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NARRATIVE



OF THE



SUFFERING & DEFEAT



OF THE



NORTH-WESTERN ARMY.



UNDER GENERAL WINCHESTER:



MASSACRE OF THE PRISONERS I SIXTEEN MONTHS IM-
PRISONMENT OF THE WRITER AND OTHERS WITH
THE INDIANS AND BRITISH :



BY WILLIAM ATHERTON.



FRANKFORT, KY.

Printed for the Author by A. G. Hodges.

1842.






$



.A*^



[Copt Right secured according to law.]



PREFACE.



The greater part of this short narrative was writ-
ten years ago. At that time it was intended for
publication. But for several years past the writer
had declined ever letting it come before the world ;
and had it not been for the solicitations of friends,
it is highly probable this intention would never
have been changed. But relying upon the opinion
of those whom he believed to be well qualified to
judge of it, and believing them to be sincere in
their expression of opinion, I have consented to let it
go and take its chance before the public.

It was found difficult to give such an account of
that part of the campaign which it was thought to
be most important, without commencing as far back
as the departure of the army from Kentucky. This
part of the history has, however, been passed over
very rapidly, perhaps rather too much so to make it
at all satisfactory. The writer is aware that he has
omitted much which would have added to the inter-
est of this little history ; but he has not leisure to
go over it again. History has given us an account
of the sufferings of the North- Western Army only in
general terms, but no where, so far as I have been
able to learn, has there been given a particular detail
of the sufferings and privations of that detachment
of the army.

I think it proper that the rising generation
should know what their fathers suffered, and how
they acted in the hour of danger; that they sustain-
ed the double character of '•'■ Americans and Ken-
tuckians.'''' This narrative has been made as concise



4 PREFACE.

as I could conveniently make it, and on that ac-
count, perhaps, the writer has not said all that mighty
and that should have been said. But it is hoped that
what has been taid will be sufficient to give the
youthful reader some idea of what that "Spartan
band" were called to endure. To the old men of our
country these things, perhaps, will not be new.

With regard to the massacre at Raisin, the writer
has related nothing but what he saw. What is said
in reference to the brave Hart and Hickman, he
witnessed with his own eyes.

It may be thought that I have been a little too
severe in what I have said of British officers.
Should any think so, all I have to say is, had they
seen and felt what we did there would have been no
difference of opinion. By some it will be thought
strange to lind the savages, in point of feeling and
humanity, placed above the British — but the truth
ought always to be told.

One thing the WTiter regrets, and that is his being
compelled so frequently to speak of himself. But
he found it impossible to give a full narration with-
out it. Nothing is aimed at but a plain unvarnished
statement of facts, a sober description of scenes, in
the principal part of which the writer himself was
an actor.



NARRATIVE.



The volunteers from Kentucky, under the
command of Colonels Allen, Lewis and Scott,
left their homes on the 12th of August, 1S12,
and rendezvoused at Georgetown. Thence
took the Dry Ridge road to Cincinnati, v/here
we remained a few days. We then pursued
our march through the State of Ohio, by the
way of Piqua ; from which place we were
called to the relief of Fort Wayne.'

Nothing worthy of public notice occurred
on the way, except the alarm we had at the
camp we called "Fighton," v;' "'-h every sol-
dier that was en the ground ud doubt recol-
lects. Though we were alarmed at Piqua,
by one of the sentinels shooting at a
horse, j'et we had seen nothing such as oc-
curred here. It was a dark rainy night, just
such a time as the Indians would choose to
make an attack. We anticipated danger,
and made arrangements to meet it. The

army encamped in a hollow square, within a

1*



6* ATHERTON^'S NARRATIVE.

strong breastwork, and guards were placed at
every point. Whether there were Indians
about or not, some of the guard thought they
heard them, and many guns were fired on
post, and all the camp called to arms. The
line of battle was more than once formed
during the night, and at one time kept under
arms an hour and a half. As this was the
the first campaign with most of us, and also
the first alarm worthy of notice, it is not
easy to imagine the degree of excitement
produced throughout the camp. It fell to
my lot to be on guard that night, and at the
time of the greatest alarm was on post; the
guard was not relieved for near an hour after
their time had expired — an attack being mo-
mently expected.

