky.

"Captain Spencer's company, of mounted riflemen composed the right flank of the army. Captain Spencer and both his lieutenants were killed. John Tipton was elected and commissioned as captain of this company in one hour after the battle, as a reward for his cool and deliberate heroism displayed during the action. He died at Logansport in 1839, having been twice elected Senator of the United States from the State of Indiana.

"The clear, calm voice of General Harrison was heard in words of heroism in every part of the encampment during the action. Colonel Boyd behaved very bravely after repeating these words: "Huzza! My sons of gold, a few more fires and victory will be ours!"

"Just after daylight the Indiana retreated across the prairie toward their town, carrying off their wounded. This retreat was from the right flank of the encampment, commanded by Captains Spencer and Robb, having retreated from the other portions of the encampment a few minutes before. As their retreat became visible, an almost deafening and universal shout was raised by our men. 'Huzza! Huzza!

Huzza!' This shout was almost equal to that of the savages at the commencement of the battle; ours was the shout of victory, theirs was the shout of ferocious but disappointed hope.

"The morning light disclosed the fact that the killed and wounded of our army, numbering between eight and nine hundred men, amounted to one hundred and eighty-eight.

Thirty-six Indians were found near our lines. Many of their dead were carried off during the battle. This fact was proved by the discovery of many Indian graves recently made near their town. Ours was a b.l.o.o.d.y victory, theirs a b.l.o.o.d.y defeat.

"Soon after breakfast an Indian chief was discovered on the prairie, about eighty yards from our front line, wrapped in a piece of white cloth. He was found by a soldier by the name of Miller, a resident of Jeffersonville, Indiana. The Indian was wounded in one of his legs, the ball having penetrated his knee and pa.s.sed down his leg, breaking the bone as it pa.s.sed. Miller put his foot against him and he raised up his head and said: 'Don't kill me, don't kill me.'

At the same time five or six regular soldiers tried to shoot him, but their muskets snapped and missed fire. Major Davis Floyd came riding toward him with dragoon sword and pistols and said he would show them how to kill Indians, when a messenger came from General Harrison commanding that he should be taken prisoner. He was taken into camp, where the surgeons dressed his wounds. Here he refused to speak a word of English or tell a word of truth. Through the medium of an interpreter he said that he was a friend to the white people and that the Indians shot him while he was coming to the camp to tell General Harrison that they were about to attack the army. He refused to have his leg amputated, though he was told that amputation was the only means of saving his life. One dogma of Indian superst.i.tion is that all good and brave Indians, when they die, go to a delightful region, abounding with deer and other game, and to be a successful hunter he should have all his limbs, his gun and his dog. He therefore preferred death with all his limbs to life without them. In accordance with his request he was left to die, in company with an old squaw, who was found in the Indian town the next day after he was taken prisoner. They were left in one of our tents.

[Ill.u.s.tration: Judge Isaac Naylor. From old portrait in Court Room at Williamsport, Indiana.]

"At the time this Indian was taken prisoner, another Indian, who was wounded in the body, rose to his feet in the middle of the prairie and began to walk towards the woods on the opposite side. A number of regular soldiers shot at him but missed him. A man who was a member of the same company with me, Henry Huckleberry, ran a few steps into the prairie and shot an ounce ball through his body and he fell dead near the margin of the woods. Some Kentucky volunteers went across the prairie immediately, and scalped him, dividing his scalp into four pieces, each one cutting a hole in each piece, putting the ramrod through the hole, and placing his part of the scalp just behind the first thimble of his gun, near its muzzle. Such was the fate of nearly all of the Indians found on the battle ground, and such was the disposition of their scalps.

"The death of Owen, and the fact that Daviess was mortally wounded, with the remembrance also that a large portion of Kentucky's best blood had been shed by the Indians, must be their apology for this barbarous conduct. Such conduct will be excused by all who witnessed the treachery of the Indians, and saw the b.l.o.o.d.y scenes of this battle.

"Tec.u.mseh being absent at the time of the battle, a chief called White Loon was the chief commander of the Indians. He was seen in the morning after the battle, riding a large white horse in the woods across the prairie, where he was shot at by a volunteer named Montgomery, who is now living in the southwest part of this state. At the crack of his rifle the horse jumped as if the ball had hit him. The Indian rode off toward the town and we saw him no more.

