INDIANS THREATEN FORT DEARBORN.
Less fortunate in its fate was the garrison of Fort Dearborn at Chicago.
The Indians in northern Illinois, and the country bordering on Lake Michigan, bad manifested hostile feelings toward the Americans even before the battle of Tippecanoe. Governor Edwards, who was indefatigable in his efforts to protect the settlements, employed trusty Frenchmen, who had traded with these Indians, and who could still pass under that guise, as spies in the Indian country. Their communications, in a plain unlettered style, have been examined on the files of the State Department of Illinois. They are often particular and minute in giving the position of Indian villages, number of the braves, sources from whence they received their supplies, the names of head men, and other details.
These facts, at short intervals, were communicated by the Governor to the War Department, as proofs that the Indians were hostile, and were urged in his repeated applications to the War Department for protection to the inhabitants of that frontier territory.
A small trading post had been established at Chicago in the period of the French explorations, but no village formed. It was one of the thoroughfares in the excursions of both traders and Indians. By the treaty of Greenville, in 1795, negotiated with the Pottawattamies, Miamies, and other northern tribes, they agreed to relinquish their right to "one piece of land six miles square, at the mouth of Chicago river, emptying into the southwest end of Lake Michigan, where a fort formerly stood." *
In 1804, a small fort was erected here by the United States government. It stood on the spot where the fort stood in 1833, but it was differently constructed, having two " block houses on the southern side, and on the northern side, a sally-port, or subterranean passage from the parade ground to the river." f It was called Fort Bearborn.
The officers in 1812, were Captain- Heald, the command-
ing officer, Lieutenant Helm, and Ensign Ronan, (the two last very young men,) and the surgeon, Dr. Yoorhees, with seventy-five men, very few of whom were effective.
Friendly intercourse had existed between these troops and individuals and bands of neighboring Indians. The principal chiefs and braves of the Fottawattamie nation visited Fort Maiden on the Canada side annually, received presents to a large amount,
*Indian Treaties, Washington, 1826, p. 51. j-Kinzie's Narrative.