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Timpoochee Barnard

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Timpoochee Barnard A Uchee Warrior
Timpoochee Barnard
A Uchee Warrior

A Considerable number of the persons who have risen to distinction among the southern Indians, within the last quarter of a century, have been the descendants of adventurers from Europe or the United States, who, having married Indian women, and adopted the savage life, obtained the confidence of the tribes, and availed themselves of that advantage to accumulate property. They were at first traders, who carried to the Indians such goods as they needed, and bought their peltries, but soon directed their means to the purchase of negro slaves, whom they employed in the cultivation of the soil, and the care of large numbers of cattle and horses. They lived in a state of semi-civilization, engrafting a portion of the thrift and comfort of husbandry upon the habits of savage life, having an abundance of every thing that the soil, or the herd, or the chase, could yield, practicing a rude, but profuse hospitality, yet knowing little of any thing which we should class under the name of luxury or refinement. Their descendants formed a class, which, in spite of the professed equality that prevails among the Indians, came insensibly into the quiet possession of a kind of rank. Although they were bred to the athletic exercises and sports of the Indian, they had a nurture superior to that of the savage; the most of them received the rudiments of an English education, and a few passed with credit through college. The real Indian, while he despised and spurned at civilization, when offered to himself, or his children, respected in others the practical advantages which he saw it gave them; and thus the half-breeds, having the Indian blood on the one hand, and the advantage of property and education on the other, became very influential, and, had they been permitted to form governments, as was attempted in one instance, would probably have concentrated in their own hands all the property of the Indians. To this class mainly, was confined the civilization among the southern tribes, so much spoken of a few years ago.

Timpoochee Barnard was the son of a Uchee woman. His father was a Scotchman, said to be of gentle blood, whose name was Timothy Barnard. It is supposed that large estates may be in reversion for the descendants of Timpoochee.

The Uchees were once a distinct and powerful people, but were subdued by the Creeks, upwards of a century ago, and those who escaped the massacre, which usually attends an Indian victory, were taken into the country of the victors, and held in servitude. Being unaccustomed to labor, they were probably of little value as slaves, especially to a people who had no agriculture, and who needed warriors more than servants. They gradually became emancipated, and incorporated with the Creek nation, with whom they have ever since remained in close and cordial union, although, as is customary with the Indians, they have preserved their identity as a tribe, and retained their language. The latter is described, by the venerable and learned Mr. Gallatin, in his elaborate work, just published, as “the most guttural, uncouth, and difficult to express, with our alphabet and orthography, of any of the Indian languages within our knowledge.” The Creeks do not attempt to speak it, although the Uchees speak the Creek language as well as their own. Timpoochee’s mother carefully imparted her own dialect to her son, while his father, though a practiced interpreter of the Creek, never attempted to master the Uchee.

The subject of this memoir was first known in public life in 1814, when he took part with the American forces against the hostile Creeks, and commanded about one hundred Uchee warriors, with the commission of Major. He was at the battle of Callabee, under General Floyd, and distinguished himself by an act of gallantry. An attempt was made to surprise the American camp at night, and to cut off a detachment under General Brodnax, encamped near the main body. Timpoochee Barnard, discovering this movement, made a desperate onset upon the assailants, at the head of his Uchee braves, and, after a severe loss, succeeded in driving back the enemy, or in opening the way for the detachment to join the main body. During the war he acquired a high reputation for skill and bravery. He was often honored by being placed in the post of danger, and he did not, in any instance, disappoint the expectations of the commanding General. He took part in nearly all. the battles in the south, during that war, and was twice wounded.

On the return of peace he rejoined his family, near the Creek, agency, on Flint River, in Georgia. His wife was a Creek, and is reported to have been remarkable for her good sense and propriety of conduct, while Major Barnard is said to have been domestic in his habits, and devotedly attached to his children, of whom he had six. Of the latter, two were girls, who were extremely beautiful; and the family, taken together, was considered the handsomest in the Creek nation. One of the daughters fell a victim to a delicacy not often found in her race, nor in the women of any country where the practice of polygamy debases the marriage relation. She was overruled in the choice of her husband, and compelled to marry against her will; and, although her husband was a Creek chief of distinction, she could not brook the degradation, as she esteemed it, of being a second and subordinate wife, and put an end to her life by poison.

