That was the Wild West part 3

About the Appalachians

(Published in GralsWelt 29/2003)

The bloody history of the “Wild West” in North America offers an exemplary insight into the state of mind of mankind around 250 years ago. Driven by thirst for conquest and - see the introductory quote - even with reference to the “will of God”, the subjugation and extermination of the Indian people was promoted - in the longest Holocaust in known human history.

I am far from dreaming that Indians could have a right to land that they have made no use of other than animals for thousands of years. It is therefore unthinkable that they have a claim to land. On the contrary, they have forfeited every imaginable claim to land because they are unable to cultivate land. They must therefore - and that is God's will - be driven from this land. God's word that man subdues the earth is a sacred obligation. As the crown of divine creation, humans differ from animals in their culture and civilization. Indians look like humans, and they may be of a human race, but as they confront us at the moment, their whole habit appears more like animals than diabolical animals. The tortures they subject prisoners to justify their extermination. And as far as the question of peace treaties and guaranteed land ownership is concerned, it should be answered with the following question: Who would think of negotiating with wolves, rattlesnakes, jaguars and coyotes about guarantees for property on land? "
Hugh Henry Brackenridge, 1782 (6, p. 74).

“The greatest honesty should always be exercised towards the Indians; their land and property should never be taken from them without their consent; and they should never suffer any loss of property, rights, or liberty except through a just and lawful war authorized by Congress; however, from time to time laws based on justice and humanity should be passed to prevent injustice from being done to them and to maintain peace and friendship with them. "
Northwest Ordiance, enacted by the United States Congress in 1787 to guarantee land and property to Indians (5, p. 276).

While the "whites" appropriated more and more former Indian land in countless battles, the "reds" not only have to be accused of the greatest atrocities towards their enemies, but also a disagreement among themselves with serious consequences. Far-reaching tribal feuds prevented a united appearance against the conquerors.

Even when the American War of Independence broke out between the North American colonies and England in 1776, after the North American states had renounced the British Crown, the expulsion of the Indians continued. More and more settlers pushed inexorably westward - especially into the Ohio Valley - and settled in Indian land.

Their path now also led "across the Appalachian Mountains", a mountain range that had long formed the border with Indian lands. In the "Cumberland-Gap" they found a transition that made it possible to colonize Kentucky, a game-rich hunting area for several Indian tribes that seemed like a "paradise" to whites. In the meantime, the “red people” acquired a great seer and leader who wanted to prepare new paths - apart from unnecessary cruelty and self-destructive confrontations: the great one Tecumseh. (See below).

When in 1774 the united Shawnee, Delawaren, Wyandot and Irkosen at "Point Pleasant" (lovely place), at the confluence of the great Kanhawa in the Ohio, were defeated in battle, the resistance of the Indians to the increasing pressure of the whites first broke together. The Reds had to forego Kentucky in the ensuing peace treaty.

At the beginning of the USA

In America's war of independence against England, the Indians initially behaved neutrally because they did not understand this white conflict. They had signed treaties with the English king and wanted to remain loyal to this "great white father". On the other hand, they asked some of their friends to help the revolutionaries.

The people of New England were themselves divided. Part of the upper class was loyal to the king, had to flee and lost their property. Most of them chose Canada as their asylum and fought against the USA from there. The division of the whites eventually carried over to the Indians, some of whom stood for the English king and some on the side of the United States..

