George Upfold.

The life of Major-General William Henry Harrison: comprising a brief account of his important civil and military services, and an accurate description of the council at Vincennes with Tecumseh, as well as the victories of Tippecanoe, Fort Meigs and the Thames online

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Online LibraryGeorge UpfoldThe life of Major-General William Henry Harrison: comprising a brief account of his important civil and military services, and an accurate description of the council at Vincennes with Tecumseh, as well as the victories of Tippecanoe, Fort Meigs and the Thames → online text (page 4 of 9)
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making the following extracts from a private journal published
in Keene, New Hampshire, by Adam Walker, a private soldier
who fought in this battle, and who could have had no interested
motives for his publication.

" General Harrison," he says, " received a shot through the rim of his hat. In the
heat of the action, his voice was frequently heard, and easily distinguished, giving his
orders in the same calm, cool and collected manner, with which we had been used
to receive them on drill or parade. The confidence of the troops in the General was

The same intelligent writer, in speaking of Harrison's kind-
ness to the soldiers, and his influence over them, remarks,

"He appeared not disposed to detain any man against his inclination; being
endowed by nature with a heart as humane as brave, in his frequent addresses to the
militia, his eloquence was formed to persuade; appeals were made to reason as well
as fo feeling, and never were they made in vain."


On the return of Governor Harrison, the Speaker of the
Legislature of Indiana, General William Johnson, thus addressed
him : —

" The House of Representatives of the Indiana territory, in their own name, and
in behalf of their constituents, most cordially reciprocate the congratulations of your
Excellency on the glorious result of the late sanguinary conflict with the Shawnee
Prophet, and the tribes of Indians confederated with him; when we see displayed in
behalf of cur country, not only the consummate abilities of the General, but the
heroism of the man ,■ and when we take into view the benefits which must result to
that country from those exertions, we cannot, for a moment, withhold our meed of

The gallant Colonel Daviess, who, as has been already men-
tioned, fell at the battle of Tippecanoe, stated in a letter written
a short time before his death, —

" I make free to declare that I have imagined there were two military men in the
West, and General Harrisojt is the first of the two."

Soon after the battle, thirteen of the principal officers of the
army, issued an address, in which they declared, that

" Should our country again require our services to oppose a civilized or savage foe,


The victory of Tippecanoe was hailed throughout the
country with joy, and every demonstration of gratitude to thu
invincible Harrison. The hardy yeomanry of the West per-
mitted no limits to be imposed on their rejoicing. It was ce-
lebrated in every town, village, bar-room, and hamlet, in the
valley of the Ohio, and there were few firesides but burnt
brighter and more cheerfully, as the honest housewife congra-
lated herself and children on their escape from the fagot, the
vengeful scalping knife, or reeking tomahawk, of the grim
monsters of the woods.

The effect of the victory of Tippecanoe, was the immediate
dispersion of the hostile bands of barbarians, who had hereto-
fore hung on the Western frontier. The various tribes de-
nounced Tecumseh, and disclaimed all connexion with him,
and shortly afterwards sent eighty deputies* to Governor Har-

* These deputies promised to deliver the Prophet into the hands of the United
States, as soon as they could catch him, and went away, resolved, as McAfee remarks,
" not to commit hostilities again, until a favourable opportunity offered." Tecumseh
appeared at Fort Wayne during the following winter, (1811-12,) and by his com-
plaints against General Harrison, bore an unwilling but sincere testimony to his



rison, to treat for peace, on the terms of total submission. Far
different would have been the scene had the Prophet triumphed ;
towns would have been sacked, hamlets burned, and the peaceful
tenement of the settler offered up a sacrifice to savage fury.

