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massacred a number of friendly New England settlers at Big
Bottom blockhouse on the Muskingum, forty-six miles above

The government still hoped for peace, however, and in
]\Iarch sent Col. Thomas Proctor to placate the Senecas and
proceed with their friendly chief, Cornplanter, to the council
of the Mianiis on the Maumee. In April, Col. Timothy Pick-
ering was also sent to the Senecas on a like mission.

Soon after Harmar's expedition the frontier settlements of
western Pennsylvania and along the Ohio river were again
attacked and terror spread among the people south of the
river. It is estimated that the population of the west at this
time was between one hundred and fifty and two hundred
thousand, scattered in groups ; one in southwestern Pennsyl-
vania : two in western \"irginia, about Wheeling and the
mouth of the Ivanawha ; and one in Kentucky, below the Lick-
ing river. These settlers had poured in from the eastern
states as well as from several European countries since the
close of the Revolution, being attracted largely by the great
fertility of the land and the exceptional business opportunities,
For the most part they had floated down the Ohio in crude
flat boats, but many had come overland b}' Boone's celebrated
wilderness road. To the hardships of their life in a new and
exceedingly rough country were added the terrors of Indian
attacks, inspired by the killing, wounding, and capturing of
more than fifteen hundred men, women and children in Ken-
tucky and vicinity, since the peace of 1783.

Delegates from several of the exposed counties of Virginia
petitioned the governor, and the legislature of that state
authorized him to make temporary provision for the protec-
tion of the frontier until the United States government should
take proper steps in the same direction. Charles Scott, who


had served in the Revokition, was appointed brigadier-general
of the militia of Kentucky, then a part of Virginia, and was
ordered to raise a volunteer force to co-operate with several
companies of rangers from the western counties, and proceed
against the Wea villages on the Wabash (near Lafayette,
Ind.). Scott chose two Revolutionary compatriots to accom-
pany him on this raid — Col. James \A'ilkinson being placed
second in command and Col. John Hardin in charge of the
advance guard. The expedition was delayed until Alay 2i,
1791, awaiting the return of Proctor, but, hearing nothing
from him by that time, Scott crossed the Ohio at the mouth
of the Kentucky with some eight hundred mounted men and
arri\ed at Ouiatenon (Lafayette, Ind.), June 1st. Here he
found a village of some se\'enty houses with a number ot
French inhabitants living in a state of civilizatinn. The vil-
lage was burned and a large quantity of corn and household
goods destroyed. A detachment was sent on foot against Tip-
pecanoe, the most important village, which it also destroyed.
The army returned with several prisoners, reaching the Ohio
in twelve days with the loss of only two men.

On August 1, 1791, Colonel AA'ilkinson was sent against the
Indians of the Eel v'xyqv with a command of five hundred and
twenty-five mounted men. He encountered much difficulty
in his march from Fort ^^'ashington on account of the
boggy land. Arriving at the mouth of the Eel river he
attacked the village located there, killed a few Indians and
captured others. Proceeding to Tippecanoe and Ouiatenon,
the army destroyed the corn which had been planted since
Scott's raid. The army reached the rapids of the Ohio on
the 21st, having marched some four hundred and fift}^ miles.

The results accomplished by these desultory raids were
similar to those of Harmar's expedition and left the savages
in an enraged state of mind ready for the 'intrigues of the
British agents of Canada and the lake posts. Colonel Johnson
of the British Indian service, especially encouraged the In-
dians in the idea that the Americans had no valid claim to any
of their lands beyond the line established at the treat}' of Fort
Stanwix after the French and Indian war. The actions of the
Americans in assembling councils in various places for the
apparent purpose of making peace and at the same time in-
viting the Six Nations to espouse their cause against the west-
ern tribes added to the confusion and gave the British agents
a pretext to renew friendly relations with their old allies.