Daniel Boone (1734-1820), the JF Cooper who provided the model for the novel “Leatherstocking” is probably the best-known border guards, and his name is associated with the conquest of Kentucky.
Growing up on the border, he made his first war experiences with Indians as a farrier and wagon driver during the war against the French and Indians. He heard about the dreamland Kentucky with its inexhaustible wealth of game. The reports captivated him so much that he was one of the first whites to explore this Indian land, of which he said in 1769: “We found an abundance of wild animals of all kinds in the whole wild forest, the buffaloes were more common than cows in the settlements (...) completely fearless, because they knew nothing about the violence of the people. Sometimes we saw hundreds in a herd, and at the salt springs their number was astonishing ” (1, p. 5).
During these explorations he was alone for months, full of happiness in the paradisiacal landscape, despite the constant danger of being discovered by Indians who did not tolerate whites in Kentucky. He was twice captured by the Indians (a third time in 1778) and escaped. He lost a companion, brother and son, whom Indians tortured to death. But Kentucky and its development did not let go of him. So, following Indian trails, in spring 1775 he and 30 axmen built the famous “Wilderness Road” through the “Cumberland Gap” *) to the Kentucky River. Courageous settlers followed this path, which is only passable for pedestrians and pack animals, and in the same year set up the first fortified settlements deep in Indian land: Harrodsburg and Boonesburg **) on the Kentucky River. During the War of Independence, both “forts” were attacked by Indians with English support; Since the besiegers did not have cannons, the palisade-protected branches could withstand.
An episode often told and illustrated in the history of the border is the kidnapping of Boone's daughter Jamina and two of her friends by Indians (July 1776). After a two-day chase through the wilderness for approximately 60 km, the girls were rescued by Boone and his companions.
In the last major battle of the American Revolution, a Kentuckian force was ambushed at the "Blue Licks" (the salt springs discovered by Boone and dried up by an earthquake in the late 19th century) Boone had expressly warned. They had 77 dead, including a son, a nephew and a brother Boones. ***)
When Kentucky was pacified, could Boone fail to enforce his claims to land. Measured inaccurately, various claims overlapped, and of all things Boone came away empty-handed. He left Kentucky disappointed and moved to what was then still a Spanish part of Louisiana. He was gladly taken in there, given land, and appointed justice of the peace. He built one of the first stone houses in this area near St. Louis, which you can now visit as a museum and get an impression of the craftsmanship of the old border guards ****). Soon after, the Spaniards ceded this area to the French, who just as respectfully respected Boone. When Louisiana came to the USA in 1803, she had to Boone Again fighting for his claims in court, but this time - wise through damage - with secured claims and the support of an accomplished lawyer.
After the death of his wife in 1814, the 80 year old went on another long journey. Accompanied by a black servant and an Indian scout, he hiked in 1815/16 to Yellowstone (today's national park) and on to the Great Salt Lake, where he presumed to be the Pacific. He died in 1820 in his home in what is now Missouri.
The development in the area he developed was incredibly fast. Already a few years after the first settlement (1775) of the game-rich Kentucky the game became scarce. Kentucky soon had 10,000 inhabitants, most of whom passed the mountains over the Cumberland Gap in winter, cleared and sowed immediately so that the first harvest could be brought in the following autumn. Then they shot as much game as possible to get meat for food and furs for sale. In 1798 there were a quarter of a million inhabitants (3, p. 499), and the border, which until recently had been so fiercely contested, was a pacified hinterland.
*) From Tennessee to Kentucky near what is now Middlesboro.
**) There are reconstructions of both, southwest and south of Lexington, which can be visited.
***) The "Blue Licks Battlefield" is now a state park on US-68, 48 miles (approx. 77 km) in the northeast of Lexington.
****) On Highway F, near Defiance, Missouri.
(1) Andrea, Rolla P. "A True, Brief History of Daniel Boone", Vic Printing Co., Old Monroe (MO), 1991.
(2) Baumann, Peter “In the footsteps of Cooper's leather stocking”, List, Munich, 1982.
(3) Eckert, Allan W. "Frontiersmen", Bantam, New York, 1970.
(4) Gagern, Friedrich v. “Das Grenzerbuch”, Paul Parey, Berlin, 1927.
(5) Josephy, Alvin M. "500 Nations", Fredeking & Thaler, Munich, 1996.

Throughout the War of Independence, settlers, speculators, and land-grabbing agents continued to push west, across the Appalachian Mountains. When the Indians resisted the intruders, the border guards blamed the intrigues of the English and called for military help.

When the War of Independence was ended by the "Peace of Paris" in 1783, nobody cared about the interests of the Indians. The British, who had promised to protect tribal rights, ceded Indian land to the United States, ignoring Indian property rights; and the Americans regarded all Indian land as their rightful property.

