The Man with the Iron Hand
THE MAN WITH THE IRON HAND
La Salle took possession in the name of the King of France.
Let us picture in imagination the history of the Great Valley ofthe Mississippi as a splendid drama enacted upon a giant stage whichreaches from the Alleghanies to the Rockies and from the Great Lakesto the Gulf of Mexico and through which the Father of Waters sweepsmajestically. Let us people this stage with real men andwomen—picturesque red men and no less interesting white men, Indians,Spaniards, Frenchmen, Englishmen, explorers, warriors, priests,voyageurs, coureurs de bois; fur traders, and settlers. Let the scenesbe set about the lakes, along the rivers, among the hills, on theplains, and in the forests. Then, viewing this pageant of the past,let us write the true tales of the Great Valley as we writeromance—with life, action, and color—that the history of our GreatValley may live.
The purpose of this book is to present in readable narrativeform, yet with strict accuracy, some of the events which attended thecoming of the French explorers into the Mississippi Valley, and todeal with these events as much as possible from the standpoint of theIndians whose country the white men entered. In other words, an efforthas been made to place the reader in the position and environment ofthe native inhabitants in order that he may witness the coming of thewhites through the eyes and minds of the Indians instead of viewingfrom the outside the exploration, by men of his own kind, of anunknown land peopled by a strange and vaguely understoodrace.
For the sake of preserving the standpoint of the Great Valley, thestory of explorations is centered about Henry de Tonty—the “Man withthe Iron Hand”—who, unlike his leader La Salle, remained in thevalley of the Mississippi and in close relations with its inhabitantsfor a quarter of a century.
This book is not in any sense fiction. It has been written directlyfrom the original sources and from the best information available uponthe life of the Indian at the time of the arrival of the whites. Thesources consist mainly of the letters and relations of FatherMarquette and other Jesuits, of Joliet and La Salle and Tonty, and thewritings of the various friars, priests, and soldiers who accompaniedthem. A few fragments are accessible in manuscript form only; but themost important material has been compiled, edited, and published byPierre Margry, John Gilmary Shea, B. F. French, Reuben Gold Thwaites,and others.
Where conversations are given they have been taken from the reports ofthose who held them or heard them. Usually they have been translatedliterally from the French records. Sometimes the direct discourse hasbeen turned into indirect, or abridged, and in a few cases theindirect has been turned into the direct form.
The writings of the early explorers and priests abound in descriptivedetails of a climatic, physical, or personal nature; and thisinformation, wherever illuminative, has been drawn upon toreproduce as vividly and as truly as possible the conditionssurrounding the events described.
There is one secondary writer who will always deserve the gratitude ofthe student of subjects connected with the French and Indians inCanada and the Mississippi Valley, and acknowledgments are here madeto Francis Parkman, not as a source of information—although hisconclusions, drawn from an exhaustive study of original documents, areinvaluable—but as a pioneer and unrivaled master in the field and asource of unfailing inspiration.
There are many persons who have aided the work in various ways, andtheir assistance has been duly appreciated; but space will permit themention of only two of them. The helpful criticism and suggestions ofmy wife throughout the entire preparation of the volume havematerially benefited the text; and the constant advice andencouragement of the editor of the series, Dr. Benjamin F. Shambaugh,and his careful editorial revision of the manuscript have added muchto the value of the book.
|II||THE COMING OF THE STRANGERS|
|III||DOWN THE GREAT RIVER|
|IV||THE CAPTIVE RELEASED|
|V||THE BLACK GOWN|
|VI||“THE IROQUOIS ARE COMING”|
|VII||THE SECRET COUNCIL|
|VIII||THE FORT CALLED CRÈVECŒUR|
|IX||THE WHITE INVASION|
|X||THE MYSTERIOUS HAND|
|XI||“WE ARE ALL SAVAGES”|
|XII||THE DEATH OF CHASSAGOAC|
|XIII||THE IROQUOIS COME|
|XIV||THE SCATTERING OF THE TRIBES|
|XV||A SIOUX WAR PARTY|
|XVI||THE LAND OF THE SIOUX|
|XVII||A BUFFALO HUNT|
|XVIII||THE MIAMIS REPENT|
|XIX||A CHIEF COME TO LIFE|
|XXI||THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI|
|XXII||THE GATHERING OF THE TRIBES|
|XXIII||FORT ST. LOUIS|
|XXIV||THE LOST CHIEF|
|XXV||NEWS FROM LA SALLE|
|XXVI||AN ILL-STARRED VOYAGE|
|XXVII||HUNTING THE MISSISSIPPI|
|XXVIII||FROM THE GULF TO THE ILLINOIS|
|XXIX||WHEN HE LEFT THEM|
|XXX||WHITE AND RED SAVAGES|
|XXXI||TONTY’S HEROIC VENTURE|
|XXXII||THE PITIFUL REMNANT|
A sudden, far-off cry broke the stillness that hadbrooded over the long, low Indian lodges on the hill. Instantly thewhole village awoke to intense excitement. Women dropped their work bythe fireside; old men put away their long-stemmed pipes and leapedlike young braves to the doors of the lodges; while in the fieldsyoung girls stood straight to listen. Again came the cry, but nearernow and as of many voices. From every lodge by the side of the riverand on the hill came pouring the red-skinned villagers, theirstraight, black hair glistening in the sunlight. From the fields ofcorn and squashes and out from among the bean-vines came lithe maidensand sturdy Indian women; and from their play by the riverside nakedchildren tumbled breathlessly into the open space before thelodges.
In the distance, with wild, triumphant cries, came the war party forwhich the women and old men of the village had waited so long. Nowthey could see the gay feathers that decorated the heads and the redpaint that smeared the bodies of the returning braves. Now they caughtsight of scalp-locks waved in the air; and in the midst of the throngof warriors they saw the figure of a strange Indian lad plodding alongbetween two tall braves. “Scalps and a captive” went up the cry fromthe waiting villagers, and out into the open with shouts of welcomethey poured to meet the home-coming band.
It was an occasion long to be remembered. The women of the tribegathered in the open, and with weird songs and wild music, with armsflung high and feet shuffling and leaping, and with bodies twistingand bending, danced the scalp dance.
The captive was only a boy, who did not speak the language of theIllinois into whose triumphant hands he had fallen. He was a strangerin the midst of enemies. Sometimes, as he well knew, in the camps ofthe Peoria tribe, when darkness had fallen after a day of battle,captives were burned alive. Such a scene his terrified mind nowpictured. He imagined himself bound at the foot of a stake in themidst of a clearing. He could see flames reach out hungrily andconsume the dried sticks and underbrush. Each second they mountedhigher, throwing a circle of light on a close-packed crowd ofheartless and rejoicing Indians, who watched the growing flames leapup and lick at the limbs of the helpless captive tied to thestake.
Perhaps, if he had been an Iroquois, burning would have been the youngboy’s fate. But on this particular occasion the Iowa River, which ranpast the Peoria village, witnessed no such barbaric torturings, forthe wife of the chief claimed the captive and took him to her ownlodge, where in due time and with proper ceremony he was adopted as amember of the chief’s family.
It was in some such train of events that this captive Indian boy came,with strange words upon his lips and fear in his heart, to live withthe Peoria tribe of Illinois Indians. He had many forebodings, butwith all his Indian imagination he could not foresee that from thisvillage of his adoption he would set out upon aseries of adventures such as no boy or man of his tribe had yetexperienced—that he would pass through countries and among peoplelike none he had ever known and come upon dangers that would make hiscapture in battle seem as tame