Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XVI - War with the British and Indians in the Northwest.






The Nation aroused. – Enthusiasm of the People. – Volunteers in Abundance. – Governors Meigs and Harrison active. – Harrison in Kentucky. – Volunteers flocking to the Camp. – Governor Shelby and his Recommendations. – Governor Harrison at the Head of Kentucky Troops. – Gathering of Troops. – Departure for the Wilderness. – Harrison commissioned a Brigadier General. – A divided Command deprecated. – Winchester and Harrison. – Crowds of Volunteers. – Harrison’s Influence. – The Army in the Wilderness. – Preparations for Battle. – Fort Wayne relieved. – Destruction of Indian Towns. – General Winchester. – Attachment of Troops to Harrison. – Harrison in chief Command of the Northwestern Army. – Winchester’s March through the Wilderness. – Confronted by British and Indians. – Sudden Flight of the latter. – Winchester arrives at Fort Defiance. – Re-enforcements gathering. – Their March toward Fort Defiance. – Harrison’s Autumn Campaign arranged. – Patriotism of the Women of Kentucky. – Troops ready for an Advance. – A great Stir in Camp. – Rapid forward Movement. – Harrison at Fort Defiance. – Harrison’s Address to his Troops. – Erection of new Forts ordered. – Troubles among Leaders. – The Conduct of Colonel Tupper. – Expeditions against the Indians. – Harrison in Central Ohio. – Remains of Forts Defiance and Winchester. – Their Location and Appearance. – An ancient Apple-tree. – Events nearer the Mississippi. – The Indians generally hostile. – Shelby’s Appeal to the Kentuckians. – Wealth and Patriotism of Kentucky illustrated. – Hopkins’s Expedition against Illinois Indians. – Insubordination. – Russell’s co-operating Expedition in Illinois. – Hopkins’s Expedition to the Wabash Region. – His new Troops. – The Indians attack a Burial Party. – Sufferings of the Kentucky Soldiers. – Close of Hopkins’s military Career.


"They rise, by stream and yellow shore,

By mountain, moor, and fen;
By weedy rock and torrent hoar,
And lonesome forest glen!
From many a moody, moss-grown mound,
Start forth a war-worn band,
As when, of old, they caught the sound
Of hostile arms, and closed around,
To guard their native land."


We have observed that troops, in ample numbers, were sent to the relief of Forts Harrison and Wayne. Whence came they? What spirit animated them when pushing eagerly into the wilderness among hostile Indians, after the disasters in the Northwest – the utter failure of Hull’s campaign, which had created such great expectations on the part of both government and people? Let us consult contemporary records and traditions for an answer.

Those sad disasters on the Northwestern frontier, aroused, as we have before observed, the most intense feelings of indignation and mortified pride throughout the whole country, and especially in the region west of the Alleghany Mountains and beyond the Ohio River, which was thereby exposed to Indian raids and British invasion. When intelligence of those disasters spread over that region, a burning desire to wipe out the disgrace was universal; and there was a general uprising of sentiment and action for the recovery of all that had been lost, the extermination of the brutal savages, and the expulsion of their British allies from the soil of the Republic. 1

Even before the formal declaration of war Kentucky had made military preparations for the event. Her quota of the one hundred thousand detached militia which the President was authorized to summon to the field was almost ready when the fiat went forth. Early in May, Governor Scott, 2 in obedience to instructions from the War Department, had organized ten regiments (the quota of his state), and filled them without difficulty with volunteers, making an effective force of five thousand five hundred men.

Governor Meigs, of Ohio, was equally active and vigilant. He promptly responded to the call for troops to accompany Hull to Detroit, as we have seen; and when he was informed of the danger that menaced Hull’s command, he immediately ordered out the remaining portion of the quota of detached militia, twelve hundred in number, to rendezvous at Urbana, on the border of the wilderness, under Brigadier General Tupper. And when the fall of Detroit was known, he sent expresses in every direction to the militia generals of the frontier, with orders to adopt energetic measures for defense within their respective commands, and to advise the inhabitants on the borders of the wilderness to associate and erect block-houses for the defense and accommodation of families. He also sent arms and ammunition to different parts from the public stores at Urbana. 3

Governor Harrison, of Indiana, with his usual vigilance, promptness, and forecast, had already caused block-houses and stockades to be erected in various parts of his territory as defenses against the hostile Indians, and the militia were placed in a state of preparation for immediate action when called upon. He had been authorized by the national government to take command of all the troops of the territories of Indiana and Illinois in prosecuting the war against the Indians commenced in the autumn of 1811, and to call on the Governor of Kentucky for any portion of the contingent of that state which was not in service. Under that authority he went to Kentucky, by invitation of Governor Scott, to confer respecting the troops of that state. Kentucky was forever freed from apprehensions of Indian incursions, and her sons, who had suffered, were eager to assist their neighbors over the Ohio in their efforts to drive the murderous hordes back into the wilderness.

Harrison repaired to Frankfort, where the military were paraded and he was honored with a public reception. He remained there several days, and met many of the most eminent military men and civilians in the state. He comprehended in all its length and breadth the difficulties and dangers to which Hull was exposed, and expressed his opinions freely at a dinner-party in Lexington, whereat Henry Clay was one of the guests. That gentleman and others urged him to present his views to the government. 4 He did so in a letter, dated the 10th of August, in which he suggested a system of military operations in the Northwest. He expressed his fears of the result of the fall of Mackinack, by which the Indian tribes might be let loose upon Detroit, and "meet, and perhaps overpower, the convoys and re-enforcements" which had been, or might be, sent to Hull. After speaking of those re-enforcements, he said: "I rely greatly upon the valor of these troops; but it is possible that the event may be adverse to us, and if it is, Detroit must fall, and with it every hope of re-establishing our affairs in that quarter until the next year."

Before this letter reached the War Department, Detroit had fallen, and Chicago too, and the worst fears of the people of the West were realized. But these disasters, instead of depressing them, gave them increased elasticity and strength. The whole total of society bordering upon the Ohio River heaved, like a storm-smitten ocean in its wrath, with patriotic emotions. The murders by the Indians which soon followed, and the alliance of the British with such fierce barbarians, excited a vehement cry for retributive justice. Christian civilization, national pride, and an enlightened patriotism, all pleaded for vindication, and nobly was that plea responded to. When a call for troops was made, men of every class and condition of life – farmers, merchants, lawyers, physicians, and young men innumerable – flocked to the recruiting stations and offered their services. Tenfold more men than were needed might have been mustered in Kentucky alone. Nor was Ohio, in proportion to its population, behind its elder sister state in practical enthusiasm. Governor Meigs was indefatigable in his efforts; and the people every where responded to the call of local officers, as well as of the chief magistrate, with the greatest alacrity, to form an ample army for both protection and conquest. It was resolved to recover all that had been lost within the territory of the United States, and to take Malden, the focus of the British-Indian power in the Northwest.

At this moment the venerable Isaac Shelby, one of the heroes of King’s Mountain, appears upon the stirring scene as the successor of General Scott in the executive chair of the State of Kentucky. With his usual sagacity, he surveyed the field of operations determined upon, and strongly recommended the government to appoint a Board of War for the region west of the Alleghanies, to prevent the delays caused by the operations of what is termed, in our day, "red-tape policy" – in other words, the absolute control, by a central power hundreds of miles away, of minor movements which the exigency of the hour might demand as of vast importance. "If such a board," he said, "was now organized, and I had the control of the present armament, I would pledge myself the Indians would have cause to lament this campaign, and their temerity in joining the British and deserting the friendship of the United States." Governor Shelby’s advice was not utterly disregarded; but no practical results followed. The War Department promised to "think about it," and no conclusion seems ever to have been reached.

