HARRISON-TARHE PEACE CONFERENCE.
COL. E. L. TAYLOR, COLUMBUS.
On the 28th of June, 1904, the Columbus Chapter of the
Daughters of the American Revolution did themselves and their
organization great honor by placing in Martin Park in the western
part of the City of Columbus, a large bowlder of igneous origin,
bearing a very handsome designed tablet in commemoration of
the important council or conference which General William
Henry Harrison had with the chiefs of certain Indian tribes,
near that spot on June 21st, 1813. By this act the Daughters
rescued from the very brink of oblivion and gave a permanent
place in the history of the War of 1812 to one of the important
and controlling incidents of that war. But for this action on
the part of this organization, that event would probably have
soon passed into entire forgetfulness, as there was but one
co-temporary report of the proceedings ever published of that
conference or council, and that was in a weekly paper then
published at Franklinton, called "The Freeman's Chronicle,"
which was edited and owned by James B. Gardiner. It was
the first weekly paper, or paper of any kind, ever published
in what is now the City of Columbus. The first number of
this paper was dated June 24th, 1812, and the publication con-
tinued for more than two years, covering the entire period of
the War of 1812. Mr. Gardiner was present at the council and
in the issue of his paper of June 25th, 1813, he published an ac-
count of it. Mr. William Domigan, at that time a resident of
the Town of Franklinton, had the thoughtfulness to preserve a
full file of that paper as it was issued, and had the same bound
in substantial form, which sole copy has been preserved to this
time and presents the best picture of the condition and life of the
young village that is in existence to-day.
Mrs. Edward Orton, Jr., Regent of the Columbus Chapter
of the organization before mentioned, in her very appropriate
address in presenting the memorial tablet to the City of Columbus,
122 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
said: "We are assembled here to-day to commemorate an event
more than local in character, far reaching in its results, and of the
greatest importance to the state as well as to the capital of Ohio."
Mr. Robert H. Jeffrey, Mayor of Columbus, in his remarks,
accepting the tablet on behalf of the City of Columbus, said:
"The value of this bowlder lies in recalling to our memory the
high patriotism of our forefathers. In its ruggedness, its strength
and its power to defy all time, it typifies the immutable principles
of the great union of states, which these ancestors fought, bled and
General Benjamin R. Cowen then delivered an historical
address concerning the events, the monument and the tablet were
intended to commemorate. This address as well as all the pro-
ceedings of the day have been published in booklet form by the
Regent, Mrs. Orton, for private circulation.
In order to give further permanency to the record of this
important event, we give in full the account of Mr. Gardiner, as
Harrison-Tarhe Peace Conference. 123
it appears in the issue of "The Freeman's Chronicle" of June
"On Monday last Gen. Harrison held a council in this place
with the chiefs of the Delaware, Shawanoe, Wyandot and Seneca
tribes of Indians, to the amount of about 50. In the General's
talk, he observed that he had been induced to call them together
from certain circumstances having come to his knowledge, which
led him to suspect the fidelity of some of the tribes, who had
manifested signs or a disposition to join the enemy, in case they
had succeeded in capturing Fort Meigs. That a crisis had arrived
which demanded that all the tribes, who had heretofore remained
neutral, should take a decided stand, either for us or against us.
That the President wished no false friends, and that it was only
in adversity that real friends could be distinguished. That the
proposal of Gen. Proctor to exchange the Kentucky prisoners for
the friendly tribes within our borders, indicated that he had been
given to understand that those tribes were willing to raise the
tomahawk against us. And that in order to give the U. S. a
guarantee of their good dispositions, the friendly tribes should
either move, with their families, into the settlements, or their
warriors should accompany him in the ensuing campaign, and
fight for the U. S. To this proposal the chiefs and warriors
present unanimously agreed-and observed, that they had long
been anxious for an opportunity to fight for the Americans.
