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The flying party met Col. Logan with the expected reënforcement, before they arrived at Bryant's station. That veteran officer shed tears when he heard of the blind fate of so many valuable men. With Col. Boone, and such others as would join him, he marched for the battle-ground of the 19th, and arrived there on the 21st; from whence, after burying the dead, he returned to the settlements. “The news of this grievous disaster went like a dagger to the hearts of the people of Kentucky.” But its strength was to be exerted under more favorable auspices in future. Gen. Clark destroyed the Indian town of Chillicothe, and several other villages on the Miami, immediately after, which terminated the war in Kentucky. In this expedition, too, Boone was conspicuous.
Passing over minor events of border warfare, we come next to the detail of Harmer's campaign, one of the most extraordinary incidents in western history. With the war of the revolution that with the Indians closed, only to be revived according to circumstances on their part, or when it suited their convenience. Various acts of hostility were kept up, growing out of what the Indians with truth were made to believe were intringements upon their rights and privileges. That both parties had cause of complaint will not be denied; but that both had an equal chance for redress, is a question no one will seriously propound. The Indians were by no means on equal footing in this respect; and hence the cause of their frequently attempting redress by retaliation. In fact, few of them knew any other remedy. The complaints from the western frontiers had become so loud in 1790, that congress requested the secretary of war, Gen. Knox, to collect what information he could, relative to depredations by the Indians upon the inhabitants of that region. An able report was the result of the investigation, in which it was stated that within two years past, upwards of 1,500 persons had been killed or carried into captivity, and a great amount of property destroyed. Among other mischiefs, was an attack upon a company of government soldiers, under the following circumstances :
In the month of April, 1790, Maj. John Doughty and Ensign Sedam went, with 15 men, in boats, upon some public business to the friendly Chikasaws. Having performed their mission, and, as they were ascending the Tennessee River, 40 Indians approached them in canoes, under a white flag. They were admitted on board; and nothing but a friendly disposition being manifested, presents were distributed to them, and they left in seeming good faith ; but no sooner had they put off from their friends, than they poured in upon them a destructive fire. T'he Americans were almost entirely unprepared for such a salutation; but they returned it as soon as their circumstances would allow, and the fight continued for some time; and, notwithstanding the great inequality of numbers, finally succeeded in beating off the Indians, though not until they had killed all but four of the company. Such are the incidents of the massacre of Maj. Doughty's men. This, with other events of a less atrocious character, caused the appointment of Gen. Josiah Harmer, then commanding at Fort Washington, to be placed at the head of a force, to be led against the Indians on the Miami; an account of which, in the next place, we shall proceed to give in detail.
Gen. Harmer was considered an able tactician, and was an officer of the late revolutionary army; and it was expected that he would find little difficulty in breaking up the haunts of the Indians, and subduing them, if they attempted to meet him in a general battle. He had 320 regular troops put under him, with orders to call upon Kentucky and Pennsylvania for quotas of militia to increase his force to 1,500 men. About the close of September, the requisite number of men having arrived, the army marched from Fort Washington for the Indian country. Col. Hardin was detached, with 600 men, with orders to proceed in advance of the main body; and, after a march of 17 days, he arrived at the Great Miami village, October 16. He found it deserted and in flames. It was situated at the confluence of the St. Joseph's and St. Mary's Rivers—a site now included in Allen county, Indiana. About 5 acres were enclosed by pickets, within which the army encamped. In the burning buildings, great quantities of grain were discors ered ; and, on further search, abundance more was found in holes in the
DEFEAT OF HARMER'S ARMY.
ground. At the same time, a detachment of 300 men, under Col. Trotter and Maj. Rhea, marched out upon discovery. They found 5 villages, all burnt, and saw about 30 Indians. Thinking these a decoy, they did not attack them. The next day, which was the 17 October, Maj. Fontaine, airl-decamp to Gen. Harmer, with a party of 200 foot and about 50 horsemen, proceeded to find Indians. Numerous signs were discovered; and, at some 6 or 7 miles from camp, he fell in with a party, and was defeated with a loss of 70 men. Others state that there were but 170 men in all, 30 of whom were regulars under Lieut. Armstrong and Ensign Hartshorn ; that 23 of the latter were killed or taken, and seven escaped by flight. Lieut. Armstrong saved himself by plunging into a slough, and remaining most of the night up to his neck in mud and water. Ensign Hartshorn made an equally narrow escape. In his flight he stunbled over a log, which, as he fell, he observed contained a cavity of sufficient magnitude to admit his body. He crawled into it, and eventually escaped unobserved. While he lay in the hollow tree, he witnessed from a knot-hole the burning and dreadful torture of several of bis comrades on the same ground where they had been defeated. Ensign Hartshorn is believed to be the same who fell afterwards in the battle at Fort Recovery.
