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History of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) online

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of the brutal and rufifianh' frontier bordermen and their atro-
cious deed caused a storm of protests from the better class
along the border.


On May 25, 1782, an expedition of some five hundred Penn-
sylvania and Virginia volunteers set out from the ^lingo Bot-
toms (near Steubenville, Ohio), under the leadership of Col-
onel William Crawford to chastise the Indians of the San-
dusky plaints (near Upper Sandusky. Ohio), who had been
harassing the borders. On account of its location on one of
the most traveled routes leading from Lake Erie to the Upper
Ohio, and the ease of access from Detroit, this was a strategic
center and a favorite rendezvous of the savages friendly with
the British. Hearing of this move, the commandant of
Detroit sent Captain Caldwell with a troop of Rangers, and
Colonel McKee with some Canadians to intercept the Ameri-
cans. The Indians, comprising many doughty warriors of the
Delawares, \\'yandots and Shavvanese. met the Americans in
a grove near Upper Sandusky on June 4th. Crawford dis-
lodged the advance party from the timber. The Indians then
took a sheltered position in the low, grassy ground, which
surrounded the grove and were reinforced on the 5th by other
tribes and the Rangers. The fight was continued and the
Americans held their position throughout the day but were
forced to retreat under cover of the night with a loss in killed,
wounded and captured of some one hundred and fifty men.
Colonel Crawford was captured, and on the following day Col-
onel Williamson drove back the pursuing savages in a rain
storm. The Indians, still smarting under the cowardly and
inhuman massacre of their Moravian brethren, wreaked ven-
gence on Colonel Crawford in lieu of Williamson, the real
oft'ender, by burning him at the stake. Simon Girty was with
the savages and witnessed this, one of the most revolting tor-
tures in the annals of Indian warfare. Partly because of its
spectacular and revolting features, this was probabh^ the most
noted Revolutionary engagement within the territory later
comprising Ohio. Crawford was an intimate friend and com-
patriot of Washington during the Revolution and was highly
esteemed by his people.

In August, 1782, Simon Girty was sent from Detroit with
Cald\vell and a party of Indians and British Rangers against
Bryant's station near the upper Kentucky river. Failing to
take this place they were pursued by a force of Kentuckians
under Boone and other noted backwoodsmen, whom they de-
feated in a hard fight at the Blue Licks. The Americans
lost seventy men in this engagement and the Canadians only
seven. Aroused at this raid, a thousand Kentucky riflemen


assembled under Clark at the mouth of the Licking, crossed
the Ohio and desolated the Miami valley. They destro_yed an
Indian town on the present site of Piqua, Ohio, also Upper
Piqua(Pickawillany), three miles above, and burned Loramie's
store, fifteen miles beyond at the head of the portage leading
to the St. Mary's river. This punishment cooled the ardor of
the savages who now began to realize the growing numbers
and strength of the Americans. The frontiers of Pennsyl-
vania and western ^'^irginia were still harassed somev^'hat, but
the close of the Revolution soon caused these incursions to

After Great Britain acknowledged the independence of the
Colonies she still retained possession of the principal lake
posts, including Mackinac, Detroit, Niagara, Presque Isle, and
those on the Sandusky and Maumee rivers, contrary to the
express specifications of the treaty of 1783. To justify this
policy, she pointed out that the United States had violated
certain articles of this treaty referring to the payment of debts
due British subjects and had even permitted the confiscation
of many of her subjects' estates. The Americans contended
that they had done all that they had promised in enforcing
these provisions but that difficulty had arisen in trying to get
the various states to change their laws to conform to the order
recently inaugurated.

In the eyes of the mother countrv the new government was
considered somewhat of an experiment and was to be con-
fined, if possible, between the Alleghanies and the Atlantic.
The great struggle had bound the colonies together in a com-
mon cause, but that being over, the}^ were loosely held by the
Articles of Confederation until the adoption of the constitu-
tion in 1787. Moreover, the lake posts were the receiving sta-
tions for the very valuable fur trade and decided points of
vantage for equipping the Indians and influencing them
against the Americans.