When we arrived at Fort Wayne, we
found that the Indians which had annoyed
the fort for some time, had retreated. We
were then ordered to march to two Indian
towns, for the purpose of burning the houses
and destroying their corn. When we had
accomplished this, and returned to Fort
Wayne, we there met the Kentucky mount-
ed volunteers under the command of Colonel
Simrall. We marched from Fort W'ayne
on the 22d of September, and pursued



atherto.n's narrative. 7

Wayne's route down the Miami towards old
Fort Defiance, where we arrived on the 30th,
During the latter part of this march we were
frequently annoyed by the enemy. Our ad-
vance party of spies fell in with a body of
Indians, and a small skirmish ensued, in which
one of the spies was slightly wounded, and
several of the enemy killed; the exact num-
ber could not be ascertained, as the Indians
always carry off their dead when practicable.
The day before, Ensign Liggett, of the regu-
lars, with four men, was pursued by this body
of Indians, massacred and scalped. The loss
of Ensign Liggett was much lamented, as he
was a promising young officer, remarkable
for bravery and intrepidity. He had left tho
company of spies, with his four companions,
to examine the country around Fort Defi-
ance, and had advanced several miles ahead
of the party — where they were killed. Ma-
ny of Ensign Liggett's friends are still living
in Kentucky.

The annoyance from the enemy greatly
retarded our movements, as it was impossible,
with any degree of certainty, to ascertain
either their situation or force. In crossing
the river, however, thetr whole movements
were discovered. The British, with their



S atiiehton's narrative.

artillery from Detroit, and a large party of
Indians, v/ere progressing towards Fort
Wayne. After engaging our spies, and an-
noying our advanced guard, they faced to
the right about and retreated precipitately.
Owing to the situation of the army (being
short of provisions) it was impossible, by
forced marches, to intercept them. At this
time Captain Bland Ballard showed his skill
in Indian fighting, by making good his re-
treat, for which he deserves much. His Lieu-
tenant, Munday, who had parted with him
in the morning, also efiected a retreat, by
charging upon the Indians, before they ascer-
tained his numbers, and then dashing into'
camp. The next day our spies had an ac-
tion — had one wounded — and saw sev-
eral Indians fall. The day following the In-
dians shovv^ed in front of the spies, and snap-
ped at one of oar men — a fire ^vas returned,
v/hich left blood v.here the Indians stood.
The Indian spies were on horse back, which
rendered it difficult to ascertain their situa-
tion. Our spies could not, v/ith propriety,
venture far from us, and we could not ad-
vance unli! the country was reconnoitered,
consequently our march was slow. A short
turn to the right, however, and crossing the



ATHERTON's NARPwATIVE. 9

river at an unexpected place, gave us the ad-
vantage. After crossing the river we saw
that the enemy had artillery, and were ahead
of us. We were now within six miles of
Defiance. It was very bushy for more than
a mile before we approached the fort. The
army remained at camp that morning, and
sent out spies in every direction ; w^hen they
returned, they reported that the enemy had
gone off down the river. It was tlien deem-
ed inexpedient to move so late in the after-
noon. It was supposed there were from one
to two hundred British, with from two to five
pieces of cannon, and from four to six hun-
dred Indians. The artillery was certainly
brought up by water to this place, and re-
embarked here again. Their (jbject must
have been Fort Wayne.

By this time we became very scarce of
provisions, having nothing for some days but
the poorest beef. Some of the men began
to murmer — and some went so far as to talk
of returning home — but when this was
known by the officers, measures were taken
to put a stop to it. Colonel Allen, in an ani-
mated and encouraging address to his men,
banished the idea of shrinking in the day of
adversity. Captain Simpson, also, was not



10 atherton's narrative.

unemployed. This was the first time we
had sensibly felt the want of bread.

General Harrison returned to the army on
the second of October. We were greatly
animated at seeins; him amons^ us once more.
He addressed the whole army in a most thril-
ling speech, which kindled in the breasts of
the men, crenerallv, an increased desire to
meet the enemy, and a willingness to endure
any priA'ations they might be called to suffer.
He remained with us but a short time.