"We cannot recall the precise remarks that were made by the
chiefs who spoke-but Tarhe (The Crane) who is the principal
chief of the Wyandots, and the oldest Indian in the western wilds;
appeared to represent the whole assembly, and professed, in the
name of the friendly tribes, the most indissoluble attachment for
the American government, and a determination to adhere to the
Treaty of Greenville.
"The General promised to let the several tribes know when
he should want their services; and further cautioned them that
all who went with him must conform to his mode of warfare; not
to kill or injure old men, women, children nor prisoners. That,
by this means, we should be able to ascertain whether the British
tell truth when they say that they are not able to prevent Indians
124 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
from such acts of horrid cruelty; for if Indians under him (Gen.
H.) would obey his commands, and refrain from acts of barbar-
ism, it would be very evident that the hostile Indians could be
as easily restrained by their commanders. The Gen. then informed
the chiefs of the agreement made by Proctor to deliver him to
Tecumseh in case the British succeeded in taking Fort Meigs;
and promised them that if he should be successful, he would de-
liver Proctor into their hands - on condition, that they should do
him no other harm than to put a petticoat on him - "for," said he,
"none but a coward or a squaw would kill a prisoner."
"The council broke up in the afternoon; and the Indians de-
parted next day for their respective towns."
In order to understand and appreciate the importance and
full significance of this conference, it is necessary to recall some
of the chief events of the times relating to the war.
The battle of "Fallen Timbers" was fought August 20th,
1794, at which General Wayne obtained a complete victory over
the Indians who had concentrated in the region of the Maumee.
This defeat was followed the next summer by a general council
held by General Anthony Wayne at Greenville, Darke county,
Ohio, with the Indian tribes of the northwest, which resulted in
the celebrated treaty, known as the "Treaty of Greenville," which
was concluded August 3d, 1795, and was in its result the most
important of all the peace treaties made between the United
States and the Indian tribes northwest of the Ohio. The Wyan-
dots, Delawares, Shawnees, Ottawas, Chippewas, Pottawattomies,
Miamis, Eel Rivers, Weas, Piankeshaws, Kickapoos and Kaskas-
kias, became parties to that treaty.
This treaty was followed by comparative peace for a period
of sixteen years, and until about the year 1811, although in the
meantime turbulent, revengeful and evil-disposed Indians fre-
quently broke away from the different tribes and from the con-
trol of their principal chiefs and formed marauding parties, which
from time to time committed all manner of murders, thefts and
outrages on the frontier settlers of the northwest.
For a few years prior to the declaration of the War of 1812
between the United States and Great Britain, the relations be-
tween these two governments had been very much strained and
Harrison-Tarhe Peace Conference. 125
it was generally considered that war was sure to ensue. In the
meantime the British maintained numerous active and powerful
agents among the Indians of the northwest for the purpose of
supplying them with munition of war and creating discontent
among them and inciting them to make war on the white settlers.
Thus encouraged there was assembled under Tecumseh and his
brother, the Prophet, at their camp at the junction of the Wabash
and Tippecanoe rivers, in northwestern Indiana, a large number
of turbulent and desperate Indians drawn from most of the
various tribes east of the Mississippi. It was the purpose and
hope of Tecumseh and his brother, and the Indians under their
influence, by a united effort with the British forces, to drive the
white people out of the territory of the northwest. These Indians
thus assembled on the Upper Wabash, became very threatening
and endeavored to deceive and surprise General Harrison, who
was then governor of the Territory of Indiana with headquarters
at Vincennes. Their actions and numbers were such as to make
it prudent and even necessary that General Harrison should make
a demonstration against them for the purpose of discovering their
purpose and strength. This resulted in the Battle of Tippecanoe
November 7th, 1811, at which battle the Indians were defeated,
but not greatly dispirited, as they still relied greatly upon the
looked for war between the United States and Great Britain
when they would have the powerful aid of the British forces.
Tecumseh was not present at that battle and the Indians were
under the command of his brother, the imposter Prophet. By
this defeat the power which the Prophet had been exercising
over his Indian followers was largely destroyed, and he was never
afterwards in much favor.
