UNRIGHTEOUS PROUDNESS GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION!!
Continued from previous page - the conclusion:
In the chorus of recriminations that will follow, nobody
apparently bothers to ask why. With Procter's forces off balance
and Fort Amherstburg virtually defenceless, he might easily have
snatched victory from defeat. But he contents himself with
putting all the blame on Winchester.
The camp at Frenchtown is uneasy. Some time in the dark
hours of the night, Reynolds and the interpreters have slipped
away. Atherton's fears have been further aroused by an Indian,
apparently a chief, who speaks fluent English and who came into
his quarters the evening before, seemingly trying to gain
information about Harrison's movements. Just as he left, the
Indian made an oddly chilling remark: "I am afraid," he said,
"some of the mischievous boys will do some mischief before
The sun has been up for no more than an hour when Atherton's
fears are realized. Without warning, the door of the house in
which he and some of the wounded are being cared for is forced
open, and an Indian, his face smeared with red and black paint,
appears waving a tomahawk, followed by several others. Their
purpose is loot: they begin to strip the clothing and blankets
from the wounded, groaning on the floor. Atherton, near the door,
manages to slip out of the room, only to come face to face with
one of the most savage-looking natives he has ever seen. This
creature's face is painted jet black. Half a bushel of feathers
are fastened to his scalp lock, an immense tomahawk gleams in his
right hand, a scalping knife hangs from his belt. He seizes
Atherton by the collar, propels him out the front door, leads him
through the gate and down the river for a hundred yards to the
home of Jean-Baptiste Jerome, where several wounded officers have
spent the night. The building has also done duty as a tavern, and
the Indians are ransacking the cellars for whiskey.
In front of the house Atherton sees a scarecrow figure,
bleeding, barefoot, clad only in a shirt and drawers. This is
Captain Nathaniel Hart, commander of the Lexington Light
Infantry, inspector of the North West Army, the emissary whom
Harrison sent to Winchester the night before the battle. He is
twenty-eight and wealthy, having made a fortune in hemp. Now he
is pleading for his life. The previous night, Hart, badly wounded
in the knee, was visited by an old friend, Matthew Elliott's son
William, a militia captain who was once cared for in the Hart
home in Lexington during a bout of illness. Hart has Elliott's
assurance that he will send his personal sleigh for him in the
morning and convey him to his home in Amherstburg. In fact,
Elliott has assured all the wounded in Jerome's house that they
are in no danger. The promise is hollow; they are all in deadly
peril. Some are already dying under the tomahawk blows of the
Hart turns to an Indian he recognizes - the same
English-speaking chief whom Atherton encountered the evening
before - and reminds him of Elliott's promise.
"Elliott has deceived you," the Indian replies. "He does not
intend to fulfill his promise."
"If you will agree to take me, I will give you a horse or a
hundred dollars," Hart declares. "You shall have it on our
arrival at Malden."
"I cannot take you."
"You are too badly wounded."
"Then," asks Captain Hart, "what do you intend to do with
"Boys," says the Indian, "you are all to be killed."
Hart maintains his composure, utters a brief prayer.
Atherton expects at any moment to feel the blow of a tomahawk.
Now follows a scene of pure horror: Captain Paschal Hickman,
General William Hull's son-in-law, emerges from Jerome's house,
dragged by an Indian who throws him face down into the snow.
Hickman, who has already been tomahawked, chokes to death in his
own blood as Atherton watches in terror, then, taking advantage
of the confusion, turns from the spectacle and begins to edge
slowly away, hoping not to be seen.
Albert Ammerman, another unwilling witness to the butchery,
crouches on a log, guarded by his Indian captor. A private in the
1st Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers, he has been wounded in the
thigh but is doing his best to conceal his injury, for he knows
it is the Indians' practice to kill all who cannot walk. Now he
watches helplessly while the Indians loot the houses, strip the
clothes from the wounded, tomahawk and scalp their prey, and set
fire to the buildings. Some, still alive, force their heads out
of the windows, half-enveloped in smoke and flames, seeking
rescue. But there is no rescue.
