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Anecdote of Pashapaho

The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 331-332, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



The following anecdote of Pashapaho is worth preserving. Maj. Beach relates the incident as coming under his own personal knowledge:

"Some time in 1832, a plan was laid to attack Ft. Madison, then a United States garrison. Pashapaho, then a noted war-chief of the Sacs, and who, in after times was a fast friend of the writer, especially if a "wee drop" ever lingered in the bottom of the decanter, was the projector of this scheme. But the treachery of a squaw brought it to grief, and the savages, on their pretended friendly approach, were confronted with all the grim paraphernalia of war ready for their reception. The plan was, under the pretense of a council with the commandant, to gain entrance with arms concealed beneath their blankets and robes; but as they advanced in a body toward the closed gate, it suddenly opened to reveal a cannon in the passage way, and the gunner with his lighted port-fire, while just in the rear were the troops drawn np (sic - up) in battle array. 'Old Pash,' like many a less wise man before and since, deemed discretion the better part of valor.

"Several years later than the defeated plot against Ft. Madison, the writer being at the time stationed at Ft. Armstrong, on the Rock Island, Pashepaho -- called also the 'Stabbing Chief' -- made an attempt to effect a lodgement in that garrison, though upon a different principle. During the previous year, some of the braves of his tribe being out on the prairie on a hunting expedition, fell in with a party of their long-time enemies, the Sioux, and, having the advantage, the encouter resulted in losing, by the last named, a few of their scalps. Complaint was made to the Department at Washington, and orders were sent to Rock Island to demand of the chiefs the culprits and to hold them prisoners at the fort. This was done. They were brought into the fort and surrendered, and throughout a winter, say some five months, they enjoyed Uncle Sam's hospitality in the shape of good quarters and plenty to eat, with no trouble in providing it. In fact, they lived in an Indian's heaven, until released through some arrangement whereby satisfactory blood-money was to be taken from the annuities of their tribes and paid over to the Sioux. Well, the next fall, 'Old Pash,' probably not finding his larder as well stocked for the winter as our modern publicans always advertise theirs to be, 'with the best the market affords,' concieved the brilliant idea of imposing himself as a guest, indirectly, upon his Great Father, the President. So, calling one day upon Col. Davenport, the commandant, he informed him that, being recently put upon a hunt, he had the misfortune to meet one of his traditional foes, a Sioux, and the morbid impulse to 'lift his hair' entirely overcame the kinder sentiments of his naturally humane character, so that he yielded to it. But he knew that he had done wrong, and that that best of his friends, the Great Father, whom he held in great esteem and affection, would hear of it and be very angry, and, therefore, to save him the additional vexation of having to send out a letter demanding his arrest, he had, at once, voluntarily come in to make confession and surrender himself. Col. Davenport, who saw pretty well into the scheme, lauded him as a most honorable Indian, and told him that he was satisfied that his offer of surrender was sufficient evidence that he would return whenever sent for, therefore, he would not consent to make him a prisoner a day earlier than could be avoided. No more was ever heard of it."

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