Page:Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison Vol. 1.djvu/652

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
610
INDIANA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS

something in the course of the evening from the friendly Indians, whom he had dispatched from fort Harrison.

To this it was observed, that as the Indians seen hovering about the army, had been frequently invited to a parley by the interpreters, who had proceeded some distance from the lines for the purpose; and as these overtures had universally been answered by menace and insult, it was very evident that it was their intention to fight; that the troops were in high spirits and full of confidence; and that advantage ought to be taken of their ardour to lead them immediately to the enemy. To this the Governor answered, that he was fully sensible of the eagerness of the troops; and admitting the determined hostility of the Indians, and that their insolence was full evidence of their intention to fight, yet he knew them too well to believe, that they would ever do this, but by surprise, or on ground which was entirely favorable to their mode of fighting. He was therefore determined not to advance with the troops, until he knew precisely the situation of the town, and the ground adjacent to it, particularly that which intervened between it and the place where the army then was—that it was their duty to fight when they came in contact with the enemy—it was his to take care that they should not engage in a situation where their valor would be useless, and where a corps upon which he placed great reliance would be unable to act—that the experience of the last two hours ought to convince every officer, that no reliance ought to be placed upon the guides, as to the topography of the country—that relying on their information, the troops had been led into a situation so unfavorable, that but for the celerity with which they changed their position, a few Indians might have destroyed them; he was therefore determined not to advance to the town, until he had previously reconnoitred, either in person, or by some one, on whose judgment he could rely. Major Daveiss immediately replied, that from the right of the position of the dragoons, which was still in front the openings made by the low grounds of the Wabash could be seen; that with his adjutant Davis Floyd, he had advanced to the bank, which descends to the low grounds, and had a fair view of the cultivated fields and the houses of the town; and that the open woods, in which the troops then were, continued without interruption to the town. Upon this information, the Governor