Governor Harrison was very popular, and it was the general desire of the volunteers and militia of the West, who had been gathering at different points since the declaration of war was made, that he who had shown such soldierly qualities in the little campaign that ended at Tippecanoe the previous year, should now be their leader against the British and Indians. Governor Scott, Harrison’s warm personal friend, was anxious to place him in chief command of all the Kentucky troops, but he could not do so legally, for the Governor of Indiana was not a citizen of that state. But Scott was not a man to allow technicalities to interfere with great concerns in time of danger; so he invited several prominent men, among whom were Shelby (the governor elect), Henry Clay (the Speaker of the National House of Representatives), and Thomas Todd, Judge of the United States District Court, to meet him and consult upon the subject. They unanimously requested the governor to make the appointment; and accordingly he issued a commission [August 25, 1812.] to Harrison, by which he was invested with the title of "Major General of the Militia of Kentucky" by brevet. By a commission dated three days earlier, President Madison appointed him a brigadier general in the Army of the United States.

On the 27th of August Harrison was at Cincinnati, and in a letter of that date to Governor Meigs, after mentioning his appointment, he said: "It remains for your excellency to determine what assistance I shall derive from your state. The Kentucky troops which are placed at my disposal are two regiments of infantry and one of riflemen, now at this place; three regiments of infantry, one of dragoons, and one of mounted riflemen, in full march to join me, and making in the aggregate upward of four thousand men. The three regiments which are now here will march immediately for Urbana; and should the report of the capture of General Hull’s army prove untrue, I shall join them either at that place or before they reach it, and proceed to Detroit without waiting for the regiments in my rear." 5

In addition to the Kentucky troops here referred to, others were dispatched for the protection of the Territories of Illinois and Indiana. 6 Some of those destined for the latter region having been called, by the exigencies of current events, to Ohio, Harrison thought it desirable to raise an additional force for Indiana. In compliance with his request, Governor Shelby issued a proclamation early in September for the raising of a large corps of mounted volunteers, to repair immediately to Vincennes; and all of the Kentucky troops destined for that post were placed under the command of the venerable soldier of the Revolution, Brigadier General Samuel Hopkins. That proclamation brought hundreds of Kentuckians, from all parts of the state, to the standard of the Union. Every body seemed willing to march for the defense of the frontiers; and the question was not, Who will go? but, Who shall stay? 7 Before the 1st of October, Kentucky had more than seven thousand of her sons in the field. At about the same time, in obedience to an order from the Secretary of War, two thousand troops under General Robert Crooks, from Western Pennsylvania, and fifteen hundred under General Joel Leftwich, 8 from Western Virginia, proceeded to join the Army of the Northwest.

Before leaving Frankfort, General Harrison had issued an address to the people of Kentucky, accompanied by another from General Scott, calling for five hundred mounted volunteers. The Honorable Richard M. Johnson, who had distinguished himself in Congress, also issued an address for the same purpose; and they had the desired effect. The latter gentleman, and John Logan, and William S. Hunter, Esqs., were appointed aids to the general; and when he departed for Cincinnati, Johnson was left to lead on such mounted troops as might be raised by the 1st of September.

On the 28th of August Harrison issued a general order from his head-quarters at Cincinnati, directing all the troops under his command to continue their march toward Dayton on the following morning, and prescribing in detail the discipline and tactics to be observed. 9 The troops marched early; and on the morning of the 31st, when they had passed Lebanon a short distance, forty miles from Cincinnati, Harrison overtook them, and was received with the most hearty cheers of welcome from the whole line. They reached Dayton on Tuesday, the 1st of September, and while on his march toward Piqua the following day the commanding general was overtaken by an express bearing to him the commission of brigadier general from the President, with instructions to take command of all the forces in the Territories of Indiana and Illinois, and to co-operate with General Hull, and with Governor Howard of the Missouri Territory.

Harrison was embarrassed by the instructions which accompanied the appointment, and he refrained from accepting it until he should have definite information from the War Department as to his relations to General Winchester, of the Regulars, to whom had been assigned the chief command of the Army of the Northwest. The original object in the formation of that army having been co-operation with Hull in the capture of Malden, and the reduction and occupation of Canada West, the whole aspect of affairs had been changed by the loss of Hull and his army. Harrison suggested to the Department the importance of having one military head in the Northwest; and, with the justification of pressing necessity, he laid aside his usual modesty, and preferred his own claim to that distinction, on the ground of his superior knowledge of the country and the savages with whom they had to contend, and the universally expressed desire of the troops that he should be their chief leader. Having made this response to the government by the express who brought his commission and instructions, Harrison pressed forward in the path of duty to Piqua, on the bank of the Great Miami, with the intention of there resigning his command into the hands of General Winchester. He had two thousand troops with him, and two thousand were on their way to join him.

Piqua was reached on the 3d of September, and there Harrison was informed of the critical situation of Fort Wayne, and of the rumored marching from Malden, on the 18th of August, of a large force of British and Indians under Major Muir, with the intention of joining the savages in the siege of that place. Winchester, to whom Harrison had written, had not arrived. There would be great danger in delay, and Harrison resolved not to wait for his superior, but, retaining command, send detachments immediately forward to the relief of the menaced garrison. For this purpose he detached Lieutenant Colonel John Allen’s regiment of Regulars, with two companies from Lewis’s and one from Scott’s regiments, with instructions to make forced marches until their object should be accomplished. 10 At the same time he dispatched a messenger, as we have seen, to assure the garrison of Fort Wayne of approaching relief. 11 Already seven hundred mounted men, under Colonel Adams, had advanced to Shaw’s Crossing of the St. Mary’s River, not far from Fort Wayne. The troop was composed of citizens of Ohio of all ages and conditions, who, in hearing of the disasters northward, and the perils of Fort Wayne, had hastened to the field. "Such, indeed, was the ardor of the citizens," says a contemporary, "that every road leading to the frontiers was invaded with unsolicited volunteers." 12 The exasperation in the West against the British and Indians was intense.

Harrison had observed some restlessness among the troops under the restraints of discipline. On the morning of the 5th [September, 1812.] he addressed them briefly, read the Articles of War, endeavored to impress their minds with the importance of discipline and obedience, told them that the danger to which Fort Wayne was then exposed demanded an immediate forced march for its relief and requested those who could not endure the life of a true soldier to leave the ranks. Only one man did so, when his companions, thinking him too feeble to walk, carried him on a rail to the banks of the Great Miami, and gave him a "plunge bath," not, perhaps, in strict accordance with the fashion prescribed by Priessnitz. The effect was salutary, and murmurings ceased. Such discipline, exercised by the soldiers themselves, was a hopeful sign for the commander.

Colonel John Johnston, the Indian agent, was residing at Piqua. 13 At the request of Harrison, he sent some Shawnoese to old Fort Defiance, at the mouth of the Au Glaize River, to ascertain whether any British troops had gone up the Maumee Valley. Logan, a powerful half-breed, was sent to Fort Wayne for information. Both parties were successful, and returned with important messages. No British troops had passed up the Maumee, and Fort Wayne was closely besieged by the savages.

Harrison was compelled to wait at the Piqua until the morning of the 6th [Sept., 1812.] for flints. At dawn of that day his forces were under motion, and before eight o’clock they had fairly plunged into the great wilderness beyond the borders of civilization. In order to march rapidly and easily, the troops had left most of their clothing and baggage at Piqua; and on the afternoon of the 8th, they overtook Allen’s regiment at St. Mary, sometimes called "Girty’s Town," 14 or the First Crossing of the St. Mary River. There they were joined by Major R. M. Johnson, with a corps of mounted volunteers. The army in the wilderness numbered two thousand two hundred men. Indian spies were seen hovering around the camp that night, who, it was afterward said, reported that "Kentuck was crossing as numerous as the trees."

The morning of the 9th was dark and lowering, but the troops were in good spirits, and reached Shane’s, or the Second Crossing of the St. Mary, before sunset, where they found Colonel Adams, with his mounted Ohio Volunteers. Being now in the vicinity of Fort Wayne, the army marched in battle order on the following day, expecting an attack. They moved slowly and cautiously. Scouts were out continually, and Logan and another Shawnoe acted as guides. On the night of the 11th they fortified their camp in expectation of an attack, and many alarms occurred during the darkness, caused by the discovery of Indian spies who were lurking around the verge of the pickets.