The French had concerned themselves mostly with trade
and religious propagandism during their ascendency and had
purchased only small tracts about their posts from the natives.
At the peace of 1763 these had been transferred to Great Bri-
tain and finally, in 1783, to the United States. Congress, how-
ever, regarded all the lands north of the Ohio as forfeited on
account of hostilities during the Revolution and by virtue of
the British cession. Peace was accordingly granted to the


Indians aiul their bounds fixed without further purchase of

In October, 1784, the Six Nations held a treaty with the
United States at Fort Stanvvix (Rome, Xew York). These
powerful tribes had aided the British materially during the
recent war but had been somewhat weakened by the expedi-
tion of General John Sullivan against them in 1779. Oliver
^^'olcott, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee represented the new
government in the negotiations, while Cornplanter and Red
Jacket took the chief part on behalf of the Indians. The latter
desired to have a general council in which the principal tribes
living northwest of the Ohio might participate but the govern-
ment desired to deal directly with the Six Nations who had
most actively aided the British in the late war. Red Jacket
urged the assembled tribes with great spirit and eloquence to
continue to fight the Americans. The saner counsel of the
older chiefs finally prevailed, however, and a treaty was signed
establishing peace with the hostile nations and securing them
in the possession of the lands then actually occupied by them
in return for the release of all prisoners then in their posses-
sion and the relinquishment of all claim to the country west
of an irregular line beginning near Niagara, extending to the
intersection of the western boundary of Pensylvania by the
Ohio river, thence down that river.

Red Jacket was dissatisfied with the terms of this compact
and continued to spread disaffection among his tribesmen.
Chief Brant, who was absent in Canada at the time of the
treaty, was highly displeased when he heard some of its pro-
visions. This courageous chief cherished the plan of forming
a grand confederacy of all the prominent northwestern tribes,
together with the Six Nations, probably expecting to be made
the great chief of the united tribes. For this purpose he now
went here and there in the upper lake region and held coun-
cils with the tribes. Late in 1785 he made a trip to England,
partly with the purpose, no doubt, of sounding that govern-
ment concerning its attitude in case of a general uprising of
the confederated tribes. Fie bore a captain's commission in
the British army, and being intelligent, tactful and refined
was received with marked favor by the people whose govern-
ment he had so zealously served. From this time until the
end of the Indian wars he played an important part in leading
and influencing his people.

In Tanuarv, 1785. a treatv was held at Fort Mcintosh


(Beaver, Pennsylvania), with the Wyandot, Delaware, Chip-
pewa and Ottawa nations, at which these Indians agreed to
relinquish their claim to lands lying east of the Cuyahoga river
and south of a line running near the fortieth parallel to Lora-
mie's store on the headwaters of the Miami, together with
small tracts about Detroit and Michilimackinac, some
30,000,000 acres in all. These tribes, however, were to retain
their right of hunting as far south as the Ohio river. With
some modifications this treaty was the basis of later negotia-
tions with the new government.

At Fort Finney (mouth of the Great ]\Iiami), the United
States held a treaty with the Shawanese, Delawares and
Wyandots in January, 1786. The Shawanese agreed to con-
fine themselves between the Great j\Iiami and Wabash, but
paid small attention to carrying out its provisions. A very
bad spirit was manifested at this treaty and the Wabash
tribes, whose presence was especially desired, absented them-
selves, probably being influenced by the British agents. The
remoter Indians, however, did not cease their depredations.
Two expeditions were accordingly sent against them ; one in
command of General Clark against the towns of the Wabash ;
the other, under Colonel Logan, against the Shawanese be-
tween the Miami and Scioto rivers. On account of the delay
in the arrival of provisions, the discontent of the soldiers, and
the desertion of a large body of troops, Clark's expedition
was abandoned. Logan, however, destroyed several towns
(in Logan county, Ohio), a lot of corn, and killed and cap-
tured some of the enemy.

In December, 1786, a grand council of the tribes was held
near the mouth of the Detroit river. Together they formu-
lated an address to Congress expressing surprise that they
had not been considered in the treaty of peace with Great
Britain ; stated their desire for continued peace provided the
United States did not encroach upon their lands beyond the
Ohio : and recommended that the government make no
treaties with separate Indian tribes or nations, but with the
Confederation alone. This was the grand ultimatum delivered
to the LTnited States by the Confederated Tribes prior to the
general war that came later and it shows the true points of
contention between the Indians and the new government.
Great Britain, through her Indian agent. Sir William Johnson,
kept in close touch with the movements of her former allies
and took advantage of ever}' rupture with the new govern-


ment to show lier continued friendly attitude toward them.

