Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XXIII - Events on the Maumee River.






Harrison’s Position on the Maumee. – Expedition against Malden. – Its Failure. – Fortified Camp at the Maumee Rapids. – Remissness of the commanding Officer. – A weak Garrison. – A Call for Volunteers nobly answered. – Armstrong’s Interference with Harrison’s Plans. – Harrison’s Protest. – The Brigade of General Green Clay. – Their Rendezvous and March toward the Maumee. – Cincinnati in 1812. – Fort Meigs and its Vicinity. – Harrison assumes Responsibility. – Proctor’s Preparations to invade the Maumee Valley. – Proctor calls Savages to Malden. – Expedition against Fort Meigs. – Harrison’s Precautions. – General Harrison’s Note to General Clay. – Combs commissioned a Captain of Spies. – He goes on a perilous Expedition. – Biographical Sketch of Combs. – Combs’s Voyage down the Maumee River. – Greeting of the Flag at Fort Meigs. – Combs attacked by Indians. – Preparations for assailing Fort Meigs. – Harrison’s Speech to his Soldiers. – Fort Meigs strengthened. – British and Indians cross the River. – A Gun-boat. – Fort Meigs attacked. – Colonel Christy. – New Battery opened on Fort Meigs. – Harrison’s Defenses. – Critical Situation of the Fort and Garrison. – General Clay moving down the Maumee. – Harrison’s Plans developed. – Movements near Fort Meigs. – Dudley half wins Victory, and loses it. – Sad result of Zeal and Humanity. – Americans defeated and made Prisoners. – Clay’s Encounter with the Indians. – A Sallying-party and their Perils. – A gallant Messenger. – Sortie from Fort Meigs. – Proctor disheartened. – He is deserted by his Fellow-savages. – Flight of the British and Indians. – Massacre of Prisoners at Fort Miami. – Tecumtha’s Rebuke of Proctor. – A Visit to the Maumee Valley. – Interesting travelling Companions. – Peter Navarre. – Remains of Fort Miami. – Maumee City and its historical Elm-tree. – Presque Isle Hill. – Remains of Fort Meigs. – The Well. – Political Reminiscences. – Visit for Fort Meigs and its Vicinity. – Journey back to Toledo. – Adieu to the Guide and Historian.


"Oh, lonely is our old green fort,

Where oft, in days of old,
Our gallant soldiers bravely fought
’Gainst savage allies bold;
But with the change of years have passed
That unrelenting foe,
Since we fought here with Harrison,
A long time ago." SONG – OLD FORT MEIGS.


Nothing of importance in military movements occurred during the dead of winter, in 1813, excepting the terrible affair at Frenchtown, on the River Raisin, already described, 1 and some hostile demonstrations on the St. Lawrence frontier at Elizabethtown and Ogdensburg by the opposing parties. The campaign of that year opened almost simultaneously on the shores of Lake Ontario, in the Valley of the Maumee, and on the coasts of Virginia.

Let us first consider military events in the Northwest, where we left General Harrison, with a portion of his gallant little army, encamped amid the snows in the dark forests that skirted the Rapids of the Maumee. 2

The position chosen by Harrison for a strong advanced post, which would give him facilities for keeping open a communication with Ohio and Kentucky, allow him to afford protection to the inhabitants on the borders of Lake Erie, and to operate against Detroit and Malden, was one of the most eligible in the Northwest, and its possession gave the British much uneasiness. Harrison’s plan was to form simply a fortified camp, and to prosecute the winter campaign with vigor. For this purpose he endeavored to concentrate troops there, and prepared to push on to the vicinity of Brownstown, for the purpose of operating directly against Malden while the Detroit River was bridged with ice. Considering the destruction of the enemy’s vessels, frozen up in the vicinity of Malden, of great importance, he sent a small force, under Captain Langham, 3 to perform that service. On the 2d of March [1813.] they a set off in sleighs, with six days’ provisions, and well equipped with combustibles. The party was one hundred and seventy strong. The particular incendiaries were under the immediate command of M. Madis, a Frenchman of European military experience, then conductor of artillery. They were instructed to leave the sleighs at Middle Bass Island, and, with their feet muffled in moccasins, proceed noiselessly, under cover of night, to the work of destruction. Harrison advanced with a supporting detachment, but on his arrival at Maumee Bay [March 3.], not far below the present city of Toledo, he met Langham and his party returning. They had found the lake open, and of course the plan of the expedition was frustrated. The mildness of the winter had been remarkable; the roads were consequently almost impassable. There was no ice competent to bear troops and munitions of war.

Harrison now abandoned all hopes of moving forward until spring, and continued the work of fortifying his camp with great vigor, for the preservation of his stores, collected there in great quantity. His troops were then about eighteen hundred in number, and were employed on the works under the skillful direction of that competent officer, Captain Wood, the chief engineer of Harrison’s army, Captain Gratiot, 4 then lying prostrate with illness that long continued. "The camp," said Captain Wood, was about twenty-five hundred yards in circumference, the whole of which, with the exception of several small intervals left for batteries and block-houses, was to be picketed with timber fifteen feet long, from ten to twelve inches in diameter, and set three feet in the ground. Such were the instructions of the engineer; and so soon as the lines of the camp were designated, large portions of the labor were assigned to each corps in the army, by which means a very laudable emulation was easily excited. To complete the picketing, to put up eight block-houses of double timbers, to elevate four large batteries, to build all the store-houses and magazines required to contain the supplies of the army, together with the ordinary fatigues of the camp, was an undertaking of no small magnitude. Besides, an immense deal of labor was likewise required in excavating ditches, making abatis, and clearing away the wood about the camp; and all this was to be done, too, at a time when the weather was inclement, and the ground so hard that it could scarcely be opened with the mattock and pickaxe. But in the use of the axe, mattock, and spade consisted the chief military knowledge of our army; and even that knowledge, however trifling it may be supposed by some, is of the utmost importance in many situations, and in ours was the salvation of the army. So we fell to work, heard nothing of the enemy, and endeavored to bury ourselves as soon as possible." 5

But the work so vigorously commenced was abandoned soon afterward, when the general and the engineer left the camp – the former to visit his sick family at Cincinnati, and to urge forward troops and supplies for his army; the latter to superintend the erection of defensive works at Sandusky. The camp at the Rapids was left in charge of Colonel Leftwich, of the Virginia militia, who appears to have resolved to desert the post as soon as possible. Regardless of the danger to the stores, and comfort and safety of those he might leave behind, he not only allowed all work upon the fortifications to cease, but permitted the soldiers to burn the collected picketings for fuel, instead of getting it from the woods within pistol-shot of the camp. On his return from Sandusky on the 20th of February, Captain Wood, to his great mortification, perceived the utter neglect of Leftwich, and the destruction of the works on the lines commenced before he left. The consequence of this conduct of Leftwich, whom Wood called "an old phlegmatic Dutchman, who was not even fit for a pack-horse master, much less to be intrusted with such an important command," was great exposure of the garrison to the inclement weather, and the stores to imminent peril from the enemy. When, on the expiration of their term of enlistment, the Virginia troops under Leftwich, and others from Pennsylvania, left for home, only about five hundred men remained at the Rapids under Major Stoddard, with which to maintain possession of an unfinished line of circumvallation calculated to contain an army of two thousand men.

Harrison’s greatest concern during the winter of 1813 was the possibility of not keeping soldiers enough in the field for the spring campaign, as the terms of the enlistment of different corps would soon expire. To provide for such contingency, he called for volunteers from Kentucky and Ohio, and met with cordial responses. 6 He was preparing to collect about four thousand men at the Rapids for an early movement against Malden, when he received instructions from General Armstrong, the new Secretary of War, which deranged all his plans. By these he was directed to continue his demonstrations against Malden, but only as a diversion in favor of attempts to be made upon Canada farther down. He was enjoined not to make an actual attack upon the enemy until the consummation of measures for securing the command of Lake Erie, then just inaugurated, and to be completed at Presque Isle (now Erie, Pennsylvania) by the middle of the ensuing May. Much to his mortification and alarm, he was directed to dispense with militia as much as possible, and to fill up the 17th, 19th, and 24th Regiments of Regulars for service in the ensuing campaign. He was informed that two other regiments of regulars had been ordered to be raised, one in Kentucky and the other in Ohio. Should the old regiments not be filled in time, he was permitted to make up the deficiencies from the militia. With these he was to garrison the different posts, hold the position at the Rapids, and amuse the enemy by feints.