Never did Indians gain a more complete victory, and never was a plan better laid to insure it. They drew the army after them by their trail; then, dividing themselves into two parties, marched back, on each side of it, to a heath or plain, and there lay concealed in the bushes, while their pursuers came directly into the snare. “ The militia," Gen. Harmer said, “shamefully and cowardly threw away their arms and ran, without scarcely firing a gun; and thus the regulars were left to fight the whole force of the Indians, which could not have been less than a thousand warriors; and it is matter of surprise how even seven of the whites should have escaped.
This defeat was on the 17 October; and the next day Harmer arrived with the main body at the Great Miami village, having lost several of his scouting parties on his march. Among these was Sergeant Johonnet, who published a narrative of his captivity, after his escape, which is one of the most interesting of the kind.
We are at great loss to account for the movements the general next made. Why he began a retreat without any further operations, it is difficult to see. Perhaps he bad decided in his own mind that any further efforts would be useless, and, without holding a council of his officers, had determined to return home. If such was his resolution, and had he kept it, he would have saved many valuable lives, if he had lost his reputation; yet, as the case turned, he not only lost his reputation, but what was of far greater moment to the country, many valuable lives with it.
Whether conscious that he was grossly reprehensible for what he had done, or not, we can only infer the fact from the circumstances; for he gives us no journal of his marches from place to place, and we next find bim about 8 miles on his way home, on the evening of 21 October. Here he made a stand, and again detached Col. Hardin, with about 400 men, of whom 60 only were regulars, with orders to return to the Great Miami village, which, it seemed, the general had already been informed, was in possession of the Indians, and to bring on an engagement with them. Under Col. Harden went, at this time, Maj. Wyllys of Connecticut, Maj. Fontaine, Maj. McMullen, and Col. Hall. They marched in the course of the same night, and about day, on the 22d, came to the village in four divisions, to each of which was assigned a different point of attack. They did not find the Indians unprepared; but were met by them with a bravery and valor not to be overcome. By one account, it is said the fight lasted three hours; that, durung it, Maj. McMullen drove a party of the Indians into the Miami. Maj. Wyllys, with about 60 men, was cut off by a band of warriors, who came upon him in the rear, under cover of a field of thick hazels. Maj. Fontaine, having ordered his men to retreat, himself, “in a frenzy of courage," rode directly back into the thickest of the enemy, “cutting and slashing," till he was wounded, and carried off by two of his men; but he was overtaken, killed, and scalped. Maj. Wyllys was left mortally wounded. He requested to be helped upon his horse," that he might give them another charge; but, in the hurry of the retreat, it could not be done;" and Lieut. Frothingham, of his coinmand, was lett among the slain.
A retreat was made in tolerable order; and because the whites were not pursued, Harmer pretended to claim a victory! But Indians will never leave plunder to pursue a flying foe, who has left all behind him.
There fell in this miserably conducted expedition, 214 men, of whom 183 were killed in battle, and 31 wounded; several of these died of their wounds. The proportion of officers was very great; besides those already named, there were lost, Capts. Tharp, Scott, and McMutrey; Lieuts. Sanders, Worley, Clark, and Rogers; Ensigns Sweet, Bridges, Arnold, Higgins, and Threlkeld.
On reviewing the conduct of Gen. Harmer in this affair, it would seem that he was either crazy, or utterly devoid of judgment. It must have been apparent to every subaltern of his command, that the first battle with the lodians had not only increased their boldness, but their numbers also. Then, at the very time, the troops are marched off the ground, leaving them in full triumph; and when at a safe distance from danger, a fifth part is sent back into the very jaws of destruction. With these glaring facts in full view, it is difficult to comprehend on what ground a court martial could honorably exonerate Gen. Harmer of all blame; nor is it any easier to discover how he could have been acquitted of unofficerlike conduct with honor.
In the battles with the Indians during this expedition, many of them fought on horseback, having their horses equipped with a bunch of bells hanging down the left side of their heads, and two narrow strips of red and white cloth as a sort of pendants. The Indians themselves were painted red and black, in a manner “to represent infernal spirits.” Their most hideous and terrific appearance, added to the noise of the bells and the flapping of the pendent strips of cloth, rendered them so formidable to the horses of the militia, that they shrunk back in dismay, and it was with the greatest difficulty they could be brought to the charge.
