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Upon the surrender of Post Vincennes to Col. George Rogers Clark, February 14, 1779, that dauntless warrior immediately began planning a campaign for the reduction of Detroit. He says: “Detroit opened full in our view. In the fort at that place there were not more than eighty men - a great part of them invalids - and we were informed that many of the principal inhabitants were disaffected to the British cause. The Indians on on our route we knew would now, more than ever, be cool toward the English. * * *
We could now augment our forces in this quarter to about four hundred men, as near half the inhabitants of Post Vincennes would join us. Kentucky, we supposed, could immediately furnish two hundred men, as there was a certainty of receiving a great addition of settlers in the spring. With our own stores, which we had learned were safe on their passage, added to those of the British (1) there would not be a single article wanting for an expedition against Detroit. We privately resolved to embrace the object that seemed to court our acceptance, without delay, giving the enemy no time to recover from the blows they had received; but we wished it to become the object of the soldiery and the inhabitants before we could say anything about it.” * * * *
Early in the month of March “I laid before the officers may plans for the reduction of Detroit, and explained the almost certainly of success, and the probability of keeping possession of it until we could receive succor from the States. * * *
I n short, the enterprise was deferred until the —- of June when our troops were to rendezvous at Post Vincennes.” But when the original appointed time came, the troops sent from Virginia under Col. Montgomery numbered only one hundred
1 Three boat loads of goods and provisions, about $10,000 worth, had been captured by a detachment sent up the Wabash River for that purpose on the day after the surrender.
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and fifty, and from Kentucky, instead of three hundred under Co. Joh Bowman, there came but thirty volunteers under Capt. McGary.Added to this, the paper money with which the expedition was supplied, had so depreciated that it was almost valueless, and the purchase of provisions was impossible. For these reasons the campaign was deferred for the present.(1)
The in Spring of 1780, after correspondence with Gov. Jefferson, of Virginia, Col. Clark began to collect stores and prepare boats at the Ohio falls for the expedition against Detroit.(2) Much was hoped for in Virginia from the favorable disposition of the Candies and the prestige which the successes of this year int he North and South had given to the Americans among the Indians.(3) In the task of preparation, the utmost discouragements were met. In the Fall of 1780 there was a great distress from lack of provisions at Fort Jefferson on the Mississippi at the mouth of the Ohio, at Kakaskia and at Vincennes. Dishonest practices by agents and officers were wasting the resources of the State. Disputes as to authority were rife. Respect and confidence in Clark seems about the only thing that held the soldiery in anything like discipline. (4) The agents of the government were distrusted by the people and their drafts on the Treasury taken with much reluctance. Desertions were constantly going on.(5) Slow progress was made, and in the meantime the Indians, who were held in friendly relations only by liberal presents, finding the supplies cut off at the frontier posts and being brought over to the interest of the English, began to harry the outlying settlements. In December of 1780, Gov. Jefferson issued an order to the County Lieutenants of the frontier counties of levying detachments from the militia to join the expedition at the Falls of the Ohio. These orders aroused the most stubborn opposition from the people of those counties and protests were made from Berkeley and Greenbriar Counties which set forth the danger to their inhabitants from Indian incursions if their militia were further weakened by detachments.(6) The militia
1 Clark’s MS. Memoirs, Dillon’s Hist. Ind., Chap xv.
2 Virginia State Papers, Vol. 1 pp. 3xx?-390
3 Id 326
4 Letter of Richard Winston to Col. Jno. Todd, Virginia State Papers, Vol.1 p 3xx?; Letter of Robt George to Col. G. R. Clark Id. p 382; also letter of John Williams and Leo. Helm, Id. 383; Id. 396.