This interference with his plans annoyed Harrison exceedingly, and he ventured to remonstrate with the Secretary of War. He gave him his views [March 18, 1813.] very freely, and with them some valuable and much-needed information concerning the country to be defended and the Indian tribes in alliance with the British. He explained the causes of apprehended danger in attempting to carry out the new programme, and assured the Secretary of War that the regular force to be relied on could not be raised in time for needed service, and that, even if it should, it would be too small for the required duty – so evidently inadequate that enlistments would be discouraged. 7 Armstrong, who seldom bore opposition patiently, did not like to be remonstrated with, but he prudently forbore farther interference in the conduct of the campaign in the Northwest at that time. 8

General Harrison was yet at Cincinnati late in March, actively engaged in endeavors to forward troops and supplies to the Rapids. Informed that the lake was almost free of ice, that the Virginia and most of the Pennsylvania troops would leave at the expiration of their term on the 2d of April, and that the enemy were doubtless informed of the situation of affairs at the Rapids by a soldier who had been made a prisoner by them, he anticipated an early attack upon ins camp there. It was, therefore, with the greatest anxiety that he awaited promised re-enforcements from Kentucky.

The governor had ordered a draft of three thousand militia (fifteen hundred of them for Harrison’s army) as early as the middle of February, to be organized into four regiments, under Colonels Boswell, Dudley, Cox, and Caldwell, forming a brigade to be commanded by Brigadier General Green Clay. 9


The regiments under the first two named officers rendezvoused at Newport, opposite to Cincinnati, at about the first of April. Those companies which had arrived there earlier had been sent forward to the Rapids on forced marches, by the way of Urbana and "Hull’s Trace," and the commander-in-chief followed soon afterward, leaving the remainder of the Kentuckians designed for his command to be forwarded as quickly as possible. He arrived at camp on the 12th of April, and was gratified by finding more than two hundred patriotic Pennsylvanians remaining, who had been persuaded to do so by their chaplain, Dr. Hersey. 11

Under the direction of Captain Wood, the fortified camp, which had been named in honor of the governor of Ohio, had assumed many of the features of a regular fortification, and was dignified with the name of Fort Meigs. It was evident that its defense would be the chief event in the opening of the campaign. Harrison had been informed while on his way of the frequent appearance of Indian scouts in the neighborhood of the Rapids, and of little skirmishes with what he supposed to be the advance of a more powerful force. Alarmed by these demonstrations, he dispatched a messenger from Fort Amanda with a letter to Governor Shelby, urging him to send to the Maumee the whole of the three thousand militia drafted in Kentucky. This was in violation of his instructions from the War Department respecting the employment of militia, but the seeming peril demanding such violation, he did not hesitate for a moment. Expecting to find Fort Meigs invested by the British and Indians, he took with him from Fort Amanda all the troops that could be spared from the posts on the St. Mary and the Au Glaize, about three hundred in all, and descended by water from his point of departure with the intention of storming any British batteries which he might find employed against his camp. He was agreeably disappointed on his arrival by the discovery that the enemy was not near in great force. But that enemy, vigilant and determined, was preparing to strike at Fort Meigs a destructive blow.

When the ice began to move in the Detroit River and the lake, Proctor formed his plans for an early invasion of the Maumee Valley. Ever since his sanguinary operations at Frenchtown he had been using every art and appliance in his power to concentrate at Amherstburg a large Indian force for the purpose. He fired the zeal of Tecumtha and the Prophet by promises of future success in all their schemes for confederating the savage tribes, and by boasting of his ample power to place in the hands of his Indian allies Fort Meigs, its garrison, and immense stores. So stimulative were his promises that, at the beginning of April, Tecumtha was at Fort Malden with almost fifteen hundred Indians. Full six hundred of them were drawn from the country between Lake Michigan and the Wabash, much to the satisfaction of Harrison when he discovered the fact, for it so relieved him of apprehensions of peril to his posts from that direction that he countermanded his requisition on Governor Shelby for all the drafted men from Kentucky.

Proctor was delighted with the response of the savages to his call, and visions of speedy victory, personal glory, and official promotion filled his mind. He became more boastful than ever, and more supercilious toward the Americans at Detroit. He ordered the Canadian militia to assemble at Sandwich on the 7th of April [1813.], when he assured them that the campaign would be short, decisive, successful, and profitable. On the 23d [April.] his army and that of his savage allies, more than two thousand in number, 12 were in readiness at Amherstburg; and on that day they embarked on a brig and several smaller vessels, accompanied by two gunboats and some artillery. On the 26th they appeared at the mouth of the Maumee, about twelve miles below Fort Meigs; and on the 28th they landed on the left bank of the river, near old Fort Miami, and established their main camp there. 13 From that point Proctor and Tecumtha, who were well mounted, rode up the river to a point opposite Fort Meigs to reconnoitre. They were discovered at the fort, when a shot from one of the batteries sent them back in haste. 14 Captain Dixon, of the Royal Engineers, was immediately sent up with a fatigue party to construct batteries upon a commanding elevation nearly opposite the fort, in front of the present Maumee City, but incessant rains, and the wretched condition of the roads, so retarded the progress of the work that they were not ready for operations until the first day of May.

The approach of the enemy in force had been discovered by Captain Hamilton, of the Ohio troops, on the 28th, while reconnoitring down the river with a small force. Peter Navarre, one of Harrison’s most trustworthy scouts, yet (1867) living in Ohio, first saw them. Hamilton sent him in haste to Fort Meigs with the intelligence, when Harrison instantly dispatched him with three letters, one for Upper Sandusky, one for Lower Sandusky, and one for Governor Meigs, at Urbana. 15 Although Fort Meigs was quite strong, several block-houses having been erected in connection with the lines of intrenchment and pickets, and a good supply of field-pieces had been mounted, Harrison was convinced, from the character and strength of the enemy, that his post was in imminent peril. He knew that General Green Clay was on his march with Kentuckians; and as soon as Navarre was furnished with his letters, he dispatched Captain William Oliver, the commissary to the fort, an intelligent, brave, and judicious officer (who had performed similar service for him), with an oral message to Clay, urging him to press forward by forced marches. Oliver bore to Clay the following simple note of introduction: 16


"Head-quarters, Camp Meigs, 28th April, 1813.

"DEAR SIR, – I send Mr. Oliver to you, to give you an account of what is passing here. You may rely implicitly upon him. Yours,




Oliver was accompanied by a single white man and an Indian. He was escorted beyond the immediate danger that surrounded the camp by a company of dragoons under Captain Garrard. He found General Clay at Fort Winchester (Defiance) with twelve hundred Kentuckians, three companies of his command, as we have observed, 17 having been sent forward by Harrison at the close of March. Clay had left Cincinnati early in April, after issuing a stirring address 18 to his troops [April 7, 1813.] in General Orders, and followed Winchester’s route to the Maumee. 19 At Dayton he was overtaken by Leslie Combs, of Kentucky, a bold and ardent young man of nineteen years, whose services as scout and messenger in the late campaign, which ended so disastrously at the Raisin, were well known to General Clay. He at once commissioned Combs captain of a company of riflemen as spies or scouts, to be selected by him from Dudley’s corps.

At St. Mary’s block-house Clay divided his brigade. He sent Dudley to the Au Glaize, while he descended the St. Mary himself with Colonel Boswell’s corps. Both divisions were to meet at Defiance. While on their way down the Au Glaize, intelligence reached Dudley of the perilous condition of Harrison at Fort Meigs. At a council of officers it was resolved to apprise the commander-in-chief of the near approach of succor. Who shall undertake the perilous mission? was the important question. It required some person acquainted with the country.

Young Combs, eager for patriotic duty and distinction, volunteered to go. "When we reach Fort Defiance," he said, "if you will furnish me a good canoe, I will carry your dispatches to General Harrison, and return with his orders. I shall only require four or five volunteers from my own company, and one of my Indian guides to accompany me." A murmur of approbation ran through the company, and his offer was joyfully accepted by Dudley with words of compliment and gratitude. 20 They reached Defiance the following morning. It was the first of May. As soon as a canoe could be procured Combs embarked on his perilous mission, accompanied by two brothers named Walker, and two others named respectively Paxton and Johnson; also by young Black Fish, a Shawnoese warrior. 21 With the latter at the helm, the other four engaged with the rowing, and himself at the bow in charge of the rifles and ammunition of the party, Combs pushed off from Defiance, amid cheers and sad adieus (for few expected to see them again), determined to reach Fort Meigs before daylight the next morning. The voyage was full of danger. Rain was falling heavily, and the night was intensely black. They passed the Rapids in safety, but not until quite late in the morning, when heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of the fort. It was evident that the expected siege had commenced, and that the perils of the mission were increased manifold. For a moment Combs was perplexed. To return would be prudent, but would expose his courage to doubts; to remain until the next night, or proceed at once, seemed equally hazardous. A decision was soon made by the brave youth. "We must go on, boys," he said; "and if you expect the honor of taking coffee with General Harrison this morning, you must work hard for it." He went forward with many misgivings, for he knew the weakness of the garrison, and doubted its ability to hold out long. Great was his satisfaction, therefore, when, on sweeping around Turkey Point, 22 at the last bend in the river by which the fort was hidden from his view, he saw the stripes and stars waving over the beleaguered camp.


