William Hayden English.

Conquest of the country northwest of the river Ohio, 1778-1783; and life of Gen. George Rogers Clark. Over one hundred and twenty-five illustrations. With numerous sketches of men who served under Clark .. online

. (page 36 of 38)
Online LibraryWilliam Hayden EnglishConquest of the country northwest of the river Ohio, 1778-1783; and life of Gen. George Rogers Clark. Over one hundred and twenty-five illustrations. With numerous sketches of men who served under Clark .. → online text (page 36 of 38)
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Virginia), the enemy in the meantime might get strengthened, and
probably we might not be so capable of carrying the (^fosf) with the
expected reinforcement as we should be with our present force, in
case we \\ ere to make the attempt at this time ; and in case we should
be disappointed in the promised reinforcement, we might not be able
to effect it at all. There were various arsfuments made use of on this
delicate point. Every person seemed anxious to improve the present
opportunity, but prudence appealed to forbid the execution, and in-
duced us to wait for the reinforcement. The arguments that ap-
peared to have the greatest weight were, that wnth such a force we
might march boldly through the Indian nations ; that it would make
a great (^impressioit') on them as well as the inhabitants of Detroit,
and have a better effect than if we were now to slip off and take the
place with so small a force, which was certainly in our power; that
the British w^ould not w^ish to weaken Niagara by sending any con-
siderable reinforcements to Detroit ; that it was more difficult for that
post to get succor from Canada than it was for us to receive it from
the states ; that the garrison at Detroit would not be able to get a re-
inforcement in time to prevent our executing our designs, as we
might, with propriety, expect ours in a few weeks. In short, the en-
terprise was defened until the of June, when our troops were to

rendezvous at Post Vincennes. In the meantime every preparation
was to be made, procuring provisions, etc. ; and, to blind our de-
signs, the whole, except a small garrison, should march immediate! v

to the Illinois ; and orders were sent to Kentucky to prepare the:i-i-

54^ Clark's memoir.

selves to meet at the appointed time. This was now our proposed
plan, and directed our operations the ensuing spring.

Ivlarch 5th, Captain Helm, Majors Bosseron and Legras, returned
from their journey up the river with great success. They came up
with the enemy in the night, discerning their fires at a distance ;
waited until all was quiet ; surrounded and took the whole prisoners,
without the firing of a gun. Those (^British') gentlemen were off
their guard, and so little apprehensive of an enemy in that part of the
world that they could hardly persuade themselves that what they saw
and heard was real. This was a valuable (^frize) — seven boats load-
ed with provisions and goods to a considerable amount. The j^io-
visions were taken for the public, and the goods divided among the
whole, except about ;^Soo worth (<?/") cloth (^for?^ the troops we
expected to receive in a short time. This was very agreeable to the
soldiers, as I told them that the state should pay them in money their
proportion, and that they had great plenty of goods. This reservation
was a valuable idea, for the troops, on their arrival, what few there
were, {wei-e) almost entirely naked.

On the 7th of March, Captains Williams and Rogers set out by
water wath a party of twenty-five men to conduct the British ofiicers
to Kentucky, and, farther to weaken the prisoners, eighteen privates
were also sent. After their arrival at the falls of the Ohio, Capfain
Rogers had instructions to superintend their route to Williamsburg
and be careful that all manner of supplies be furnished them on their
way, and to await the orders of the governor.

Poor Myers, the express, got killed on his passage and his packet
fell into the hands of the enemy, but I had been so much on my
guard that there was not a sentence in it that could be of any dis-
advantage to us for the enemy to know, and there were private letters
from soldiers to their friends, designedly written to deceive In case
of such accidents. This was customary with us, as our expresses
were frequently surprised. I sent a second dispatch to the governor,
giving him a short but full account of what had passed and our
views. The copy of this packet has been long since lost among

Clark's memoir.


many other papers, but I expect the original might be recovered among
the public papers of those times.

I sent letters to the commandant of Kentucky directing him to give
me a certain, but private, account of the number of men he could
furnish me In June.