The march was resumed at a very early hour on the morning of the 12th in battle order. An encounter was expected at a swamp five miles from Fort Wayne. But no foe was visible there. The savages had all fled, as we have before observed, 15 and Fort Wayne, on that warm, bright September day, was the scene of great rejoicing. The liberating army encamped around the fort that night, excepting a party of horsemen, who made an unsuccessful pursuit of the savages; and on the following morning, reconnoitring parties were sent out in every direction, but did not discover the dusky foe.

Harrison now called a council of officers, to whom he submitted a plan of operations, which was adopted. He had determined to strike the neighboring Indians with terror by a display of power. He accordingly divided his army, and sent out detachments to destroy whatever of Indian possessions might be found. One detachment, under Colonel Simrall (who arrived in camp with three hundred and twenty dragoons on the 17th), laid waste the Little Turtle’s town, on the Eel Run [Sept. 19.], excepting the buildings erected by the United States for the now deceased chief; on account of his friendship since the treaty of Greenville in 1794. 16 Another detachment, under Colonel Samuel Wells, was sent to the Elk Hart River, a tributary of the St. Joseph, of Michigan (sometimes called the St. Joseph of the Lake), sixty miles distant, to destroy the town of the Pottawatomie chief O-nox-see, or Five Medals, 17 which was accomplished [September 16.]; and Colonel Payne, with another detachment, to the forks of the Wabash, and laid in ashes [September 15.] a Miami village there, and several others lower down. 18 Around all of these villages were corn-fields and gardens, but no living thing was seen. The Indians had deserted them. The severest blow that a savage can receive, especially at that season of the year, is to deprive him of food and shelter. So, when the torch was applied to the cabins, the knife destroyed the corn and the vegetables.

General James Winchester arrived at Fort Wayne on the 18th of September, and on the following day General Harrison formally resigned all command into his hands. The change produced almost a mutiny among the soldiers. They were greatly attached to Harrison. Winchester was a wealthy citizen of Tennessee, and had not for many years had any military experience. He had been a subordinate officer in the army of the Revolution, but for thirty years had lived in ease and opulence in Tennessee. His deportment was too aristocratic to please the great mass of the troops, and this, added to their expectations of more severe discipline from an officer of the Regulars, caused a large number of them to positively refuse at first to serve under the new commander. It required all the address of Harrison (popular as he was, and as ready as were his followers to comply with all his wishes), together with the persuasions of the other officers, to reconcile them to the change. It was effected, but only when they were allowed to indulge the hope that their beloved general might be reinstated in command. 19

Harrison left Fort Wayne on the evening of the 19th [September, 1812.], and returned to St. Mary, where he intended to collect the mounted men from Kentucky, and prepare for an expedition against Detroit. "From Fort Wayne," he wrote, "there is a path, which has been sometimes used by the Indians, leading up the St. Joseph’s, and from thence, by the head waters of the River Rezin [Raisin], to Detroit. By this route it appears to me very practicable to effect a coup-de-main upon that place, and if I can collect a few hundred more mounted men, I shall attempt it." 20 To the accomplishment of this design he prepared to lend all his energies. Already there was a respectable force of mounted men at St. Mary, and others were on the march to that place.

Harrison went to Piqua to perfect his arrangements. There, on the 24th [September.], he received a dispatch from the Secretary of War in reference to his letter concerning the acceptance of a brigadier’s commission, which opened thus:

"The President is pleased to assign to you the command of the Northwestern Army, which, in addition to the regular troops and rangers in that quarter, will consist of the volunteers and militia of Kentucky, Ohio, and three thousand from Virginia and Pennsylvania, making your whole force ten thousand men." It then went on to instruct him to first provide for the defense of the frontiers, and then to retake Detroit with a view to the conquest of Canada. He was assured that every exertion would be made to send him a train of artillery from Pittsburg, in charge of Captain Gratiot, of the Engineers, who would report to him as soon as some of the pieces could be got ready. He was also informed that Major Ball, of the 2d Regiment of Dragoons, would join him; and that such staff officers as he might legally appoint would be approved by the President. "Colonel Buford, deputy commissioner at Lexington," he said, "is furnished with funds, and is subject to your orders." More ample powers than had ever been given to any officer of the American army since Washington was invested with the authority of a military dictator were intrusted to him in the following closing sentence in the dispatch: "You will command such means as may be practicable. Exercise your own discretion, and act in all cases according to your own judgment." With such ample powers invested in a commander-in-chief, Shelby’s "Board of War" would have been quite useless. Harrison had reason to be proud of the honor conferred, and the "special trust and confidence" reposed in him; while his soldiers, rejoicing in the fact, appeared ready and eager to follow whithersoever he might lead.

General Winchester, with about two thousand men, left Fort Wayne on the morning of the 22d of September (each soldier carrying six days’ provisions) for the Maumee Rapids. He moved cautiously down the left bank of that river, to avoid a surprise, in three divisions, his baggage in the centre, and a volunteer company of spies, under Captain Ballard, supported by Garrard’s dragoons, moving about two miles in advance. Winchester intended to halt at Fort Defiance, at the confluence of the Maumee and Au Glaize Rivers, fifty miles from Fort Wayne, and there await re-enforcements from Harrison at St. Mary. They encountered Indians on the way. Some of the spies were killed; among them Ensign Leggett, of the Seventeenth United States Infantry, who, with four others of a Woodford (Kentucky) company, had been permitted to push forward to reconnoitre the vicinity of Fort Defiance. They were all killed and scalped. When their fate was made known in the camp, Captain Ballard 21 was ordered out with his spies and forty of Garrard’s dragoons to bury the bodies. This sad office they undertook on the morning of the 27th, and when within two miles of the place of the massacre they discovered an Indian ambuscade. A conflict ensued. Garrard’s troops charged upon the savages, when they fled in dismay, closely pursued for some distance, and found refuge in the swamps, where cavalry could not penetrate.

These Indians were the advance of a heavy force – heavy by comparison only – under Major Muir, consisting of two hundred British regulars, one thousand savages, under Colonel Elliott, and four pieces of cannon. They were making their way up the Maumee on its southern side to attack Fort Wayne. Their artillery and baggage had been brought to Defiance in boats from Malden, and with them they were marching by land to Fort Wayne. Fortunately for the little army under Winchester, a shrewd subaltern of Scott’s regiment (Sergeant M‘Coy) had been captured and taken before Muir, who was then twelve miles above Fort Defiance. He was questioned closely, and in his answer he magnified Winchester’s army fourfold. He also told Muir that another army equally large was coming down the Au Glaize to join Winchester. The exaggerated facts given to the British commander by his own credulous and excited scouts made him believe the stories of M‘Coy; and when he heard of the defeat of his advance by Ballard and Garrard, he ordered a retreat to Fort Defiance, where he re-embarked his artillery and baggage.

Relying upon his boats for facility in retreating, in the event of a defeat, Muir resolved to give battle about four miles above Fort Defiance, at the ford of a creek on the north side of the Maumee, where Wayne crossed in 1794; but when, on the morning of the 28th, he attempted to form his line of battle there, he found, to his great mortification and alarm, that about three fourths of his Indian allies had deserted him. They had heard of M‘Coy’s stories, and, associating them with Muir’s retrograde movement, and the re-embarkation of his artillery and baggage, they became greatly alarmed, and abandoned the expedition. Thus weakened, Muir conceived himself to be in great danger. He hastened back to Defiance, and fled twenty miles down the Maumee before he halted, leaving some faithful mounted Indians behind to watch the movements of the Americans.