During the course of the RevoUition, Congress offered
grants of land to volunteers in the American service, but Vir-
ginia, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut claimed por-
tions of the west by virtue of their old colonial charters,
and purchase from the Indians.

After the close of the war and the reawakened interest in
the western country. Congress decided to open up these west-
ern lands for settlement, but was confronted by the conflicting
claims of these states. The old colonial charters, given when
the extent of North America was unknown, extended the
grants of land "from sea to sea." The crown, however,
claimed the country between the Alleghanies and Mississippi
after the French and Indian War, and the United States after
the Revolution, by virtue of conquest. Maryland, and other
states having no western claims, contended that all such
claims should be ceded to the United States government for
the general welfare. A lengthy controversy ensued which
threatened the stability of the Confederation, but the whole
matter was settled satisfactorily in 1786 when Connecticut
followed the example of the other states interested and com-
pleted the cession of these western claims, excepting a tract
between the forty-first parallel and Lake Erie, reserved by
this state, and one between the Scioto and the Little Miami
rivers, reserved by \'irginia for her soldiers, together with a
small tract at the falls of the Ohio.

In 1787, while the last Congress under the articles of con-
federation was in session, a petition was presented b}- Dr.
^lanasseh Cutler in behalf of a company of New Englanders,
organized to purchase lands and make a settlement north and
west of the Ohio. In the meantime the famous "Ordinance
of 1787," one of the wisest and farthest reaching charters ever
given to anj^ people, was passed. It provided for the organiza-
tion and government of the "Territory Northwest of the River
Ohio." Among its wise provisions were: the prohibition of
slavery; the promotion of education, morality and religion;
and the formation of not less than three, nor more than five
states, as conditions suggested.

The grant of land asked for was made to the New England
Company, and soon afterward John Cleves Symmes negoti-
ated for the purchase of land between the Little and Great
!Miami rivers. In 1788. a company of emigrants, including
many distinguished Revolutionarv soldiers, floated down the


Ohio from Pittsburg to the mouth of the Muskingum and
founded Alarietta, which became the capital of the new coun-
try. Thus the initial step was taken and from this time a
steady flow of emigration set in. In a few years Gallipolis,
^Manchester, Columbia and Fort Washington (Cincinnati)
dotted the northern shore of the Ohio, and the soldiers of the
Revolution, whose fortunes had been lost in the struggle for
freedom, found a new home.

Thus was inaugurated a new era in the old northwest,
Xew forces were being set in motion which were destined to
change the current of the ancient order and set up in the
matchless forests and sacred hunting grounds of this western
country a new and better civilization. With Fort Washing-
ton as a base, the new government was about to engage in a
series of hazardous conflicts with a savage foe, goaded on and
assisted by the subtle agents of the British at Detroit.

Only time could tell whether the Anglo-Saxon settlers were
to be confined east of the mountains or spread indefinitely to
the far west. The great White Chief AA^ashington desired
peace, but was schooled in the art of war, and directed a free,
hardy and vigorous constituency who would brook no inter-
ference from a vanquished adversary without severe and pro-
tracted resistance. The battlefields of the Revolution had
schooled a host of warriors who knew how to reckon with a
stalwart foe and these were to show their mettle on many a
new field of conflict.