During the time the events which we have just related, were
transpiring, a crisis had arisen in the national intercourse be-
tween Great Britain and the United States. We have elsewhere
stated that she still continued to hold some of the most important
fortresses on the frontier; that she had placed the Canadas in
such a situation as to use them for offensive or defensive ope-
rations, as circumstances might require; she had also committed
unprovoked depredations on our commerce. The hour for re-
tribution was now fast approaching. The spirit of the people
had been aroused, and nothing short of an open declaration of
war could allay it. Of the circumstances which led to the De-
claration of War, Tecumseh was doubtlessly apprized. Accord-
ingly we find that he instantly renewed those intrigues among
the Indians for which he had been so celebrated. The result
was, that their minds, at all times fickle, became again influ-
enced with a sanguinary desire for slaughter. The aid which
had been afforded, and the alliance which was now tendered
to them, by their British brethren, settled the wavering, and
determined the doubtful ; and we find them, in the war which
followed, at. all times companions with the latter in arms, and
scarcely excelling them in their bloody vengeance.

greatness. He then demanded ammunition, which the commandant refusing, he
threatened to "go to his British father" for it: after spending a few moments, in a
moody silence, he uttered the war-whoop and disappeared in the forest.




Declaration of War — Reliance on Harrison — Treason of Hull — Disastrous state of
the contest — Harrison appointed to the command of the Kentucky forces — Arrival
of Harrison at Fort Wayne — Indians retire at his approach — General Winchester
appointed — Discontent of the army — Winchester superseded — Harrison commis-
sioned by Madison — Great powers conferred on him — Attachment and devotion
of the troops to Harrison — Commences vigorous operations — Massacre at the River
Raisin — Occasioned by a disobedience of Harrison's orders — Renewed efforts of
defence — The army encamped at Fort Meigs — Investment of Fort Meigs by the
British and Indians — Anecdotes of Harrison — Gallant defence of Fort Meigs —
Admirable and successful military stratagem — Heroism of Harrison — The enemy

War against Great Britain was declared on the ISth of
June, 1S12. The interval between the battle of Tippecanoe,
and the declaration of war, was spent by Governor Harrison
in putting the frontier in a state of defence. Interviews with him
were solicited by the governors of most of the Western States, in
which measures were projected for enrolling and equipping
troops, and preparing the munitions of war for the approaching

Conscious of his great abilities and experience, and the uni-
versal confidence reposed in his military skill, by the entire
population of the West, they placed the utmost reliance on his
counsels, and looked to him as the only leader under whom
they could confidently expect success against the common
enemy. Having aided Governor Edwards in placing the fron-
tier of Illinois in a posture of defence, he was soon after invited
by Governor Scott of Kentucky, a distinguished revolutionary
officer, to a conference in relation to the Kentucky troops,
which had been raised for the defence of the frontier. He
complied with the invitation, and met Governor Scott at Frank-
fort ; where he was received with enthusiastic and tumultuary
acclamations by the people, and with the highest civil and
military honours. These signal marks of the ardent attach-
ment and unbounded confidence of the people whom he had
so triumphantly defended from the hostile savages, who me-


naced all the frontier settlements with destruction by the fagot
or the scalping knife, were soon after followed by still more
flattering proofs of their high admiration and regard for his
patriotism, abilities and military prowess.

It was obvious that the first blow of the enemy would fall
on the West, but with a chivalry truly characteristic, it neither
murmured nor faltered, but equipped for the field. . We will
not pause to narrate the disasters of the campaign under Hull.
Chicago and Mackinaw were taken by the enemy. Detroit
shortly after fell by treason, and throughout the whole frontier,
the mortification of defeat was rendered more poignant by the
prospect of a wide-spread savage slaughter. Shortly before
the fall of Detroit, letters were received from the army, stating
their total want of confidence in the capacity and integrity of
Hull. (See McAfee's History of the War, pages 84 and 85.
Letter from Cass, the late Secretary of War.)

" These letters," says McAfee, " also declared it to be the common wish of the
armt that Governor Harrison should accompany the expected rein-

Harrison was justly regarded at the time as the most capa-
ble, as well as the most popular General in the West. His
courage and daring at Tippecanoe, had given him a high place
in the affections of the people.

