ePub 版

men, to co-operate with Lieutenant Perkins in maintaining it. Captain Sullivan's company in the barge, and a part of the crew belonging to the gun-boat, were militia, who had engaged only for sixty days; when their time expired they returned home in the barge, leaving about 100 men at the prairie. No indication of hostility had yet appeared; but early in July Lieutenant Perkins was informed that preparations for an attack were in progress among the Indians.*

"As soon as Governor Clark returned to St. Louis, General Howard, who commanded this district, thought it advisable to send up a force to relieve the volunteers at Prairie du Chien, and thus preserve a post so important to the western country. Accordingly, Lieutenant Campbell, of the first regiment, intrusted with the command of forty-two regulars and sixty-five rangers, embarked in three keel-boats, together with a fourth belonging to the contractor and sutler. The whole party, amounting to one hundred and thirty-three souls, reached Rock river, within 180 or 200 miles of the prairie, without any accident. As soon as they entered the rapids they were visited by hundreds of Sacs and Foxes, some of them bearing letters from the garrison above to St. Louis. The officers, not being acquainted with the arts of the Indians, imagined them to be friendly; and to this fatal security may be attributed the catastrophe which followed.

"The sutler's and contractor's boats had arrived near the head of the rapids, and proceeded on, having on board the ammunition, with a sergeant's guard; the rangers, in their boats, followed, and had proceeded two miles in advance of the commander's barge. The latter, having inclined to the east side of the river in search of the main channel, was now drifted by the wind to the lee shore, and grounded within a few yards of a high bank, covered with a thick growth of grass and willow. In this position the commanding officer thought it advisable to remain until the wind abated. Sentries were stationed at proper intervals, and several of the men were engaged on shore, when the

* Mc Apee's History of the late War in the Western Country.

report of guns announced an attack. At the first fire all the sentinels were killed, and, before those on shore could reach the barge, fifteen out of thirty were killed or wounded. At this time the force and intentions of the Indians were fully developed. On each shore they were observed in quick motion, some in canoes crossing to the battle-ground, others running from above and below the scene of attack. In a few minutes from five to seven hundred were assembled on the bank and among the willows, within a few yards of the bow and stern of the barge. They now gave the whoop, and commenced a tremendous firethe surviving brave men in the barge cheered, and, returned the fire from their swivel and small arms. At this critical juncture, Lieutenants Rector and Riggs saw the smoke, and, concluding that an attack had been made, dropped down. Riggs' boat stranded about a hundred yards below Campbell's, and Rector, to avoid a similar misfortune, and to preserve himself from a raking fire, anchored above; both barges opened a brisk fire on the Indians; but, as the latter were under cover, little execution was done. About an hour was spent in this unequal contest, when Campbell's barge was discovered to be on fire, to relieve which, Rector cut his cables, fell to the windward of him, and took out the survivers. Finding, however, that he was unable to assist Riggs, having a number of wounded on board, and being in danger of running on a lee shore, he determined on descending the river. The whole loss on the part of the Americans amounted to twelve killed, and between twenty and thirty wounded.

"On the 17th of July the long-expected enemy, consisting of about 1500 British and Indians, under command of Colonel McKay, appeared in view, marching from the Wisconsin to the prairie. Every possible exertion was made by the Americans to give them a warm reception. Captain Yeizer had anchored the gun-boat in the river opposite the fort. As soon as Colonel McKay had arranged his force, and directed a small battery! against the boat, he sent in a flag demanding the surrender of the garrison. Lieutenant Perkins refused, and returned for answer, that he was able and ready to defend the post committed to his charge.

"A general attack was commenced upon the gun-boat from the battery, which was answered by a six-pounder. The distance, however, was so great, that little effect was produced. The enemy now changed their situation, crossed to an island in front of the village, from which they were enabled to fire upon Yeizer (who had also changed his position) with small arms, and screen themselves behind the trees, from the grape which was incessantly poured from the boat. In this manner the contest lasted for two hours, when, from the decided advantage of the enemy, Captain Yeizer was induced to retreat down the river, which he effected under a heavy fire of musketry for several miles.