The weather being now vcrv disagreeable, and having some leisure,
our time was spent in consultation, weighing matters, and arranging
things to the best advantage. A number of our men now got sick —
their inti-epidlty and good success had, until this, kept up their
spirits, but things falling off to little more than common garrison
duty, they more sensibly felt the pains and other complaints that they
had contracted during the se^'erItv of the late uncommon march, to
which many of these valuable men fell a sacrifice, and few others
were yet perfectlv recovered (^from') it.

I had yet sent no message to the Indian tribes, wishing to wait to
see what effect all this would have on them. The Piankeshaws, be-
ing of the tribe of the Tobacco's Son, were always familiar with us.
Part of the behavior of this grandee, as he vic\ve(l himself, was
diverting enough. He had conceived such an inviolable attachment
for Captain Helm, that on finding that the captain was a prisoner and
not being as yet able to release him, he declared himself a prisoner
also. He joined his brother, as he called Captain Helm, and con-
tinually kept with him, condoling their condition as prisoners in great
distress, at the same time wanting nothing that was in the power of
the garrison to furnish. Governor Hamilton, knowing the Influence
of Tobacco's Son, was extremelv jealous of his behavior, and took
every pains to gain him by presents, etc. When anything was pre-
sented to him, his reply would be, that It would serve him and his
brother to live on. He would not enter into council, saying that he
was a prisoner and had nothing to say, but was in hopes that when
the grass grew, his brother, the big knife, would release him, and
when he was free, he could talk, etc. Being presented \\\\\\ an ele-
gant sword, he drew It, and, bending the point on the floor, very
seriously said it would serve him and his brother to amuse themselves

^^S Clark's memoir.

sticking frogs in the pond while in captivity. In short, they could do
nothing with him, and the moment he heard of our arri\'al, he
paraded all the warriors he had in his village (joining St. Vincent),
and was ready to fall in and attack the fort, but for reasons formerly
mentioned, was desired to desist.

On the 15th of March, 1779, a party of upper Piankeshaws and
some Pottawattamie and Miami chiefs made their appearance, mak-
ing great protestations of their attachment to the Americans, begged
that they might be taken under the cover of our wings, and that the
roads through the lands might be made straight and all the stumbling
blocks removed, and that their friends, the neighboring nations, might
also be considered in the same point of view. I well knew from
what principle all this sprung, and, as I had Detroit now in my eye, it
was my business to make a straight and clear road for myself to walk,
without thinking much of their interest or anything else but that of
opening the road in earnest — by flattery, deception or any other
means that occurred. I told them that I was glad to see them and
was happv to learn that most of the nations on the Wabash and Omi
(^^faumee^ rivers had proved themselves to be men by adhering to
the treaties they had made with the big knife last fall, except a few
weak minds who had been deluded by the English to come to war;
that I did not know exactly who they were, nor much cared, but
understood they were a band chiefly composed of almost all the tribes
(such people were to be found among all nations), but as these kind
of people, who had the meanness to sell their country for a shirt, were
not worthy of the attention of warriors, we would say no more about
them and think on subjects more becoming us. I told them that I
should let the great council of Americans know of their good be-
havior and knew that they would be counted as friends of the big
knife, and would be always under their protection and their country
secured to them, as the big knife had land enough and did not want
any more ; but if ever they broke their faith, the big knife would
never again trust them, as thev never hold friendship with a people
who they find with tvvo hearts ; that they were witnesses of the calam-


itiesthe British had brought on their countries by their false assertions
and presents, \vhich was a sufficient proof of their weaicness ; that
they saw that all their boasted valor was like to fall to the ground, and
the\- would not come out of the fort the other day to try to save the
Indians that they flattered to war and suffered to be killed in their
sight; and, as the nature of the war had been fully explained to them
last fall, they might clearly see that the Great Spirit w^ould not suffer
it to be otherwise — that it was not only the case on the Wabash, but
everywhere else ; that they might be assured that the nations who
would continue obstinately to believe the English would be driven out
of the land and their countries given to those who were more steady
friends to the Americans. I told them that I expected, for the future,
that if any of my people should be going to war through their coun-
try that they would be protected, which should be always the case
with their people w hen among us, and that mutual confidence should
continue to exist, etc., etc.