American agents tried to extort vast areas from the Indians by means of coercion, bribery and violence. The indignant Indians took up arms again - and won battles. Suffered on November 3, 1791 General St. Clair on the Wabash River the greatest defeat that the Indians have ever inflicted on the Americans on their own; 623 officers and soldiers fell while those of Little Turtle and Blue jacket led Indians had only 21 dead. The Indians believed they had reached their goal. However, in 1794 they were taken under by a newly formed army Anthony Wayne (1745-1796) and had to agree to harsh peace conditions. The land that later became the State of Ohio was lost to the Indians for good.

The fight goes on

Thousands of Indians still lived east of the Mississippi. For two centuries they had fought for their homeland, for the survival of their tribes. They had won many skirmishes and even humiliated the whites in great battles; but the decisive victories were always won by the whites. If Indians suffered a severe defeat, they wanted to end the war and asked for peace. If the whites were defeated, they raised a new army, usually with a more capable general at the head, and in the end could win the war for themselves.

Much could have turned out differently, better for the Indians, had they only recognized who the enemy was who threatened their livelihoods, they would have overcome their petty tribal feuds and stood together to ward off the threat that threatened their very existence. Many chiefs had recognized this weakness of their people in disagreement, but none had succeeded in overcoming it.

Then a genius emerged among the Indians, the most important Indian of historical times: Der size Tecumseh (1768-1813). He not only possessed outstanding skills as a warrior and seer, but also stood up for the salvation of his people in an outstanding way. The goal for which he sacrificed himself was to unite all Indians in a closed defensive battle against the whites, especially against the "long knives", the American land robbers. Tecumsehs The dream was to field 50,000 warriors and give the Americans the choice of either evacuating Ohio and Kentucky or being driven back across the Appalachians by this huge Indian army. He was realist enough to get help from the English who saw a second war with the American colonies coming.

To realize his great plan he had to Tecumsehwho did not come from a particularly respected family, acquire the highest reputation as a dangerous warrior, great orator and gifted military leader. Then he traveled all over eastern North America, from the Great Lakes all the way down to Florida. He visited almost all the tribes east of the Mississippi, including the Sioux in Minnesota, described the dangers posed by the whites and developed his ideas.

He was able to win not a few, especially younger warriors, as staunch followers and convince them of the nonsense of the old tribal battles. With old chiefs, who saw their influence waning, and with most of the Iroquois and Cherokee, his efforts were unsuccessful. The creeks were even split: one part, the “red sticks” (red sticks) fought against the whites, while the “white sticks” (white sticks) went against their tribal brothers on the side of the Americans.

Atrocities on the border
The clashes between white and red were steeped in hatred and anger.
Indians often treated prisoners with great cruelty. With the forest Indians east of the Mississippi, prisoners had to endure a terrible gauntlet that many did not survive. Simon Kenton (1755-1836), one of the most famous border guards, suffered nine such tortures among the Shawnee before he could be ransomed by friends.
Ritual cannibalism was no exception. The heart of a fallen, feared enemy was torn from his chest and swallowed raw. There is evidence of brutally murdered prisoners cooking and eating.

The dreaded torture stake
Death on the torture stake was particularly cruel. Forest Indians tied their victims to a stake and slowly roasted them to death in a circle of fire that drew closer and closer to the stake. This may be seen as a “ritual execution”, but this does not excuse such atrocities that outraged all whites and incited hatred of the “red devils” - albeit at a time when torture was still a means of torture in Europe Administration of justice was.

The later famous one Tecumseh At the age of fifteen he experienced the torture of a prisoner on his first campaign. Horrified at this, he gave the warriors present, all older than himself, a fiery speech in which he sharply condemned the torture. Everyone was deeply impressed and promised not to torture any more prisoners in the future. (2 p. 319 f.). When he later led warriors himself, he was able - contrary to tradition - to prevent such brutalities and also ensure that women and children were spared who would otherwise be slaughtered by both parties in the destruction of Indian villages or white settlements.