Their joy was evinced by a suppressed shout. Suddenly a solitary Indian appeared in the edge of the woods, and a moment afterward a large body of them were observed in the gray shadows of the forest, running eagerly to a point below to cut off Combs and his party from the fort. The gallant captain attempted to dart by them on the swift current, when a volley of bullets from the savages severely wounded Johnson and Paxton – the former mortally. The fire was returned with effect, when the Shawnoese at the helm turned the prow toward the opposite shore. 23 There the voyagers abandoned the canoe, and, with their faces toward Defiance, sought safety in flight. After vainly attempting to take Johnson and Paxton with, them, Combs and Black Fish left them to become captives, and at the end of two days and two nights the captain reached Defiance, whereat General Clay had just arrived. The Walkers were also there, having fled more swiftly, because unencumbered. Combs and his dusky companion had suffered terribly. 24 The former was unable to assume the command of his company, but he went down the river with the re-enforcements, and took an active part in the conflict in the vicinity of Fort Meigs. There we shall meet him again presently. 25


The British had completed two batteries nearly opposite to Fort Meigs on the morning of the 30th [April, 1813.], and had mounted their ordnance. One of them bore two twenty-four-pounders, and the other three howitzers – one eight inches, and the other two five and a half inches calibre. In this labor they had lost some men by well-directed round shot from the fort, but neither these missiles nor the drenching rain drove them away. Harrison had not been idle in the mean time. His force was much inferior to that of the enemy in numbers, but was animated by the best spirit. On the morning after the British made their appearance near, he addressed his soldiers eloquently in a General Order; 27 and when he discovered the foe busy in erecting batteries on the opposite shore that would command his works, he began the construction of a traverse, or wall of earth, on the most elevated ground through the middle of his camp, twelve feet in height, on a base of twenty feet, and three hundred yards in length. During its construction it was concealed by the tents. When these were suddenly removed to the rear of the traverse, the British engineer, to his great mortification, perceived that his labor had been almost in vain. Instead of an exposed camp, from which Proctor had boasted he would soon "smoke out the Yankees" – in other words, speedily destroy it with shot and shell, he saw nothing but an immense shield of earth, behind which the Americans were invisible and thoroughly sheltered. Proctor accordingly modified his plans, and sent a considerable force of white men under Captain Muir, and Indians under Tecumtha, to the eastern side of the river, under cover of the gun-boats, with the evident intention of preparing for an attack on the fort in the rear. When night fell the British batteries were yet silent, and remained so; but a gun-boat, towed up the river near the fort under cover of the darkness, fired thirty shots without making any other impression than increasing the vigilance of the Americans, who reposed on their arms. Early in the morning the gun-boat went down the river barren of all honor.

Late in the morning on the 1st of May [1813.], notwithstanding heavy rain-clouds were driving down the Maumee Valley, and drenching every thing with fitful discharges, the British opened a severe cannonade and bombardment upon Fort Meigs, and continued the assault, with slight intermissions, for about five days, 28 but without much injury to the fort and garrison. The fire was returned occasionally by eighteen-pounders. The supply of shot for these and the twelve-pounders was very small, there not being more than three hundred and sixty of each. They were used with judicious parsimony, for it was not known how long the siege might last. The British, on the contrary, appeared to have powder, balls, and shells in great abundance, and they poured a perfect storm of missiles – not less than five hundred – upon the fort all of the first day, and until eleven o’clock at night. 29 One or two of the garrison were killed, and Major Stoddard, of the First Regiment, a soldier of the Revolution, who commanded the fort when Leftwitch retired, was so badly wounded by a fragment of a shell that he died ten days afterward. 30

On the morning of the 2d the British opened a third battery of three twelve-pounders upon the fort from the opposite side of the river, which they had completed during the night, and all that day the cannonade was kept up briskly. Within the next twenty-four hours a fourth battery was opened. 31 That night a detachment of artillerists and engineers crossed the river, and mounted guns and mortars upon two mounds for batteries already constructed in the thickets by the party that crossed on the 30th, within two hundred and fifty yards of the rear angles of the fort. One of these, nearest the ravine already mentioned, was a mortar battery; the other, a few rods farther southward, was a three-gun battery. Expecting an operation of this kind, the Americans had constructed traverses in time to foil the enemy; and when, toward noon of the 3d, the three cannon and the howitzer opened suddenly upon the rear angles of the fort, their fire was almost harmless. A few shots from eighteen-pounders directed by Gratiot who was convalescing, soon silenced the gun-battery, and the pieces were hastily drawn off and placed in position near the ravine.


Shot and shell were hurled upon the fort more thickly and steadily on the 3d than at any other time, but with very little effect. This seemed to discourage the besiegers, and on the 4th the fire was materially slackened. Then Proctor sent Major Chambers with a demand for the surrender of the post. "Tell General Proctor," responded Harrison, promptly, "that if he shall take the fort it will be under circumstances that will do him more honor than a thousand surrenders." Meanwhile the cannonading from the fort was feeble, because of the scarcity of ammunition. "With plenty of it," wrote Captain Wood, "we should have blown John Bull from the Miami." The guns were admirably managed, and did good execution at every discharge. The Americans were well supplied with food and water 33 for a long siege, and could well afford to spend time and weary the assailants by merely defensive warfare sufficient to keep the foe at bay. They exhibited their confidence and spirit by frequently mounting the ramparts, swinging their hats, and shouting defiance to their besiegers. Nevertheless, Harrison was anxious. Hull and Winchester had failed and suffered. The foe was strong, wily, and confident. So he looked hourly and anxiously up the Maumee for the hoped-for re-enforcements. Since Navarre and Oliver went out, he had heard nothing from abroad. His suspense was ended at near midnight on the 4th, when Captain Oliver, with Major David Trimble and fifteen men who had come down the river in a boat, made their way into the fort as bearers of the glad tidings that General Clay and eleven hundred Kentuckians were only eighteen miles distant, and would probably reach the post before morning.

Captain Oliver had found Clay at Fort Winchester on the 3d. The cannonading at Fort Meigs was distinctly heard there, and Clay pressed forward as speedily as possible with eighteen large flat scows, whose sides were furnished with shields against the bullets of Indians who might infest the shores of the river. It was late in the evening when the flotilla reached the head of the Rapids, eighteen miles from the scene of conflict. The moon had gone down, and the overcast sky made the night so intensely dark that the pilot refused to proceed before daylight. It was then that Trimble and his brave fifteen volunteered to accompany Captain Oliver to the fort, to cheer the hearts of Harrison and his men by the tidings of succor near. It did cheer them. Harrison immediately conceived a plan of operations for Clay, and dispatched Captain Hamilton and a subaltern in a canoe to meet the general, and say to him with delegated authority, "You must detach about eight hundred men from your brigade, and land them at a point I will show you, about a mile or a mile and a half above Camp Meigs. I will then conduct the detachment to the British batteries on the left bank of the river. The batteries must be taken, the cannon spiked, and carriages cut down, and the troops must then return to the boats and cross over to the fort. The balance of your men must land on the fort side of the river, opposite the first landing, and fight their way into the fort through the Indians. The route they must take will be pointed out by a subaltern officer now with me, who will land the canoe on the right bank of the river, to point out the landing for the boats."

This explicit order reveals much of Harrison’s well-devised plan. He knew that the British force at the batteries was inconsiderable, for the main body were still near old Fort Miami, and the bulk of the Indians with Tecumtha were on the eastern side of the river. His object was to strike simultaneous and effectual blows on both banks of the stream. While Dudley was demolishing the British batteries on the left bank, and Clay was fighting the Indians on the right, he intended to make a general sally from the fort, destroy the batteries in the rear, and disperse or capture the whole British force on that side of the river.

It was almost sunrise when Clay left the head of the Rapids. He descended the river with his boats arranged in solid column, as in a line of march, each officer having position according to rank. Dudley, being the senior colonel, led the van. Hamilton met them, in this order, about five miles above the fort. Clay was in the thirteenth boat from the front. When Harrison’s orders were delivered, he directed Dudley to take the twelve front boats and execute the commands of the chief concerning the British batteries, while he should press forward and perform the part assigned to himself.

Colonel Dudley executed his prescribed task most gallantly and successfully. The current was swift, and the shores were rough, but his detachment effected a landing in fair order. They ascended to the plain on which Maumee City stands unobserved by the enemy, and were there formed for marching in three parallel columns, the right led by Dudley, the left by Major Shelby, and the centre, as a reserve, by Acting Major Morrison. Captain Combs, with thirty riflemen, including seven friendly Indians, flanked in front full a hundred yards distant. 34 In this order they moved through the woods a mile and a half toward the British batteries, which were playing briskly upon Fort Meigs, when the columns were so disposed as to inclose the enemy in a crescent, with every prospect of capturing the whole force. Dudley had failed to inform his subalterns of his exact plans, and that remissness was a fatal mistake. Shelby’s column, by his order, penetrated to a point between the batteries and the British camp below, when the right column, led by Dudley in person, raised the horrid Indian yell, rushed forward, charged upon the enemy with wild vehemence, captured the heavy guns and spiked eleven of them without losing a man. The riflemen, meanwhile, had been attacked by the Indians, and, not aware of Dudley’s designs, thought it their duty to fight instead of falling back upon the main body. This was the fatal mistake. The main object of the expedition was fully accomplished, although the batteries were not destroyed. The British flag was pulled down, and as it trailed to earth loud huzzas went up from the beleaguered fort.