"After the departure of the gun-boat, the attack was continued by the enemy, but with little effect, as the Americans remained within the fort. The British now began to approach by regular intrenchments, which they continued day and night, until they reached within one hundred and fifty yards of the pickets. On the evening of the 19th Lieutenant Perkins, being in want of ammunition and hospital stores, and being without a surgeon to dress the wounded, held a council with his officers. It was then determined, that as it was impossible to maintain the post, their most proper course was to surrender. Accordingly, a flag was despatched to the enemy with their terms. Captain George H. Kennerly was the bearer; and on his entering into the British camp he was immediately surrounded by a number of Indians; but was relieved from his perilous situation by three British officers, who ran to his protection. The terms of capitulation were immediately agreed upon, and the fort was surrendered the next day, upon condition that the Americans should be protected from the savages-that their private property should be respected, and that they should be sent down to some American post, not to serve until regularly exchanged.

"Colonel McKay found it necessary to place a strong guard over the prisoners, in order to prevent the savages from murdering them. He afterward sent them on their way to St. Louis, under a strong escort, as far as Rock river; and although the Indians laid several plans to murder them on their passage, such was the vigilance of the guard, that not one of them suffered.

This may be recorded as a rare instance of humane and honourable conduct on the part of the British during the late war.

"Captain Yeizer, who had left Fort Shelby during the battle, on approaching the rapids, fell in with Lieutenant Campbell in the situation before mentioned. He arrived in time to save the contractor's boat from destruction. Having ascertained the fate of the other boats, he now proceeded down the river, and arrived at St. Louis soon after them. Thus terminated the expedition to Prairie du Chien, and with it, also, in a great measure, the war in Missouri.

"In 1818, the people of this territory petitioned Congress for authority to form a state government. A bill was accordingly introduced during the session of 1818-19, and contained, among other provisions, that of prohibiting slavery or involuntary servitude. It passed the House of Representatives, but was rejected by the Senate, and of course failed of success. The ensuing session the bill was again brought up, and, after a succession of animated and interesting debates, continued through several weeks, a compromise or agreement was entered into by the advocates and opposers of the 'restriction.' The result of this was, that slavery should be tolerated in Missouri, but in no other part of Louisiana, as ceded by France to the United States, north of 36° 30' north latitude. Accordingly, the people of this territory were authorized to form a constitution, under which, when approved by Congress, Missouri should be admitted into the union on an equal footing with the original states. The convention, being duly elected, met at St. Louis on the 12th of June, 1820, and formed a constitution, which was laid before Congress early in the session of 1820-21. The constitution contained a provision, by which it was made the duty of the legislature to pass laws to prevent free negroes or mulattoes from coming to or settling in this state, under any pretext whatsoever.' ”*


Unfortunately, this provision was not accepted by Congress; and the state, subsequently, came into the union without this advantage.

The constitution made liberal provision for remunerating the * Dr. Beck.

governor and judges, with salaries suited to the dignity and responsibilities of their several offices; but that levelling principle which pulls down instead of lifting up, caused the alteration of the constitution so as to allow the governor only 1500 dollars, the supreme judges 1100 dollars, and the circuit judges 1000 dollars. The county court justices, in the revision of the statutes during the last session of the general assembly, were forgotten; and they now serve for the love of country, or the love of personal distinction. This error will doubtless be repaired at the earliest convenience of the legislature.

The antique works of St. Louis county still existing are the mounds of the city, that are elsewhere described, and the ancient works and monumental mounds on the Merrimac river. The fortifications that encircled the old town of St. Louis, consisting of a bastion of mason-work, four demilunes, and several stone towers at intervals in the chain of stockade, have all been removed to make room for the extension of the city. These works had been constructed by Mr. Don François de Cruzat, lieutenant colonel and lieutenant governor de la partie occidentale des Illinois, en 1780. At Bellefontaine there was a cantonment built by order of General Wilkinson, soon after the acquisition of Louisiana by the United States. Two miles south of St. Louis, on the river-bank, a United States arsenal has been constructed within a few years on an extensive scale, under the superintendence of M. Thomas, Esq., then of the United States ordnance corps, now a citizen of St. Louis, and a member of the general assembly of Missouri. At Jefferson barracks, ten miles below St. Louis, on the right bank of the Mississippi, there is an extensive cantonment. This position was selected by General Atkinson, of the United States army, as the station of troops for the defence of the northern, western, and southern frontier. The point is happily chosen for the occupation of a corps de reserve for this service, as experience has already tested. Detachments are conveniently made from this position, to support any one of the garrisons on the Upper Mississippi or Missouri, and on the Lower Mississippi, and on Arkansas, Red river, and the Sabine. Troops and munitions of war are conveyed with great

« 上一頁繼續 »