ViNCENNES 29th April 1812
In a letter which I had the honor to write to you in the night of the 22nd inst. I communicated the information which I had just then received of the murder of a family upon the Embarras River about 5 miles from this place. The report proved but too true. On the succeeding day Col. [James] Miller went to the spot with a detachment of the regular troops and buried the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Hariyman and five small children. A violent rain which fell the night after these murders were committed rendered it impossible for the detachment of mounted men which were sent in pursuit of the Indians to discover the route they had taken.
On the 11th inst. another family was attacked by the Indians a few miles from the Ohio, about 10 miles below the yellow banks [opposite Owensboro, Ky.] and about 75 from this place, the owner of the house [Atha Meeks] was killed and one of his sons badly wounded. Another son however with the assistance of the women of the family killed one of the 3 Indians and drove off the others. I have not been able to ascertain the Tribes to which the parties belong which have committed any of the late murders. It appears to me however to be very evident that their design is to distract and divide our attention to prevent the militia from embodying and certainly no plan could be more successful than that which they have fallen upon.- The murder committed near the Ohio where I supposed that there would be no danger even in the midst of an Indian war has so alarmed the people in that quarter that it would be impossible to make the militia turn out to march to the protection of any other place. The killing of the men upon the Driftwood fork of White River has produced similar affects in all the settlements eastwardly and southwardly of that place.
It is impossible Sir to give you an adequate idea of the alarm and distress which these murders have produced. The account transmitted to you by Governor Edwards of the situation of the Illinois territory after the murders were committed there last year affords a better picture than I can draw of the scenes which are daily exhibited here. Families, abandoning their homes and flying they know not whither and many of them without any means of support, are seen in every direction. Nor is the situation of this town by any means such as offers security to the fugitives. The expected departure of the regular troops and the revival of the design by the Prophet and his Party (as communicated by Mr. Shaw) to surprise it by a water expedition caused it to be viewed as a place of greater danger than any other and the fugitives pass through it as expeditiously as possible. I have formerly described to you its situation and the impossibility of defending it with its own militia and under the present alarm it is impossible to get a single company nearer than the neighbourhood of the falls of the Ohio. For offensive operations I believe the men would turn out willingly and I understand that the People of Kentucky and Tennessee are anxiously waiting for an order to that effect.
The company of Rangers have been so much employed in detachments for some time past as to allow no opportunity for mustering them. It was however done yesterday and I have made such a distribution of them, as appeared to me to be best calculated to secure the settlements from surprise, I have so placed them that the county to the northwest north and east of this place in advance of all the settlements will be reconnoitered daily for nearly one hundred and fifty miles. If they do their duty it will be impossible for any large number of Indians to pass them unobserved and very difficult for a small party but there is still a considerable frontier below us and above (through the Delaware country) that is entirely exposed nor can the Rangers give us here timely notice of the approach of an enemy by water as they can descend the Wabash much faster at this season in their canoes than a horse can travel. Conformably to the idea suggested in my letter of the 15th inst. I have thought it proper to send a special messenger to the Delawares I selected for the purpose Major Davis Floyd who is well acquainted with the chief s and I do myself the honor to enclose you a copy of his instructions which were accidentally omitted to be sent by the last mail. Since his departure a man of the tribe has arrived here with letters from Connor and Capt. Hendricks and a speech from the chiefs, the object of all these was to assure me that the Delawares had no hand in the late murders; that that committed on Driftwood was intended to implicate them, and induce us to take satisfaction of them which would be the means (as the hostile Indians expected) to force the Delawares to take part with them in the War — the murderers as the Delawares say were Potawatomies. On their return they passed near to the lower town of the former on White River and were seen by some of the women and they were tracked in that direction by some of our people and it will take proof equal to that of holy writ to convince them that they were not Delaware; I have and shall continue to do everything in my power to prevent this impression from becoming General. There are two very powerful considerations for preserving the neutrality of the Delawares if it be possible.
In the first place the uncommon faithfulness with which they have [remainder of letter lost]
On the same day, April 26, 1812, the The Centinel of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania published a letter from Harrison detaling earlier attempts at negotiating with various native bands and actions taken against Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet. The letter is reproduced below and can also be found here:
I have the honor to inform you that the Indians mentioned in my letter of the 26th ultimo arrived at this place on Saturday last. They delivered up their arms without the least hesitation. Yesterday and the day before, I met them in council. The Kickapoos, Winebagoes, and that part of the Pinkkeshaw tribe which joined the Prophet had employed the Weas and Red River tribes to mediate for them and a Chief of the latter was the principal orator. He said that the whole winter had been occupied in sending messages to the different villages of the Potawatomies, Kickapoos, Miamies and Delawares,to consult upon the measures which were proper to be taken under the circumstances in which they were placed and that it was unanimously agreed to supplicate their father the President for peace; that this was the ardent wish of all those who had been lately under the influence of the prophet; that they had acknowledged that it was the fault of that bad man that the late great calamity had fallen upon them. The principal Winebagoe Chief of the party which had joined the Prophet, was present as the representative of his tribe. I informed him of the mischief which has been lately done by his tribe on the Mississippi and the apprehensions which were entertained of further hostility from them. He agreed to set out immediately for the residence of his tribe to inform them of our having buried the tomahawk and to bring on one or two of the principal men to accompany the Chiefs of other tribes in their visit to the President. He has promised candidly to explain to them the cause of the late action in which they lost so many warriors; and the artifices which were practiced upon them by the Prophet to induce them to engage in it. I do believe the Indians are sincere in their profession of friendship and desire for peace, and that we shall have no further hostilities unless it be from the Winebagoes who are so far removed as to consider themselves out of our reach.
However, the Chief whom I have sent to them assures me that they will abandon all thoughts of hostilities as soon as he arrives among them. Tecumseh has returned and is much exasperated against his brother for his precipitancy. He blames him for throwing off the Mask before their plans were matured. He sent me a short speech informing me of his return and that he was now ready to visit the President. I have informed the other Indians he may go with them but not as their leader. They unanimously and vehemently declared they never more would listen to him."