Governor Scott had levied an armed force of more than five
thousand militia and volunteers, commanded by some of the
ablest men and most experienced officers in the state. Two
thousand of these troops were ordered for immediate service ;
and they had no sooner learned that they were destined to
march to the aid of their countrymen on the frontier, than they
at once unanimously expressed the most earnest desire to be
placed under the command of Governor Harrison. This feel-
ing was responded to by the great mass of the people through-
out the state. The laws of Kentucky, however, would not
permit any other than a citizen to hold a command in the
state militia. In this dilemma, Governor Scott consulted with
the venerable Shelby, (the governor elect,) and other dis-
tinguished citizens of the state,* and by their unanimous advice

* A caucus was called on the subject of the appointment. " At this caucus, com-
posed of General Shelby, the Honourable Henry Clay, Speaker of die House of


he gave Harrison a brevet commission of Major-General in the
Kentucky militia, with express authority to take command of
the gallant troops about to march to the frontier. This was a
bold and unprecedented measure, but one that gave unbounded
satisfaction to both soldiers and citizens, and one fully justified
by the peculiar exigencies of the case. This unexpected pro-
ceeding on the part of Governor Scott and the authorities of
Kentucky, conveyed a eulogy on the various military acts of
the chivalrous Harrison such as no words can express. It
speaks volumes in favour of his unexampled popularity and
high military reputation, enjoyed among a bold and gallant
people, boasting an unusual proportion of distinguished and
able men.

Shortly afterwards he marched for the seat of war, at the
head of seven thousand Kentuckians — as gallant and chivalric
a band as ever rallied beneath the banner of freedom. It was
composed of men of the greatest intelligence and influence in
the state. The hardy yeoman marched shoulder to shoulder
with the lawyer who had aided in the administration of justice,
or the physician whose skill had relieved the diseases of his
children. Even the sacred ministers of God closed the volume
of gospel news, extinguished the fire on the altar, and bidding
the army " God speed !" swept on to meet the foe. Such were
the men who had enrolled themselves beneath the flag of Har-

Harrison had not proceeded far in his march when he was
informed that Winchester had been appointed by the War
Department, who were ignorant of the proceedings in Ken-
tucky, to the command of the troops. This information was
received with murmurs of indignation throughout the army.
The revolutionary veteran, Shelby, immediately wrote to the

Representatives in Congress, the Honourable Thomas Todd, Judge of the Federal
Court, &c. &c, it was unanimously resolved to give Harrison a brevet commission
of Major-General in the Kentucky militia, and authorize him to take command.
The appointment received the general approbation of the people, and was hailed by
the troops of Cincinnati with tho utmost enthusiastic joy." — McAfee's History of the
Last War, p. 108.

General Harrison appointed the Hon. R. M. Johnson, now Vice-President of the
United States, one of his aids. — lb, p. 109.
6 D2


Secretary of War, remonstrating against any change by which
Harrison should be superseded, as destructive of the objects of
the campaign. Harrison, however, yielding up his own eleva-
tion, and the appointment of Brigadier-General in the service
of the United States, which was at the same time tendered
him, a sacrifice to his country's good, submitted to the dictate
of authority, and pressed forward with haste to the relief of
Fort Wayne, which had been for ten days besieged by the

The news of his approach had gone before him ; and on his
arrival, the savages dispersed without hazarding a battle. Such
indeed was his reputation for invincible skill and gallantry, that a
writer of that day observes, " Harrison's pkesence inspires


brave." This reputation alone spared the effusion of human
blood at Fort Wayne. Shortly after Harrison arrived at Fort
Wayne, General Winchester, an old and meritorious revolu-
tionary officer, came to take command of the troops. But the
reputation of Winchester did not satisfy them with him as a
substitute for their favourite General. Loud murmurs ran
through the camp, and some openly refused to submit to the
change. So great was the discontent, that nothing short of
Harrison's disinterested and magnanimous efforts could recon-
cile them to their new commander: they finally submitted, but
under a promise that Harrison should be restored to them as
soon as the War Department could be heard from. McAfee,
in his. History of the Last War, remarks : —

" The troops had confidently expected that General Harrison would be confirmed
in the command ; and by this time he had completely received the confidence of
every soldier in the army. He was affable and courteous in his manners, and inde-
fatigable in his attention to every branch of business. His soldiers seemed to anti-
cipate the wishes of their General : it was only necessary to be known that he wished
something done, and all were anxious to risk their lives in its accomplishment. His
men would have fought better and suffered more with him, than with axt other
Gexeral ik America: and whatever might have been the merits of General Win-
chester, it was certainly an unfortunate arrangement which transferred the command
to him at this moment. It is absolutely necessary that militia soldiers should have
great confidence in their General, if they are required either to obey with great
promptness, or to fight with bravery. The men were at last reconciled to march
under Winchester, but with a confident belief that Harrison would be placed in the
command; which accordingly was done, as soon as the War Department was


informed of his appointment in the Kentucky troops, and his popularity in the
western country."