6 Virginia State Papers, Vol. 1 p461-468.
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men refused to obey the draft. On January 18, 1781, Col. Clark, writing to the Governor of Virginia says: “I have examined your proposed instructions. I don’t recollect of anything more than is necessary except the mode of paying the expenses of the garrison at Detroit, in case of success, as supporting our credit among strangers may be attended with great and good consequences, and my former experiences induce me to wish it to be the case where I have the honor to command. I would also observe to your Excellency that I could wish to set out on this expedition free from any reluctance, which I doubt I cannot do without a satisfactory explanation of the treatment of the Virginia delegates in Congress to me, in objecting to an appointment designed for me, which your Excellency cannot be a stranger to. I could wish not to be thought to solicit promotion, and that my duty to myself did not oblige me to transmit these sentiments to you. The treatment I have generally met with from this State hath prejudiced me as far as consistent in her interest and I wish not to be distrusted in the exertion of her order by any Continental Colonel that may be in the countries that I have business in, which I doubt will be the case, although the orders of the Commander in Chief is very positive.”(1)
On February 10th he wrote the Governor of Virginia forth the great lack of arms and his disappointment in the want of men, (2) and received from Govenor Jefferson an encouraging letter notifying him that he had obtained from leave Baron Steuben for Col. J. Gibson to attend as next in command and that with General. Washington’s recommendation he hoped to have Col. Gibsons regiment attached to Clark’s command. Letter written on March 27 to the Governor of Virginia contains the following:(3) “It’s a very alarming circumstance to me that if the Frederick, Berkeley and Hampshire militia being excused from the Western Service. I make no doubt that good policy might require it. I suspect it, but six or seven hundred men deducted from two thousand is very considerable. I shall never think otherwise than that the militia of these counties would have marched with cheerfulness, had they not been encouraged to the contrary. Col. Gibsons regiment will make some amends, but far from filling up the blank; per-
1 Id. p 441
2 Id. 304.
3 Id. 511
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haps we may do it by volunteers from this quarter. I feel the distress of my country and shall devote myself to its interest. But, Sir, if any misfortunes shall happen, I have the consolation to hope that the cause will not be misplaced. My situation is truly disagreeable; the most daring attempts would be agreeable to me was there nothing but death to fear. But more I conceive to be depending at present. To be flung into my situation by a set of men that are not honored with the sentiments of a soldier, is truly disagreeable. I hope these gents alluded to will live to repent of their conduct. Conscious of the rectitude of the orders of Government aggravate the guilt of these persons in my ideas, and cannot refrain from giving those, my sentiments, though it may reflect no honor on me.”(1)
Col. Broadhead refusing to allow Col. Gibsons regiment to be detached on this expedition, Clark wrote to General Washington from Fort Pitt, May 20, 1781, asking explicit orders to Col. Broadhead to this end. In his letter he says: “The advantages which must derive to the State from our proving successful, is of such importance that I think deserved greater preparations to ensure it. But I have not yet lost sight of Detroit. Nothing seems to threaten us but the want of men. But even should we be able to cut our way through the Indians and find they have no reinforcements at Detroit, we may probably have the assurance to attack it, though our force be much less than proposed, which was two thousand, as defeating the Indians with inconsiderable loss on our side would almost ensure us success. Should this be the case, a valuable piece will probably ensue. But on the contrary, if we fall through in our present plans and no expedition should take place, it is to be feared that the consequences will be fatal to the whole frontier, as every exertion will be made by the British party to harass them as much as possible - disable them from giving and succor to our Eastern and Southern forces. The Indian war is now more general than ever. Any attempt to appease them will be fruitless.”(2)
Waiting to the Governor of Virginia under date of May 23, he says: “The continental officers and soldiers of this department to a man, is anxious for the expedition supposed against the Indians. The country in general wishing into take place. But too fe think of going, and so great a con-
1 Id. p 597
2 Virginia Sate Paper, Vol. 2, p 108.
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trust between the people of the two States in this quarter that no method can be taken to force them to war. We are taking every step in our power to raise volunteers. We are taking every step in our power to raise volunteers what number we shall get I cannot guess. I doubt too few. The disappointment of seven hundred men from Berkeley and Hampshire I am afraid is too great a stroke to recover, as in fact, the greatest part of this country is in subordination neither to Pennsylvania nor Virgina. General Washington informs me that he had received information that Col. Conolly had left New York with a design to make a diversion in the countries to be reinforced by Sir John Johnson in Kanady. I doubt Sir, we shall be obliged to play a desperate game this campaign. If we had the two thousand men first proposed, such intelligence would give me pleasure. By the greatest exertions and your timely supplies of money, we have the boats and provisions expected in this quarter nearly complete. I propose to leave this about the 15th of June if we can imbody a sufficient number of men by that time. I do not yet despair of seeing the proposed object on tolerable terms, although our circumstances is rather gloomy. Colonel Crockett and regiment arrived a few days past, who informed me that a company or two of volunteers might be expected from Frederick and Berkeley. I am sorry we are so circumstanced as to be glad to receive them.”(1)
It became apparent by August 1st that it would be impossible to raise the number of men required for the execution of the plans against Detroit. Colonel Clark was greatly disappointed and wrote from Wheeling to the Governor of Virginia, August 4, saying:
“I make no doubt but it was alarm to you that I had not left this country. Whoever undertakes to raise an army in this quarter will find himself disappointed except the law was of greater force and not depending on the wheels of the populace. This country calls aloud for an expedition, wishing me to put it in execution, but so strangely infatuated that all methods I have been able to pursue will not draw them into the field. We have made drafts to no purpose. Governor Reed has also written to them to know effect. From the time I found I was to be disappointed in the troops ordered by the government, I began to suspect the want of men which is now the case when every thing else is prepared.”