Winchester, in the mean time, was moving cautiously forward. He could receive no certain intelligence concerning the force and position of the enemy. Two scouts (Hickman and Riddle) had gone completely around the invaders on the 26th without seeing them, 22 and others were equally unsuccessful on the 27th and 28th [September, 1812.]. When the army approached the creek where Muir expected to make a stand, Winchester was informed of its advantageous position for the enemy, and crossed to the southeast side of the Maumee to avoid him. There they discovered the trail of the invader, with his artillery. Ignorant of the alarm of Muir, they encamped on a rise of ground and fortified their position. Then a council of war was held. Some officers were in favor of sending a detachment in pursuit of the retreating foe, but the general and a majority determined otherwise. Their provisions were almost exhausted, and the unknown force of the enemy caused prudence to ask for strength in re-enforcements. 23 Several mounted parties were sent out to reconnoitre, and expresses were detached to General Harrison at St. Mary, asking for relief by sending men and food. It was soon ascertained that the enemy had left Fort Defiance, and on the 30th Winchester moved down the river to a high bank of the Maumee, within a mile of the fort, and again formed a fortified camp. On the 1st of October Colonel Lewis made a reconnoissance in force, and ascertained that the enemy was entirely gone. 24

While Winchester was making his way toward Fort Defiance, the troops that were gathering in the rear of the army had mostly arrived at St. Mary. These consisted of three regiments from Kentucky, commanded respectively by Colonels Joshua Barbee, Robert Poague, and William Jennings (the latter riflemen), and three companies of mounted riflemen, from the same state, under Captains Roper, Bacon, and Clark. Also a corps of mounted men from Ohio, under Colonel Findlay, who, as we have seen, had been active with General Hull. These had been raised pursuant to a call of Governor Meigs and General Harrison, at the beginning of September, and rendezvoused as early as the 15th at Dayton. They were intended to operate against some of the hostile Indian towns.

On the 21st of September, Harrison ordered Colonel Jennings to proceed with his regiment down the Au Glaize to establish an intermediate post between St. Mary and Fort Defiance, and to escort provisions to the latter place for the use of Winchester on his route to the Rapids of the Maumee. When Jennings had marched between thirty and forty miles, he found the Indians hovering round his camp at night, and his scouts brought intelligence that they were in considerable force toward Fort Defiance; so he halted and constructed a stockade on the bank of the Ottawa River, a tributary of the Au Glaize, not far from the present Kalida (the Greek for beautiful), the capital of Putnam County, Ohio. It was named Fort Jennings, in honor of the commander of the detachment. At the same time Colonel Findlay was ordered to attack some Ottawa towns 25 farther eastward, on Blanchard’s Fork, below Fort Findlay, in the same county. 26

Winchester was informed of the march of Jennings with provisions, and on the 29th [September.], his army being half famished, he sent Captain Garrard with dragoons to assist in escorting to his camp a brigade of pack-horses with supplies. Garrard was successful, and returned, after a tour of thirty-six hours, in a drenching rain. Winchester was still in his fortified camp near Fort Defiance, and Garrard was received at that beautiful spot in the wilderness with the lively satisfaction of the famished when fed.

During the few days of suspense concerning the extent of his command General Harrison formed projects for the immediate future, which inexorable circumstances compelled him to abandon, to some extent. He had now, as commander-in-chief, arranged with care the plan for an autumn campaign, which contemplated the seizure and occupation of the strategic position at the foot of the Maumee Rapids, and possibly the capture of Detroit and Malden. His base of military operations, having the Rapids as the first object to be possessed, was a line drawn along the margin of the swampy region from St. Mary to Upper Sandusky, the former to be the principal deposit for provisions, and the latter for artillery and military stores. He intended to march his army in three divisions: the right column to be composed of the Virginia and Pennsylvania troops, to rendezvous at Wooster, the capital of the present Wayne County, Ohio, and proceed from thence, by Upper Sandusky, to the Rapids. The centre column, to consist of twelve hundred Ohio militia, to march from Urbana, where they were then collected, to Fort M‘Arthur, and follow Hull’s road to the Rapids. The left column, to be composed of the regulars under Colonel Wells and four regiments of Kentucky volunteers, to proceed down the Au Glaize to the Maumee from St. Mary, and from their confluence pass on toward the Rapids. He designed to send the mounted horsemen, by way of the St. Joseph of the Lake, to make the coup-de-main on Detroit, already alluded to; but this project was abandoned, for, should they take that post without the support of infantry, they might be compelled to abandon it, and would thereby expose the inhabitants to the fury of the Indians, who must be exasperated by the movement. Harrison therefore determined to employ them in making destructive forays upon Indian towns, and sweep the savages from the line of march from the Rapids to Detroit, when the troops should all be ready to move.

Harrison now made urgent appeals for supplies of every kind. He sent an express to Pittsburg to hurry forward the cannon and ordnance stores to Wooster; and, as the troops were nearly destitute of winter clothing, he and Governor Shelby appealed to the inhabitants of Kentucky for voluntary contributions. It was generously responded to. A thousand needles were speedily put in motion in fair hands; and many a poor soldier, as he stood sentry on the banks of the Maumee or the Raisin a few weeks later, had reason to feel grateful to the patriotic women of Kentucky.

On the 1st of October there were nearly three thousand troops at St. Mary. Harrison resolved to employ the portion of the left wing, under Winchester, at Defiance, as a corps of observation, and to make that place an important deposit for provisions, preparatory to the advance of that corps upon the Rapids. This movement was to commence as soon as the artillery should arrive at Upper Sandusky, and the other supplies had accumulated along the base of operation. A corps of observation was also to be placed at Lower Sandusky, which, with Defiance, would form the extremities of a second base when the Rapids should be occupied. These arrangements for operations were exceedingly judicious for an economical use of supplies, and a perfect defense of the frontier while the troops were concentrating at the Rapids.

The mounted men, consisting of the companies of Roper, Clark, and Bacon, and the volunteers under Major Richard M. Johnson, were formed into a regiment. They elected Johnson their colonel; and these, with the Ohio mounted men under Findlay, formed a small brigade, which Harrison placed in charge of General Edward W. Tupper, of Gallia County, Ohio, a gentleman about fifty years of age, who had, by his own exertions, raised about a thousand men for the service. This brigade was destined for the expedition against Detroit, by way of the St. Joseph, which the general hoped to set in motion soon. A few hours after it was organized, an express from Winchester reached Harrison with the intelligence of his encounter with the invading force under Muir. At almost the same moment, an express arrived from Governor Meigs, with a letter to him from General Kelso, who was in command of some Pennsylvania troops on the shore of Lake Erie, informing him that, as late as the 16th of September, some British regulars, Canadian militia, and two thousand Indians, had left Malden with two pieces of artillery for Fort Wayne.

These dispatches created a great stir in camp. Three days’ cooked provisions, with ammunition and other military stores, were immediately issued to the troops, and a command for a forced march was given. Three hours afterward General Harrison was in the saddle, and his whole corps were following him toward the wilderness in a drenching rain, and the road filled with deep mud. They reached the camp of Colonel Jennings at twilight, and officers and men, from the general down, slept in the cold, damp air, without tents, and nothing between them and the water-pools on the surface of the flat ground but brush from the beech-trees. There Harrison was met by another express from Winchester, notifying him of the flight of the enemy down the Maumee. The rapid march was stayed. Barbee’s regiment was ordered back to St. Mary, and Poague’s was directed to cut a road to Fort Defiance from Camp Jennings. The mounted men, more than a thousand in number, pressed forward in five lines, making an imposing appearance in the stately forest, where the leaves were just assuming the gorgeous autumnal hues. The troops were disappointed and depressed because of the flight of the enemy; and the commanding general was vexed when he discovered that Winchester’s alarm was quite unnecessary. He reached that officer’s camp at sunset. His soldiers bivouacked three miles in the rear. Early the next morning they marched down to the confluence of the Maumee and Au Glaize, and encamped there around the ruined intrenchments of old Fort Defiance.