The American peace commissioners who had been sent out
in the spring carried on negotiations with the Six Nations.
Colonel Pickering held a successful council with all except the
Mohawks in June, 1791. Colonel Proctor and Cornplanter had
tried to promote friendly relations with them in the spring,
but Brant and Col. John Butler, of the British Indian service,
had previously warned t.hem against the American agents. A
long conference was held at Buffalo, but Brant had been sent
on to the council of the JNIiamis in the meantime and the In-
dians would do nothing definite in his absence, inasmuch as
the sentiment of their people was much divided. The British
commandant at Fort Niagara refused to allow the use of a
schooner to carry Proctor. Cornplanter and some friendly
warriors across Lake Erie to Sandusky thus defeating the
purpose of their mission. While Brant was inflaming the
Miamis, Proctor returned to Fort Washington without hav-
ing reached them with his message of peace.

Little Turtle, chief of the ]\Iiamis, a warrior of great intelli-
gence, craft and courage, who led the attack against Harmar
and who had great influence among the western tribes, to-
gether with Blue Jacket, the great chief of the Shawanese,
and Buckongehelas, chief of the Delawares, formed a confed-
eracy of the northwestern savages to drive the white settlers
be}-ond the Ohio. These chiefs, with the assistance of Simon
Girty, Alexander McKee and Matthew Elliot, the renegades,
headed a band of warriors whose discipline has probably
never been equaled in Indian warfare. Nothing but a decisive
blow Ijy a large and w^ell disciplined force could quell the up-
rising being stirred up by these leaders. What the border
states had attempted to do in a crude and spasmodic way the
new government now decided to essav in an orderlv and or-
ganized manner. Accordingly Governor St. Clair, who had
been appointed a major-general in the L''^. S. army March 4.
1791, and placed in chief command of the forces to be employed
against the Indians was instructed to speedily assemble his
forces. The object of the main expedition planned by the
government was to establish a post at Ke-ki-on-gay, the
Miami (Maumee) village (Fort Wayne) for the purpose of
awing and curbing the Indians in that region, and preventing
future hostilities. This village had been the seat of the pow-
erful Miami nation from time immemorial and it was called
by Little Turtle at the treaty of Greenville in 1795, "That
glorious gate through which all the good words of our chiefs


had to pass from the north to the south and from the east to
the west." The troops were to consist of two small regiments
of regular infantry, two regiments of levies and three hun-
dred or four hundred Kentucky militia. "The mounted men
were to receive two-thirds of a dollar per day and to be under
command of their own officers, while footmen were to receive
three dollars per month and be subject to military law." It
proved a difficult task to preserve harmony among the regu-
lars and volunteers, as the latter would scarcely submit either
to the discipline of the army, or to the slow movements which
one having a road to cut every step he advanced, and forts to
build was necessarily subjected to — neither would they labor.
St. Clair found himself confronted by the same problems that
had vexed poor Harmar. The small pay and unattractive
conditions of service filled the ranks of the regulars with
many weak, diseased and unfit men from the streets of the
Eastern cities. The best of the troops were trained only
in regulation mass movements which were totally inadequate
for fighting a stealthy savage foe concealed in the fastness
of a dense forest. The experienced backwoodsmen with the
militia were better trained for meeting the Indians on their
own ground, but they were in the minority. The Indians
on the other hand were unencumbered with baggage, free,
stealthy and elastic in their movements, were thoroughly
acquainted with the shadowy recesses of the forest and in-
ured to hardship and deprivations.

Preparations for the expedition were now pushed vigor-
ousl}- but at a great disadvantage. The Secretary of War
was just getting initiated in a newly created office and suf-
fared for want of adequate equipment. I\Iaj.-Gen. Richard
Butler, an officer of the Pennsylvania line in the Revolution
who had served in Harmar's expedition, had been placed
second in command with orders to remain in Pennsylvania
to recruit and forward troops. Two thousand levies were
to be raised, marched to Fort Pitt (Pittsburg) in companies
as soon as collected ; and there receive orders from St. Clair.
They could be safely sent in small companies, but were held
back by Butler to protect the frontiers according to orders
from the ^^'ar Department, much to the annoyance of St.
Clair, who kept urging that they be sent to Fort Washington
'Sir. Samuel Hogdon had been appointed Quartermaster-Gen-
eral of the army and, although zealous, seems to have been
totally unfit for the responsibilities of the position. The