Harrison had watched the moment with intense interest from his chief battery, and when he saw the British flag lowered, he signaled Dudley to fall back to his boats and cross the river, according to explicit orders. Yet the victors lingered, and sharp firing was heard in the woods in the rear of the captured batteries. Harrison was indignant because of the disobedience. Lieutenant Campbell volunteered to carry a peremptory order across to Dudley to retreat, but when he arrived the victory so gloriously won was changed into a sad defeat. Humanity had caused disobedience, and terrible was the penalty. At the moment when the batteries were taken, as we have just observed, Indians in ambush attacked Combs and his riflemen. With quick and generous impulse, Dudley ordered them to be re-enforced. A greater part of the right and centre columns instantly rushed into the woods in considerable disorder, accompanied by their colonel. Thirty days in camp had given them very little discipline. It was of little account at the outset, for, disorderly as they were, they soon put the Indians to flight, and relieved Combs and his little party. That work accomplished, discipline should have ruled. It did not. Impelled by the enthusiasm and confidence which is born of victory, and forgetful of all the maxims of prudence, they pursued the flying savages almost to the British Camp. Shelby’s column still held possession of the batteries when this pursuit commenced, but the British artillerists, largely re-enforced, and led by the gallant Captain Dixon, soon returned and recaptured them, taking some of the Kentuckians prisoners, and driving the others toward their boats. 35 Meanwhile the Indians had been re-enforced, and had turned fiercely upon Dudley. His men were in utter confusion, and all attempts at command were futile. Shelby had rallied the remnant of his column and marched to the aid of Dudley, but he only participated in the confusion and flight. The Kentuckians were scattered in every direction through the woods back of where Maumee City now stands, making but feeble resistance, and exposed to the deadly fire of the skulking savages. The flight became a rout, precipitate and disorderly, and a greater part of Dudley’s command were killed or captured, after a contest of about three hours. Dudley, who was a heavy, fleshy man, was overtaken, tomahawked, and scalped, and his captive companions, including Captain Combs and his spies, were marched to old Fort Miami as prisoners of war. Of the eight hundred 36 who followed him from the boats, only one hundred and seventy escaped to Fort Meigs. 37

While these tragic scenes were transpiring on the left bank of the river, others equally stirring were in progression in the vicinity of Fort Meigs. General Clay had attempted to land the six remaining boats under his command nearly opposite the place of Dudley’s debarkation, but the swiftness of the current, swollen by the heavy rains, drove five of them ashore. The other, containing General Clay, with Captain Peter Dudley and fifty men, kept the stream, separated from the rest, and finally landed on the eastern bank of the river opposite to Hollister’s Island. There they were assailed by musketry from a cloud of Indians on the left flank of the fort, and by round shot from the batteries opposite. Notwithstanding the great peril, Clay and his party returned the Indians’ attack with spirit, and reached the fort without the loss of a man.

Colonel Boswell’s command in the other boats, consisting of a part of the battalions of Kentucky militia under Major William Johnson, and two other companies of Kentucky levies, landed near Turkey Point. He was immediately ordered by Captain Hamilton, General Harrison’s representative, to fight his way into the fort. The same Indians who assailed Clay disputed his passage. Boswell arranged his men in open order, marched boldly over the low plain, 38 engaged the savages on the slopes and brow of the high plateau most gallantly, and reached the fort without suffering very serious loss. There he was greeted by thanks and shouts of applause, and met by a sallying-party 39 coming out to join him in an immediate attack upon that portion of the enemy with whom he had just been engaged, pursuant to Harrison’s original plan of assailing the foe on both sides of the river at the same time. There was but a moment’s delay. Boswell on the right, Major Alexander and his volunteers on the left, and Major Johnson in the centre, was the order in which the party advanced against their dusky foe. They fell upon the savages furiously, drove them half a mile into the woods at the point of the bayonet, and utterly routed them. In their zeal the victors were pursuing with a recklessness that, if continued, would have resulted in disaster like that which overwhelmed Dudley. Fortunately, General Harrison, always on the alert, had taken a stand, with a spyglass, on one of his batteries, from which he could survey the whole field of operations. He discovered a body of British and Indians gliding swiftly along the borders of the woods to cut off the retreat of the pursuers, when he dispatched a volunteer aid (John T. Johnson, Esq.) to recall his troops. It was a perilous undertaking. The gallant aid-de-camp had a horse shot under him, but he succeeded in communicating the general’s orders in time to allow the imperiled detachment to return without much loss.

General Harrison now ordered a sortie from the fort against the enemy’s works on the right, near the deep ravine. For this purpose three hundred and fifty men were detailed, and placed under the command of Colonel John Miller, 40 of the regular service, They consisted of the companies of United States troops under Captains Langham, Croghan, Bradford, Nearing, 41 Elliott, 42 and Gwynne, 43 and Lieutenant Campbell; Major Alexander’s 44 volunteers, and a company of Kentucky militia under Captain Sebree. 45 Miller was accompanied by Major George Todd, of the Nineteenth Infantry, and led his command with the greatest bravery. They charged with the fiercest impetuosity upon the motley foe, eight hundred and fifty strong, drove them from their batteries at the point of the bayonet, spiked their guns, and scattered them in confusion in the woods beyond the ravine toward the site of the present village of Perrysburg. The enemy fought desperately, and Miller lost several of his brave men. At one moment the utter destruction of Sebree’s company seemed inevitable. They were surrounded by four times their number of Indians, when Gwynne, of the Nineteenth, perceiving their peril, rushed to their rescue with a part of Elliott’s company. They were saved. The object of the sortie was accomplished, and the victors returned to the fort with forty-three prisoners, followed by the enemy, who had rallied in Considerable force. 46


After these sorties on the 5th the siege of Fort Meigs was virtually abandoned by Proctor. The result of that day’s fighting, combined with the ill success of all preceding efforts to reduce the fort, were so disheartening that his Indian allies deserted him, and the Canadian militia turned their faces homeward. 47 The splendid Territory of Michigan had been promised to the Prophet as a reward for his services in the capture of Fort Meigs, and Tecumtha was to have the person of General Harrison, whom he had hated intensely since the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, as his peculiar trophy. These promises were all unfulfilled. The Indians left in disgust, and probably nothing but Tecumtha’s commission and pay as brigadier in the British army secured his farther services in the cause.

Proctor’s eyes saw his savage allies leaving him and his Canadian militia discontented, and his ears heard the startling intelligence that Fort George, on the Niagara frontier, was in the hands of the Americans, and that re-enforcements were coming from Ohio for the little army at Fort Meigs. 48 He saw nothing before him, if he remained, but the capture or dispersion of his troops, and he resolved to flee. With the design of concealing this fact that he might move off with safety, he again sent Captain Chambers to demand the surrender of the fort. Harrison regarded the absurd message as an intended insult, and requested that it should not be repeated. It was the last friendly communication between the belligerents. 49

Proctor attempted to bear away from his batteries his unharmed cannon, but a few shots from Fort Meigs made him withdraw speedily. A parting response in kind from one of his gun-boats, in return, slew several, among them Lieutenant Robert Walker, of the Pittsburg Blues, whose grave may yet be identified within the remains of the fort by a plain, rough stone, with a simple inscription, that stands at its head. 50


This was the last life lost in the siege. In the same vessels that brought him to the Maumee, Proctor returned to Amherstburg with the remains of his little army, leaving behind him a record of infamy on the shores of that stream in the wilderness equal in blackness to that upon the banks of the Raisin. 51 Here, in few words, is the record attested by Captain Wood, of the Engineers, and others. 52 On the surrender of Dudley’s command the prisoners were marched down to Fort Miami with an escort, and there, under the eye of Proctor and his officers, the Indians, who had already plundered them and murdered many on the way, 53 were allowed to shoot, tomahawk, and scalp more than twenty of them. This butchery was stopped by Tecumtha, who proved himself to be more humane than his British ally and brother officer, Henry Proctor. 54


I visited the theatre of events just described, on the 24th of September, 1860, and had the singular good fortune to be accompanied by L. H. Hosmer, Esq., of Toledo, author of The Early History of the Maumee Valley, and the venerable Peter Navarre (a Canadian Frenchman), General Harrison’s trusty scout, already mentioned. 55 Navarre resided about twenty miles from Toledo, and had come into the city on business two or three days before. Mr. Hosmer, aware of my intended visit at that time, had kindly detained him until my arrival. Only two days before, I had enjoyed a long conversation at the "West House," in Sandusky City, with General Leslie Combs, who had just visited Fort Meigs for the first time since he was there as a soldier and prisoner in 1813. That visit had recalled the incidents of the campaign most vividly to his mind, and he related them to me with his usual enthusiasm and perspicuity. With the soldier’s description in my memory, and the historian and scout at my side, I visited Fort Meigs and its historical surroundings under the most favorable circumstances.

