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This expedition was followed by vigorous efforts on the part of the savages, to harass and break up the American settlements; in which they must have succeeded, but for the total destruction of their property and provisions, just at the approach of winter.
The early adventurers to the Miami Purchase. Stations erected.—Attacked
by the Indians.—Communications of President Washington to Congress.Statement showing the weakness of the Ohio Company's settlement.-Gen. Scott's expedition against the Wabash Indians.-Its celerity and success.Col. Wilkinson's expedition against the same tribes.-Conducted with skill and success.- -Organization of Gen. St. Clair's army.-Encamped at Ludlow's Station.
Its number.— The campaign.—The cause of the defeat.Court of Inquiry.—The General acquitted of all censure.
A LARGE number of the original adventurers to the Miami Purchase, had exhausted their means by paying for their land, and removing their families to the country. Others were wholly destitute of property, and came out as volunteers, under the expectation of obtaining, gratuitously, such small tracts of land, as might be forfeited by the purchasers, under Judge Symmes, for not making the improvements required by the conditions stipulated in the terms of sale and settlement of Miami lands, published by the Judge, in 1787; which will be more fully explained in a subsequent chapter. The class of adventurers first named, was comparatively numerous, and had come out under an expectation of taking immediate possession of their lands, and of commencing the cultivation of them for subsistence. Their situation, therefore, was distressing. To go out into the wilderness to till the soil, appeared to be certain death; to remain in the settlements threatened them with starvation. The best provided of the Pioneers found it difficult to obtain subsistence; and, of course, the class now spoken of, were not far from total destitution. They depended on game, fish, and such products of the earth as could be raised
on small patches of ground in the immediate vicinity of the settlements.
Occasionally small lots of provision were brought down the river by emigrants, and sometimes were transported on pack-horses, from Lexington, at a heavy expense, and not without danger. But supplies, thus procured, were beyond the reach of those destitute persons now referred to.
Having endured these privations as long as they could be borne, the more resolute of them determined to brave the consequences of moving on to their lands. To accomplish the object, with the least exposure, those whose lands were in the same neighborhood, united as one family, and on that principle, a number of associations were formed, amounting to a dozen or more, who went out resolved to maintain their positions.
Each party erected a strong block-house, near to which their cabins were put up, and the whole was enclosed by strong log pickets. This being done, they commenced clearing their lands, and preparing for planting their crops. During the day, while they were at work, one person was placed as a sentinel, to warn them of approaching danger. At sun-set they retired to the block-house and their cabins, taking every thing of value within the pickets. In this manner they proceeded from day to day, and week to week, till their improvements were sufficiently extensive to support their families. During this time, they depended for subsistence on wild game, obtained at some hazard, more than on the scanty supplies they were able to procure from the settlements on the river.
In a short time these stations gave protection and food to a large number of destitute families. After they were established, the Indians became less annoying to the settlements on the Ohio, as part of their time was employed in watching the stations. The former, however, did not escape, but endured their share of the fruits of savage hostility. In fact, no place or situation was exempt from danger. The safety of the Pioneer depended on his means of defence, and on perpetual vigilance.
The Indians viewed those Stations with great jealousy, as they had the appearance of permanent military establishments, intended to retain possession of their country. In that view they were correct; and it was fortunate for the settlers, that the Indians wanted either the skill or the means of demolishing them. The truth is, they had no idea of the flood of emigration which was setting towards their borders, and did not feel the necessity of submitting to the loss to which immediate action would subject them. They certainly were not deficient in bravery. No man can think so, who has a knowledge of the countless instances of their heroic self-devotion. Caution, which is sometimes called cowardice, they certainly possessed to a great extent, as it was a part of their education. It led them to avoid danger, when the object in view was not sufficiently important to overbalance the loss, which success, or victory, would cost; but when they saw and felt the importance of accomplishing an object, and resolved to undertake it, they appeared not to know what fear was; danger did not deter but rather urged them to personal exposure.
They could not have been insensible of the consequences of suffering those stations to be maintained, which were so many military occupations, in advance of an unseen enemy; yet they did not perceive the necessity of immediate action, and therefore deferred, what they thought could be performed as well at some future time.
The truth of the matter is, their great error consisted in permitting those works to be constructed at all. They might have prevented it with great ease, but they appeared not to be aware of the serious consequences which were to result, until it was too late to act with effect. Several attacks were, however, made at different times, with an apparent determination to destroy them; but they failed in every instance. The assault made on the station erected by Cap
tain Jacob White, a Pioneer of much energy and enterprise, at the third crossing of Mill creek from Cincinnati, on the old Hamilton road, was resolute and daring; but it was gallantly met, and successfully repelled. During the attack, which was in the night, Captain White shot and killed a warrior, who fell so near the block-house, that his companions could not remove his body. The next morning it was brought in, and judging from his stature, as reported by the inmates, he might have claimed descent from a race of giants. On examining the ground in the vicinity of the block-house, the appearances of blood indicated, that the assailants had suffered severely.
In the winter of 1790–1, an attack was made, with a strong party, amounting, probably to four or five hundred, on Dunlap's station, at Colerain. The block-house at that place was occupied by a small number of United States' troops, commanded by Col. Kingsbury, then a subaltern in the army. The fort was furnished with a piece of artillery, which was an object of terror to the Indians, yet that did not deter them from an attempt to effect their purpose. The attack was violent, and for some time the station was in imminent danger.
The savages were led by the notorious Simon Girty, and outnumbered the garrison, at least, ten to one. The works were entirely of wood, and the only obstacle between the assailants and the assailed, was a picket of logs, that might have been demolished, with a loss not exceeding, probably, twenty or thirty lives. The garrison displayed unusual gallantry—they frequently exposed their persons above the pickets, to insult and provoke the assailants; and judging from the facts reported, they conducted with as much folly as bravery.
Col. John Wallace, of Cincinnati, one of the earliest and bravest of the Pioneers, and as amiable as he was brave, was in the fort when the attack was made. Although the works were completely surrounded by the enemy, the Colo