Another repugnance was the scalping of the victims, which was done by both white and red people. When whites fought against whites (e.g. English against French in the conquest of Canada, Americans against English in the War of Independence), Indians were allied on both sides. The whites paid premiums for scalps from enemies, and thereby encouraged the warriors to bring as many scalps as possible, which were worth hard cash. Even later, governments suspended premiums for Indian scalps (in the Apache War of 1861/62 100 $ were offered for a male, 50 $ for a female and 25 $ for a children's scalp; 4, p. 152). Scalp hunters saw this as an invitation to slaughter any Indian indiscriminately. It was not uncommon for peaceful Indians to fall victim to such gangs of murderers. Indians had to come to the conviction that the whites without exception wanted to murder every Indian, the known, General William T. Sherman attributed, saying following: "Only a dead Indian is a good Indian" (5, p. 157).
The struggle for their homeland, hopeless for the Indians, often took on terrible forms. On both sides there were miserable villains and cruel murderers, as well as noble personalities, and especially the Indians had really great people in their ranks.

Continued "That was the wild west" part 4.

(1) Eckert, Allan W .: "A Sorrow in Our Heart" Bantam, New York, 1993.
(2) do .: "Frontiersmen" Bantam, New York, 1970.
(3) do .: "That Dark and Bloody River", Bantam, New York, 1999.
4) Gagern, Friedrich v .: “Das Grenzerbuch”, Paul Parey, Berlin, 1927.
(5) Stammel, HJ: "Indianer", Bertelsmann, Gütersloh, 1977.

Tecumseh was supported by his brother Tenskwatawa ("Open Door", 1775-1830), a prophet who impressed his or his brother's followers by predicting a solar eclipse. In 1805 "Prophetstown", one of Greenville (Ohio), arose near Greenville (Ohio) Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa Run a model settlement in which Indians were educated to abstain from alcohol and to live as independently of white influences as possible.

When Tecumseh set out on a great journey in 1811, the governor intervened William Henry Harrision (1773-1841), later the 9th President of the USA, surprisingly at Prophetstown at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers. Tenskwatawa failed. He got involved in a fight against the express orders of his brother, in which the Indians were driven back and Prophetstown were burned down. In this brief skirmish the whites suffered greater losses than the Indians; but Tenskwatawa had frivolously prophesied a great victory, embarrassed himself, and largely ruined a decade of his brother's arduous labor.

Then, in June 1812, when the United States declared war on England in an attempt to conquer Canada[2], could Tecumseh still muster a few thousand Indians and inflict heavy defeats on the Americans.

But then the Americans prevailed against the British, whose navy lost a decisive naval battle on Lake Erie. The decisive factor for the outcome of the campaign was initially the death of General Isaak Brock (1769-1812). His unworthy successor, Colonel Henry Proctor, cowardly abandoned the Indians.

At the Battle of the Canadian Thames on October 5, 1813, the British and fled Tecumseh fell. In Canada today he is celebrated as the hero who prevented the American conquest of Canada (4); for in the further course of the war the Americans were defeated and driven far back, and in the end the old borders remained.

The last, perhaps small, perhaps great chance of the Indians was wasted; thousands more, even tens of thousands of warriors on the side Tecumsehs could have turned the tide and not surrendered the Indians to America's rigorous expulsion policies. From now on the Indians could only face desperate retreat skirmishes, which could not turn their inevitable fate; it was a chain of evictions in the longest Holocaust in history.

You can read about this in “Brief, succinct, curious” on page 390 “An unbelievable announcement”.

Continued That was the Wild West part 4.


(1) Augustin, Siegfried: “The History of the Indians”, Droemer-Knaur, Munich, 1998.

(2) Eckert, Allan, W .: “A Sorrow in Our Heart” Bantam, New York.

(3) Gagern, Friedrich v .: “Das Grenzerbuch”, Paul Parey, Berlin, 1927.

(4) Hume, Stephen: "How Tecumseh saved Canada", The Ottawa Citicen, 1. July 1998.

(5) Josephy, Alvin M .: "500 Nations", Fredeking & Thaler, Munich, 1996.

(6) Stammel, HJ: "Indianer", Bertelsmann, Gütersloh, 1977.

(7) Tucker, Glenn: “Tecumseh”, Schünemann, Bremen, 1956.