In September, 1786, captain Benjamin Logan, of Kentucky, led an expedition of mounted men from that state against the Shawanoes, on the north side of the Ohio, and destroyed the Machachac towns on the waters of Mad river. Most of the warriors happened to be absent from the villages when the invading army reached them. About thirty persons were captured, chiefly women and children. After the slight resistance which was made by the Indians had ceased, captain Logan's men were both annoyed and endangered by some arrows, shot among them by an invisible but not unpractised hand. After considerable search, in the tall grass around the camp, an Indian youth was discovered, who with his bow and a quiver of arrows, had concealed himself in a position from which he could successfully throw his darts against the enemy: that intrepid boy was Logan, the subject of the present biographical sketch. He likewise was made prisoner, and with the others carried to Kentucky. The commander of the expedition was so much pleased with the bold conduct of this boy, that upon returning home, he made him a member of his own family, in which he resided some years, until at length, at a council for the exchange of prisoners, held on the bank of the Ohio, opposite to Maysville, between some Shawanoe chiefs and a deputation of citizens from Kentucky, our young hero was permitted to return to his (page 50) native land. He was ever afterwards known by the name of Logan.
Of the family of this distinguished individual, we have been enabled to glean but few particulars. In M'Afee's History of the Late War, and in Butler's History of Kentucky, he is represented to have been the son of Tecumseh's sister: this is manifestly an error; there was no relationship between them, either by blood or marriage.
Logan was a member of the Machachac tribe of the Shawanoes, and was elevated to the rank of a civil chief on account of his many estimable qualities, both intellectual and moral. He was a married man, and left behind him a wife and several children—requesting on his death bed that they might be sent into Kentucky, and placed under the patronage of his friend, colonel Hardin, who had married the daughter of his early patron, captain Logan. This, however, was not done, owing to objections interposed by the wife. The personal appearance of Logan was remarkably good, being six feet in height, finely formed and weighing near two hundred pounds.
From the period of his residence in Kentucky, to that of his death, Logan was the unwavering friend of the United States. He was extensively and favorably known on the frontier of Ohio, and the Indiana territory; and, immediately after the declaration of war against England in 1812, he joined the American service. He acted as one of the guides of general Hull's army to Detroit; and, prior to the actual investment of fort Wayne,—an account of which will be presently given—he was employed by the Indian agent at Piqua, on an important and delicate mission. The Indians around fort Wayne were giving indications of a disposition to abandon their neutrality. This rendered it expedient that the women and children then at that point, should be removed within the inhabited portions of Ohio. John Johnston, the Indian agent at Piqua, knowing Logan intimately, and having great confidence in his judgment as well as his fidelity, selected him to perform this duty. He was accordingly furnished with a letter to the commandant (page 51) of that fort, in which assurances were given, that the persons about to be removed might confidently rely upon the discretion and enterprise of Logan. He proceeded on his mission, and executed it successfully: bringing into Piqua—near one hundred miles distant from fort Wayne—twenty-five women and children; the former, without an exception, bearing testimony to the uniform delicacy and kindness with which he treated them. Deeply impressed with the dangerous responsibility of the office he had assumed, he is said not to have slept from the time the party left fort Wayne, until it reached Piqua.
We next hear of Logan, in connection with the memorable siege of fort Wayne. This post, which was erected in 1794, stood at the junction of the St. Joseph's and St. Mary's rivers, and, although not within the limits of Ohio, its preservation was all-important to the peace and safety of our north-western frontier. Having been built of wood, it was, in 1812, a pile of combustible matter. Immediately after the surrender of general Hull, in August, 1812, the Indians, to the number of four or five hundred, closely invested this place. The garrison at that time, including every description of persons, amounted to less than one hundred persons, of whom not more than sixty or seventy were capable of performing military duty. These were commanded by captain Rhea, an officer who, from several causes, was but ill qualified for the Station. His lieutenants were Philip Ostrander and Daniel Curtis, both of whom, throughout the siege, discharged their duty in a gallant manner.