They replied that, from what they had seen and heard, thev were
convinced that the Master of Life had a hand in all things ; that their
people would rejoice on their return ; that they would take pains to
diffuse what they had heard through all the nations, and made no
doubt of the good effect of it, etc., etc. ; and, after a long speech in
the Indian style, calling all the spirits to be witnesses, they concluded
by renewing the chain of friendship, smoking the sacred pipe, ex-
changing belts, etc., and, I believe, went off really well pleased,
but not able to fathom the bottom of all they had heard, the greatest
part of which was mere political lies, for, the ensuing summer. Cap-
tain I. Shelby, with his own company only, lay for a considerable
time in the Wea town, In the heart of their country, and was treated
in the most friendly manner by all the natives that he saw, and was
frequently invited by them to join and plunder what was called " the
King's Pasture at Detroit." What they meant was to go and steal
horses from that settlement. About this time an express arrived from
the Illinois with a letter from Captain George.

Things now beingpretty well arranged, Lieutenant Richard Brashear

5 so Clark's memoir.

was appointed to the command of the garrison, which consisted of
Lieutenants Bailey and Chapline, with one hundred picked men ;
Captain Leonard Hehn commandant of the town, superintendent of
Indian affairs, etc. ; Moses Henry, Indian agent, and Patrick Ken-
nedy, quartermaster. Giving necessary instructions to all persons I
left in office, on the 30th of March, I set sail on board of our galley,
which was now made perfectly complete, attended by five armed
boats and seventy men.

The watersbeing very high, we soon reached the {JMississippi ?)^*
and the winds favoring us, in a few days we arrived safely at Kaskas-
kia, to the great joy of our new friends. Captain George and com-
pany, waiting to receive us.

On our passage up the Mississippi, we had observed several Indian
camps which appeared to us fresh, but had been left in great con-
fusion. This w^e could not account for, but were now informed that a
few days past a party of Delaware warriors came to town and appeared
to be very impudent ; that in the evening, having been drinking, they
swore they had come there for scalps and would have them, and
flashed a gun at the breast of an American woman present. A
sergeant and party, that moment passing by the house, saw the con-
fusion and rushed in. The Indians immediately fled. The sergeant
pursued and killed (^some) of them. A party was instantly sent to
route their camps on the river. This was executed the day before we
came up, which was the sign we had seen.

Part of the Delaware nation had settled a town at the forks of the
White river, and hunted in the counties on the Ohio and Mississippi.
They had, on our first arrival, hatched up a kind of peace with us,
but I always knew they were for open war but never before could get
a proper excuse for exterminating them from the country, which I
knew they would be loth to leave ; and that the other Indians wished
them away, as they were great hunters and killed their game. A few days
after this, Captain Helm informed me, by express, that a party of traders
who were going by land to the falls were killed and plundered by the

* Copy says Missouri, but probably a mistake.

Clark's memoir. cci

DeliiNvares of AMiite river, and that it appeared that their designs were
altog^ether hostile, as they had received a belt from the erreat council of
their nation. I was sorry for the loss of our men, otherwise pleased at
what had happened, as it would i^ive me an opportunity of showing
the other Indians the horrid fate of those who would dare to make
war on the big knives, and to excel them in barbarity I knew was, and
is, the onlv way to make war and gain a name among the Indians. 1
immediately sent orders to St. \"incent to make war on the Dela-
wares ; to use every means in their power to destroy them ; to show no
kind of mercy to the men, but to spare the women and children. This
order was executed without delay. Their camps were attacked in
every quarter where they could be found ; many fell, and others were
brought to St. Vincent and put to death, the women and children
secured, etc. They immediately applied for reconciliation, but were
informed that I had ordered the war for reasons that were explained
to them, and that they dare not lay down the tomahawk without per-
mission from me, but that if the Indians were agreed, no more blood
should be spilled until an express should go to Kaskaskia, which was
immediately sent. I refused to make peace with the Delawares, and
let them know that we never trusted those who had once violated
their faith, but if they had a mind to be quiet, they might; and if
they could get any of the neighboring Indians to be security for their
good behavior, I would let them alone, but that I cared very little
about it, etc., privately directing Captain Helm how to manage.