The accounts of Harmer's campaign are of the most conflicting character, no two agreeing in its important details. His official account of it is one of the most meagre documents of the kind to be found any where. The inost we can learn from it is, that he had been somewhere to fight Indians, and bad got back again to Fort Washington, and had lost 183 men. But where, or when, or how it was done, he has left us to conjecture. Judge Marshall has unaccountably placed it under 1791, and Shallus, who is generally to be relied on, places his march from Fort Washington, and all his battles (which, by the way, he never fought any) under the date of 30 September.
I am aware that this account of Harmer's campaign differs considerably from those before printed, but the main facts were long since obtained from persons engaged in it, and may be received as substantially correct.
The next prominent event in western history occurred during the campaign of Gen. Wayne, and has been referred to as THE ACTION NEAR Fort RECOVERY.
Fort Recovery was so named because it was built on the ground where Gen. St. Clair had been defeated; and hence that ground was recovered out of the hands of the savages. This fort became immediately very noted in history, from a bloody battle fought in its vicinity, on the 30th of June, 1794.
Fort Recovery was one of those advanced posts upon which Gen. Wayne depended, in the event of his being obliged to retreat out of the Indian country, upon any unforeseen disaster. It was on a small branch of the Wabash, (mistaken by Gen. St. Clair for the St. Mary's,) about 23 miles from Greenville, and about 80 or 90 from Fort Washington, (Cincinnati,) and is upon the southern border of Mercer county, Ohio, not 3 miles from the line dividing Ohio from Indiana. It had been built in the winter of 1793, and in June, 1794, the general ordered a quantity of provisions to be deposited there, as a link in the chain of his supplies. It was not until the 29th of this month. that a convoy was ready to proceed thither from Fort Greenville.
Meanwhile two distinguished Indian chiefs, with a few followers, had marched for Fort Recovery, to learn what they could, in the way, of the vicinity of the enemy. These two chiefs were named Capt. UNDERWOOD,
ACTION NEAR FORT RECOVERY.
and Capt. Bobb SALLAD; the former a Chikasaw, and the latter a Choctaw They performed their service faithfully, and arrived at Recovery the same evening that the convoy did, but whether before or after, is not inentioned; yet the value of their service upon this occasion was lost from want of a proper arrangement; for on bailing the fort, they were taken for the enemy, and speaking a different language from the western Indians, could make no communication to those within, and hence were obliged to retire with mortification. They were prepared to communicate the important intelligence, that “a large army” of Indians was hovering about the fort, and were to be expected immediately to attack it. It was discovered afterwards, that the Indians bad learned the weakness of the garrison, and determined on carrying it by storm, thus proving the value of the information which was lost; the important post, Recovery, being then defended by but about 100 men, under Capt. Gibson. Of these, 30 were infantry, under the immediate command of Lieut. Drake, who, in the battle which followed, acted a most conspicuous part.
The convoy consisted of 300 pack-horses, 80 riflemen under Capt. Hartshorn, and 50 dragoons under Capt. Taylor; the whole under Major J. McMaHON. They arrived the same evening at their place of destination, without accident. On the morning of the last day of June, as the convoy was about to resume its return march, it was fiercely attacked by a numerous body of Indians, 3,000 or upwards, as was afterwards ascertained. Previous to marching, the pack-horsemen had spread themselves along their road, and were grazing their horses, and some were nearly a mile from the fort when the onset begun. On hearing the firing, Major McMahon, supposing the Indians but few, took only the 50 dragoons, and pushed forward to the point of attack. Near the extremity of the line of pack-horses, he found himself almost encompassed by Indians, who, showing themselves of a sudden, seemed to cover the ground for a great distance. With their deafening yells they poured an incessant fire upon the devoted band with deadly effect. Among the first killed was the commander, who was shot dead from his horse. Capt. Taylor, with the remainder of the troops, came immediately to the rescue, but finding himself surrounded by the great numbers of the enemy, endeavored to cut bis retreat through them, and was likewise slain, as was also Cornet Terry. Capt. Hartshorn, who commanded the ritlemen, received a severe wound in the knee, and notwithstanding he was carried some distance by his men, he was finally overtaken and killed. They gained an eminence and continued the fight.