At the time of the investment of this place, there was a considerable body of Ohio troops in the neighborhood of Piqua. These had been ordered out by governor Meigs, for the relief of Detroit; but, upon hearing of the surrender of that place, their course was directed towards fort Wayne. They were, however, almost in a state of disorganization, and manifested but little ardor in entering upon this new duty. Perceiving this state of things, and aware that the fort was in imminent danger, a young man, now major William Oliver, of Cincinnati, determined upon making (page 52) an effort to reach the garrison. Young Oliver was a resident of fort Wayne, and was on his return from a visit to Cincinnati when, at Piqua, he learned that the place was besieged. He immediately joined a rifle company of the Ohio militia; but seeing the tardy movements of the troops, in advancing to the relief of the fort, he resolved in the first place to return with all possible expedition, to Cincinnati, for the purpose of inducing colonel Wells, of the 17th U.S. infantry, to march his regiment to the relief of the fort; and, in the second place, to make an effort to reach it in person, that the garrison might be encouraged to hold out until reinforcements should arrive. When Oliver arrived in Cincinnati, he found that general Harrison had just crossed the Ohio, from Kentucky, and assumed the command of the troops composing the north-western army. He called upon the general, stated the condition of things on the frontier, and avowed his intention of passing into the fort in advance of the reinforcements. The general informed him that the troops then at Cincinnati would be put in motion that day, and marched with all practicable expedition to the invested point. This was on the 27th of August; on the 31st Oliver overtook the Ohio militia at the St. Mary's river. Here he learned that Adrian and Shane, two experienced scouts, had been sent in the direction of fort Wayne, and had returned with information that the hostile Indians were in great force on the route to that place. On the next day, general Thomas Worthington, of Chillicothe, who was then on the frontier as Indian commissioner, seeing the great importance of communicating with the garrison, determined to unite with Oliver in the attempt to reach it. These two enterprising individuals induced sixty-eight of the Ohio troops and sixteen Shawanoe Indians, among whom was Logan, to accompany them. They marched eighteen miles that day, and camped for the night at Shane's crossing.
Next morning they again moved forward, but in the course of the day, some thirty-six of their party abandoned the hazardous enterprise, and returned to the main army. The remainder pursued their route, and (page 53) encamped that evening within twenty-four miles of fort Wayne. As the party was not strong enough in its present condition to encounter the besieging enemy, general Worthington was very reluctantly induced to remain at this point, while Oliver, with Logan, captain Johnny and Brighthorn, should make an effort to reach the fort. Being well armed and mounted, they started at daybreak next morning upon this daring adventure. Proceeding with great caution, they came within five miles of the fort, before they observed any fresh Indian signs. At this point the keen eye of Logan discovered the cunning strategy of the enemy: for the purpose of concealing their bodies, they had dug holes on either side of the road, alternately, at such distances as to secure them from their own fire: these were intended for night watching, in order to cut off all communication with the fort. Here the party deemed it advisable to leave the main road, and strike across the country to the Maumee river, which was reached in safety at a point one and a half miles below the fort. Having tied their horses in a thicket, the party proceeded cautiously on foot, to ascertain whether our troops or the Indians were in possession of the fort. Having satisfied themselves on this point, they returned, remounted their horses, and taking the main road, moved rapidly to the fort. Upon reaching the gate of the esplanade, they found it locked, and were thus compelled to pass down the river bank, and then ascend it at the northern gate. They were favored in doing so by the withdrawal of the hostile Indians from this point, in carrying out a plan, then on the point of consummation, for taking the fort by an ingenious stratagem. For several days previous to this time, the hostile chiefs under a flag of truce, had been holding intercourse with the garrison; and had, it is supposed, discovered the unsoldier-like condition of the commander. They had accordingly arranged their warriors in a semicircle, on the west and south sides of the fort, and at no great distance from it. Five of the chiefs, under pretence of treating with the officers of the garrison, were