The night of my arrival at Toledo had been a tempestuous one – wind, lightning, rain, and a sprinkle of hail. The following morning was clear and cool, with a blustering wind from the southwest. We left the city for our ride up the Maumee Valley at nine o’clock, in a light carriage and a strong team of horses. Mr. Hosmer volunteered to be coachman. Our road lay on the right side of the river; and when nearly seven miles from Toledo we came to the site of Proctor’s encampment, on a level plateau a short distance from the Maumee, upon land owned, when we visited it, by Henry W. Horton.


Across a small ravine, a few rods farther southward, were the remains of old Fort Miami, famous, as we have seen, in Wayne’s time, as one of the outposts of the British, impudently erected in the Indian country within the acknowledged territory of the United States. 56 It was upon the land of Benjamin Starbird, whose dwelling was just beyond the southern side of the fort. It was a regular work, and covered about two acres of land. The embankments were from fifteen to twenty feet in height. They were covered with heavy sward, and fine honey-locust and hickory trees were growing upon them. These were in full leaf and the grass was very green, when we were there. From the northwest angle of the fort I made the accompanying sketch, which includes the general appearance of the mounds. On the right is seen a barn, which stands within the triangular outwork, at the sally-port mentioned by Captain Combs in his narrative, substantially given in Note 7, page 489, where he was compelled to run the gauntlet for his life; and on the left a glimpse of the Maumee. All about the old fort is now quiet. For more than fifty years peace has smiled upon the Maumee Valley; and Proctor and Tecumtha, Elliott and The Prophet, and the other savages of the war, white and red, are almost forgotten, except by those families who suffered from their cruelty.

From Fort Miami we rode up to Maumee City, opposite Fort Meigs, a pleasant little village of about two thousand inhabitants, situated at the head of river navigation, eight miles from Toledo. It is the capital of Lucas County, Ohio, and was laid out in 1817 by Major William Oliver and others, within a reservation of twelve miles square. The bank of the river, curving gracefully inward here, is almost one hundred feet in height. Nearly opposite lies the little village of Perrysburg, and between them is a fertile, cultivated island of two hundred acres, with smaller islands around it. Directly in front are seen the mounds of Fort Meigs and a forest back of them; and up the Maumee are the considerable islands known respectively as Hollister’s and Buttonwood, or Peninsula. The latter view is delineated in the sketch on the next page, taken from the main road along the brow of the river bank in front of the village. In it is seen the magnificent elm-tree that stood near the old "Jefferson Tavern;" and in the middle, in the distance, over Hollister’s Island, is seen Turkey Point, memorable in connection with the adventures of Combs and the landing of Boswell. That elm is famous. We have observed that, at the beginning of the siege, the water used by the garrison was taken from the river at great risk. From the thick foliage of this elm several bullets from rifles in the hands of Indians went on death-errands across the river to the water-carriers. These were returned by Kentucky riflemen, and tradition says that not less than six savages were brought to the ground out of that tree by those sharp-shooters.

From Maumee City we rode three miles up to Presque Isle Hill 57 (the scene of Wayne’s operations), wandered over the battle-ground of The Fallen Timber, 58 and sketched Turkey-Foot’s Rock, given on page 55. We then returned to the bridges (common carriage and railway bridge), and crossed to Fort Meigs, the form of which we found distinctly marked by the mounds of earth. That of the Grand Traverse 59 was from four to six feet in height, and all were covered with green sward. The fort originally included about ten acres, but was somewhat reduced in size before the second siege, which we shall notice presently. The places of the blockhouses were visible, and the situation of the well, near the most easterly angle of the fort, was marked by a shallow pit, and a log in an upright position, seven or eight feet in height. 60


On leaving the fort we strolled along the ravine on its right and rear to the site of the British battery captured by Colonel Miller. There yet stood the primeval forest-trees – the very woods in which Tecumtha and his Indians were concealed. A little brook was flowing peacefully through the shallow glen, and the high wind that made the great trees rock was scarcely felt in the quiet nook. There we three – historian, scout, and traveler – had a "picnic" on food brought from Toledo, and clear water from the brook, and at one o’clock we departed for the city, passing down the right bank of the Maumee. Just after leaving the fort we rode through Perrysburg, a pleasant village about the size of Maumee City, and the capital of Wood County, Ohio. It was laid out in 1816, and named in honor of the gallant victor on Lake Erie three years before.

When we arrived at the ferry station opposite Toledo, the boat had ceased running because of low water. The wind had been blowing stiffly toward the lake all day, and expelled so much water from the river that the boat grounded in attempting to cross, so we left our team to be sent for, were borne over in a skiff at the moderate price of three cents apiece, and were at the "Oliver House" in time for a late dinner, and a stroll about the really fine little city of Toledo 61 before sunset. At that hour I parted company with Mr. Navarre, with heartfelt thanks for his services, for he had been an authentic and intelligent guide to every place of interest at and around Fort Meigs. I spent a portion of the evening with General John E. Hunt (a brother-in-law of General Cass), who was born in Fort Wayne in 1798. His father was an officer under General Wayne at the capture of Stony Point, on the Hudson, in 1779, and composed one of the "forlorn hope" on that occasion. Although General Hunt was only a boy at the time, he was attached to General Hull’s military family during the entire campaign which ended so disastrously at Detroit at midsummer.

At ten o’clock in the evening I bade good-by to kind Mr. Hosmer, and went up the Maumee Valley by railway to Defiance, where I landed at midnight, as already mentioned, 62 in a chilling fog.



1 See Chapter XVII {original text has XX.}.

2 See page 364.

3 Augustus L. Langham, of Ohio, was an ensign in a rifle corps in 1808. He resigned in 1809, and in March, 1812, was commissioned a captain in the Nineteenth Regiment of Infantry. He distinguished himself at Fort Meigs. In August following he was promoted to major, was retained in 1815, and resigned in October, 1816.

4 Charles Gratiot was a native of Missouri, and was appointed second lieutenant of Engineers in October, 1806, and captain in 1808. Harrison appointed him his chief engineer in 1812. He was promoted to major in 1815, lieutenant colonel in 1819, colonel and principal engineer in 1828, and on the same day (May 24) was breveted brigadier general. He left the service in December, 1838.

5 The lines of the camp, inclosing about eight acres, were very irregular. They were upon a high bank, about one hundred feet above the river and three hundred yards from it. On the land side, commencing at the run, was a deep ravine that swept in a crescent form quite round to the rear.

6 Harrison requested that a corps of fifteen hundred men might be raised in Kentucky immediately, and marched to his head-quarters without delay. The Legislature of Kentucky was then in session, and Harrison’s request was submitted to them in a confidential message by Governor Shelby. A law was immediately passed offering additional pay of seven dollars a month to any fifteen hundred Kentuckians who would remain in the service till a corps could be sent to relieve them. This offer was accompanied by an appeal to their patriotism from the Legislature, which reached them on the 8th of February. They had suffered much, and were very anxious to return home, so they would only promise to remain an indefinite time, but said that if the general was ready to lead them against the enemy they would follow him without additional pay. Similar appeal to the Ohio and Pennsylvania troops met with similar success, but the Virginians would not remain. Meanwhile the Legislature of Kentucky passed an act for detailing three thousand men from the militia, of which fifteen hundred were to march for Harrison’s camp, and Governor Meigs ordered two regiments to be organized for the same service.

7 In a letter to Governor Shelby, at about this time, Harrison said: "Last night’s mail brought me a letter from the Secretary of War in which I am restricted to the employment of the regular troops raised in this state to re-enforce the post at the Rapids. There are scattered through this state about one hundred and forty recruits of the 19th Regiment, and with these I am to supply the place of the brigades from Pennsylvania and Virginia, whose time of service will now be daily expiring. By a letter from Governor Meigs I am informed that the Secretary of War disapproved the call for militia which I had made on this state and Kentucky, and was on the point of countermanding the orders. I will just mention one fact, which will show the consequences of such a countermand. There are upon the Au Glaize and St. Mary’s Rivers eight forts, which contain within their walls property to the amount of half a million of dollars from actual cost, and worth now to the United States four times that sum. The whole force which would have had charge of all these forts and property would have amounted to less than twenty invalid soldiers." – Autograph Letter, March 21, 1813.

8 Armstrong attempted to arrange the military force of the country on the plan adopted by General Washington in the Revolution. On the 19th of March he promulgated a general order, dividing the whole United States into nine military districts, as follows: 1, Massachusetts, with Maine and New Hampshire; 2, Rhode Island and Connecticut; 3, New York below the Highlands and New Jersey; 4, Pennsylvania and Delaware; 5, Maryland and Virginia; 6, Georgia; 7, Louisiana. The rest of the States and Territories being divided between the 8th and 9th, the first embraced the seat of war at the west end of Lake Ontario, and the other the Niagara portion, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain.