The war which had long been threatening between the United
States and Great Britain suddenly flamed into activity and war
was declared on the part of the United States against Great
Britain on June 18th, 1812. This was the opportunity the dis-
contented and turbulent Indians of the northwest had long been
waiting for. Tecumseh had before that time and in anticipation
of it, concluded his alliance with the British forces, and the forces
under him were already well prepared to join in active warfare.
He was at the head of all the Indian forces in the northwest, and
126 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
was by far the ablest war chief of his times and the ablest war
chief which the Indian race has produced of which we have any
accurate knowledge, unless it may be the great Pontiac of a half
century before. He at once commenced a vigorous onslaught on
the frontier military posts and frontier settlers, and with terrible
Affairs went badly against the American forces for the first
year after the declaration of war. On July 17th, 1812, Lieuten-
ant Hanks, in command of Mackinac, was compelled to surrender
the garrison, consisting of fifty-seven effective men, to the forces
under the British commander at St. Joseph's, a British post near
the head of Lake Huron.
On August 15th following, the massacre of the garrison at
Fort Dearborn (Chicago) occurred, at which time between fifty
and sixty United States soldiers were mercilessly murdered and
the fort destroyed. This terrible slaughter in which the treach-
erous and blood-thirsty Black Hawk was engaged, was followed
the next day (August 16th) by the cowardly and ignominious
surrender of General Hull at Detroit, of about fifteen or sixteen
hundred troops, to a greatly inferior number of British and In-
dians under General Brock of the English army.
By the first of September, 1812, the entire northwest, with
the exception of Fort Harrison on the Wabash, and Fort Wayne
on the Maumee, had been overrun and was in possession of the
British and Indians, and these two forts were both besieged by
hordes of savages. Fort Harrison with but fifty or sixty men
under Captain Zachariah Taylor (then a young officer in the
United States army and afterwards President of the United
States) was heroically defended and the Indian hordes repelled. A
like brilliant defense was made of Fort Wayne. The garrison
was small, the Indians were in great numbers, the captain in com-
mand of the garrison was dissipated and incompetent, and was
summarily deposed from command, which then devolved upon
one Lieutenant Curtis, then a young officer in the United States
army, who, by his heroic defense of the fort during the two weeks
of unremitting siege, has recorded his name permanently in the
annals of his time.
It was just at this discouraging and perilous time that General
Harrison was appointed commander of all the forces in the north-
Harrison-Tarhe Peace Conference. 127
west. He at once took most heroic measures to raise the siege
at Fort Wayne and strengthen that garrison, and also to
strengthen the garrison at Fort Harrison on the Wabash. This
he accomplished and thereafter was able to maintain the lines
of the Wabash and the Maumee, as the frontier between the
American forces and the allied British and Indians. All beyond
to the northwest was in the possession of the enemy.
But disasters to the American forces were not yet ended.
On the 21st of January, 1813, General Winchester, who was in
command of the forces on the Maumee, was defeated at the
battle of the River Raisin by the combined forces of General
Proctor and Tecumseh, and about 700 of his troops captured or
destroyed, many of them being massacred after they had sur-
General Harrison was at the headquarters of the army at
Upper Sandusky when he first heard that General Winchester,
who was in command of the forces on the Maumee, intended to
make an important military movement, the nature of which, how-
ever, he could not learn. No important offensive movement was
contemplated by him at that time. On receiving this informa-
tion he at once ordered forward all the troops then at Upper San-
dusky, about 300 strong, and took a horse and rode to Lower
Sandusky (Fremont) in all haste. Such was the energy with
which he pushed forward over the terrible winter roads that the
horse of his aid-de-camp failed and died under the exertion. At
Lower Sandusky he learned that on the 17th of January, Colonel
Lewis had been sent forward from the Rapids to the River Raisin
in command of over 600 troops which was almost the entire avail-
able force on the Maumee. General Harrison's mind was filled
with forebodings, and ordering the troops at Lower Sandusky for-
ward to the Rapids, he again pushing forward for that place,
where he arrived early on the 20th. Here he learned that General
Winchester had gone forward to join his command at the river
Raisin. There was nothing that could be done but wait for the
troops which he had ordered forward from the Sanduskies, which
were floundering along as best they could through the swamps
of the wilderness. He did not have to wait long before he re-
ceived the appalling news of the battle at the river Raisin, which
was one of the most disasterous of all our Indian Wars.