The enemv havinsr retreated before us in
every direction, leaving us an extensive ter-
ritory to occupy; our object then was to es-
tablish a chain of fortified posts, in order to
facilitate the supplies necessary for a speedy
invasion of Upper Canada. Notwithstanding
we were in the enemv's countrv, where Indian
spies were seen almost every day, yet it was
impossible to keep the men from imprudently
hazardintr their lives! Shortlv after our ar-
rival at Fort Defiance, five of our men, who
had been out gathering plums, were found
scalped. About this time Captain Garrard's
troop of horse, and another company, met a
scouting party of Indians and routed them.
One of our militia was killed and another
wounded. In consequence of this informa-



atiierton's narrative. 11

tion, General Harrison marched the whole of
his army from St. Mary's to Defiance. Gen-
eral Harrison had heard from General Kelso,
who commanded a detachment of troops on
lake Erie, that two thousand Indians and
some regulars with seveml pieces of artillery,
had left Maiden on an expedition against Fort
Wayne ! This news, with other exaggera-
ted accounts, induced the belief that General
Winchester was likely to be defeated. As
before stated, all the forces at St. Mary's
were put in motion, but before they reached
Defiance information of the enemy's retreat
was received.

Before General Harrison left Defiance, he
selected a situation for a new fort. A party
of men was detailed to procure timber for
the buildings. General Winchester, also,
moved his camp from the Miami to the Au-
glaize river.

The command of the left Avas now con-
fided to General Winchester, who was in-
structed to occupy the rapids as soon as pos-
sible for the purpose of securing a quantity
of corn which had been raised by the inhab-
itants.

Before General Harrison left, he ordered
General Tupper to take all his mounted men



12 atherton's narrative.

and proceed down the Miami as far as the
Rapids. When this order was issued, Gen-
eral Tapper's command was immediately sup-
plied with provision for eight days, which in-
cluded all the flour in camp. About 12 o'-
clock next day a party of Indians fired on the
men immediately on the opposite bank of the
Miami, one of whom they killed, scalped,
and then fled ! This, for a moment, produced
alarm, and the troops were formed in order
of battle. Presently small parties of horse-
men began to cross the river in pursuit of
the enemy. The horses were mostly at grass,
and as soon as they could be caught the own-
ers engaged in the pursuit. Eight or ten par-
ties went, mostly from Colonel Simrall's regi-
ment, in one of which was the Colonel him-
self. General Tupper ordered that no more
should cross, apprehending from the boldness
of the Indians that a large body might be ly-
ino- in ambush. General Winchester now or-
dered Tupper to commence his expedition to-
wards the Rapids by pursuing these Indians.
Tupper had previously sent Logan and six
other Indians to reconnoiter, and did not seem
willing to go until they returned. They ar-
rived in the evening, stating that they had
seen a party of Indians, about fifty strong, ten
miles down the river.



atherton's narrative. 13

Colonel Allen now ofFered his services to ac-
company Tupper to the Rapids in any station
he thought proper to place him, from a pri-
vate soldier upwards. He accepted his offer,
and caused him to be announced as his aid.
General Winchester issued positive orders
that General Tupper should proceed ; but he
declined, saying he would prefer going by the
Ottoway towns, (fee.

At this time about three hundred of the
mounted riflemen, whose terms of service
had expired, left the camp and returned home.
Colonel Simrall, believins; that the orders of
General Winchester to General Tupper would
not be executed, returned to the settlements
to recruit his horses and be in readiness to
march when his services should be necessary.
It will be sufficient to say this expedition at
this time failed.