Harrison found the troops under Winchester in a deplorable condition, and one regiment in a state of open mutiny. He ordered the "alarm" instead of the "reveille" to be beaten on the following morning. This brought all the troops to arms. They were drawn up in a hollow square, when, to the surprise and delight of the soldiers, Harrison, their beloved general, appeared among them. It was with difficulty that they restrained their voices, for shouts of welcome were ready to burst from their lips. He addressed them as a kind father would talk to his children. He shamed the malcontents by saying that while he lamented the fact of their mutiny, and was mortified on their account, it was of no consequence to the government, as he had now more troops than he needed, and was in expectation daily of receiving large re-enforcements from Pennsylvania and Virginia. As they had come to the woods expecting to find all the comforts and luxuries of home, they must be disappointed, and he gave them liberty to return. But he could not refrain from alluding to the mortification which he anticipated they would experience from the reception they would meet from the old and the young, who had greeted them on their march to the scene of war as their gallant neighbors. Then he appealed to their pride as soldiers and their patriotism as citizens. He told them that his government had made him commander-in-chief of the army in which they were serving, and assured them that ample supplies of provisions and other stores were on the way. When he had concluded, and the veteran Scott addressed them, saying, "You, my boys, will prove your attachment for the service of your country and your general by giving him three cheers," the wilderness instantly rang with shouts of applause, and before the sun went down perfect harmony and good feeling prevailed in the camp.


This fort was constructed of earth and logs, with a ditch extending around it, except on the Au Glaize side. At each angle was a block-house, connected by a line of pickets at their nearest angles. Outside the fort there was a glacis, or sloping wall of earth, eight feet thick, and outside of this the ditch, fifteen feet wide and eight feet deep. The glacis next to the ditch was supported by a log wall, and by fascines, or fagots, on the side next to the Au Glaize. Pickets, eleven feet long and one foot apart projected from the wall diagonally over the ditch, forming a fraise of formidable appearance. The diagram, showing the relative position of the fort to the two rivers at their confluence, and to a new fort afterward built by Winchester, may be explained as follows: A, officers’ quarters; B, store-houses; C C C C, the ditch; E E, gateways; F, a dry ditch, eight feet deep, used for the safe procurement of water from the river, with pickets (aa) guarding it; G, draw-bridge.

General Harrison selected a site for a new fort on the bank of the Au Glaize, about eighty yards above Old Fort Defiance, and ordered the immediate assignment of fatigue parties to construct it. General Winchester at the same time moved his camp from the Maumee to the Au Glaize, about half a mile above the site of the new fort. This movement was made on the 4th of October. That evening Harrison, accompanied by Colonel Johnson and his original battalion (composed of Johnson’s, Ward’s, and Ellison’s companies), turned their faces toward St. Mary, where, three days afterward, their term of enlistment having expired, they were discharged. Poague’s regiment was directed to return to the old Ottawa towns, twelve miles from St. Mary, after the road to Defiance should be completed, and erect a stockade there. They did so, and Poague named it Fort Amanda, in honor of a loved one in Kentucky. General Winchester was left in command of the left wing of the army, with instructions to facilitate the transportation of supplies to Fort Defiance, and to occupy a position at the Maumee Rapids as speedily as possible. When he left Winchester, Harrison expected to have all necessary supplies for advancing against Detroit within a fortnight.

Before leaving Fort Defiance Harrison ordered General Tupper to lead the mounted men, then over nine hundred in number, down the Maumee to the Rapids, and beyond if desirable, to disperse any detachments of the enemy, civilized or savage, that might be found, and to return to St. Mary by the "Tawa" or Ottawa towns on Blanchard’s Fork of the Au Glaize. But this order was not executed on account of several disturbing causes, namely, extensive damage to powder and scarcity of food, which made it difficult to provide adequate supplies for an expedition that might occupy a week or ten days; the sudden appearance of hostile Indians, who menaced Winchester’s camp; dissatisfaction of some of the Kentucky troops with Tupper and his command; misunderstanding between Winchester and Tupper, and the unfriendly conduct of the former toward the latter; the weakening of Tupper’s forces by the withdrawal of Kentucky troops and Simrall’s dragoons; and finally the dismissal of Tupper from the command of the expedition by Winchester, who gave it to Colonel Allen, of the regulars, and which caused the Ohio troops to cross the Au Glaize, and positively refuse to march under any other than their own chosen leader. 27 The chief difficulty seems to have arisen from conflict between regular officers and volunteers; and thus terminated the expedition, said Tupper, "at one time capable of tearing the British flag from the walls of Detroit." 28

Instead of returning to St. Mary, Tupper took the most direct route to Urbana by way of Hull’s road, from near the present town of Kenton, where he immediately prepared for another and independent expedition to the Rapids. Winchester preferred charges against him for alleged misconduct at Defiance, and Harrison ordered his arrest, but the accused being far on his way toward the Rapids, as we shall observe presently, when the order was given, the prosecution was stayed. At Tupper’s request a court of inquiry afterward investigated the matter, and he was honorably acquitted.

While on his way from Defiance to St. Mary, General Harrison was informed, by express from Fort Wayne, that the Indians were again menacing that post. At St. Mary he found Colonel Allen Trimble at the head of five hundred mounted men of Ohio, who came to join Tupper in the expedition against Detroit. These were immediately dispatched to the relief of Fort Wayne, with instructions to proceed to the St. Joseph of the Lake, about sixty miles distant, and destroy the town of the hostile Pottawatomie chief White Pigeon. The troops were disappointed, and at Fort Wayne about one half of Trimble’s command refused to go farther. The gallant colonel pushed on with the remainder, destroyed two Pottawatomie villages, and would have killed or captured the inhabitants had not a treacherous guide given them timely warning of danger.

At St. Mary Harrison found some penitent Miami chiefs who had joined the enemy. They had come at the summons of messengers, and were prepared to deny their guiltiness, or to palliate it, as circumstances might dictate. They found Harrison well informed concerning their bad conduct, and they cast themselves upon the mercy of the government. As proof of their sincerity, they sent five chiefs to Piqua as hostages until the decision of the President should be made known. Thither General Harrison repaired, where he found some of Tupper’s troops. He passed over to Urbana, and then southeastward to Franklinton, on the west bank of the Scioto, opposite the present city of Columbus, the capital of Ohio, whose site was then covered by the primeval forest. There, in the heart of Ohio, and at a convenient point for the concentration of troops and supplies from a distance, Harrison established his headquarters, and occupied much of the remainder of the autumn and early winter in laborious preparations for an advance on Detroit and Canada – collecting troops and creating dépôts for supplies, building stockades and block-houses, cutting roads, and dispersing or overawing the hostile Indians, who might be excessively mischievous on the flank and rear. Poague speedily completed Fort Amanda on the Au Glaize, Colonel Barbee erected another at St. Mary, which was called Fort Barbee, and before the 1st of November the new stockade at Defiance, built chiefly of logs, was completed and named Fort Winchester.


I visited the ruins of Fort Defiance on a warm sunny day late in September, 1860. I came up the Maumee Valley by railway from Toledo on the previous evening, and arrived at Defiance Station at midnight. The village of Defiance, 29 lying mostly on the Maumee, upon the beautiful plain at the confluence of that river and Au Glaize, was shrouded in a chilling fog. Warned of the danger of the night air in that valley at that season of the year, I felt as if fever and ague were inhaled at every inspiration while walking a long distance to a hotel. There all was darkness. A slumbering attendant was finally aroused, and I was directed by the feeble light of a small candle to a most cheerless bedroom at one o’clock in the morning. After an early breakfast I went out to find the historical localities of the place, and was fortunate enough to be introduced to Mr. E. H. Leland and Doctor John Paul, who kindly accompanied me to them. We first visited the interesting remains of Fort Wayne [Transcriber’s Note: apparently Lossing meant "Fort Defiance." – WDC, 07/21/2001] on the point of land where the two ruins meet. We found the form of the glacis and ditch very distinctly marked, the remains of the former rising six or eight feet above the bottom of the latter. The shape of the fort was perfectly delineated by those mounds and the ditch. Some large honey-locust-trees were growing among the ruins. These have appeared since the fort was abandoned in 1795. One of them, with a triple stem, standing in the southeastern angle of the fort, measured fifteen feet in circumference. These ruins are likely to be preserved. The banks were covered with a fine sward, and they were within an inclosure containing about two acres of land, which the heirs of the late Curtis Holgate presented to the town.