delay in forwarding troops was also partly due to his failure
in furnishing horses, supplies, provisions, and the necessary
boats for transportation. St. Clair arrived at Fort Wash-
ington on the 15th of May after passing through Lexington
to arrange for the forwarding of the Kentucky militia. Here
he found a garrison of but eighty-five men fit for duty. The
arms and accoutrements left from Harmar's expedition were
in bad condition and the supplies forwarded later by the
quartermaster from time to time were deficient both in quan-
tity and quality. Xew gun carriages had to be made ; the
deficiencies of the camp equipage supplied ; nearly all ot
the ammunition had to be made up and a laboratory equipped
for this purpose. Alusket shells, artillery cartridges, and
shells for the howitzers had to be filled — a tedious and labor-
ious business. Not only ammunition for the campaign but
also for the garrison of 1,200 or more for the projected post
at the Maumee and intermediate posts must be prepared.
Workshops and an armorj^ had to be built and tools con-
structed. In his report the general said : "A great number
of axes, camp kettles, knapsacks, kegs for the musket cart-
ridges, and spare cannon ball, and boxes of ammunition had
to be made ; and cordage of various kinds, and the cartridge
boxes to be repaired. Splints for the wounded were to be
made of half-jacked leather prepared on the spot. In short,
almost every art was going forward, and Fort \\'ashington
had as much the appearance of a large manufactory on the
inside, as it had of a military post on the outside." To per
form all this labor smiths, carpenters, harnessmakers, col-
liers, wheelwrights, etc., had to be drafted from all that could
be found among the troops as they slowly arrived. Consid-
erable cattle and horses for the use of the army had to be
cared for and, on August 7th, the country near the fort being
eaten ofT, all the troops that had arrived, except the artificers
and a small garrison, advanced about six miles northward to
Ludlow's station. On the 1st of September the Secretary of
War wrote to St. Clair: "The President enjoins you by ev-
ery principle that is sacred to stimulate your operations in
the highest degree, and to move as rapidly as the lateness of
the season and the nature of the case will possibly admit. '"
The balance of the troops, however, had not yet arrived at
the above date, but soon came on and joining those at Lud-
low's station, moved northward on the 17th toward the cross-
ing of the Great Miami river about twentv miles distant.


where a fort was built to command the river crossing, to
serve as a place for depositing provisions, and to form the
first link in the chain of forts projected between Ft. Wash-
ington and the Indian village on the ^tlaumee. St. Clair de-
scribed this post in the following very interesting manner:
"A stockade fifty yards square, with four good bastions, and
platforms for cannon in two of them, with barracks for about
two hundred men, with some good storehouses, etc." "The
circuit of that fort is about one thousand feet, through the
whole extent of which a trench about three feet deep was dug
to set the picquets in, of which it required more than two
thousand to enclose it ; and it is not trees, taken promis-
cuously, that will answer for picquets ; they must be tall
and straight and from nine to twelve inches in diameter (for
those of a larger size are too unmanageable). Of course few
trees that are proper are to be found without going over
a considerable space of woodland. \\'hen fmmd they are
felled, cleared of their branches, and cut into lengths of
about twenty feet. They were then carried to the ground
and butted, that they might be placed firm and upright in
the trench, with the axe or cross-cut saw ; some hewing
upon them was also necessary, for there are few trees so
straight that the sides of them will come in contact when
set upright. A thin piece of timber, called a ribband, is run
round the whole near the top of the picquets. to which every
one of them is pinned with a strong pin, without which they
would decline from the perpendicular with every blast of
the wind, some hanging outward, and some inward, which
would render them in a great measure useless. The earth
thrown out of the trench is then returned and strongly
rammed to keep the picquets firmly in their places, and a
shallower trench is dug outside about three feet distant, to
carrj' off the water and prevent their beiiig moved bv the
rains ; about two thousand picquets are set up inside, one
between every two others : the work is then inclosed. But
previously the ground for the site of the fort had to be cleared
and two or three hundred yards round it, which was very
thickly wooded and was a work of time and labor. (The
ground where this fort stands is on the east side of the Miami
river, on the first bank; but there is a second bank consid-
erably elevated, within point blank shot, which rendered it
necessary to make the quicquets, particularly along the land
side, of a height sufficient to prevent an enemy seeing into