After the mounted men left us, nothing of
importance occurred for some time. We w^ere
engaged building the fort, which, through
much difficulty, was at length completed.
This will appear, when it is known that at
that place we had not our full rations. That
this fact may be established, I will give some
extracts from a letter, written at the time, by

James Garrard, Brigade Inspector: *' We

2



14 ATHERTON^S NARRATIVE.

have not" says he ''drawn a full ration since
the 8th September. Sometimes without beef
— at other times wdthout flour: and the worst
of all, entirely \vithout salt, which has been
much against the health of the men. They
bear it with much patience, although they
have been without salt for five or six davs."
At this time the sick amounted to two hun-
dred and sixteen men, and there was some
dissatisfaction in the army against the gov-
ernment because the necessary supplies were
not sent on. But when they became acquaint-
ed with the true cause of the deficiencv, that
the fault was not in the government ^ but in
the change of affairs since their march, they
were perfectly satisfied. Again Mr. Garrard
states : "You would be surprised to see the
men appear on the brigade parade. Some
without shoes, others without socks, blankets,
&c. All the clothes they have are linen; but
they discharge their duty with cheerfulness,
hoping that their country will supply their
wants before the severity of winter comes
on." There are many wdio can testify to the
truth of the above. What clothes we took
with us when we left our homes had worn
very thin. Many left hom.e with their linen
hunting-shirts, and some of these were lite-



ATHERTON^S NARRATIVE. 15

rally torn to rags by the brush. We had heard
that General Harrison had made a powerful
appeal to the ladies of Kentucky and Ohio,
and we were sure it would not be in vain ;
and about this time we learned that the ladies
of Kentucky were exerting theniselves to
relieve the soldiers of this army. It was
highly gratifying to us to know that we were
kept in remembrance by the ladies of our
own State.

Xear this time our spies brought in a pris-
oner. They took him about thirty miles be-
low Fort Winchester. He called himself
William Walker; had been with the Indians
near thirty years, and was married to a Wy-
andott squaw; he said at that time he lived
at Detroit. He v/as recognized bv several in
camp, and two men said, "when Detroit was
taken, under General Hull, he was pamted
like an Indian, and was seen out of the fort,"
but they did not recollect any act of hostility
on his part. His story was, that he persuaded
the 'Indians to abandon the British ; that in
the end we w^ould ruin them, &c. That for
this he was put into the guard-house at De-
troit, and told his conduct was criminal, and
consequently would be sent where he would
he kept safely; that he made his escape from



16 atherton's narrative.

the guard-house— lay concealed a few days
until he was ready — and then started to join
us. The general belief was he came as a
spy. He seemed intimately acquainted with
the Indian movements, but the officers were
afraid to place any reliance upon his state-
ments. He gave us a description of the force
we met near Defiance on their w^ay to Fort
Wayne. He estimated their number at about
nine hundred Indians and British altogether,
with two brass field pieces; that the after-
noon on which w^e crossed the Miami, they
were at Fort Defiance, wdiich was only six
miles from where we crossed the river, and
that they started early next morning to-
wards the Rapids. From him w^e learned
that McCoy of Georgetown, whom w^e sup-
posed was murdered, had been taken prison-
er. Upon being asked if any prisoners had
been taken, he replied one — a Quarter Mas-
ter Sergeant. McCoy filled that place.

We now began preparations to march to-
wards the Rapids — having completed a new
and beautiful fort, situated near the old one,
which, like its brave progenitor, had fallen
before the irresistible hand of time. We
crossed the Miami, and camped a few miles
below Defiance. During the time of our en-



atherton's narrative. 17

campment we were called to witness a very
solemn transaction, A young man was found
sleeping on post — ke was arraigned and sen-
tenced to be shot. When the lime appointed
for his execution arrived, the army was pa-
raded — the prisoner was brought to the spot
— a bandage placed over his .eyes — and di-
rected to prepare to meet death. A platoon
was ordered to take their stand a few paces
in front of the lines, ready to fire when the
word should be given. A deep silence now
reigned throughout the army — every eye was
fixed upon the criminal, standing upon his
Icnees blindfolded — the officer comm.andinsj
the platoon waiting to . hear and give the
word which would hurry a fellow soldier in-
to eternity. During X^h moment of sus-
pense a messenger came ti'om the General
bearing a reprieve. Thi circumstance made
a deep impression upo.. the w^hole army.
It was found necessary, also, to make an ex-
ample of one who had deserted. His sen-
tence was to ride the wooden horse ; which
was made by bending a sapling until the
top reached the ground — this he did in the
presence of the whole army.