In the meantime the remnant of dragoons and other fugitives had gained the cleared ground adjacent to the fort
, and were contending at most feartul odds with their victorious enemy. Seeing their desperate situation, Capt. Gibson permitted Lieut. Drake, at his own request, to make a sally from the fort in aid of his companions." He accordingly sallied out, at the head of his own men and a portion of the riflemen, skilfully interposed his detachment between the retreating troops and the enemy, opened upon them a hot fire, arrested their advance, and thus gave an opportunity to the wounded to effect their escape, and to the broken and retreating
companies to reform and again to face the enemy. Throughout the whole affair, Drake's activity, skill, and extraordinary self-possession, were most conspicuous. The enemy observed it as well as his friends. The numerous shots directed at him, however, were turned aside by providential interference, until he had accomplished all that he had been sent to perform. He then received a ball through his body and fell; a faithful corporal came to his assistance, and with his aid he reached the fort; and those two were the last of the retreating party that entered it—Drake making it a point of honor that it should be so." *
Lieut. Drake was not mortally, though very severely wounded, but never entirely recovered. He returned home to Connecticut in the summer of 1746, on a furlough, and died there shortly after, from the immediate effects of the yellow
* From a communication of our present worthy chief magistrate, GEN. Harrison, by which he illustrated in the most happy manner, that it was no proof of cowardice for an officer to decline fighting a duel; Drake having before refused to accept a challenge froni, potwithstanding he had been grossly insulted by, another officer.
fever, it is said, which he had contracted in passing through Philauelphia, in his way. The brave Capt. Hartshorn, as has been mentioned, was wounded, and could not travel. He requested his men to leave him and take care of themselves, and immediately a British officer (the notorious Capt. M'Kee) came to him, and told him to surrender and he should be well treated. But he had determined never to fall alive into the hands of the Indians, and at the same moment aimed a blow at M'Kee with his rifle, which knocked him off his horse ; and before he recovered, his negro servant and an Indian were upon Capt. Hartshorn, and had despatched him. Lieut. Marks, of Capt. Hartshorn's company, was surrounded and alone. He fought, and kept off the Indians with his spontoon until it was broken to pieces, and then jumping over the heads of some, and knocking down with his fist one that had taken him prisoner, escaped.
In this protracted and desperate fight, 25 of the Americans were killed and 40 wounded, and all the pack-horses lost; on many of which the Indians conveyed away their dead and wounded; but their actual loss was never known. Several other American officers deserve especial notice; as Ensign Dodd of Lieut. Drake's command, and Lieut. Michael of Capt. Hartshorn's. Michael had been detached with a chosen party, all of whom were killed but three; himself escaping in a similar manner to that of Lieut. Marks. The Indians closely besieged the fort all that day and night, and the next day till about noon, when they drew off. The Indians displayed great bravery, often advancing in solid column within the range of the guns of the fort.*
The well-known chiefs, LITTLE TURTLE and BLUE JACKET, were among the foremost leaders of the Indians in this battle. Of Capt. Underwood, we have no further account; but the sequel of the life of his companion is soon told. He had about this time been sent upon an excursion, and meeting with a party of the enemy, defeated them; pursued one into the midst of a large encampment, where he despatched him; but, at the same time, lost his own life.
There were, in Gen. Wayne's army, 20 warriors out of the tribe of Choktaws. PIOMINGO, who had been with St. Clair, was also of the number. He is believed to have been the same, afterwards called Gen. COLBURT, in which suggestion, if we are correct, he was the son of a Scottish gentleman by an Indian woman, whose father was killed in an affair near the mouth of the Ohio, in 1781. His services under Gen. St. Clair have been touched upon; and for those under Gen. Washington, he received a sword, and a commission of major; and Gen. Jackson gave him a sword also, and a colonel's commission. Having been always in the interest of the government of the United States, he supported the emigration principle; and that his example might have weight, he went himself to Arkansas, in 1836, with the Ridge party, But his years there were few, as doubtless they must have been in the land of his nativity, for in 1839 he had attained his 95th year, which ended his earthly career. He died there in November of that year.
PLOMINGO was a true Indian. His men having taken a prisoner who had been engaged in St. Clair's defeat, he ordered him to immediate execution; and that no warrior should be disgraced by the act, an old man was appointed to shoot him. He had joined Gen. St. Clair's army with 21 men.
EVENTS OF THE INDIAN WAR OF 1763 AND 1764, ON THE OMIU.
Siege of Fort Pill— Ably defended by Capt. EcUYER-Col. Henry Bouquet ordered to
march to its relief-Extreme danger of the undertaking— Thrors succor into Fort
I have been thus circumstantial in detailing this important event in our Indian wars, because it has not been done by any writer ; several have, however, noticed it, but their accounts are very incomplete. My chief authorities are, “A Letter dateil at Fort Greenville, four days after the battle,'' 'The Western Review, and Wither's Chromicis.