We visited the site of Fort Winchester, a little above Defiance, on the bank of the Au Glaize, and found the remains of many of the pickets protruding from the ground. Across a ravine, just above the fort, was the garrison burying-ground. We returned to the village, crossed the long bridge which spans the Maumee, and from the heights of Fail’s Grove, on the eastern side of the river, obtained a comprehensive view of the two streams at their confluence, the site of the fort, and the village of Defiance. The sketch there made is here given. The meeting of the waters is seen toward the left, those of the Maumee flowing in from the right to meet those of the Au Glaize, over which, in the distance, a bridge is seen. The group of trees (the honey-locusts spoken of) seen near the centre of the picture mark the site of Fort Defiance. In the foreground is seen a garden extending from the highway at the foot of the heights of Fail’s Grove to the bank of the Maumee, with waving broom corn then ripe and ready for the knife.

On our return to the village we visited on the way, near the margin of the Maumee, an aged and gigantic apple-tree, coeval, no doubt, with the one near Fort Wayne. 30 We found it carefully guarded, as a sort of "lion" of the place, by a high board fence, the ground around it, within the inclosure, thickly covered with burr-bearing weeds. It was upon the Southworth estate, and access to it might be had only through a small house near. That tree was a living monument of the French occupation of the spot, as a trading station, long before any other Europeans had penetrated that remote wilderness. It measured about fifteen feet in circumference eighteen inches from the ground. The figure standing by it affords a fair criterion for judging of its size, by comparison with the body of a stout man. We returned to Defiance in time for dinner, and left with the early train for Fort Wayne. 31


Let us resume the narrative of events in the Northwest in the autumn of 1812.

We left General Harrison at Franklinton, General Tupper at Urbana, and General Winchester at Fort Defiance, all engaged in preparations to move forward to the Rapids of the Maumee, and thence to Detroit. While the movement of the troops in Western Ohio and Eastern Indiana, just related, were in progress, stirring events of a like nature occurred in the region nearer the Mississippi River.

We have already noticed the departure of troops from Kentucky for Vincennes, and the messengers sent to that post by Captain Taylor, asking immediate aid for Fort Harrison on the Wabash. 32 This call was immediately responded to. Colonel William Russell, of the Seventh United States Regiment of Infantry, just arrived at Vincennes, departed at once for Fort Harrison with about twelve hundred men, consisting of three companies of Rangers, two regiments of Indiana militia, under Colonels Jordan and Evans, and Colonel Wilcox’s regiment of Kentucky Volunteers. Lieutenant Richardson, of the regulars, was directed to follow with eleven men as an escort for provisions. By a forced march Russell and his party reached Fort Harrison on the 16th, much to the joy of Captain Taylor, without encountering the foe. Not so the provision escort. That was attacked by the savages on the 15th, who killed more than one half of the detachment and captured all of the provisions. Another provision train that followed immediately afterward was more fortunate. The savages were not seen. the great body of the Indians seemed to have fled from the vicinity, and Russell and his troops, except Wilcox’s regiment, returned to Vincennes.

At about this time the Indians of Illinois and Northern Indiana, persuaded, like the rest of the savages under the influence of Tecumtha, after the fall of Mackinaw, Detroit, and Chicago, that the time was at hand when the white people might be driven beyond the Ohio River, every where showed signs of hostilities. These were so menacing that Ninian Edwards, the Governor of the Illinois Territory, called on the executive of Kentucky for aid. That aid was on its way in the person of Colonel Barbour and his command, when it was diverted to Vincennes, on account of the dangers impending over Fort Harrison. Edwards had sent out spies, and was persuaded that no time was to be lost in making preparations for offensive and defensive operations against the savages. He combined the scattered militia of his Territory, and caused several companies of Rangers to be encamped on the Mississippi, above St. Louis, and on the Illinois River. These served to keep the Indians in check for a time. Meanwhile Governor Shelby had made the stirring appeal [September 8, 1812.] to the Kentuckians already alluded to. 33 He told them of the "extensive combination of the savages, aided by the British from Canada," who were momentarily expected on the frontier settlements of Illinois and Indiana. Twenty-one persons, he said, had already been murdered not more than twenty miles north of the Ohio! "It is hoped," he remarked, "that it will rouse the spirit and indignation of the freemen of Kentucky, and induce a sufficient number of them to give their services to their country for a short period." He asked them to rendezvous at Louisville on the 18th of the month, with thirty days’ provisions. "Kentuckians," he said, "ever pre-eminent for their patriotism, bravery, and good conduct, will, I am persuaded, on this occasion, give to the world a new evidence of their love of country, and a determination, at every hazard, to rescue their fellow-men from the murders and devastations of a cruel and barbarous enemy." 34

This address, as we have seen, was responded to with wonderful alacrity. Hundreds more than were needed were at Louisville on the appointed day, and were turned back with feelings of the keenest disappointment. One old veteran, who had suffered from savage cruelty, and had fought the dusky foe in the early days of Kentucky settlement, although greatly chagrined when he found his company rejected, said, "Well, well, Kentucky has often glutted the market with hemp, flour, and tobacco, and now she has done so with volunteers." This was a truthful exposition, in few words, of the wealth and patriotism of Kentucky.

General Samuel Hopkins, under whom the Kentucky Volunteers were placed, made his head-quarters at Vincennes. The troops continued to arrive and were mustered into the service from the 21st of September until the 2d of October, when Hopkins, then convalescing after a severe attack of fever, found himself at the head of almost four thousand men, about two thousand of them expert riflemen, on horseback. His little army was speedily organized, 35 and on the 10th of September he started with the mounted riflemen for the Indian country by the way of Fort Harrison. The chief design of the expedition was to march an annihilating force upon the principal Kickapoo and Peoria Indian villages on the waters of the Illinois River, the former supposed to be about eighty miles distant, and the latter one hundred and twenty miles.

Hopkins and his two thousand horsemen crossed the Wabash on the afternoon of the 14th [October, 1812.], and made their first encampment that night three miles from Fort Harrison. Before them lay magnificent level prairies, covered with tall grass, both dry and green. The guides passed a satisfactory examination as to their knowledge of the route, and the plans of the general were unanimously approved by a council of officers. On resuming the second day’s march, every thing promised well excepting the lack of discipline and evident restlessness under restraint manifested by the troops. Indeed, so far as military discipline was concerned, they constituted little more than a vast mob, and it was soon found that every man was disposed to be a law unto himself. Every hour of the march revealed to the commanding general evidences of the fact that his army was as combustible as the dry grass around them. The symptoms of discontent, seen even at Vincennes, now assumed the positive forms of complaint and murmuring. The guides were suspected of ignorance or disloyalty; and food and forage, it was alleged, were becoming alarmingly scarce. Finally, while halting on the fourth day’s march, a major, whose name is withheld, rode up to the commanding general, and in an insolent manner peremptorily ordered him to march the troops back to Fort Harrison. Not long afterward a violent wind arose that blew directly toward them, and very soon it was discovered that the prairie was on fire at the windward. They saved themselves by burning the grass around their camp. It was believed that this was the work of the Indians, and it gave the finishing blow to the expedition. The troops would not march farther. Hopkins called a council of officers [October 20.], when it was decided by them to return, as their men were utterly unmanageable. The mortified commander then called for five hundred volunteers to follow him to the Illinois. Not one responded to his summons. His authority had vanished. They even refused to submit to his leadership on their return, and he followed his army back to Fort Harrison, where they arrived on the 25th. 36 Thus ended an apparently formidable and promising expedition. Yet it was not unfruitful of good. It alarmed the Indians, gave them a sense of the real power of the white people, and made them more cautious and circumspect. That imposing force had marched eighty or ninety miles in the Indian country without show of opposition any where.

