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considerable influence on all measures connected Chap. Iv.
with the finances. 1791,
As an inevitable effect of the state of society, the public debt had greatly accumulated in the middle and northern states, whose inhabitants had derived from its rapid appreciation, a proportional augmentation of their wealth. This circumstance could not fail to contribute to the complacency with which the plans of the secretary were viewed by those who had felt their benefit, nor to the irritation with which they were contemplated by others who had parted with their claims on the nation. It is not impossible, that personal considerations also mingled themselves with those which were merely political.
With so many causes to bias the judgment, it would not have been wonderful if arguments less plausible than those advanced by either party, had been deemed conclusive on its adversary; nor was it matter of surprise that each should have denied to those which were urged in opposition, the weight to which they were certainly entitled. The liberal mind which can review them without prejudice, will charge neither the advocates nor the opponents of the bill with insincerity, nor with being knowingly actuated by motives which might not have been avowed.
This measure made a deep impression on many members of the legislature, and contributed not inconsiderably to the complete organization of those distinct and visible parties, which in their long and dubious conflict for power, have since shaken the United States to their centre.
Chap.iv. Among the last mtasuresofthe present congress 1791. was an act to augment the military establishment of the United States.
w.fwiththe The earnest endeavours of the president to give security to the north western frontiers, by pacific arrangements, having been entirely unavailing, it became his duty to employ such other means as were placed in his hands for the protection of the country. That vigorous offensive operations alone could bring an Indian war to a happy conclusion, was an opinion which all his experience confirmed; and an expedition against the hostile tribes, north west of the Ohio, was planned as soon as the impracticability of effecting a treaty with them had been ascertained.
The object of the expedition was to bring the Indians if possible to an engagement, but in any event to destroy their settlements on the waters of the Scioto and Wabash. Its more minute details seem to have been arranged by the commanding officer. The main body of the army was to march against the towns on the Scioto, after destroying which, it was to effect a junction with major Hamtranck, who was to make a diversion up the Wabash from fort Knox at Vincennes; and it was then intended, with their combined forces, to destroy the villages on the head waters of that river. At the head of the federal troops was general Harmer, a veteran whose services during the war of the revolution gave him claims to the public attention, and who had received his appointment under the former government. On the 30th of September he marched from fort Washing
ton with three hundred and twenty regulars, and Chap.iv. effected a junction with the militia of Pennsylvania 1791. and Kentucky who had advanced about twenty five miles in front. The whole army amounted to one thousand, four hundred and fifty-three men. About the middle of October, colonel Harden, who commanded the Kentucky militia, and who had been also a continental officer of considerable merit, was detached at the head of six hundred men, chiefly militia, to reconnoitre the ground, and to ascertain the intentions of the enemy. On his approach, the Indians set fire to their principal village, and fled with precipitation to the woods. As the object of the expedition would be only half accomplished, unless the savages could be brought to action, and defeated, colonel Harden was again detached at the head of two hundred and ten men, thirty of whom were regulars. About ten miles west of Chilicothe, where the main body of the army lay, he was attacked by a small party of Indians. The.Pennsylvanians who composed his left column, had previously fallen in the rear; and the Kentuckians, disregarding the exertions of their colonel, and of a few other officers, fled on the first appearance of an enemy.* The hand
• Capt. Scott, a gallant young man, the son of general Scott, fell in the first fire. The following is an extract from the orders of general Harmer, published the day after this skirmish. "The cause of the detachment being worsted yestsrday, was entirely owing to the shameful, cowardly conduct of the militia, who ran away and threw down their arms, without firing scarcely a single gun."
Chap. iv. ful of regulars commanded by lieutenant Arm1791. strong, thus left to their fate, made a brave resistance. After twenty three of them had fallen in the field, the surviving seven made their escape and rejoined the army.
Notwithstanding this check, the remaining towns on the Scioto were reduced to ashes, and the provisions laid up for the winter were entirely destroyed. This service being accomplished, and the loss of horses having induced an abandonment of that part of the original plan which was to have been executed on the Wabash, the army decamped in order to return to fort Washington. Being desirous of wiping off, in another action, the disgrace which his arms had sustained, general Harmer halted about eight miles from Chilicothe, and late in the night, once more detached colonel Harden with orders to find the enemy and bring on an engagement. His command consisted of three hundred and sixty men, of whom sixty were regulars commanded by major Wyllys. Early the next morning, this detachment reached the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Mary, where it was divided into three columns. The left division, which was commanded by colonel Harden in person, crossed the St. Joseph, and proceeded up its western bank. The centre consisting of the federal troops, was led by major Wyllys up the eastern side of that river; and the right under the command of major M'Millan marched along a range of heights which commanded the right flank of the centre division. The columns had proceeded but a short distance, when each was met by a considerable body of Indians, and a Chap. Iv. severe engagement ensued. The militia retrieved 1791. their reputation. In his official letter, the general spoke in high terms of the courage they exhibited. Several of the bravest officers fell; and of the suryivors, colonel Harden, major M'Millan, major Hall, and captain Gaines were particularly mentioned. Yet some circumstances are detailed which would induce an opinion, that the praise bestowed on this part of the detachment, as is too frequently the case with irregulars, was rather merited by the exertions of a part, than by the uniform conduct of the whole. Major Fontaine, a gallant young gentleman, who acted as aid to the general, commanded on that day a corps of militia cavalry. He fell, making a charge on the enemy in which he was totally unsupported. There seems some difficulty too in accounting for the fact, that early in the action, the heights on the right of the centre column were unoccupied. After amusing the regulars for some time with the semblance of fighting in front, those heights were seized by the savages, who attacked the right flank of the centre with great fury. Although major Wyllys was among the first who fell, the battle was kept up with spirit, and considerable execution was done on both sides. At length, the scanty remnant of this small band, quite overpowered by numbers, was driven off the ground, leaving fifty of their comrades exclusive of major Wyllys and lieutenant Farthingham, two valuable officers, dead upon the field. The loss sustained by the militia was also considerable.
nrfr.it of Hat mar.