Arthur St. Clair was appointed governor of the new North-
west Territory. Juh' 13, 1788, and immediately became ac-
tively engaged in the great work entrusted to him. A Scotch-
man by birth, he had emigrated to North America in 1755 and
rendered valuable service with the British during the French
and Indian war. Settling in Pennsylvania, he espoused the
cause of the colonies during the course of the Revolution and
was prominently engaged at Three Rivers, Trenton. Prince-
ton, Hubbardstown and Ticonderoga. Washington and
Lafayette were his warm friends and a large and prominent
circle enjoyed his polished attainments. His adopted country
appreciated his loyal service and distinguished talents, and in
1786 he was elected president of Congress. Thus equipped,
he was soon to receive even greater honors and direct the ener-
gies of an expanding people. On January 9, 1789, Governor
St. Clair concluded two separate treaties of confirmation, one
with the Five Nations, the Mohawks excepted ; the other with
the Wyandots. Delawares, Ottawas, Chippewas, Pottawat-
tomies and Sacs, at Fort Harmar, opposite Marietta, thus
counteracting the formation of a grand Indian confederacy
which had been agitated by some of the far-seeing chiefs of
the various tribes. At the grand council of the northwestern
tribes, held on the Maumee in the previous fall, the general
sentiment was for peace. The Miamis, Shawanese, and tribes
of the Wabash, however, failed to concur and desired to make
the Ohio river the final boundary separating them from the
Anglo-Saxon invaders. This sentiment was especially strong
among the younger warriors who could scarcely be restrained
by the wise counsels of the older chiefs. Many successful war
parties were sent against the exposed settlements or waylaid
the immigrants floating in open boats or upon rafts down the
Ohio. The brutal atrocities committed by the Indians and
the retaliatory raids of the rough settlers during this period
are recited in the romantic and patriotic tales of the back-
woodsmen, many of whom experienced extended captivity.


Early in 1790, Governor St. Clair went to Fort Washington,
Vincennes and Kaskaskia to set in motion the new govern-
ment. This was the signal to the British and Indians to co-
operate in opposing the advance of the frontier settlements,
and attacks were accordingly commenced. At this time the
northwest tribes could probably rally some fifteen thousand
effective warriors, about one-third of whom were openly hos-
tile to the new government. They no longer depended upon
the bow and arrow and other crude implements of earlier sav-
age warfare, but had become expert in the use of firearms
through association with the French and British in the recent
wars. Their courage, discipline and power of endurance were
good oflfsets to the intelligence and strength of the Americans.
The Wabash tribes became especially aggressive and Major
Hamtramck, of Vincennes, tried to pacify them, but in vain.
Hearing of these movements, St. Clair hastened to Fort
Washington, in July, consulted with General Josiah Harmar,
a Revolutionary soldier, commanding the United States In-
fantry, and decided to send an expedition against the hostile
tribes. He requested the militia of western Pennsylvania, Vir-
ginia and Kentucky to co-operate with the federal forces and
notified the British commandant at Detroit that the proposed
expedition was not directed against any British post but in-
tended solely to punish the Indians who had been attacking
the frontiers. A mixed force was assembled at Fort Wash-
ington, which, when ready to move, was composed of three
battalions of Kentucky militia, under Majors Hall, McMullen
and Ray, with Lieutenant-Colonel Trotter in command : one
battalion of Pennsylvania militia under Lieutenant-Colonel
Truby and Major Paul ; one battalion of mounted riflemen,
commanded by -\Iaj. James Fontaine, together with two bat-
talions of regulars under ]\Iajors P. Wyllys and John Doughty,
and a company of artillery commanded by Captain William
Ferguson. The entire force numbered fourteen hundred and
fifty-three, including many boys and infirm men who had been
sent as substitutes and were unfit for the hard service before
them. This army, being hastily assembled, was necessarily
poorly equipped and disciplined, and, as usual where mixed
troops are employed, jealousy soon arose betwen the militia
and regulars. The season being late, it was impossible to
properly drill and discipline the awkward and insubordinate
troops — thus increasing the hazard of the projected campaign.
Harmar, who had served with merit in the Revolution, was


first in command, and Colonel John Hardin led the militia,
subject to his orders. Alajor Ebenezer Denny was appointed
aide-de-camp to Harmar : Mr. Stephen Ormsby, brigadier-
major to the militia ; and ^h. John Bellie, quartermaster.

