Page images
PDF
EPUB

Michilimackinack. There were other considerations, however, which, at this period, influenced in no slight degree, the policy of the British Ministry. The Fur Trade, a very profitable branch of commerce, was carried on almost exclusively by Englishmen and Canadians, who were subjects of Great Britain, and who, by intermarriages with squaws, and a pacific course of trade, had acquired considerable influence over all the Indian tribes of the country northwest of the Ohio. These advantages were too well understood, and too highly appreciated, by Great Britain, to be given up by that government while it could show either a good reason or a plausible pretext for retaining them; and, of course, the British Cabinet viewed with feelings of disapprobation and jealousy, the efforts of the government of the United States to subjugate the Indian tribes and to lay the foundations of independent states in the vast territories on the northwestern side of the river Ohio. Such were the views and sentiments of the British Ministers in 1791, when Governor St. Clair was collecting an army at Fort Washington, for the purpose of establishing a strong military post at the Miami village, in the midst of various tribes of Indians who were nominally under the protection of Great Britain.

38

CHAPTER XV.

On the 28th of March, 1791, Governor St. Clair left the city of Philadelphia, and proceeded to Pittsburgh, which place he reached on the 16th of April. From Pittsburgh he went to Lexington, in the district of Kentucky; and from thence to Fort Washington, where he arrived on the 15th of May. At this time the garrison of regular troops at Fort Washington consisted of seventy-five non-commissioned officers and privates fit for duty. At Fort Harmar the garrison consisted of forty-five, rank and file; at Fort Steuben there were sixty-one regulars; and at Fort Knox (Vincennes) eighty-three. About the 15th of July, the whole of the first United States regiment, amounting to two hundred and ninety-nine non-commissioned officers and privates, arrived at Fort Washington, under orders from Governor St. Clair, the commander in chief. General Richard Butler, who, early in 1791, was appointed second in command of the proposed expedition against the Miami village, immediately after his appointment began to make arrangements for raising the number of regular troops authorized by the act of Congress of the 3d of March. The recruits were drawn principally from the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia; but they were raised slowly, owing partly to the fact that the wages of a daily laborer was greater than that which was paid to a common soldier. The business of the Quartermaster's Department was managed very badly; and other embarrassing circumstances impeded the operations of St. Clair and Butler, during the spring and summer of 1791. Although the most active exertions were made to raise the required number of troops and march them to the frontiers, the army was not collected at Fort Washington, until the month of September, nor was the establishment even then complete. By virtue of the powers with which Governor St. Clair was invested, he made a call for one thousand one hundred and fifty militia from the district of Kentucky, to supply the deficiency of the regular recruits. Of this number only about four hundred and eighteen Kentucky militia appeared at Fort Washington to join the expedition.

Early in the month of September, the main body of the army, under the immediate command of General Butler, moved from Ludlow's Station, in the vicinity of Fort Washington, and continued its march northward about twenty-five miles, when, on the 17th of September, it halted on the eastern bank of the Great Miami river, and erected a fort which was called Fort Hamilton. Having completed this fort, the army, on the 4th of October, continued its march towards the Miami village, and at a point about twenty miles north of Fort Hamilton erected a light fortification, which was called Fort St. Clair. Advancing northward about twenty-two miles from Fort St. Clair, the army halted and erected another fort which was called Fort Jefferson. This fort was built on a site which lies about six miles south of the present town of Greenville, in Darke County, Ohio. The army was delayed five or six days, on the march from Fort Jefferson, on account of the want of provisions; and the season was so far advanced that sufficient green forage could not be procured for the horses. The following memoranda are extracted from the journal of Governor St. Clair:

“24th October, 1791.- Named the Fort Jefferson, (it lies in lat. 40° 4' 22" north,) and marched, the same Indian path serving to conduct us about six miles, and encamped on good ground and an excellent position - a rivulet in front, and a very large prairie, which would, at the proper season, afford forage for a thousand horses, on the left. So ill this day, that I had much difficulty in keeping with the army.

“25th.— Very hard rains last night: obliged to halt to-day, on account of provisions; for though the soldiers may be kept

pretty easy in camp, under the expectation of provision arriving, they cannot bear to march in advance, and take none along with them. I received a letter from Mr. Hodgdon by express; thirteen thousand pounds of flour will arrive on the 27th.

“ 26th. — A party of militia, sent to reconnoitre, fell in with five Indians and suffered them to slip through their fingers: in their camp articles to the value of twenty-five dollars were found and divided.”

“ 28th.—Some few Indians about us; probably those the militia fell in with a day or two ago. Two of the levies were fired on about three miles off: one killed; two of the militia likewise; one of them got in; the other missing; supposed to be taken."

“30th. — The army moved about nine o'clock, and, with much difficulty, made seven miles, having left a considerable part of the tents by the way; the provision made by the Quartermaster for that purpose was not adequate; three days' flour issued to the men, to add the horses that carried it to his arrangements: the Indian road still with us. The course this day north 25° west.

“31st. — This morning about sixty of the militia deserted: it was at first reported that one half of them had gone off, and that their design was to plunder the convoys [of provisions, &c.] which were upon the roads. Detached the first regiment in pursuit of them, with orders to Major llamtramck to send a sufficient guard back with (the convoy under] Benham, and to follow the militia about twenty-five miles below Fort Jefferson, or until he met the second convoy, and then return and join

the army.

“1st November. - Benham arrived last night; and to-day the army is halted, to give the road cutters an opportunity of getting some distance ahead. * * I am this day considerably recovered, and hope that it will turn out what I at first expected it would be, a friendly fit of the gout come to relieve me from every other complaint.”

On the 3d of November, the main army, consisting of about fourteen hundred effective men, moved forward to a point near which Fort Recovery was afterwards erected. Here on the head waters of the Wabash river, among a number of small creeks, the army encamped. The right wing of the army, commanded by Major General Butler, and composed of the battalions under Majors Butler, Clarke, and Paterson, lay in front of a creek about twelve yards wide, and formed the first line. The left wing, composed of the battalions under Bedinger and Gaither, and the second regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Darke, formed the second line. Between the two lines there was a space of about seventy yards, which was all that the ground would allow. The right flank was supposed to be protected by the creek; and the left was covered by a steep bank, a corps of cavalry, and some piquets. The militia marched over the creek, and encamped in two lines, about one quarter of a mile in advance of the main army. There was snow on the ground; and two rows of fires were made between Butler's and Darke's lines, and, also two rows between the lines of the militia. While the militia were crossing the creek a few Indians were seen hovering about the army, but they fled precipitately as soon as they were discovered.

At this time the Little Turtle, Blue Jacket, Buck-ong-a-helas, and other Indian chiefs of less distinction, were lying a few miles distant from St. Clair's army, with about twelve hundred warriors, awaiting a favorable moment to begin an attack. Simon Girty, and some other white men were with the Indians.

In a letter, dated “ Fort Washington, November 9th, 1791,” and addressed to the Secretary of War, Governor St. Clair said:-“At this place, [the ground on which the army was encamped on the evening of the 3d of November,] which I judged to be about fifteen miles from the Miami village, I determined to throw up a slight work, the plan of which was concerted that evening with Major Ferguson, wherein to have deposited the men's knapsacks, and every thing else that was not of absolute necessity, and to have moved on to attack the enemy as soon as the first regiment was come up. But they

« PreviousContinue »