Very few Indians were seen or heard of

for some weeks, neither had any mischief

2*



18 ATHERTON*S NARRATIVE.

been done, though the men were very care-
less, and would hunt game and fruit far and
near — often strolling miles from the camp
without guns* The ground on this side of
ihe river, where we first encamped, being
disagreeable, we marched a few miles down
the river, remained a short time, and then
Removed to what is called camp No. 3.
There w^e had a beautiful situation, and an
abundance of fine timber.

Although the enemy had now retreated
and left us in possession of the Territory, we
were still called to contend with the severe
weather, which not only prevented the ne-
cessary s.upply of provisions from reaching
us, but in our thinly clad condition became
very oppressive. We knew that efforts were
making to supply us with clothes and rations,
but the roads were almost impassable. About
the first of November the men became very
sickly — the typhus fever raged with violence
— three or four would sometimes die in a day.
It is said upwards of three hundred was on
the sick list at one time.

Towards the latter part of November, or
first of December, the rain fell in torrents.
We were ordered to build huts, for to ad-
vance at that time appeared impossible. Ma-



atherton's narrative. 19

ny were so entirely destitute of siioes and
other clothing, that had they been compelled
to march any distance they must have frozen.
What we sufiered at Defiance was but the be-
ginning of afiliction. We now saw nothing but
hunger, and cold, and nakedness, staring us in
the face. At one time, for several days, we
scarcely had any thing to eat but some poor
beef. I have seen the butchers go to a beef
and kill it, when lying down and could not
get out of the way. This kind of beef, and
hickory roots, was our principal subsistence
for a length of time. When we had been
here a few weeks, and the ground became
covered with snow, and we no longer appre-
hended danger from the enemy, we were per-
mitted to hunt. This we did to some extent,
but in a short time there was not a squirrel
to be found near the encampment.

During our stay at camp No. 3, a detach-
ment was sent down the river to assist Gen-
eral Tupper. I w^as one of the number call-
ed out for that expedition; and a hard and
fruitless one it was. Colonel Lewis com-
manded. We marched until about nine
o'clock at night. Colonel C. S. Todd, with
some others, was sent on to Tupper's en-
campment to make some discoveries, and



20 atherton's narrative,

when they arrived at the spot they found
that Tapper had retreated, and one of his
men left dead in the camp! This information
was brought to Colonel Lewis, and after a
council with his officers, he considered it
prudent to return. He thought if it were
necessary for Tupper, with six hundred and
fifty men, to retreat, and the river too be-
tween him and the enemy, he could not be
justified in meeting it on the same side with
three hundred and eighty. It was stated, but
I would not vouch for the truth of it, that he
left the Rapids a few hours after he sent the
express to our camp, without notifying our
detachment at all.

Early next morning we commenced our
retreat, but from the fatigues of the previous
day, and want of rest that night, (for we had
no fire,) the most of us were unable to reach
the army that day, but were obliged to camp
about five miles below. This was a night of
keen suspense to myself, and no doubt many
others. We had grounds to believe the In-
dians would pursue us with perhaps double
our number, and surprise us in the night; but
we reached the camp in safety next morning.

Our Indian spies made frequent excursions
in different directions, but their reports were



atherton's narrative. 21

not generally satisfactory. Logan, one of
the finest looking Indians I ever saw, was one
of them, and perhaps the only honest man
among them, finding that they were suspect-
ed either of cowardice or treachery, deter-
mined on another expedition to the Rapids.
Bat before leaving, expressed his grief at the
stain cast upon his character— declaring at
the same time that something should be done
before his return that should convince all
concerned of his bravery and friendship to
the Government of the United States. Old
Captain John, smd Lighifoof, if I mistake not,
accompanied him. They had not reached
the Rapids before they fell in with the spies
of the British — a company of Indians supe-
rior to their own, commanded by a young
British officer : thev managed the aiTair with
great dexterity. Logan, who was a man" of
great presence of mind, finding, upon first
sight of the enemy, a retreat to be impracti-
cable, instantly proposed to his comrades to
approach them in the character of friends, and
report them.selves as deserters from camp
No. 3. Though they had but a very few
moments, yet Logan fixed upon the signal,
and concerted the plan of escape. They
met — Logan made his statement, which was


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