128 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
The battle was fought on January 21st, the defeat was com-
plete and overwhelming and Winchester's army was practically
destroyed. This left the region of the Maumee entirely open to
be overrun by the victorious British and Indians, and it was ex-
pected that they would soon make their appearance at the Rapids.
A council of war was at once held, and it was determined to with-
draw the remaining troops to Portage river, about twenty miles
east from the Maumee. Here a camp was established and the
troops which were struggling forward as well as the rem-
nant of General Winchester's command were concentrated.
Within a few days such a force had been assembled as to enable
General Harrison to move back to the Maumee. He did not,
however, resume possession of the old camp, Fort Miami, which
had been occupied before by General Winchester's command, but
a better place was selected some distance up the river from the
old camp, and on the south side of the river where a strong fort
was erected, which was named Fort Meigs in honor of the then
governor of Ohio.
It was the intention to concentrate a force at Fort Meigs
sufficient to maintain it against all attacks which might be made,
but on account of the terrible roads through the wilderness, the
expected recruits from Kentucky and Southern Ohio, did not
arrive until the fort was besieged by the entire forces under
Proctor and Tecumseh.
On the 1st day of April, 1813, the fort was invested on every
side and an active siege was at once begun. The siege was car-
ried on with great vigor, the Indians being incited to bravery by
the promise of the monster General Proctor to deliver General
Harrison into their hands should the siege be successful and the
fort taken. However, after nine days of constant bombardment
and conflict the siege failed and the British and Indian forces
Immediately after the British and Indians had withdrawn
from the Maumee, General Harrison hastened in person to south-
ern and central Ohio to urge forward the troops that were being
collected to meet and repel the British and Indian forces and
drive them beyond the boundaries of the United States.
It was under these anxious and harassing circumstances
that General Harrison came to Franklinton and held the confer-
Harrison-Tarhe Peace Conference. 129
ence with the chiefs of the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanese and
Senecas. The principal chiefs of these tribes had remained true
to their obligations of neutrality under the Treaty of Greenville,
but so many had been lured away from their tribal obligations
by British pay and British bribes and promises, and such was
their strength when commanded and guided by that able and
energetic warrior Tecumseh that it became necessary for General
Harrison to know as exactly as possible what proportion of the
military strength of the powerful tribes would remain neutral,
or if necessary join with the American forces. The chiefs assem-
bled not only assured him that they would remain true to their
obligations, but if called upon would join with the American forces
against the British.
They were not called upon to take an active part in the war,
but as a matter of fact several of the chiefs of these four great
tribes with a considerable number of their warriors of their own
volition accompanied General Harrison in his campaign, which
ended in the decisive battle of the Thames. Chief Tarhe (the
Crane), Grand Sachem of the Wyandots, whose village was then
near Upper Sandusky, Wyandot county, and who was spokesman
for all the tribes at the conference at Franklinton, although sev-
enty-two years of age, went with General Harrison on foot with
a number of his warriors to Canada, and was present at the Bat-
tle of the Thames, although he took no active part in that battle.
This conference or council at Franklinton enabled General
Harrison to know what he could depend upon as to these four
neutral tribes, and greatly relieved him from uncertainty and
anxiety and also greatly relieved the frontier settlers from the
apprehensions and fears with which their minds and hearts were
From the date of that conference the tide turned strongly in
favor of the American forces. The English and Indians were
again in force along the Maumee and in July, 1813, again be-
sieged Fort Meigs, but it had been so strengthened and reinforced
that they made no assault upon it but retired after a few days,
Proctor by water to Sandusky bay, and the Indians through the
forest to Sandusky river. This demonstration was quite formida-
ble both by land and water. Fort Stevenson at the mouth of the
Vol. XIV- 9.