A council was called of all the Indians in the neighborhood ; my
answer was made public. The Piankeshaws took on themselves to
answer for the future good conduct of the Delawares ; and the To-
bacco's Son, in a long speech, informed them of the baseness of their
conduct, and how richly they had deserved the severe blow they had
met with ; that he had given them permission to settle that country,
but not kill his friends ; that they now saw the big knife had refused
to make peace with them, but that he had become security for their
good conduct, and that they might go and mind their hunting, and
that if they ever did any more mischief— pointing to the sacred bow


that he held in his hand — which was as much as to say that he him-
self wouUl for the future chastise them. The 1)()\\ is decorated with
beautiful feathers — an eagle's tail, and all the grandeur of the pipe of
peace, all the gaudv trinkets that can be put about it. ^Vt one end is
a spear al)Out six inches long, dipped in lilood. \\'lu-n Tobacco's
vSon pointed the Delawares towards it, he touched it with his hand.
This bow is one of the most sacred eniblems known to the Indians,
except the pipe of peace. It is only allowed to be handled by chiefs
of the greatest disfnitv.

Thus ended the war between us and the Delawares in this quarter,
much to our advantage, as the nations about said that we were as
bra\ e as the Indians, and not afraid to put an enemy to death.

June being the time for the rendezvous at (^Post ]uiccfnics)^ every
exertion was made in procuring provisions of every species, and
making other preparations. I recciAcd an express from Kentucky,
wherein Colonel (^yohji) Bowman informed me that he could furnish
three hundred good men. We were now going on in high spirits,

and daily expecting troops down the Tennessee, when, on the ,

we \\'ere surprised at the arrival of Colonel Montgomery with one
hundred and fifty men only, which was all we had a right to expect
from that cjuarter in a short time, as the recruiting business went on
but slowly, and, for the first time, we learned the fall of our paper

Things immediately put on a different appearance. We now
lamented that we did not march from St. A'^incent to Detroit, but as
we had a prospect of a considerable reinforcement from Kentucky,
we yet flattered ourselves that something might be done — at least we
might maneuver in such a manner as to keep the enemy in hot water
and in suspense, and prevent their doing our frontiers much damage.
We went on procuring suj^plies and did not yet lose sight of our ob-
ject, and, in order to feel the pulse of the enemy, I detached Major
Linctot, who had lately joined us, and a company of volunteers, up
the Illinois river under the pretense of visiting our friends. He was
instructed to cross the countrv and call at the Wea towns, and then


proceed to Opost {Post Vi//cr////cs)^ making his observations on the
route. This, we expected, would perfectly cover our designs, and, if
we saw It prudent, we might, on his return, proceed. Early in
June, Colonel ^Montgomery w as dispatched, by water, with the whole
of our stores. Major (^yoscpk) Bowman marched the remainder of
our troops by land. M)sclf, with a party of horse, reached Opost in
four days, where the whole safely arrived in a short time after.

Instead of three hundred men from Kentucky, there appeared about
thirtv volunteers, commanded by Captain IMcGary. The loss of the
expedition was too obvious to hesitate about it. Colonel (^yo/in)
Bowman had turned his attention against the Shawanee towns, and
got repulsed and his men discouraged.

The business, from the start, had been so conducted as to make no
disadvantageous inipression on the enemy in case of a disappoint-
ment, as the>- could never know whether we really had a design on
Detroit, or only a tinesse to amuse them, which latter would appear
probable. Arranging things to the best advantage was now m>- prin-
cipal study. The troops were divided between St. \"incent, Kaskas-
kia, Cahokia and the falls of Ohio. Colonel Montgomery was
appointed to the command of the Illinois; Major Bowman to super-
intend the recruiting business — a number of officers were appointed
to that senice ; Major Linetot and captains to superintend the Indian
business, and myself to take up my quarters at the falls {of the Ohio)
as the most convenient spot to have an eye over the \\ hole.

Each person marching to his post in August, I arrived by land at
the [manuscript torn] as far as White river in a few days.

