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the Illinois, and attack the Kentucky settlements, in a body, joined by their southern friends; that all the goods were taken from the merchants of Post Vincennes for the King's use; that the troops under Hamilton were repairing the fort, and expected a reinforcement from Detroit in the spring; that they appeared to have plenty of all kinds of stores; that they were strict in their discipline; but, that he did not believe they were under much apprehension of a visit; and believed that, if we could get there undiscovered, we might take the place. In short, we got every information from this gentleman that we could wish for; as he had had good opportunities, and had taken great pains to inform himself with a design to give intelligence.* We now viewed ourselves in a very critical situation—in a manner cut off from any intercourse between us and the United States. We knew that Governor Hamilton, in the spring, by a junction of his northern and southern Indians, (which he had prepared for,) would be at the head of such a force that nothing in this quarter could withstand his armsthat Kentucky must immediately fall; and well if the desolation would end there. If we could immediately make our way good to Kentucky, we were convinced that before we could raise a force even sufficient to save that country, it would be too late-as all the men in it, joined by the troops we had, would not be sufficient; and to get timely succor from the interior counties was out of the question. We saw but one alternative, which was to attack the enemy in their quarters. If we were fortunate, it would save the whole. It otherwise, it would be nothing more than what would certainly be the consequence
if we should not make the attempt. * * * These, and many other similar reasons, induced us to resolve to attempt the enterprise, which met with the approbation of every individual belonging to us.
“Orders were immediately issued for preparations. The whole country took fire at the alarm; and every order was executed with cheerfulness by every description of the inhabitants — preparing provisions, encouraging volunteers, &c. &c., and as we had plenty of stores, every man was completely rigged with what he could desire to withstand the coldest weather. * * To convey our artillery and stores, it was concluded to send a vessel round by water, so strong that she might force her way. A large Mississippi boat was immediately purchased, and completely fitted out as a galley, mounting two four-pounders, and four large swivels.* She was manned by forty-six men under the command of Captain John Rogers. He set sail on the 4th of February, with orders to force his way up the Wabash as high as the mouth of White River, and to secrete himself until further orders; but if he found himself discovered to do the enemy all the damage he could, without running too great a risk of losing his vessel; and not to leave the river until he was out of hope of our arrival by land; but by all means to conduct himself so as to give no suspicion of our approach by land. We had great dependence on this galley. She was far superior to any thing the enemy could fit out without building a vessel: and, at the worst, if we were discovered, we could build a number of large pirogues, such as they possessed, to attend her, and with such a little fleet, perhaps, pester the enemy very much; and if we saw it our interest, force a landing: at any rate, it would be sometime before they could be a match for us on the water.
*Jefferson's Correspondence, i, 451.--Clark's Ms. Memoir.
“Every thing being ready, on the 5th of February, after receiving a lecture and absolution from the priest, we crossed the Kaskaskia river with one hundred and seventy men: marched about three miles and encamped, where we lay until the [7th,] and set out. The weather wet, (but fortunately not cold for the season,) and a great part of the plains under water several inches deep. It was difficult and very fatiguing marching. My object was now to keep the men in spirits. I suffered them to shoot garne on all occasions, and feast on it like Indian war-dancers; each company by turns inviting the others to their feasts; which was the case every night; as the company that was to give the feast was always supplied with horses to lay up a sufficient store of wild meat in the course of the day: myself and principal officers putting on the woodsmen, shouting now and then, and running as much through the mud and water as any of them. Thus, insensibly, without a murmur, were those men led on to the banks of the Little Wabash, which we reached on the 13th, through incredible difficulties, far surpassing any thing that any of us had ever experienced. Frequently the diversions of the night wore off the thoughts of the preceding day. We formed a camp on a height which we found on the bank of the river, and suffered our troops to amuse themselves. I viewed this sheet of water for some time with distrust; but, accusing myself of doubting, I immediately set to work, without holding any consultation about it, or suffering any body else to do so in my presence: ordered a pirogue to be built immediately, and acted as though crossing the water would be only a piece of diversion. As but few could work at the pirogue, at a time, pains were taken to find
diversion for the rest, to keep them in high spirits. * * * In the evening of the 14th our vessel was finished, manned, and sent to explore the drowned lands on the opposite side of the Little Wabash, with private instructions what report to make, and, if possible to find some spot of dry land. They found about half an acre, and marked the trees from thence back to the camp, and made a very favorable report.
Fortunately, the 15th happened to be a warm moist day, for the season. The channel of the river, where we lay, was about thirty yards wide. A scaffold was built on the opposite shore (which was about three feet under water,) and our baggage ferried across, and put on it: our horses swam across and received their loads at the scaffold; by which time the troops were also brought across, and we began our march, through the water.
“By evening we found ourselves encamped on a pretty height, in high spirits; each party laughing at the other, in consequence of something that had happened in the course of this ferrying business, as they called it. A little antic drummer offorded them great diversion by floating on his drum, &c. All this was greatly encouraged; and they really began to think themselves superior to other men, and that neither the rivers nor the seasons could stop their progress. Their whole conversation now was concerning what they would do when they got about the enemy. They now began to view the main Wabash as a creek, and made no doubt but such men as they were could find a way to cross it. They wound themselves up to such a pitch, that they soon took Post Vincennes, divided the spoil, and before bed-time were far advanced on their route to Detroit. All this was no doubt pleasing to those of us who had more serious thoughts. * * * We were now convinced that the whole of the low country on the Wabash was drowned, and that the enemy could easily get to us, if they discovered us, and wished to risk an action: if they did not, we made no doubt of crossing the river by some means or other: even if Captain Rogers, with our galley, did not get to his station agreeable to his appointment, we flattered ourselves that all would be well, and marched on in high spirits.”
Here follows an extract from the manuscript journal of Major Bowman:
• February 16th, 1779.—Marched all day through rain and water. Crossed the Fur river. Our provisions begin to be short.
“ 17th.—Marched early:-crossed several runs very deep. Sent Mr. Kernedy, our commissary, with three men, to cross the river Embarrass, if possible, and proceed to a plantation opposite Post Vincennes, in order to steal boats or canoes to ferry us across the Wabash. About an hour by sun we got near the river Embarrass :-- found the country all overflown with water. We strove to find the Wabash. Travelled till eight o'clock in mud and water, but find no place to encamp on. Still keep marching on; but after some time Mr. Kernedy and his party returned. Found it impossible to cross the Embarrass river. We found the water falling from a small spot of ground. Staid there the remainder of the night. Drizzly and dark weather.
“ 18th. At day-break heard Governor Hamilton's morning gun. Set off, and marched down the river [Embarrass] — saw some fine land. About two o'clock came to the bank of the Wabash: made rafts for four men to cross and go up to town and steal boats. But they spent the day and night in the water to no purpose, for there was not one foot of dry land to be found.
“19th. - Captain McCarty's company set to making a canoe; and at three o'clock the four men returned, after spending the night on some logs in the water. The canoe finished. Captain McCarty with three of his men embarked in the canoe and made the next attempt to steal boats; but he soon returned having discovered four large fires about a league distant from our camp; they seemed to be fires of whites and Indians. Immediately Colonel Clark sent two men in the canoe down to meet the galley, with orders to come on day and night: that being our last hope, and (we] starving. Many of the