On the 12th of March commissions were issued for eight new brigadiers, namely, Cushing, Parker, Izard, and Pike, of the old army, and Winder, M‘Arthur, Cass, Howard, and Swartwout. The latter succeeded Morgan Lewis as quarter-master with the rank of brigadier.

9 In a letter dated at "Frankfort, March 5, 1813," Governor Shelby invited Mr. Clay to accept the command of the brigade as brigadier general. Clay accepted the office, and in a letter, dated on the 16th of the same month, the governor sent him his commission. In the first letter, now before me, the governor said that, had it been designed to cross into Canada at once, he should have taken command of the Kentucky troops in person.

10 This view of Cincinnati in 1812 is from an old print. It then contained about two thousand inhabitants.

11 These patriotic men informed the general that they were very anxious to go home to put in their spring seeds, but that they would never leave him until he thought that their services could be spared without danger to the cause. On the arrival of the three Kentucky companies he discharged the Pennsylvanians.

12 The combined force under Proctor consisted of 522 regulars, 461 militia, and about 1500 Indians; total, 2482. The Americans at Fort Meigs did not exceed 1100 effective men.

13 See the map on the preceding page, which covers the entire historic ground at and around the Maumee Rapids from Roche de Bout – perpendicular rock – where the river has a considerable fall, and where Wayne was encamped in 1794 (see page 54), to Proctor’s encampment near Fort Miami at the time we are considering. It shows the place of Hull’s encampment in 1812 (see page 257), and Wayne’s battle-ground in 1794 (see page 55), with the site of Fort Meigs, and of incidents connected with the siege about to be described in the text; also the present Maumee City on one side of the river, Perryville on the other, and the rail and wagon bridges across. Between Fort Meigs and Perryville is seen a stream. It courses through the ravine mentioned in Note 2, page 474.

14 Statement of Reverend A. M. Lorraine, in the Ladies’ Repository, March, 1845.

15 Oral statement of Navarre to the author.

16 The original is before me, and a fac-simile of it appears on the opposite page. It is one of the papers of General Clay kindly placed in my hands by his son, General Cassius M. Clay, our late minister at the Russian Court. It is written on a half sheet of foolscap paper, and is thoroughly soiled by contact with mud and water.

17 See page 476.

18 "Kentuckians," he said, "stand high in the estimation of our common country. Our brothers in arms who have gone before us to the scene of action have acquired a fame which should never be forgotten by you – a fame worthy your emulation. . . . . . Should we encounter the enemy, remember the fate of your BUTCHERED BROTHERS at the River Raisin – that British treachery produced their slaughter!"

19 As it may be interesting to the reader to know what constituted the private outfit of an officer of the army at that time for service in the field, I subjoin the following "list of articles for camp" prepared for General Clay:

"Trunk, portmanteau and fixtures, flat-iron, coffee-mill, razor-strop, box, etc., inkstand and bundle of quills, ream of paper, three halters, shoe-brushes, blacking, saddle and bridle, tortoise-shell comb and case, box of mercurial ointment, silver spoon, mattress and pillow, three blankets, three sheets, two towels, linen for a cot, two volumes M‘Kenzie’s Travels, two maps, spy-glass, gold watch, brace of silver-mounted pistols, umbrella, sword, two pairs of spurs – one of silver. CLOTHES: Hat, one pair of shoes, one pair of boots, regimental coat, great-coat, bottle-green coat, scarlet waistcoat, blue cassimere and buff cassimere waistcoat, striped jean waistcoat, two pair cotton colored pantaloons, one pair bottle-green pantaloons, one pair queen-cord pantaloons, one pair buff short breeches, one pair red flannel drawers, one red flannel waistcoat, red flannel shirt, five white linen shirts, two check shirts, nine cravats, six chamois, two pair thread stockings, three pair of thread socks, hunting shirt, one pair of woolen gloves, one pair of leather gloves."

"A complete ration" at that time was estimated at fifteen cents, and was composed and charged as follows: meat, five cents; flour, six cents; whisky, three cents; salt, soap, candles, and vinegar, one fourth of a cent each.

20 Captain Combs is yet (1867) living in his native state of Kentucky, vigorous in mind and body, and bearing the title of general by virtue of his commission as such in the militia of his state. He is descended, on his mother’s side, from a Quaker family of Maryland. His father, a Virginian, was a "Revolutionary Officer and a Hunter of Kentucky." So says a simple inscription on his tomb-stone. Leslie was the youngest of twelve children. He joined the army in 1812, when just past eighteen years of age, and was at once distinguished for his energy and bravery. He was employed, as we have seen (page 350), on perilous duty, and never disappointed those who relied upon him. He was made a captain and wounded near Fort Meigs, and narrowly escaped death. He was paroled, and late in May, 1813, returned home. He commenced the study of law, and was not again in the field until 1830, when he raised a regiment for the southwestern frontier at the time of the revolution in Texas. He became very active in political life. His home was Lexington, and he was a neighbor and warm personal friend of Henry Clay throughout the long public career of that great man. The friendship was mutual, and Clay always felt and acknowledged the power of General Combs. He was always a fluent, eloquent, and most effective speaker, and now, when he has passed the goal of "threescore and ten years," he never fails to charm any audience by his words of power, his apt illustrations, and genial humor.

21 He was a grandson of Black Fish, a noted warrior who led the Indians in the attack on Boonsboro’, in Kentucky, in 1778.

22 In the above picture, a view of a portion of the Maumee valley, as seen from the northwest angle of Fort Meigs, looking up the river, Turkey Point is seen near the centre, behind the head of Hollister’s Island, that divides the river. A clump of trees, a little to the right of the three small trees in a row near the bank of the river, marks the place. The Maumee is seen flowing to the right, and to the left the plain, when I made the sketch in the autumn of 1860, was covered with Indian corn, some standing and some in the shocks. A canal for hydraulic purposes is seen in the foreground. It flows immediately below the ruins of Fort Meigs.

23 It was first thought that the Indians were friendly Shawnoese. So thought Black Fish; but when he discovered his mistake, he exclaimed, "Pottawatomie, God damn!"

24 Paxton was shot through the body, but recovered. During the political campaign of 1840, when General Harrison was elected President of the United States, General Combs spoke to scores of vast assemblies in his favor. On one occasion he was in the neighborhood of Paxton’s residence, who took a seat on the platform by the side of the speaker. Combs related the incident of the voyage down the Maumee and their joy at the sight of the old flag on that morning. "Here," said he, "is the man who was shot through the body. Stand up, Joe, and tell me how many bullets it would have taken to have killed you at that measure." "More than a peck!" exclaimed Paxton.

25 I met General Combs at Sandusky City in the autumn of 1860, when he gave me an interesting account of his operations in the Maumee Valley at that time. Speaking of his return to Defiance, he said, "Black Fish made his way to his native village, while I pushed on toward Defiance. It rained incessantly. I was compelled to swim several swollen tributaries to the Maumee, and was dreadfully chafed by walking in wet clothes. My feet were lacerated by traveling in moccasins, over burnt prairies, and my mouth and throat were excoriated by eating bitter hickory-buds, the only food that I tasted for forty-eight hours. For days afterward I could not eat any solid food. I was placed on a cot in a boat, and in that manner descended the river with my gallant Kentucky friends."

26 The above little picture, sketched in the autumn of 1860 from the ruins of Croghan Battery (so named in honor of the gallant defender of Fort Stephenson), Fort Meigs, looking northwest, shows the scattered village of Maumee city in the distance, with the site of the British batteries in front of it. This is indicated in the picture by the distant bluff with two houses upon it, immediately beyond the two little figures at the end of the railway-bridge in the middle-ground. When I visited the spot in 1860, the ridge on which the cannon were planted, lower than the plain on which the village stands, was very prominent. Behind it was a deep hollow, in which the British artillerymen were securely posted. On the brow of the plain, just back of the British batteries, indicated by the second bluff with one house upon it, was afterward the place of encampment of Colonel Johnson. The railway-bridge, seen in the middle-ground of this picture, has a common passenger-bridge by the side of it. Between the extreme foreground and the railway embankment is the ravine mentioned in a description of Fort Meigs on page 474, and indicated in the map on page 488 by a stream of water.

27 "Can the citizens of a free country," he said, "who have taken arms to defend its rights, think of submitting to an army composed of mercenary soldiers, reluctant Canadians, goaded to the field by the bayonet, and of wretched, naked savages? Can the breast of an American soldier, when he casts his eyes to the opposite shore, the scene of his country’s triumphs over the same foe, be influenced by any other feelings than the hope of glory? Is not this army composed of the same materials with that which fought and conquered under the immortal Wayne? Yes, fellow-soldiers, your general sees your countenances beam with the same fire that he witnessed on that glorious occasion; and, although it would be the height of presumption to compare himself with that hero, he boasts of being that hero’s pupil. * To your posts, then, fellow-citizens, and remember that the eyes of your country are upon you!"

* Wayne’s battle-ground in 1794, and the theatre of his victory, were in sight of the soldiers thus addressed. Harrison was Wayne’s aid-de-camp on that occasion, and as we have observed on page 53, was one of his most useful officers.