the area, and taking the river in reverse, and a high platform
was raised in one of the bastions on the land side to scour
the second bank with artillery. Another made with the
trunks of trees, and covered with plank, as that was, was
raised in one of the bastions toward the river, in order to
command the ford, and the river for some distance up and
down. Plank was sawed for the platform and the gate, and
barracks for one hundred men ; a guardroom, two storehouses
for provisions, and barracks for the officers were constructed
within it, and all this was done in abijut fourteen da}-s, al-
most entirely by the labor of the men ; though some use was
made of oxen in drawing timber ; the woods were so thick
and encumbered with underwood, it was found to be the most
expeditious method to carry it.)" 'This post was named Fort

The main part of the amy, consisting of two small regi-
ments of regular infantry, and the levies, about two thou-
sand in all, left this place October 4, and were followed on
the 5th b}' some three hundred and fifty Kentucky militia.
Many of the regulars had rendered distinguished service
during the Revolution and the militia included a number of
the hardy pioneers who had engaged in the recent raids and
expeditions of the exposed border. St. Clair, in describing
the marching order of the troops, observes : "When the
army was in march, it was preceded by a small party of rifle-
men, with the surveyor, to mark the course of the road ; for
we had no guides, not a single person being found in the
country who had ever been through i.t, and both the geog-
raphy and the topography were utterly unknown ; the march
was, therefore, made up on a compass course, conjectural in-
deed, but which proved to be suificientlv correct, as it
brought us into a large path leading to the Miami towns about
twenty miles from them ; from that party scouts were sent out
to scour the country every way. Then followed the road cut-
ters with a party to cover them ; then the advanced guard, and
after them the army in two columns, with one piece of artillery
in front, one in the center, and one in the rear of each. In the
space betwen the two columns marched the remaining artil-
lery, destined for the fort at the ]\Iiami towns ; then the horses
with the tents and provisions, and then the cattle with their
proper guard, who were to remove them in case of the enemy
appearing. '\\^ithout the columns, at a distance of about one
hundred vards, march the cavalrv in file, and without them at


the same distance, a party of riflemen, and scouts without
them ; then followed the rear guard at a proper distance."
Roads for the artillery had to be cut through the thick tim-
ber nearly all the waj^ and some considerable bridges built.

Progress was necessarily very slow and by the evening of
the 9th the army had advanced but twenty miles from Ft.
Hamilton through a level, well watered and fertile country.
On the 10th an open beech country was reached (near Eaton,
Ohio) and about eight miles made. Progress continued fair
until the following afternoon when the army was forced to
encamp on the margin of an extensive wet prairie (Maple
Swamp), at the headwaters of Twin creek (near Castine,
Ohio), some thirty-eight miles in advance of Ft. Hamilton.
Two parties were sent out to reconnoiter on the morning of
the 12th, one to the westward under iMajor Denny, the other
eastward under Maj. Butler. It was ascertained that the
arm}' could not continue on its regular course west of north
without constructing a causeway of about a thousand feet. A
suitable passage was found around the swamp to the eastward
which soon led into a well worn Indian path leading through
and avoiding the wet places. Bv following this the army
advanced some six miles and encamped in an excellent, well-
watered spot.

On the morning of the 13th. St. Clair reconnoitered the
country and selected a site for a fort of deposit a mile in
advance of camp on one of the gravel knolls of this beautiful
rolling region. (Hills of Judea.) A fort one hundred feet
square with four good bastions was soon laid out and the
work of building commenced. The weather now became cold
and wet and the work progressed slowly. Provisions for
the army were inadequate, the terms of enlistment of many of
the levies expired, and great discontent developed. Some of
the levies were discharged, and several of the militia deserted.
Two artillery men were hanged for desertion and one of the
levies for shooting a comrade.