During the battle the Prophet was safely located on a hill, beyond the reach of our b.a.l.l.s, praying to the Great Spirit to give victory to the Indians, having previously a.s.sured them that the Great Spirit would change our powder into ashes and sand.

"We had about forty head of beef cattle when we came to the battle. They all ran off the night of the battle, or they were driven off by the Indians, so that they were all lost.

We received rations for two days on the morning after the action. We received no more rations until the next Tuesday evening, being six days afterwards. The Indians having retreated to their town, we performed the solemn duty of consigning to their graves our dead soldiers, without shrouds or coffins. They were placed in graves about two feet deep, from five to ten in each grave.

"General Harrison having learned that Tec.u.mseh was expected to return from the south with a number of Indians whom he had enlisted in his cause, called a council of his officers, who advised him to remain on the battlefield and fortify his camp by a breastwork of logs, about four feet high. This work was completed during the day and all the troops were placed immediately behind each line of the work, when they were ordered to pa.s.s the watchword from right to left every five minutes, so that no man was permitted to sleep during the night. The watchword on the night before the battle was 'Wide-awake, wide-awake.' To me, it was a long, cold, cheerless night.

"On the next day the dragoons went to Prophet's Town, which they found deserted by all the Indians, except an old squaw, whom they brought into the camp and left her with the wounded chief before mentioned. The dragoons set fire to the town and it was all consumed, casting up a brilliant light amid the darkness of the ensuing night. I arrived at the town when it was about half on fire. I found large quant.i.ties of corn, beans and peas, I filled my knapsack with these articles and carried them to the camp and divided them with the members of our mess, consisting of six men.

Having these articles of food, we declined eating horse flesh, which was eaten by a large portion of our men."



1. Ade, John. _Newton County 1853-1911._ (Indiana State Library.)

2. Albach, James E. _Annals of the West._ 1857. A valuable book on western history. (Indiana State Library.)

3. _American State Papers._ _Indian Affairs._ Vol. I. A vast store-house of knowledge of early Indian affairs, embracing reports of officers and agents of the government, instructions to Indian commissioners, etc., messages of the early Presidents to Congress, reports of the Secretary of War on Indian affairs, treaties with various tribes, etc. (Indiana State Library.)

4. At.w.a.ter, Caleb. _History of Ohio._ Cincinnati, 1838. (Indiana State Library.)

5. Bancroft, George. _History of the United States of America._

6. Barce, Elmore. _The Land of the Potawatomi._ Fowler, Indiana, 1919.

7. Beckwith's _History of Fountain County, Indiana_. Chicago, 1881.

(Chicago Public Library.)

8. Birch, Jesse S. _History of Benton County, Indiana._ In ma.n.u.script.

Accurate and interesting.

9. Bradford, Thomas G. _An ill.u.s.trated Atlas of the United States._ Historical, and with excellent maps. 1838. Presented by the late Judge Edwin P. Hammond, of Lafayette, Indiana, to the writer.

10. _Bureau of American Ethnology._ _Handbook of American Indians._ Parts I and II. (Indiana State Library.)

11. Burnet, Jacob. _Notes on the Early Settlement of the Northwestern Territory._ Cincinnati, 1847. (Indiana State Library.)

12. Butler, Mann. _History of the Commonwealth of Kentucky._ Louisville, 1834. (Indiana State Library.)

13. _Ca.s.s County History._ John Powell. (Indiana State Library.)

14. _Chicago Publication of Steuben County, Indiana._ (Indiana State Library.)

15. c.o.x, Sanford C. _Old Settlers._ 1860. (Lafayette and Indiana Public Libraries.)

16. _Croghan's Journal._ By George Croghan, British Agent. In Appendix to Mann Butler's History of Kentucky. A description of the conditions in the Wabash Valley in 1765. (Indiana State Library.)

17. Dawson, Moses. _Life of Harrison._ Cincinnati, 1834. Esarey ranks this as the best biography of the General. It was prepared under the direction of Harrison himself. (Indiana State Library.)

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