On his return from the Creek nation, in 1827, Colonel McKenney brought to Washington with him two little Indian boys, one of twelve, and the other nine years of age, with the intention of having them educated under his own care, at the expense of the government. The elder of these was William, son of Timpoochee Barnard; the Indian name of the other was Arbor, but he was called Lee Compere, after the missionary of that name, who lived in the Creek nation. After they had traveled about a hundred miles, at the beginning of their journey, Lee discovered some symptoms of discontent, and Colonel McKenney, having learned through William, who spoke a little English, that he was dissatisfied at being sent from home, requested the stage driver to stop his horses, and told Lee that he might return. The boy’s countenance instantly brightened, and, seizing his bundle and his little blow-gun, he began to clamber out of the carriage. He was, of course, not permitted to go; but the anecdote is mentioned to show the fearlessness with which the young savage throws himself upon his own resources. They remained in Colonel McKenney’s family about three years, and until his connection with the Indian department ceased, when they were sent home. They went to school during this period, and William made considerable progress, and bade fair to become an honor to his name and country. He was intelligent and docile, while Lee had all the Indian’s stubbornness of temper, impatience of restraint, and disinclination for sedentary pursuits. The school selected for these boys was one of those at which, in imitation of the discipline at West Point, the pupils were required to perform martial exercises, and to submit to a military police. The young Indians were pleased with this routine, which was in unison with their naturally martial dispositions. The uniforms and the parades were precisely suited to gratify their tastes, but neither of them liked the exact enforcement of strict rules. On one occasion, Lee was ordered, for some delinquency, to be placed under guard, during the hours allotted for recreation. He was accordingly confined in a room, which was called the black hole, and another boy placed as a sentinel % at the door. Lee sat for a little time, gazing wistfully at the boys who were playing on the outside, and at the sentinel who paced to and fro with a musket on his shoulder, when, espying a bayonet in the room, he seized it, and rushed upon the guard, who escaped its point at first by dodging, and then by running away. On finding himself at liberty, Lee threw down the weapon, and deliberately walked home.

Those who have paid attention to the subject, have not failed to remark, that, in the attempt to civilize the Indian, a little learning is a dangerous thing, and that a half educated savage seldom becomes a useful man. Such an individual, thrown back upon savage life, is inferior to those who had never quit it, in their own arts, without bringing back much that is valuable of the habits of civilized men. Unless he has the strength of mind to attach himself decidedly to one side or the other, he is apt to vacillate between employments of the white man and the Indian, inferior to both, and respected by neither. We do not say that such was the case with William Barnard. We only know that his career has been unfortunate. Though but fifteen years old on his return home, he fell into a series of difficulties, with the precise nature of which we are not acquainted, but in course of which he killed several Indians, and he afterwards joined the Indian force sent to Florida, under Paddy Carr, to assist in the war against the Seminoles.

Thus did this worthy and highly respected person reap his full share of those domestic afflictions which not infrequently embitter the last days of those who have been most exemplary in private life, and whose affections are garnered up in the holy and endearing joys of the domestic circle. Major Barnard had, however, the consolation to know that he had faithfully performed a parent’s duty, gaining for himself the sincere attachment of those around him, and for his family the respect of the public.

A compliment paid to this individual by a late President of the United States, is too striking to be omitted. During the residence at Washington of the two Indian boys already mentioned, they were- taken by Colonel McKenney to see the President, who received them with the paternal kindness of manner which distinguished so remarkably the social intercourse of that eminent man On hearing the name of William Barnard, he took the boy by the hand, and asked him if he was the son of Major Timpoochee Barnard; the reply being in the affirmative, General Jackson placed his hand on the head of the youth, and said, “A braver man than your father never lived.” There is no applause which savors less of flattery than the spontaneous homage which is paid by one brave man to the courage of another.

Timpoochee Barnard was one of the delegation chosen to proceed to Washington, to remonstrate against the treaty of the Indian Springs, at which time his portrait was taken. After living in such affluence as his country afforded, distinguished for probity, benevolence, and hospitality, as highly as he was by valor and public spirit, he died near Fort Mitchell, in Alabama, aged about fifty-eight years.


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