While Hopkins’s expedition was in motion, another, under Colonel Russell, composed of two small companies of United States Rangers, marched from Vincennes [October 11, 1812.] to unite with a small body of mounted militia under Governor Edwards (who assumed the chief command), for the purpose of penetrating the region toward which General Hopkins was marching, and to co-operate with him. Their combined force numbered nearly four hundred men, rank and file. They penetrated deeply into the Indian country, but, hearing nothing of Hopkins, and being too few to attempt much, they contented themselves with some minor exploits. They fell suddenly and furiously upon the principal Kickapoo town, twenty miles above Peoria, at the head of Peoria Lake, and drove the Indian inhabitants into a swamp, through which for three miles they were vigorously pursued, the invaders finding themselves frequently waist-deep in mud and water. The fugitives fled in dismay across the Illinois River. Many of the pursuers passed over, and brought back canoes with dead Indians in them. Twenty lifeless warriors lay prone in the path of the returning victors. Doubtless many more perished in the morass and the stream. The town, with a large quantity of corn and other property, was destroyed. The spoils brought away were eighty horses, and the dried scalps of several white persons who had been murdered by the savages. 37 The expedition returned, after an absence of thirteen days, with no other serious casualty than four men wounded, not one of them mortally.

General Hopkins discharged the mutinous mounted men, and organized another expedition against the Indians. This force, twelve hundred and fifty strong, was composed chiefly of foot soldiers, and the object of the expedition was the destruction of the Prophet’s town, and other Indian villages on the Upper Wabash. His troops consisted of three regiments of Kentucky militia, commanded respectively by Colonels Barbour, Miller, and Wilcox; a small company of regulars, under Captain Zachary Taylor; a company of Rangers, commanded by Captain Beckers; and a company of scouts or spies, led by Captain Washburne. The greater portion of them rendezvoused at Vincennes, and moved up the Wabash Valley to Fort Harrison, where they arrived on the 5th of November. Six days afterward they marched from the fort up the road made by Harrison a year before, and, at the same time, seven boats, filled with provisions, forage, and military stores, well guarded by Lieutenant Colonel Barbour with a battalion of his regiment, moved up the river. The Indians were supposed to be on the alert, and the march was cautiously pursued. The streams were full of water, and the passage of swamps and low lands was extremely difficult and fatiguing. They did not cross the Wabash as Harrison did, but, for sufficient reasons, marched up the east side of that stream.

So difficult was the march that the expedition did not reach the Prophet’s town until the 19th, when Hopkins dispatched Adjutant General Butler, with three hundred men, to surprise a Winnebago village of about forty houses on the present Wild Cat Creek, a mile from the Wabash, and about four miles below the Prophet’s town. The village was deserted. Flames soon laid it in ashes. The Prophet’s town, about equal in size, and a large Kickapoo village just below it, containing about one hundred and sixty huts, with all their winter provision of corn and beans, were utterly destroyed.

It was not until the 21st that any Indians were discovered. On that day they fired upon a small party of soldiers, and killed one man. On the following morning sixty horsemen, under Colonels Miller and Wilcox, went out to bury the dead, when they were suddenly attacked by Indians in ambush, and lost eighteen men, killed, wounded, and missing, in the skirmish that ensued. 38 The rendezvous of the savages, in a strong position on the Wild Cat, was soon discovered, and preparations were made for dislodging them, when they decamped and disappeared. The season was far advanced, the cold was increasing, and ice was beginning to form in the river. These circumstances, and the fact that many of the troops, especially the Kentuckians, were "shoeless and shirtless" – clad in the remnants of their summer clothes, caused an order to be issued on the 25th for a return to Fort Harrison and Vincennes. 39 "We all suffered very much," said Pierre La Plante, of Vincennes, who was one of the troops, "but I pitied the poor Kentuckians. They were almost naked and barefoot – only their linen hunting-shirts – the ground covered with snow, and the Wabash freezing up." 40

With this more successful expedition ended General Hopkins’s military career. In general orders, issued at Vincennes on the 18th of December following, he said: "The commander-in-chief now closes his command, and, in all probability, his military services forever." Most of the volunteers were now discharged, and Illinois and Indiana experienced a season of comparative repose.



1 "The war," a weekly paper, published in the City of New York, by Samuel Woodworth, the poet, gives the following glimpses of the spirit of the people at that time in its issue of September 19, 1812: "The citizens of Albany, immediately on hearing of the surrender of General Hull, commenced a subscription for raising a regiment of volunteers. Very liberal subscriptions were made for the comfort and convenience of those who might offer their services. A regiment of volunteers is also raising in the City of Baltimore, and $15,000 have already been subscribed for the purpose of furnishing the men with every thing necessary for their comfort. Fifteen hundred men are immediately to march from Virginia, to rendezvous at Point Pleasant, on the Ohio. The ladies of Richmond volunteered their services to make tents, knapsacks, etc., for the soldiers, and in five days all things were ready. When the news of the fall of Detroit reached Lexington, in Kentucky, instead of deploring the loss, the citizens immediately set about repairing it. An immense number of volunteers immediately came forward, among whom were several members of Congress, and shouldered their muskets in their country’s cause. The greatest enthusiasm prevails throughout the whole Western country; almost every man has volunteered his services, and, if we may judge from appearances, it will not be long before our Western brethren will wipe away the stain upon the American arms by the ignominious surrender of Detroit and the American army under General Hull.

"The citizens of New York are forming patriotic associations for the purpose of raising funds to assist the families of volunteers and drafts detached for the defense of the borders, who may be in want during their absence on duty. Large supplies of vegetables, coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, etc., have also been sent to the troops stationed in and about the harbor. This conduct is worthy of imitation."

2 Charles Scott was a native of Cumberland County, Virginia. He was a corporal in a militia company under Braddock in the campaign of 1755, and was a distinguished officer in the Revolution. See Lossing’s Field-Book of the Revolution. For a brief biographical sketch of him and his signature, see the same, Note 3, ii., 147.

3 Reply of Governor Meigs to the memorial of the citizens of Chillicothe, Ohio, on the subject of protecting the frontier. – Niles’s Weekly Register, September 26, 1812.

4 Memoirs of the Public Services of William Henry Harrison, by James Hall, p. 160.

5 Autograph letter, August 27, 1812.

6 "The regiment commanded by Colonel Barbour," says M‘Afee, "when ordered into service at the call of Governor Harrison, was directed to rendezvous at the Red Barracks, with a view of marching to the aid of Governor Edwards, at Ruskin’s, in the Illinois Territory. The regiments of Colonels Wilcox and Miller were ordered to rendezvous at Louisville and on the Ohio below, for the purpose of marching to Vincennes to protect the Indiana Territory. Colonels Barbee and Jennings were at first ordered to the same place; but, in consequence of the perilous situation of the Northwestern Army, they were now directed, by express, to rendezvous at Georgetown on the 1st of September, and pursue the other regiments, by the way of Newport and Cincinnati, for the Northwestern frontiers. The regiment of Colonel Poague was called to rendezvous at Newport, on its way to the Northwestern Army; and a regiment of dragoons, under Colonel Simrall, was likewise directed to proceed for the same destination." – History of the Late War in the Western Country, page 109.