to pass into the fort, and when in council were to assassinate the subaltern officers with pistols and knives, concealed under (page 54) their blankets; and then to seize captain Rhea, who, in his trepidation, and under a promise of personal safety, would, they anticipated, order the gates of the fort to be thrown open for the admission of the besiegers. The plan, thus arranged, was in the act of being carried into execution at the moment when Oliver and his companions reached the gate. In speaking of the opportune approach of this party, lieutenant Curtis says, "the safe arrival of Mr. Oliver at that particular juncture, may justly be considered most miraculous. One hour sooner or one later, would no doubt have been inevitable destruction both to himself and escort: the parties of Indians who had been detached to guard the roads and passes in different directions, having all at that moment been called in, to aid in carrying the fort. It is generally believed by those acquainted with the circumstances, that not one hour, for eight days and nights preceding or following the hour in which Mr. Oliver arrived, would have afforded an opportunity of any probable safety." Winnemac, Five Medals, and three other hostile chiefs, bearing the flag under which they were to gain admittance to the fort to carry out their treacherous intentions, were surprised by suddenly meeting at the gate, Oliver and his companions. Coming from different directions and screened by the angles of the fort, the parties were not visible to each other until both were near the gate. On meeting, they shook hands, but it was apparent that Winnemac was greatly disconcerted; he immediately wheeled and returned to his camp, satisfied that this accession of strength to the garrison—the forerunner, in all probability, of a much larger force—had defeated his scheme. The others of his party entered the fort, and remained some little time, during which they were given to understand that Logan and his two Indian companions were to remain with the garrison. Oliver, in the mean time, having written a hasty letter, describing the condition of the fort, to general Worthington; and the Indians being equipped with new rifles from the public stores, they prepared to leave the fort without delay. Fortunately their movements were not observed by the enemy, until they had actually started from the garrison (page 55) gate. They now put spurs to their horses and dashed off at full speed. The hostile Indians were instantly in motion to intercept them; the race was a severe and perilous one, but Logan and his companions cleared the enemy's line in safety, and this accomplished, his loud shout of triumph rose high in the air, and fell like music upon the ears of the beleaguered garrison. The party reached general Worthington's camp early the next morning, and delivered Oliver's letter to him. Notwithstanding the perilous condition of the garrison, however, the Ohio troops delayed moving for its relief, until they were overtaken by general Harrison, who, with his reinforcements, was unable to reach the fort until the twelfth. In the mean time the Indians kept up an incessant firing, day and night, upon the fort, killing on one occasion, two of the garrison who passed out of the gate on police duty. Several times the buildings of the fort were set on fire by the burning arrows which were shot upon them, but by the vigilance of the garrison in extinguishing the flames, a general conflagration was prevented. Some days after the arrival of Oliver, the Indians appeared to be making preparations for some uncommon movement, and one afternoon, just before night-fall, succeeded in getting possession of one of the trading houses standing near the fort. From this point they demanded a surrender of the garrison, under a promise of protection; and with a threat of extermination if they were compelled to carry the fort by storm: they alleged, further, that they had just been reinforced by a large number of warriors, some pieces of British cannon, and artillerists to man them. Their demand being promptly refused, they immediately closed in upon the fort, yelling hideously, firing their guns and also a couple of cannon. Every man in the fort capable of doing duty, now stood at his post, having several stands of loaded arms by his side. They were directed by the acting lieutenant, Curtis, not to fire until the Indians had approached within twenty-five paces of the fort: the (page 56) fire was at length opened upon the entire Indian lines, and in a manner so destructive, that in twenty minutes the enemy retreated with the loss of eighteen of their warriors, killed. It was discovered, subsequently, that the cannon used on this occasion by the Indians, had been made of wood by some British traders who were with them; one of the pieces burst upon the first, and the other on the second, fire.
