Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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WELLS, William, soldier, born in Kentucky about 1770; died near Fort Dearborn (now Chicago), Illinois, 15 August, 1812. When he was twelve years of age he was taken captive by the Miami Indians and adopted by Little Turtle, their chief. He served with the Indians at the opening of hostilities in 1790, and was at the battle when General Arthur St. Clair was defeated. Realizing that he was fighting against his own kindred, he informed Little Turtle that he was going to his own people, set out for General Anthony Wayne's army, and was made a captain of a company of scouts. He remained in the army till the treaty of Greenville in 1795, after which he settled upon a farm near Fort Wayne, where his wife, Little Turtle's daughter, joined him. He was Indian agent and justice of the peace, and rendered effective service to General William Henry Harrison. When it was announced in 1812 that Fort Dearborn was to be evacuated, he set out at once with thirty friendly Miami Indians .as a body-guard for the people on their route to Fort Wayne. He arrived at the fort (Chicago) on 13 August, but too late to prevent its evacuation, which he was certain would result in a massacre. On the morning of 15 August the gates of the fort were opened and Captain Wells, with blackened face, at the head of fifteen of his trusted Indians, the other fifteen bringing up the rear, set out on their journey for Fort Wayne. They had not gone more than a mile and a half when about 500 Indians sprang from their ambush behind the sand-hills on the bank of Bake Michigan and began an indiscriminate slaughter of soldiers, women, and children. Captain Wells was pierced by half a dozen bullets, his head was cut off, and his heart was taken out by the infuriated savages.
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