Re: Musings on Proctor
- --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Fournier" <tom4141fournier@...>
> Good morning list!
> An interest exchange on Proctor.
> One thing that I have come to wonder about is what mental and
> physical state was he in by the time of Moraviantown.
I also think it is hard for somebody today to put themselves in
Proctor's shoes as regards the Native Allies. While his
correspondence shows that he had a good idea of how critical their
support was for his command, I suspect he was also facing the
following "personal" problems in dealing effectively with them:
1) he had seen them in action and observed the massacre in the ditch
at Fort Miami, including an enraged warrior "chopping" a soldier of
the 41st. So he was nervous of them and felt they were an unstable
force that could "turn" on the white element of his command and on the
2) the "western" indians who formed a large part of the native forces
with the Right Division were still relatively "uncontaminated" by
white influence hence must have looked really "wild" to a middle-aged
English gentleman like Proctor. He seems to have decided that they
were like wayward children, and instead of being forthright with them,
his interactions with them seem loaded with rather pathetic attempts
to manipulate them. Think offering a kid a nice delicious chocolate
bar if he rakes your lawn for you... and then imagine how a
magnificent leader like Tecumseh would react...
3) Proctor was a spit and polish by-the-book officer before the war,
the sort of guy who could whip a unit in to regulation form. Perhaps
not the best choice to be holding the "wildest" part of the line, and
dealing with the natives. He complained a number of times about their
lack of discipline, etc...
In other wars, the Brits have found "unconventional" officers for
"unconventional" roles - the annals of the Raj in India are full of
such instances. Think Lawrence of Arabia. It's too bad a guy like
Fitzgibbon was only a Lieutenant and promoting him to sufficiently
high rank was "not on" in 1812!
Proctor doesn't seem to have taken the advice of his Indian Department
officers very often. Some of his actions also undermined their
influence. At the Proctor court martial, there was evidence given
that one of the Department officers was fearful that when he gave
Tecumseh et al the news that Chatham was not going to be defended, the
enraged allies would immediately "chop" him...