The day before general Harrison reached this place, the Indians concentrated at a swamp, five miles south of the fort, for the purpose of giving him battle; but after reconnoitering his force, and finding it too strong for them, they fell back, passing by the fort in great disorder, in the hope, it is supposed, of drawing out the garrison, under a belief that they, (the Indians,) had been defeated by general Harrison's army. To promote this idea, they had, while lying at the swamp, kindled extensive fires, that the rising volume of smoke might be mistaken for that which usually overhangs the field of battle. This device proving unavailing, the Indians, after a vigorous investment, running through more than twenty days, withdrew forever from the siege of fort Wayne.
The enterprise of young Oliver, just related, reflected the highest credit on his bravery and patriotism: being wholly voluntary on his part, the moral heroism of the act was only surpassed by its fortunate results; as it prevented, in all probability, the fall of an important frontier post, and saved its garrison from the tomahawk and scalping knife. So hazardous was the effort deemed, indeed, that experienced frontier's-men endeavored to dissuade him from the undertaking; and even Logan considered it one of great peril; but when once resolved upon, he gallantly incurred the hazard of the deed, and showed himself worthy of the trust reposed in him.
In November of this year, general Harrison directed Logan to take a small party of his tribe, and reconnoitre the country in the direction of the Rapids of the Maumee. When near this point, they were met by a body of the enemy, superior to their own in number, and compelled to retreat. Logan, captain Johnny and (page 57) Bright-horn, who composed the party, effected their escape, to the left wing of the army, then under the command of general Winchester, who was duly informed of the circumstances of their adventure. An officer of the Kentucky troops, general P., the second in command, without the slightest ground for such a charge, accused Logan of infidelity to our cause, and of giving intelligence to the enemy. Indignant at this foul accusation, the noble chief at once resolved to meet it in a manner that would leave no doubt as to his faithfulness to the United States. He called on his friend Oliver, and having told him of the imputation that had been cast upon his reputation, said that he would start from the camp next morning, and either leave his body bleaching in the woods, or return with such trophies from the enemy, as would relieve his character from the suspicion that had been wantonly cast upon it by an American officer.
Accordingly, on the morning of the 22d he started down the Maumee, attended by his two faithful companions, captain Johnny and Bright-horn. About , having stopped for the purpose of taking rest, they were suddenly surprised by a party of seven of the enemy, amongst whom were young Elliott, a half-breed, holding a commission in the British service, and the celebrated Potawatamie chief, Winnemac. Logan made no resistance, but with great presence of mind, extending his hand to Winnemac, who was an old acquaintance, proceeded to inform him, that he and his two companions, tired of the American service, were just leaving general Winchester's army, for the purpose of joining the British. Winnemac, being familiar with Indian strategy, was not satisfied with this declaration, but proceeded to disarm Logan and his comrades, and placing his party around them, so as to prevent their escape, started for the British camp at the foot of the Rapids. In the course of the afternoon, Logan's address was such as to inspire confidence in his sincerity, and induce Winnemac to restore to him and his companions their arms. Logan now formed the plan of attacking his captors on the first favorable opportunity; and whilst marching along, succeeded in communicating (page 58) the substance of it to captain Johnny and Bright-horn. Their guns being already loaded, they had little further preparation to make, than to put bullets into their mouths, to facilitate the reloading of their arms. In carrying on this process, captain Johnny, as he afterwards related, fearing that the man marching by his side had observed the operation, adroitly did away the impression by remarking, "me chaw heap tobac."
The evening being now at hand, the British Indians determined to encamp on the bank of Turkeyfoot creek, about twenty miles from fortWinchester. Confiding in the idea that Logan had really deserted the American service, a part of his captors rambled around the place of their encampment, in search of blackhaws. They were no sooner out of sight, than Logan gave the signal of attack upon those who remained behind; they fired and two of the enemy fell dead—the third, being only wounded, required a second shot to despatch him; and in the mean time, the remainder of the party, who were near by, returned the fire, and all of them "treed." There being four of the enemy, and only three of Logan's party, the latter could not watch all the movements of their antagonists. Thus circumstanced, and during an active fight, the fourth man of the enemy passed round until Logan was uncovered by his tree, and shot him through the body. By this time Logan's party had wounded two of the surviving four, which caused them to fall back. Taking advantage of this state of things, captain Johnny mounted Logan—now suffering the pain of a mortal wound—and Bright-horn—also wounded—on two of the enemy's horses, and started them for Winchester's camp, which they reached about midnight. Captain Johnny, having already secured the scalp of Winnemac, followed immediately on foot, and gained the same point early on the following morning. It was subsequently ascertained that the two Indians of the British party, who were last wounded, died of their wounds, making in all five out of the seven, who were slain by Logan and his companions.