Ammerman is marched off at last toward Brownstown with some
other prisoners. After limping about half a mile, they are
overtaken. One Indian has Captain Hart in custody and is engaged
in a violent argument with another, apparently over the reward
that Hart has offered for his safe conduct to Amherstburg. As
Ammerman watches, the two take aim at each other as if to end the
quarrel. But they do not fire. Instead they turn upon their
prisoner, pull him from his horse, knock him down with a
war-club, tomahawk him, scalp him, strip him of his remaining
clothing, money, and effects. Ammerman (who will shortly be
ransomed in Detroit) notes that Hart, during these final moments,
refrains from making any pleas and appears, to the end, perfectly
calm. The news of his death, when it finally filters through to
Lexington three months later, will cause a particular shiver of
despair and fury in Kentucky. For this mangled and naked corpse,
thrown like carrion onto the side of the road, was once the
brother-in-law of Speaker Henry Clay.
Back at Frenchtown, little William Atherton (he is only five
foot five) is trying to reach a small log building some distance
from the scene of horror. He edges toward it, is a few steps from
it, when a Potawatomi seizes him and asks where he is wounded.
Atherton places a hand on his shoulder. The Indian feels it,
finds it is not serious, determines that Atherton shall be his
prize, perhaps for later ransom. He wraps his new possession in a
blanket, gives him a hat, takes him to the back door of one of
the houses, and puts the wounded Kentuckian in charge of all his
Atherton is flabbergasted. For almost an hour he has
expected certain death. Now he lives in the faint hope that his
life may be spared. He experiences "one of those sudden
transitions of mind impossible to be either conceived or
expressed, except by those whose unhappy lot it has been, to be
placed in like circumstances."
As the house blazes behind him, Atherton watches his fellow
prisoners being dragged away to Brownstown. For the first time,
perhaps, he has been made aware of the value a man places on his
own life. He sees members of his own company, old acquaintances,
so badly wounded they can scarcely be moved in their beds,
suddenly leap up, hearing that the Indians will tomahawk all who
cannot depart on foot. They hobble past him on sticks but, being
unable to keep up, are soon butchered.
After two hours, Atherton's captor returns with an army pack
horse and a great deal of plunder. The Potawatomi hands his
prisoner the bridle, and the two set off on the road to
Brownstown, bordered now by a ghastly hedgerow of mutilated
They halt for the night at Sandy Creek, where a number of
Potawatomi are encamped. Here, around a roaring fire of fence
rails, the Indians feed their captives gruel. And here another
grisly scene takes place. An Indian walks up to Private Charles
Searls and proposes to exchange his moccasins for the soldier's
shoes. The exchange effected, a brief conversation follows, the
Indian asking how many men Harrison has with him. The name of the
Hero of Tippecanoe seems to drive him into a sudden rage. His
anger rising, he calls Searls a "Madison," raises his tomahawk,
strikes him a deep blow on the shoulder.
Searls, bleeding profusely, clutches the weapon embedded in
his flesh and tries to resist, whereupon a surgeon's mate,
Gustavus Bower, tells him his fate is inevitable. Searls closes
his eyes, the blow falls again, and Bower is drenched with brains
and blood. Not long after, three more men are indiscriminately
When Atherton asks his captor if the Indians intend to kill
all the prisoners, the Indian nods. Atherton tries to eat, has no
stomach for it, even though he has had little nourishment for
three days. Then he realizes his captor does not understand
English and hope returns.
The march resumes with many alarms. Atherton is in daily
fear of his life, sleeping with a kerchief tied around his head
in the belief that the Indians will want to steal it before
tomahawking him in his sleep, thus giving him some warning. But
they do not kill him. His captor, whose brother has been killed
at the River Raisin, has other plans. It is the custom of the
Potawatomi, among others, to adopt healthy captives into the
families of those who have lost sons in the same engagement. It
is some time before Atherton realizes that his enemies do not
intend to kill or ransom him. On the contrary, they are
determined to turn him into an Indian. For the rest of his life,
if they have their way, he will live as a savage in the forest.