Our movement during the summer had confused the enemy, con-
sequenth' the commanding officers at Michilimackinac had sent an
expedition, via St. Joseph, to penetrate the Illinois to drive the Amer-
ican traders out of it. On their arrival at St. Joseph, while Major
Linetot was on the way up the r'wQX, it was reported that an Ameri-
can army was approaching. The Indians immediately fled from the
English. Being asked the occasion, {the Etzglish zve?-c) told that
they were invited to see them and the big knives fight, and, as it was

554 Clark's memoir.

like to be the case, they had withdrawn to a height in order to have a
full view of the engagement. Finding there was little dependence
in the Indians, they withdrew^ to the mouth of the river St. Joseph
and formed a strong camp, but on their first learning this intelligence
they had sent an express to j\Iackina\A'. A troop being dispatched off
with provisions, and, coming within full view of their camp at the
mouth of the river — supposing that it was the Americans, who had
captured their friends at St. Joseph, and had taken post there. All
the signs they could make could not bring the vessel to. She re-
turned with the disagreeable news, and the poor fellows had to starve
until they could get an answer to a second express.

In the meantime. Mr. Linetot, knowing of all this, had changed his
route to the Weaugh, which caused a conjecture that the whole body
of us was directing our course to Detroit, which caused much con-
fusion throuofh the whole.

The summer was spent to advantage, as we w^ere careful to spread
such reports as suited our interest. I Remained at Louisville until the
spring following, continually discharging the multiplicity of business
that was constantly brought from every quarter. I fully acquainted
the governor of Virginia that, as the new^ settlers now peopling Ken-
tucky were quite numerous, I was in hopes that they were fully able
to withstand any force the enemy could send against her, and, per-
haps, act on the offensive.

We now began to feel the effect of the depreciated state of the pa-
per currency. Everything was at two or three prices, and scarcely
to be had at any price. We set out on a plan of laying up. this fall,
great quantities of jerked meat for the ensuing season, but as Detroit
had pretty well recovered itself, the Shawanees, Delawares and other
prominent Indian tribes w^ere so exceedingly troublesome that our
hunters had no success. Numbers being cut off, and small skirmishes
in the country were so common that but little notice was taken of
them. Colonel Rogers, w^ho had been sent to the Mississippi for a
\'ery considerable quantity of goods, getting a reinforcement at the
falls, on his passage to Pittsburg, a little above Licking creek, got



totally defeated ; himself and almost the whole of his party, consist-
ing of about seventy men, were killed or made prisoners. Among
the latter, of note, were Colonel John Campbell and Captain Abra-
ham Chapline. A small boat made her escape, which was all that
was saved.

(knd of Clark's memoir.)


A full sketch of Major Joseph Bowman, the writer of
the two letters and the journal next given, w^ill be found
in the body of this work. He was undoubtedl}^ one of
the principal officers In the campaigns which resulted in the
reduction of the British posts, and the onl}- one who died
in the service in the conquered country. He died in the
fort at V^incennes a few months after its capture, his death
probablv hastened by an injury received in the explosion
of the batteries of the fort the day the .Vmericans took
possession. He was buried at Vincennes.

The first of the following letters has never before been
published. It was written to George Brinker of Frederick

'^\^ * y county, Virginia, the hus-

■C^O^ — * band of his sister Rebecca.

The original letter, which
is now in the author's possession, is badly faded and the
paper so broken, where folded, as to be difficult to deci-
pher, but is substantially correct as here next given.



Illinois — Town of Kaskaskia, July 30, 177S.

Dear Sir — I embrace this opportunity of writing to you by mv
brother Isaac, by whom I shall endeavor to furnish you with every par-
ticular (^of our^ progress since our embarking from the Monongahail,*
until our arrival at this place. We set sail with a plentiful stock of
provisions, and continued down to the Big Kanawha ; there I found
the men had been close confined to the fort for eight days past, at
which time there had been an attack made at the fort by a superior
body of Indians — appearing to be about two hundred in number.
They killed one man of the fort and wounded one or two more, but
finding themselves not able to succeed in their attack, they killed all
the cattle that they could find, and then made towards Greenbrier,
where I expect they intended to make a fatal blow. What has been
done I have never heard.

From thence we continued down the river, landinsr the salt kettles
at the mouth of the Kentucky, and proceeded down to the falls of the
Ohio, where we built a small garrison on a small island, and stored
up a large quantity of flour and some bacon. Left eight or ten fami-
lies there, with a few men to guard them.

Went thence down the river with about 175 men, until within about

Online LibraryWilliam Hayden EnglishConquest of the country northwest of the river Ohio, 1778-1783; and life of Gen. George Rogers Clark. Over one hundred and twenty-five illustrations. With numerous sketches of men who served under Clark .. → online text (page 36 of 38)