28 A survivor of the War of 1812, and one of the most active and remarkable men of the day when the late civil war broke out, was Colonel William Christy. He was acting quarter-master at Fort Meigs, and had charge of all the stores and flags there at that time. He was only twenty-two years of age, yet he had, by his energy and patriotism, secured the love and confidence of General Harrison in a remarkable degree. When the first gun was fired upon Fort Meigs, Harrison called him to his side, and said, "Sir, go and nail a banner on every battery, where they shall wave so long as an enemy is in view." Christy obeyed, and there the flags remained during the entire siege.

Mr. Christy was born in Georgetown, Kentucky, on the 6th of December, 1791. At an early age he went with his father to reside near the Ohio, not far distant from Cincinnati. He was left an orphan at the age of fourteen years. He studied law, and entered upon the duties of that profession in 1811. When war was declared he joined the army under Harrison. That officer knew his father, and kindly gave the son of his old friend a place in his military family as aid-de-camp, and, as we have just observed, he was made acting quarter-master at Fort Meigs. He behaved gallantly therein the sortie in which Captain Silver was engaged, and in which his company suffered terribly. Christy was in subordinate command in that fight, and received the commendations of his general. He was promoted to lieutenant in the old First Regiment of United States Infantry. After the close of the Harrison campaign, which resulted in victory at the Thames, he was ordered to join his regiment, then at Sackett’s Harbor. There General Brown appointed him adjutant, and he was in active service in Northern New York for some time. When the army was disbanded, Christy was retained, and was stationed for a while in New Orleans. He left the army in 1816, and commenced the career of a commission merchant in New Orleans. He married there, and soon amassed a fortune, which he lost, however, by the dishonesty of a partner. He resumed the practice of the law, and in 1826 published his "Digest" of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana. Again he amassed a large fortune. He espoused the cause of Texas, and soon afterward lost his property, but gained the praise of being "the first filibuster in the United States." His nature was impulsive, and during his residence of more than forty years in New Orleans he had several "affairs of honor," growing out of political quarrels chiefly. He was a ready and fluent speaker, and during the campaign when Harrison was candidate for the Presidency, Colonel Christy accompanied his chief in person throughout Ohio, and made more than one hundred speeches in his behalf. His kindness of heart and ungrudging hospitality ever gained him hosts of warm friends.

29 As the enemy were throwing large numbers of cannon-balls into the fort from their batteries, Harrison offered a gill of whisky for every one delivered to the magazine-keeper, Thomas L. Hawkins. Over one thousand gills were thus earned by the soldiers. – Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio, page 532. An eyewitness (Reverend A. M. Lorraine) relates that one of the militia took his station on the embankment, watched every shot, and forewarned the garrison thus: "Shot," or "bomb," as the case might be; sometimes "Block-house No. 1," or "Look out, main battery," "Now for the meat-house," "Good-by, if you will pass." At last a shot hit him and killed him instantly.

30 Amos Stoddard was a native of Massachusetts, and was commissioned a captain of artillery in 1798. He was retained in 1802. In 1804 and ’05 he was governor of the Missouri Territory. He was promoted to major in 1807. He was deputy quarter-master in 1812, but left the staff in December of that year. He died of tetanus, or lockjaw, on the 11th of May, 1813. He was the author of "Sketches of Louisiana," published in 1810.

31 These were named as follows, as indicated on the above map: a, Mortar; b, Queen’s; c, Sailor’s; and d, King’s.

32 This plan is from a sketch made by Joseph H. Larwell, on the 19th of July, 1813. All the dotted lines represent the traverses. a a a a a indicate the block-houses; b b, the magazines; c c c c, minor batteries. The grand and mortar batteries and the well are indicated by name.

33 During the first three days of the siege the Americans were wholly dependent upon the rain for water. Those who were sent to fetch it were exposed to the fire of the enemy. On the fourth they had completed a well within the fort which gave them an ample supply.

34 At the request of General Clay, Captain Combs furnished him with minute information respecting the operations under Dudley, in a letter dated May 6, 1815. The writer has kindly furnished me with a copy of that letter, from which the main facts of this portion of the narrative have been drawn.

35 When Proctor was apprised of the approach of the detachment under Dudley, he supposed it to be the advance of the main American army, and he immediately recalled a large portion of his force on the eastern side of the river. About seven hundred Indians were among them, led by Tecumtha, They did not arrive in time to participate in the battle, but they allowed Proctor to send large re-enforcements from his camp.

36 The exact number of officers and private soldiers were, of Dudley’s regiment, 761; Boswell’s, 60, and regulars, 45 – total, 866. – Manuscript Reports among the Clay papers.

37 General Harrison censured Colonel Dudley’s men in General Orders on the 9th of May, signed by John O’Fallon, his acting assistant adjutant general. "It rarely occurs," he said, "that a general has to complain of the excessive ardor of his men, yet such appears always to be the case whenever the Kentucky militia are engaged. Indeed, it is the source of all their misfortunes." After speaking of the rash act in pursuing the enemy, he remarked, "Such temerity, although not so disgraceful, is scarcely less fatal than cowardice." In a letter to Governor Shelby on the 18th, General Harrison censured Colonel Dudley. "Had he retreated," he said, "after taking the batteries, or had he made a disposition to retreat in case of defeat, all would have been well. He could have crossed the river, and even if he had lost one or two hundred men, he would have brought over a re-enforcement of six hundred, which would have enabled me to take the whole British force on this side of the river." Harrison did not then know that Dudley had sacrificed the greater portion of his little army and his own life in the humane attempt to save Combs and his party from destruction. Combs afterward called General Harrison’s attention to the injustice of his censure. It was too late; it had passed into history, and has been perpetuated by the pens of successive chroniclers.

William Dudley was a citizen of Fayette County, Kentucky, at that time, but was a native of Spottsylvania County, Virginia. He was a magistrate in Kentucky for many years, and was highly esteemed. He was overtaken, as we have observed in the text, by the Indians, and shot in the body and thigh. When last seen he was sitting on a stump in a swamp, defending himself against a swarm of savages. He was finally killed, and his body was dreadfully mutilated. I was informed by Abraham Miley, of Batavia, Ohio, who was in Fort Meigs at the time of the siege, that when the body of Dudley was found a large piece had been cut from the fleshy part of his thigh by the savages, which they doubtless ate.

38 See picture on page 481, and note 2 on the same page.

39 Composed of Pennsylvania and Virginia volunteers (the former, except a small company, known as the Pittsburg Blues, and the latter the Petersburg Volunteers), a company of the Nineteenth United States Regiment under Captain Waring, and Captain Dudley’s company, who had followed Clay into the fort. The Pittsburg Blues were commanded by Captain James Butler, son of the General Butler who fell at St. Clair’s defeat in 1791. See pages 47 and 48. The Virginians were under Captain M‘Crea.

40 Colonel of the Nineteenth Regiment of Regulars. He was a native of Ohio, and was commissioned colonel on the 6th of July, 1812. He was transferred to the Seventeenth Infantry in May, 1814. In 1818 he left the army. He was governor of Missouri from 1828 to 1832, and a representative in Congress from 1837 to 1843. He died at Florisant, Missouri, on the 18th of March, 1846.

41 Abel Nearing was from Connecticut. He survived the siege, but died on the 13th of September following from the effects of fever.

42 Captain Elliott was a nephew of the notorious Colonel Elliott in the British service, and then with Proctor, and of Captain Jesse Elliott, of the United States Navy, on Lake Erie at that time.

43 David Gwynne, as first lieutenant and regimental paymaster, had accompanied Colonel J. B. Campbell against the Mississinawa Towns (see page 346). He was made captain in March, 1813. In August he was made brigade major to General M‘Arthur, and in 1814 was raised to major of riflemen. He left the army in 1816, and died near St. Louis in 1849.

44 Major Alexander was a brave officer. He commanded a rifle company, Pennsylvania Volunteers, in Campbell’s expedition against the Mississinawa towns in December, 1812.

45 Uriel Sebree was a captain in Scott’s Kentucky Volunteers in August, 1812, and was with Major Madison at Frenchtown, under Winchester. He was a gallant officer.

46 The Americans lost in this sortie 28 killed and 25 wounded. – MS. Report.

47 "I had not the option of retaining my position on the Miami. Half of the militia had left us. . . . Before the ordnance could be withdrawn from the batteries I was left with Tecumtha and less than twenty chiefs and warriors – a circumstance which strongly proves that, under present circumstances at least, our Indian force is not a disposable one, or permanent, though occasionally a most powerful aid." – Proctor’s Dispatch to Governor Prevost.