130 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
Sandusky river, where the City of Fremont now stands, was first
besieged. On July 31st, 1813, the British approached Fort Stev-
enson by water and landed about 500 British troops with some
light artillery, while Tecumseh with about 2,000 Indians besieged
the fort on the land side.
It is not our purpose here to narrate the history of that as-
sault. Suffice it to say here that Major Croghan, in command of
the fort with but 160 men in the garrison, successfully repelled
the assault of the British and Indians and compelled them to re-
tire after heavy losses. This brilliant victory was succeeded on
August 10th by the celebrated and world renowned victory of
Commodore Perry, by which the British fleet on Lake Erie was
destroyed. This enabled General Harrison to move his army
across Lake Erie to the Detroit river and to invade Canada.
On the 5th of October he was able to bring the allied forces
under Proctor and Tecumseh to issue at the battle of the Thames,
where a complete victory was gained over the allied forces. Te-
cumseh was killed in that battle and Proctor ignominiously fled
the field. His army was captured or destroyed. The battle of
the Thames and the death of Tecumseh practically ended the
war in the northwest, although the British still held a few small
forts like Mackinac and St. Josephs around the head of Lake
Huron; but these were powerless of any offensive operations.
The war, however, between the United States and Great
Britain continued in full force and destructiveness for more than
a year after the battle of the Thames, during which time the com-
merce of both nations upon the high seas was largely ruined.
In August, 1814, the British gained possession of the City of
Washington and burned and destroyed all the public buildings
and threatened further serious destructions. A year had now
elapsed since the battle of the Thames, during which time quiet
had reigned among the Indians in the northwest.
The neutral tribes of the northwest remained favorable to the
cause of the United States, and many of those who had served
under Tecumseh a year before had become angered and embit-
tered toward the British for want of their fulfillment of their
promises so lavishly made before the war, and were anxious to
assist in the war against their former allies.
Harrison-Tarhe Peace Conference. 131
In this situation the government authorized and directed
General Harrison and General Lewis Cass to meet the Indian
tribes in conference at Greenville, Ohio, where the "Treaty of
Greenville" had been concluded nineteen years before. Accord-
ingly the commissioners met at that place with the chiefs of the
Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanese, Senecas, Miamis, Pottawat-
tomies and Kickapoos and concluded a treaty of peace as follows:
Article 2. The tribes and bands above mentioned, engage to
give their aid to the United States, in prosecuting war against
Great Britain, and such of the Indian tribes as still continue hos-
tile, and to make no peace with either, without the consent of the
The assistance herein stipulated for, is to consist of such a
number of their warriors, from each tribe, as the president of the
United States, or any officer having his authority therefor, may
Article 3. The Wyandot tribe, and the Senecas of San-
dusky and Stony Creek, the Delaware and Shawanese tribes, who
have preserved their fidelity to the United States, throughout the
war, again acknowledge themselves under the protection of the
said states, and of no other power whatever, and agree to aid
the United States in the manner stipulated for in the former arti-
cle, and to make no peace but with the consent of the said states.
Article 4. In the event of the faithful performance of the
conditions of this treaty, the United States, will confirm and
establish all the boundaries between their lands, and those of the
Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanese, and Miamis, as they existed
previously to the commencement of the war." Thus the Frank-
linton conference was embodied in treaty form.
No call was made for Indian help under this treaty, as on
December 24th, 1814, the commissioners of the United States
and the commissioners of Great Britain concluded the Treaty of
Ghent, putting an end to the war. This second Treaty of Green-
ville was the last peace or war treaty ever entered into between
the United States and any of the Indian tribes within the boun-
daries of the State of Ohio; and with the exception of an unim-
portant treaty concluded at Detroit the following year, the last
made east of the Mississippi.