From Frenchtown, Dr.John Todd, surgeon for the 5th Regiment
of Kentucky Volunteers who has been left in charge of the
wounded, is conveyed to the British camp where he again
encounters Captain William Elliott. The two met the previous
evening when Todd was a witness to the discussions between
Elliott and Hart. Now Todd urges Elliott to send his sleigh back
to the Raisin where some of the badly wounded, including his
friend Hart, may yet be saved. But Elliott, who has lived all his
life with the Indians and is half Shawnee, knows it is too late
and says so. When Todd presses the case, Elliott remarks that
charity begins at home, that the British and Canadian wounded
must be cared for first, that when sleighs are available they
will be sent to Frenchtown. He adds, in some exasperation, that
it is impossible to restrain the Indians and tries to explain
that they are simply seeking revenge for their own losses.
Tippecanoe is only fourteen months in the past, Mississinewa
less than two.
Along the frozen shores of the River Raisin a great
stillness has fallen. The cold is numbing; nothing moves. Those
few settlers who still remain in Frenchtown do not venture
outside their doors.
In the little orchard across the river, along the narrow
lane that leads from the Navarre home and beside the Detroit
River road, the bodies of the Americans lie, unshriven and
unburied. The Potawatomi have made it known that any white man
who dares to touch the remains of any of the hated Harrison men
will meet a similar fate.
The naked corpses lie strewn for miles along the roadside in
the grotesque attitudes of men who, in a sudden flash, realize
their last moment has come. In death they bear a gruesome
similarity, for each skull is disfigured by a frozen smear of
fleshy pulp where the scalp has been.
Here, contorted in death, lies the flower of Kentucky:
Captain Hart and Captain Hickman; Lieutenant-Colonel John Allen;
Captain John Woolfolk, Winchester's aide-de-camp, who offered one
thousand dollars to anyone who would purchase him but was
tomahawked in spite of it; Captain John Simpson, Henry Clay's
fellow congressman and supporter; Ensign Levi Wells, the son of
Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Wells of the 4th Infantry; Allen Darnell,
whose brother looks helplessly on as he is shot and scalped
because he cannot keep up with the others; and Ebenezer Blythe, a
surgeon's mate, tomahawked in the act of offering ransom. And
here, like a discarded doll, is the cadaver of young Captain
Price of the Jessamine Blues whose last letter home gave
instructions for the upbringing of his two-year-old son.
A few days after the battle, the French inhabitants,
emerging at last from their homes, are treated to a ghastly
spectacle. Trotting along the roadway come droves of hogs that
have been feeding off the corpses and are now carrying off the
remains - whole arms and legs, skulls, bits of torso and entrails
clamped between their greedy jaws. The hogs, too, are victims of
the war, for they seem now to be as demented as the men who fight
it, "rendered mad," according to one opinion, "by so profuse a
diet of Christian flesh."
The war, which began so gently, has turned ugly, as all wars
must. The mannerly days are over. New emotions - hatred, fury, a
thirst for revenge, a nagging sense of guilt - distort the
tempers of the neighbours who live on both sides of the embattled
border. And it is not over. Peace is still two years away. The
blood has only begun to flow.
Pierre Burton did a massive amount of research in diaries, army
records, and official reports etc. to write his two volumes on
the Canadain/American war of 1812-14. His dedication in time and
research was truly amazing.
What a horrible tale of killing and slaughter. It is the story of
which night-mares are made, and those that see and live through
them, are often mentally troubled for life - post-tramatic-
syndrom or something like that it is called in the medical world.
You have read one story where vanity, conceit, egotism, leads to
sorrow and death.
This is the reason why the Bible speaks out so strongly about
being HUMBLE, letting go of SELF-IMPORTANCE and VANITY of mind.
"... but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of
a contrite spirit, and tembles at My word" (Isaiah 66:2).
If you have not done so, I encourage you to read and meditate on
my study "Humility - the Precious Gem of the Christian Crown" on
The result of self-conceit and vanity is DEATH. Such self-vain-
glory some may get away with in this lifetime, but in the life to
come, in the reusrrection to come, such an attitude not repented
of, will end in destruction in the second death.
I emplore you to throw away vanity and unrighteous-proudness, and
be of a contrite spirit and one who has a healthy fear of God's