For no sooner was President Madison made aware of the
discontent in the army, and of the almost unanimous wishes
of the western people, than he immediately appointed Harri-
son, in the place of Winchester, commander of the North-West-
ern army.

A letter was addressed to General Harrison by the immortal
Perry, about the time of the appointment of Winchester to the
command, from which we make the following extract:

" You know what has been my opinion as to the future commander-in-chief of the
army. I pride myself not a little, I assure you, on seeing my predictions so near
being verified. Yes, my dear friend, I expect soon to hail you as the chief who


General Mc Arthur, who had also served under General Har-
rison, addressed his friend and old. commander on the subject,
in which he remarked : —


General in the service, and I am confident that no man can fight them
to so great advantage ; and I think their extreme solicitude may be the means
of calling you to this frontier."

On retiring from the army, after Winchester's appointment,
General Harrison hastened homeward to resume his duties as
Governor of Indiana. He had proceeded part of the way,
when he received a despatch from the Secretary of War, of
which the following is an extract.

"War Department, September 17, 1812.
" Sir, — The President is pleased to assign to you the command of the north-western
army, Which in addition to the regular troops and rangers in that quarter, will con-
sist, of the volunteers and militia of Kentucky, Ohio, and three thousand from Vir-
ginia and Pennsylvania, making your whole force ten thousand men."
After having stated the objects of the campaign, the despatch proceeds :
"With these objects in view, you will command scch means as may
be practicable, exercise your own discretion, and act in all cases

according to your own judgment. Very respectfully, &C.

" W. Eustis.
" Brig. Gen. William Henry Harrison."

The power thus conferred on General Harrison was greater
than had ever been exercised by any commander, excepting
only Washington and Green. It was equalled only by that
which he had exercised in a civil capacity, with so much
cedit to himself and advantage to the government.


President Madison, in communicating to Congress, Novem-
ber, IS 12, the preparations for defence, which had been made,
stated that "an ample force from the States of Kentucky, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, and Virginia, is placed, with the addition of a
few regulars, under the command of General Harrison, who


among whom are citizens, some of them volunteers in the
ranks, not less distinguished by their political stations than
by their personal merits."


Madison, a democrat of the Jefferson school, and one of the
purest patriots that ever breathed. Nor was it given without
a full knowledge of the merits of the recipient. Mr. Madison
entered upon the duties of Secretary of State under Thomas
Jefferson, in the year 1S01, shortly after Harrison had been
appointed Governor of Indiana. They had served together
through the whole of Jefferson's administration ; and the Se-
cretary of State must have been familiar with the manner in
which the duties of Governor of Indiana had been discharged.
Nothing but an exalted sense of Harrison's worth and abilities,
could have induced the appointment. We will only add that
he remained in office under Mr. Madison, till near the expiration
of his term of service.

Immediately on receiving this appointment, General Harrison
proceeded at once to the command of the army, which he found
in a state of almost open rebellion. His arrival, which occurred
at night, was unknown to the army. Early in the morning he
had them paraded, and unexpectedly presented himself before
them. The effect was electrical. Every voice was raised in
long and loud applause, and a general enthusiasm pervaded
the camp. With characteristic happiness he seized this moment
to reconcile them to their duty, and made them a patriotic and
spirit stirring speech, in which he reminded them of their obliga-
tions to themselves, their families, and their country. Their in-
stant return to duty proved that they were dissatisfied with their
former Commander, and not the service in which they had
engaged. The universal and devoted personal attachment en-
tertained for General Harrison, by every species of troops who
served under him — their unlimited confidence in his courage,