In his dispatch to Sir George Prevost from Sandwich on the 14th of May Proctor fairly acknowledged himself defeated, and, admitting that he had no data for judging how many the Americans had lost in killed, "conceived" the number to have been between a thousand and twelve hundred: whereupon Sir George deceived the Canadians and falsified history by asserting, in a General Order, he had "great satisfaction in announcing to the troops the brilliant result of an action which took place on the banks of the Miami River," and "which terminated in the complete defeat of the enemy, and capture, dispersion, or destruction of thirteen hundred men!" By a comparison of the most reliable accounts on both sides, the loss of the Americans during the siege may fairly, it seems, be put down at about 80 killed, 270 wounded, and 470 prisoners. The British loss was 15 killed, 47 wounded, and 44 made prisoners.

48 We have observed (page 478) that Peter Navarre was sent from Fort Meigs with a letter to the Governor of Ohio. That energetic man immediately sent messengers in all directions for volunteers, and he was very soon on his way to the relief of the beleaguered garrison. His march was arrested by the flight of the besiegers.

49 Harrison’s dispatches to the Secretary of war, May 9, 1813; Proctor’s dispatch to Sir George Prevost, May 14, 1813; M‘Afee’s History of the Late War; Perkins’s and Thomson’s Sketches, etc.; Captain Wood’s Narrative, cited by M‘Afee; Major Richardson’s Narrative; Auchinleck’s History of the War of 1812; General Clay’s Letter to General Harrison, May 13, 1813; Captain Combs’s Letter to General Clay, May 5, 1815; General Harrison to Governor Shelby, May 18, 1813; Armstrong’s Notices of the War of 1812; Onderdonk’s MS. Life of Tecumseh; Speech of Eleutheros Cook, Esq., of Sandusky City, at Fort Meigs, June 11, 1840; Narratives of Rev. A. M. Lorraine and Joseph R. Underwood, eyewitnesses, quoted by Howe; Hosmer’s Early History of the Maumee Valley; oral statements to the Author by Peter Navarre.

50 The little monument, which contained only the words, Lieutenant Walker, May 9, 1813, had been greatly mutilated, when I visited the spot in the autumn of 1860, by relic-seekers, those modern iconoclasts whose business, when thus pursued, is simply infamous. The remains of the stone, as delineated in the picture, was only about five inches above the ground. It is of limestone, and was wrought by a stone-cutter in the garrison not long after his burial. A few rods east of it is the grave of Lieutenant M‘Culloch, who was killed during the summer by Indians while out hunting.

51 See the close of Chapter XVII.

52 In Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio, page 533, may be found a very interesting narrative of the horrid events at Fort Miami, by Joseph R. Underwood, who was present. It is more circumstantial than the letter of Captain Combs to General Clay, mentioned below.

53 Major Richardson, of the British army, who wrote an account of events under Brock and Proctor in the West, says that the Indians who made the attack, in spite of the efforts of the guard, were some who had taken no part in the battle. "An old and excellent soldier," he says, "of the name of Russell, of the Forty-first, was shot through the heart while endeavoring to wrest a victim from the grasp of his assailant."

54 Major Richardson, just quoted, says, in speaking of the massacre: "More than forty of these unhappy men had fallen beneath the steel of the infuriated party, when Tecumtha, apprised of what was doing, rode up at full speed, and, raising his tomahawk, threatened to destroy the first man who resisted his injunction to desist.

General Leslie Combs, then, as we have seen, a captain of spies, and one of the prisoners, in a letter to General Clay, already alluded to, gave a very particular account of the affair. A copy of that letter, furnished by General Combs in 1861, is before me. He says that the prisoners, on their march toward Fort Meigs, met a body of Indians, who, in the presence and without the interference of General Proctor, Colonel Elliott, and other officers, as well as the British guard, commenced robbing the captives of clothes, money, watches, etc. Combs showed his wound as a plea for consideration, but without effect. He too was stripped. As they passed on, the prisoners saw ten or twelve dead men, naked and scalped, and near them two lines of Indians were formed from the entrance of a triangular ditch in front to the old gate of the fort, a distance of forty or fifty feet. Between these the prisoners were compelled to run the gauntlet, and in that race many were killed or maimed with pistols, war-clubs, scalping-knives, and tomahawks. The number of prisoners thus slaughtered, without Proctor’s attempt at interference, was estimated at a number nearly, if not quite equal to those slain in battle.

When the surviving prisoners were all inside, the savages raised the war-whoop and commenced loading their guns. The massacre already accomplished, and this preparation for a renewal of it, were made known to Tecumtha, who hastened to the fort with all the rapidity of his horse’s speed, and, more humane than his white ally, instantly interposed and saved the lives of the remainder. Elliott then rode in, waved his sword, and the savages retired.

Drake, in his Life of Tecumtha, says that the warrior authoritatively {original text has "authoritaively".} demanded, "Where is General Proctor?" Seeing him near, he sternly inquired of him why he had not put a stop to the massacre. "Your Indians can not be commanded," replied Proctor, who trembled with fear in the presence of the enraged chief. "Begone!" retorted Tecumtha, in perfect disdain. "You are unfit to command; go and put on petticoats!"

The half-naked prisoners were taken in a cold rain-storm that night, in open boats, to the mouth of Swan Creek, and thence to Malden. After a brief confinement there they were sent across the river, and at the mouth of the Huron were left to find their way to the nearest settlement in Ohio, fifty miles distant.

55 Peter Navarre was a grandson of Robert Navarre, a French officer who came to America in 1745. He settled at Detroit, and there Peter was born about the year 1790, and, with his father and family, settled at the mouth of the Maumee in 1807. At that time Kan-tuck-ee-gun, the widow of Pontiac, was living there with her son, Otussa. She was very old, and was held in great reverence. Navarre was at the Prophet’s Town, on the Wabash, with a French trader, when Harrison arrived there just before the battle of Tippecanoe, but escaped. He joined Hull’s army at the Rapids, was with him at Detroit, and, after the surrender, returned to the Raisin and enlisted in Colonel Anderson’s regiment. He was there when Hull {original text has "Brock".} was ordered to surrender (see page 291), but was afterward compelled to accompany the British as a guide up the Maumee, where, as we have seen, he deserted and fled to Winchester’s camp. He was an eyewitness of the massacre at the River Raisin. After that, Navarre and his brothers were employed as scouts, and performed excellent service. He is a stout-built man, of dark complexion, and is now [1867] about eighty years of age. He speaks English imperfectly, as the Canadian French usually do. The above portrait is from a daguerreotype taken in Toledo when he was about seventy years of age, and kindly presented to me by Mr. Hosmer.

56 See page 54.

57 See page 55.

58 See Map on page 55.

59 See Plan of Fort Meigs on page 484.

60 That log has a history. In 1840, General Harrison, then living at North Bend, on the Ohio, was nominated for President of the United States. It was said that the hero lived in a log cabin, was very hospitable, and was ever ready to give the traveler a draught of hard cider. Politicians, who are always anxious to find something to charm the popular mind, took the hint, and when the partisans of the general, during the political canvass that ensued, held large meetings, they erected a log cabin, and had a barrel of cider for the refreshment of all comers. In a short time there were log cabins in every city and village in the land. The partisans of the general made a capital "hit," and he was elected by an overwhelming majority. During that canvass a mass meeting of his partisans in Northern Ohio was appointed to be held at Fort Meigs, and, on the day previous to the time appointed for it, logs were taken there for the purpose of building a cabin. On that night some political opponents in the neighborhood spoiled the logs by sawing them in two. The cabin-building was abandoned.


One of the logs was placed in an upright position in the nearly-filled old well, a large hole was bored in the end, a small pole was inserted, and upon it was raised a banner before the eyes of the assembled multitude, * having on it a rude picture of a man sawing a log, and the words "LOCO FOCO ZEAL." In those days the Democratic party were called Loco Focos, the origin of which name was as follows: A faction of the Democratic party met to organize in the city of New York, when some opponents suddenly turned off the gas. This trick had been played before, and they were prepared. In an instant loco foco matches were produced from their pockets, and the gas-lamps relighted. From that time they were called the Loco Foco Party, and it became the general name, in derision, of the whole Democratic party.

* This meeting was held on the 11th day of June. It was estimated that forty thousand persons were present. The orator of the day was Eleutheros Cooke, Esq., of Sandusky City. The Reverend Mr. Badeau, the clergyman who officiated, was the chaplain of Harrison’s army, and in the fort at the siege.

61 Toledo is on the left bank of the Maumee River, near its entrance into Maumee Bay, at the lake terminus of the Wabash and Erie Canal. It covers the site of Fort Industry, a stockade erected there about the year 1800, near what is now Summit Street. It stretches along the river for nearly a mile and a half, and the business was originally concentrated at two points, which were two distinct settlements, known respectively as Port Lawrence and Vistula. Toledo was incorporated as a city in 1836, and has now [1861] almost twenty thousand inhabitants. Little more than thirty years ago Ohio and Michigan disputed firmly for the possession of Toledo – a prize worth contending for, for it is a port of great importance. They armed, and an inter-state war seemed inevitable for a while. It was finally settled by Congress, and Toledo is within the boundaries of Ohio. For a full account of this "war," see Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio, and Major Stickney’s narrative in Hosmer’s Early History of the Maumee Valley.

62 See page 332.



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