At this critical time Gen. Butler, who was second in com-
mand, proposed to St. Clair that he be allowed to take one
thousand picked men and go to the Maumee villages, and
there establish the projected post, leaving the commander-in-
chief to finish the fort and follow at his leisure. The season
was late, and as St. Clair was advanced in 3'ears and very
much indisposed at times by attacks of the gout, this was pro-
posed ostensibly to relieve him and hasten the consummation



of the campaign. The general, however, was very disagree-
ably surprised by the proposition and refused the proli'er.
Butler seems to have taken offense at the rebuff' and grown
more reserved in his relations with St. Clair, although the
latter thought that his own action was a proper exercise of
his power as head of the army. After much delay the little
log fort was completed, garrisoned with a small detachment,
equipped with two pieces of artillery and named Fort Jeffer-

On the 24th the army took up the line of march northward
following the Indian trail along the high ground on the east
side of the prairie. A fine country with rich soil and beauti-
ful oak woods was now encountered. After proceeding some
five miles an excellent elevated camp site with a wide Lreek
in front and a large prairie on the left was discovered. Here
(Greenville, Ohio) the army halted a week, grazing the
horses, awaiting tlie delayed supplies and preparing for the

Gen. St. Clair continued ill, the weather inclement and dis-
content prevailed among the troops. On the 29th. a bridge
was thrown across the creek, and a corps of road-cutters sent
forward under a strong guard of militia. The friendly chief
Piomingo, with nineteen warriors, and Capt. Sparks, with
four riflemen, were sent oitt to ascertain the location and
strength of the enemj^ The army broke camp on the 30th
and proceeded on a course twenty-five degrees west of north,
^^'ith much difficulty seven miles were gained this day and
the troops were forced to encamp in a very thick woods.
(Probably in section 20, Brown township, Darke county.)
During the night a heavy storm arose, precipitating much
timber in the camp and causing considerable confusion. While
the troops remained encamped here awaiting provisions sixty
of the disgruntled militia marched off threatening to plunder
the second convoy of provisions which was then thought to
be within twenty miles on the trail. In order to save ihe
supplies, which were necessary for the sustenance of the
army, and to prevent further desertions, the whole of the
First regiment of regulars, the flower of the army, was de-
tached and sent back. The quartermaster had failed to start
the convoy at the appointed time, however, and this regiment
became separated from the main body by a greater distance
than anticipated, thus reducing the effective fighting force
to about 1,400 men. The first convoy of some two hundred


horses loaded with flour arrived in the evening of the olst.
The road cutters advanced on Nov. 1st, and the army followed
on the 2d, after depositing the heavy and superfluous baggage.
The troops now labored through the flat, marshy country,
near the "spreads of Stillwater," which creek they crossed
about noon. In the afternoon their trail was joined by an-
other Indian path, indicating that the right course was being
followed. The direction this day was north, twenty-five de-
grees east and the army encamped after gaining eight miles.
On the 3d the troops broke camp at nine o'clock and gained
nine miles on a course thirty degrees west of north. The
first four miles continued very flat and wet but at noon the
ridge which divides the waters of the Ohio from those of
Lake Erie was passed over and descent made to a small creek
three miles further on. A few Indians had been observed
hanging about the flanks of the army and on the 3d a larger
number than usual were noticed. After a hard march through
the cold on short rations the army arrived about sunset on
that day at a small stream about 60 feet wide flowing south-
ward, which was supposed to be the St. Mary's branch of the
]\Iaumee, but was in fact a branch of the east fork of the
A\'abash. Here an encampment was made in two lines on a
slightly elevated piece of timbered ground, barely large
enough to accommodate the army. To the north and east
the view was obstructed by the thick forest. On the south a
prairie bordered by a fringe of low marshy ground, thickly
studded with trees and low brush skirted the camp. Along
the west side or front of the camp, the east bank of the Wa-
bash was some twenty-five feet above the river, which was
probabh' thirty or forty feet wide and knee deep at this place.

The blufif was also thickly set with forest trees and under-
brush. Across the stream to the west the bottom land par-
took of the nature of a low, wet prairie about sixty rods wide,
covered with tall, rank grass, and clumps of willow and spice

The first line of the encampment was composed of Butler's,
Clark's and Patterson's battalions of levies, and commanded
by Gen. Butler. The second consisted of Bedinger's and
Gaither's battalions and the Second regiment of regulars com-
manded by Lieut-Col. Darke, and was about 200 feet to the
rear of and parallel with the first. The right flank was pro-
tected by the creek : the left by a steep bank, Faulknor's corps

Online LibraryThe Hobart publishing CompanyHistory of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 57)