skill, and great capacity for command — will remind the reader
of the same peculiarity in the career of the immortal " Father
of his country." It was this feeling among the People
throughout the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi, and the
services and ennobling traits in the character of Harrison,
which won for him the proud title of " The Washington
of the West." During the whole period of his military
services, amidst all the privations, toils and sufferings of a
war carried on in an uninhabited country, covered with
swamps and woods, he never caused a soldier to be punished.
Yet no General ever commanded the confidence, admiration
and obedience of the militia to a greater extent. When asked
by a fellow officer how he managed to gain the control over
his troops which he possessed, he answered,

" By treating them with affection and kindness — by always recollecting that they
were my fellow-citizens, whose feelings I was bound to respect, and sharing, on every
occasion, the hardships they were obliged to undergo."

Harrison now commenced exertions to forward supplies for
the expedition against Maiden. It was at this time he suggested
to Mr. Madison the creation of a navy on the Lakes ; and to
him, as the author of this measure, is to be ascribed, the sub-
sequent victories, by which the fame of our gallant navy has
been rendered immortal. The project of a fleet on Lake Erie,
was at once undertaken at his instance, in consequence of the
unbounded confidence of Mr. Madison in the great, military
talents and prudence of Harrison.

Owing to the advanced state of the season, nothing of im-
portance was effected during this campaign. Harrison, how-
ever, spent every hour of his time in laborious preparations for
the ensuing summer, — in erecting forts, creating depots and
cutting roads through the wilderness; in fine, in preparing the
face of the country for active operations.

The duties that now devolved on General Harrison were
arduous beyond description. The troops under his command,
though brave, were either volunteers for a limited period of
time, or inexperienced and undisciplined recruits ; and the
army was badly equipped, and nearly destitute of baggage and
military stores. With these inadequate means, and under these
unfavourable circumstances, he was required to defend an im


mense extent of frontier, stretching along the shores of the great
northern lakes, whose numerous harbours and rivers were easy
of access to the enemy. In addition to this, the roads leading
to those points which most required defence, were nearly im-
passable, and lay, for hundreds of miles, through a wilderness
swarming with hostile Indians, and through gloomy and dan-
gerous swamps, where the troops, though little encumbered
with baggage, could advance but slowly and with great labour.
But under all these difficulties, the spirits of the soldiers were
sustained by the presence and example of their favourite com-
mander, who animated them in their fatigues, and cheerfully
endured the same hardships and privations which they en-

The published accounts of our recent war with the Seminoles
in Florida, the disastrous details of which have been made but
too familiar to us, will convey to our readers some idea of the
peculiar dangers and difficulties of this campaign, and of the
skill and fortitude required to overcome them. In either case,
we were opposed by the same savage foe, and the country was
almost inaccessible from the same causes — its unhealthiness at
that season of the year, and its extensive and treacherous
swamps, the passes through which were known only to the
hostile Indians, by whom they were occupied ; — with perhaps,
in the two cases, but this difference only, that the northern
Indians are well known to be much fiercer and more formida-
ble warriois than their southern brethren; and that, during the
whole of this campaign, they were kept constantly supplied by
the British with more effective arms and ammunition.

It was at this time that the massacre at the river Raisin, so
memorable in the annals of blood, occurred. Winchester, who
was now subordinate to Harrison, had been ordered by the
General to fall back to Fort Jennings, as the latter had received
information that Tecumseh was in his vicinity, with an over-
whelming force of Indians. Instead of obeying this order,
Winchester sent Colonel Lewis with six hundred men forward
to the river Raisin, to protect the farms. Lewis in turn exceeded
his orders, and pushed forward to Frenchtown, only eighteen
miles from Maiden. He there attacked and routed the combined
British and Indian forces, and with the greatest gallantry drove

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Online LibraryGeorge UpfoldThe life of Major-General William Henry Harrison: comprising a brief account of his important civil and military services, and an accurate description of the council at Vincennes with Tecumseh, as well as the victories of Tippecanoe, Fort Meigs and the Thames → online text (page 4 of 9)