The militia advanced up the Mill Creek valley on September
26th, and the main army followed on the 30th. The forces
were united on the 3d of October and took the trace made by
George R. Clark up the Little Miami valley, passing near the
present sites of Lebanon and Xenia, Ohio; crossing Mad river
at old Piqua town (between Dayton and Springfield, Ohio) ;
proceeding northwesterly and crossing the Great Miami above
the present site of Piqua, Ohio ; thence to the site of Loramie's
store (Berlin, Ohio), across the old Indian and French port-
age to the St. Hilary's river(near St. Mary's, Ohio), and on
toward the Miami villages (Fort ^^'ayne, Ind.). These towns
comprised a large number of wigwams of the Miamis, Shaw-
anese and Delawares, and some log huts formerly occupied by
British traders. This was the center from which the hostile and
renegade Lidians had sent many war parties to harass the
borders. The St. Joseph and St. Mary's branches meet here to
form the Maumee river and along their banks v.-ere several
small villages and the capital town of the confederacy sur-
rounded by gardens, orchards and extensive cornfields which
indicated long continued occupancy.

Learning of the approach of a large army the Indians hast-
ened to desert these villages. General Harmar was apprised
of their movements by a captive and accordingly sent forward
a detachment of six hundred light troops under Colonel Har-
din on the 14th to surprise the stragglers, which he failed to
do. The main army arrived at the deserted villages about
noon on the 17th having accomplished a march of nearly one
hundred and seventy miles from Fort A\''ashington. On the
18th Harmar sent Colonel Trotter with three hundred men,
including militia and regulars, to reconnoiter the country and
ascertain the location of the enemy. This detachment
marched a few miles but soon returned, reporting the slaying
of two Indians. Colonel Hardin, displeased with Trotter's
failure to accomplish his orders, was next dispatched with the
same detachment. The men were given two days' provisions
and marched on the 19th with great reluctance. About a third
of the militia deserted before attaining three miles and re-
turned to camp. Some ten miles out the balance of the troops
were surprised by a party of about one hundred of the enemy


under the celebrated [Miami chief, Little Turtle. The Indians
commenced firing at a distance of about a hundred and fifty
years and advanced, steadily driving the panic-stricken militia
before them. Some few of the latter with about thirty of the
regulars, however, stood firm and were cut to pieces.

The main army advanced from the Miami village to Chilli-
cothe, a Shawanese town two miles east, and proceeded to
burn all property in sight, including corn, beans, hay, cabins,
etc. Five villages and the capital town, besides some twenty
thousand bushels of corn in ears having been destroyed, the
army took up an orderly retreat for Fort Washington on the
21st and marched eight miles. Thinking that the enemy
would immediately return to the site of their destroyed vil-
lages, Harmar sent back Major Wyllys with four hundred
picked men, including sixty regulars, to surprise them. This
detachment was in three divisions under Wyllys, Hall and
McMullen. Major Hall was sent with part of the militia by
a circuitous route to gain the enemy's rear, while the other
troops were to engage them in front. On account of the im-
prudence of some of Hall's men, this plan failed. The other
militia now began the attack before the arrival of the regu-
lars. Little Turtle, grasping the opportunity, threw his en-
tire force first against the militia and then against the regu-
lars with disastrous results. Most of the regulars were slain
and the brunt of the fight fell on the remaining militia, who
now fought desperately but were soon scattered and forced to
retreat. The savages had lost heavily and did not pursue the
retreating troops. When the main encampment was reached
Hardin requested Harmar to send back the main army in order
to finish the work on the site of the village. Harmar, it
seems, had lost confidence in the militia, and, in view of the
lack of forage and proper transportation facilities, refused this
request. The Americans lost one hundred and eighty-three
men including brave Major Wyllys and several valuable ofifi-
cers on this expedition.

The shattered and dispirited army resumed its dreary re-
treat toward Fort Washington on the 23d. Bad feeling de-
veloped between Harmar and Hardin on account of the unsat-
isfactory action of the troops. Both were court-martialed
later and acquitted, but Harmar soon resigned his commission
in the army and retired to private life.

The government seeing the inefficienc}^ of its first attempt
in dealing with the Indians, adopted stronger measures. It


was decided to offer peace to the western Indians; to organize
expedieitions in the west against the villages of the ]\liamis,
Shawanese and \\'eas, should they refuse to make peace; and
to send a large force to build forts and take possession of the
enemy's land. The British, who now seemed disposed to a
peaceful settlement, urged Joseph Brant, the intelligent chief
of the Mohawks and moving spirit of the Six Nations, to use
his influence among his people for peace, thinking that the
United States would allow the tribes to retain their posses-
sions along the Maumee.

On the night of January 2, 1791, a l)and of savages stealthily