When the news of this gallant affair had spread through the camp, and especially after it was known (page 59) that Logan was mortally wounded, it created a deep and mournful sensation. No one, it is believed, more deeply regretted the fatal catastrophe, than the author of the charge upon Logan's integrity, which had led to this unhappy result.
Logan's popularity was very great; indeed he was almost universally esteemed in the army, for his fidelity to our cause, his unquestioned bravery, and the nobleness of his nature. He lived two or three days after reaching the camp, but in extreme bodily agony; he was buried by the officers of the army, at fortWinchester, with the honors of war. Previous to his death, he related the particulars of this fatal enterprise to his friend Oliver, declaring to him that he prized his honor more than life; and, having now vindicated his reputation from the imputation cast upon it, he died satisfied. In the course of this interview, and while writhing with pain, he was observed to smile; upon being questioned as to the cause, he replied, that when he recalled to his mind the manner in which captain Johnny took off the scalp of Winnemac, while at the same time dexterously watching the movements of the enemy, he could not refrain from laughing—an incident in savage life, which shows the "ruling passion strong in death." It would perhaps be difficult in the history of savage warfare, to point out an enterprise the execution of which reflects higher credit upon the address and daring conduct of its authors, than this does upon Logan and his two companions. Indeed a spirit even less indomitable, a sense of honor less acute, and a patriotic devotion to a good cause less active, than were manifested by this gallant chieftain of the woods, might, under other circumstances, have well conferred immortality upon his name.
The Shawanoe nation has produced a number of distinguished individuals, besides those who have been noticed in this brief sketch of that people. The plan of our work does not permit a more extended enumeration of them. When a full and faithful history of this tribe shall be written, it will be found, we think, that no tribe of aborigines on this continent, has given birth to so many men, remarkable for their talents, (page 60) energy of character, and military prowess, as the Shawanoe.
Under a treaty held at the rapids of the Miami of the lakes, in 1817, by Duncan McArthur and Lewis Cass, commissioners on the part of the United States, for extinguishing Indian titles to lands in Ohio, the Shawanoes ceded to the government the principal portion of their lands within the limits of this state. After this period they resided principally on the reserve made by them at and around Wapakanotta, on the Auglaize river. Here the greater part of them remained, until within a few years past, when, yielding to the pressing appeals of the government, they sold their reserved lands to the United States, and removed west of the Mississippi.
For a number of years prior to their final departure from Ohio, the society of Friends, with their characteristic philanthropy towards the Indians, maintained a mission at Wapakanotta, for the purpose of giving instruction to the Shawanoe children, and inducing the adults to turn their attention to agricultural pursuits. Notwithstanding the wandering and warlike character of this tribe, such was the success attending this effort of active benevolence, that the Friends composing the Yearly Meetings of Baltimore, Ohio and Indiana, still continue a similar agency among the Shawanoes, although they are now the occupants of the territory lying beyond the distant Arkansas.
Whether the new position west of the Mississippi, in which the Indian tribes have been placed, will tend to promote their civilization, arrest their deterioration in morals, or their decline in numbers, we think extremely problematical. Should such, however, be the happy result, it may be anticipated that the tribe which has produced a Logan, a Cornstalk and a Tecumseh, will be among the first to rise above the moral degradation in which it is shrouded, and foremost to exhibit the renovating influences of Christian civilization.