7 M‘Afee, page 111.

8 Died April 20, 1846.

9 On the same day General Harrison, who had heard of the fall of Detroit and Chicago, and knew the danger to which Fort Wayne would be exposed, wrote as follows to the Secretary of War: "I shall march to-morrow morning with the troops I have here, taking the route of Dayton and Piqua. The relief of Fort Wayne will be my first object, and my after operations will be guided by circumstances until I receive your instructions. Considering my command as merely provisional, I shall cheerfully conform to any other arrangements which the government may think proper to make. The troops which I have with me, and those which are coming from Kentucky, are perhaps the best materials for forming an army that the world has produced. But no equal number of men was ever collected who knew so little of military discipline, nor have I any assistants that can give me the least aid, if there was even time for it, but Captain Adams, of the 4th Regiment, who was left here sick, and whom I have appointed deputy adjutant general until the pleasure of the President can be known. No arms for cavalry have yet arrived at Newport, and I shall be forced to put muskets in the hands of all the dragoons. I have written to the quarter-master at Pittsburg to request him to forward all supplies of arms, equipments, and quarter-master’s stores as soon as possible. I have also requested him to send down a few pieces of artillery without waiting your order, and wait your instruction as to a farther number. There is but one piece of artillery, one iron four-pounder, any where that I can hear of in the country. If it is intended to retake the posts that we have lost, and reduce Malden this season, the artillery must be sent on as soon as possible." He also complained of a want of facility for getting money on drafts. Such were the inadequate preparations made by the government for the promotion of the war in the Northwest, when it was first commenced.

10 M‘Afee, page 121.

11 See note 5, page 314.

12 M‘Afee, page 121.

13 For the purpose of neutralizing, if possible, the effects of British influence over the tribes of Ohio, a council had been held at Piqua on the 15th of August. Governor Meigs, Thomas Worthington, and Jeremiah Morrow were the commissioners on the part of the United States. Every thing promised success; but while the council was in progress news of the fall of Detroit and Chicago reached Piqua, and frustrated the plans of the white people.

14 Now the village of St. Mary, in Mercer County, Ohio, on the site of Fort St. Mary, erected by Wayne, and commanded by Captain John Whistler before he built Fort Dearborn at Chicago. The notorious Simon Girty occupied a cabin at that place for some time.

15 See page 315.

16 While the Little Turtle lived most of the Miamis remained faithful to the Americans, but soon after his death, in the summer of 1812, the great body of them joined the hostile savages.

17 This village, like all the others, was deserted. Before the door of the chief, upon a pole, hung a red flag, with a broom tied above it; and at the tent of an old warrior a white flag was flying from a pole. The body of the old warrior was in a sitting posture, the face toward the east, and a bucket containing trinkets by its side. In one of the huts was found a Cincinnati newspaper containing an account of General Harrison’s army. The troops found a large quantity of dried corn, beans, and potatoes, which furnished them and their horses with food.

18 In one of these was found the tomb of a chief, built of logs and daubed with clay. His body was laid on a blanket, with his gun and his pipe by his side, a small tin pan on his breast containing a wooden spoon, and a number of earrings and brooches.

19 At St. Mary’s, Harrison wrote to Governor Shelby as follows: "My situation here is very embarrassing, so much so that I have determined within the two hours past to propose to General Winchester to recognize me as commander-in-chief, or to relinquish all command whatever, unless it is of the mounted forces which I have prepared, and with which I shall strike a stroke somewhere. You will hear from another quarter the very serious difficulty which was to be encountered before the men of Scott’s, Allen’s, and Lewis’s regiments could be reconciled to the command of General Winchester. I fear that the other three regiments will prove still more refractory." – Autograph Letter, September 22d, 1812.

20 Autograph Letter to General Shelby, dated "St. Mary, 22d September, 1812." I have before me an autograph note from General Harrison to Governor Meigs, of similar purport, dated at St. Mary, the 20th of September. "But it must be kept profoundly secret," he wrote.

21 Captain Bland Ballard was a distinguished citizen of Kentucky. He was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, October 16, 1761, and at this time was just past fifty years of age. He had been in Kentucky since 1779. He was with General Clark when he invaded the Ohio country in 1781, where he was severely wounded. In all that service, as a spy and otherwise, Ballard was exceedingly active. He was with Wayne in his campaigns. He joined Allen’s regiment in 1812, and, as we have seen in the text, was wounded at the Raisin and taken prisoner. He frequently represented Shelby County in the Kentucky Legislature. Ballard County, Kentucky, was so called in his honor, and Blandville, the county seat, bears the Christian name of Captain Ballard. He was living, at the age of eighty-seven years, in 1847. For a fuller account of him, see Collins’s Historical Sketches of Kentucky, page 171.

22 They crossed the Maumee to the south side, and took as direct a route as they could to the Au Glaize. They crossed that stream, and descended it along its eastern shore to its month at Defiance. Two miles below the confluence of the streams they crossed the Maumee, and returned up the north side to the army.

23 At about this time Peter Navarre (whom we shall meet hereafter), who had piloted the British as far as the Rapids, deserted them, and pushed on to meet Winchester and inform him of the approach of the enemy. – Hosmer’s Early History of the Maumee Valley, page 34.

24 M‘Afee, pages 102-138, inclusive; Thomson’s Sketches of the Late War, ch. iv.; Perkins’s History, etc., of the Late War; Brackenridge’s History of the Late War, pages 55-58, inclusive.

25 The emphasis in the word Ottawa being in the middle syllable, these were called ’Tawa towns. The Lower ’Tawa town was on Blanchard’s Fork, on the site of the present village of Ottawa, two miles below the Upper ’Tawa town.

26 See page 257.

27 M‘Afee, pages 148, 149; Tupper’s Letter to General Harrison from Urbana, October 12, 1812; Brackenridge, page 59; Perkins, page 97.

28 Letter to General Harrison from Urbana, dated October 12th 1812. M‘Afee, who gives a more detailed account of this affair than any other writer, says, "Some of the Kentuckians were not inclined to march under Tupper unless accompanied by some field officer from Winchester’s command. Colonel Allen therefore tendered his services to accompany General Tupper in any capacity he might choose to receive him. The offer was accepted. But General Winchester, having misunderstood the nature of the arrangement between them, issued an order directing Colonel Allen to take the command and march toward the Rapids. This caused a serious misunderstanding between the two generals. Colonel Allen, however, having informed General Winchester correctly on the subject, the order was immediately rescinded. The greater part of the men having by this time refused to proceed directly to the Rapids, General Tupper marched them over the Au Glaize, and proceeded to the Ottawa towns, where he professed to expect re-enforcements from Ohio." This account agrees substantially with that of Tupper in his letter to Harrison, in which he says, "It is a duty I owe to Colonel Allen to say that I have not the smallest reason to believe he was privy to the orders of General Winchester."

29 Defiance is the county seat of Defiance County, about fifty miles northeastward from Fort Wayne. It was laid out in 1822, and from its eligible situation and fertility of the country around – the rich Black Swamp region – seems destined to become a place of much importance.

30 See page 334.

31 See page 43.

32 See page 197.

33 See page 323.

34 Address of Governor Shelby, issued at Frankfort September 8, 1812.

35 Four regiments were at first formed, to be commanded respectively by Colonels Samuel Caldwell, John Thomas, James Allen, and Young Ewing. These constituted two brigades, the first to be commanded by General James Ray, an early adventurer in Kentucky and experienced Indian fighter, * and the other by General Jonathan Ramsey. After this arrangement was made, another, under Colonel Samuel South, was organized. George Walker was appointed judge advocate of the little army, Pierce Butler adjutant general, Majors William Trigg and William A. Lee aids to General Hopkins, William Blair and Joseph Weisiger volunteer aids, and John C. Breckinridge the general’s secretary.

* For an account of the early adventures of General Ray, see Collins’s Kentucky, its History, Antiquities, and Biography, page 453.

36 Hopkins’s Report to Governor Shelby, dated Fort Harrison, October 26, 1812; Dillon’s History of Indiana, page 497 M‘Afee, page 158.

37 Colonel William Russell’s Letter to General Gibson, the acting governor of Indiana, dated "Camp Russell, October 31, 1812."

38 This detachment was composed of Captain Beckers’s company of Rangers, a small number of mounted militia, and several army officers.

39 General Hopkins’s Letter to Governor Shelby, November 27, 1812.

40 Dillon’s History of Indiana, Note, page 502.



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