“I could not get Colonel Gibson’s regiment, otherwise I should have been gone long since, but I had to make up the
1 Id. p. 117
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deficiency by volunteers, but finding no argument are sufficient, I determined to quit they’re leaving no stone unturned by which they might hereafter excuse themselves.”
“To save the garrison of Pittsburg from being evacuated, I have been obliged to spare them a considerable quantity of flour, but yet have enough to do something clever had I men. I have relinquished my expectations relative to the plans heretofore laid, and shall drop down the river with what men I have, amounting to about four hundred, consisting of Crocket’s regiment, Craig’s artillery, volunteers, etc. If I find a prospect of completing my forces in any other country I shall do it and make my strokes according to circumstances. If I find it out of my power to do anything of importance, I shall dispose of the public stores to the greatest advantage and quit all further thoughts of enterprise in this quarter.”
“I do not yet condemn myself for undertaking the expedition against Detroit. I yet think had I near the number of men first proposed, should have carried it. I may yet make some strokes among the Indians before the close of the campaign, but at present really to be doubted. I have been at so much pains to enable us to persecute the first plan that the disappointment is mortifying to me, and I feel for the dreaded consequences that will ensue throughout the frontier if nothing is done. This country already begin to suspect it and to invite me to execute some plans of their own but I shall no longer trust the.” (1)
A letter by Major Croghan to Col. Wm. Davis written at Fort Pitt, August 18th, gives the information that “a few days ago Gen. Clark set out from this country by water with about four hundred men, including officers and Col. Crockett’s regiment, flattering himself he would be joined by some more from Kentucky and the Falls of the Ohio about half way between this and the Falls. The General expected 1,500 men from this part of the country and is much chagrined at his disappointment having provision, ammunition, artillery, quartermaster’s stores, boats, etc., sufficient for upwards of 2,000 men. Had the country people turned out and gone with him, I have no doubt the people on this side of the mountain, in particular, would be sensible to the advantage they must reap by being able to live at their plantations without the dread of being scalped, which is far from being the case at present, few days passing without Indians doing some mischief of this kind.”
1 Virginia State Papers, Vol II p 2xx?
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“I much fear the General will be disappointed in getting men down the river from Kentucky and the Falls. If so, the state is thrown into an infinity of expense without any advantage, as the few men the General now has is not more than might be necessary to guard the great number of boats, stores etc. he has with him.”
“Every account we have the Indians are preparing to receive him, and if they should attack him in his present situation, either by land or water, I dread the consequences. The reason so few went with him from this place, is owing to the dispute that subsists here between the Virginians and Pennsylvanians respecting the true bounds of the latter, and the General being a Virginian was opposed by the most noted men here of the Pennsylvania party. The people here blame Virginia very much for making them and their lands (which should be on the shadow of a doubt is far out of the true bounds of Pennsylvania) over to Pennsylvania, and I am assured will never be content until the true bounds of Pennsylvania is run. Tis true they are going to run what they call a temporary boundary, but so much injustice is done to the State of Virginia and the people who are now in it, and by this scandalous imposition will be forced into Pennsylvania that nothing but discord with reign until the bounds is run agreeable to the words of the charter of Pennsylvania.” (1)
It had been given out that this expedition was against the Indians of the North-west, and the designs on Detroit were kept in the background, but nevertheless Brant, the Indian chief, was well informed as to its purpose. (2) It was Clark’s intention to proceed up the Big Miami River and first attack the Shawnee on that rive. But subsequently he changed his plans and decided to make the Falls of the Ohio his base of operation.
Col Archibald Laughery or Loughery was the county Lieutenant of WestMoreland County, Pennsylvania, and upon Clark’s requisition he raised and provided with an outfit, principally at the expense of himself and Capt. Robert Orr, a party of one hundred and seven mounted volunteers. This company rendezvoused at Carnahan’s Blockhouse, eleven miles west of Hannastown, on August 2, 1781, and marched by way of Pittsburgh to Fort Henry (Wheeling) where they arrived on the 8th about twelve hours after Col. Clark, with all the men, boats and stores he could gather
1 Id. 345.
2 Letter to Lord George Germain. Appendix.
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had departed, leaving orders for Col. Loughery to follow and overtake him at the mouth of the Little Kanawha. Several days were consumed by Col. Loughery in getting started. In the meantime Clark’s men began to desert. Laugher apprehended Lieutenant Baker and sixteen men who are deserting from Clark at Fishing Creek. To prevent desertion Col. Clark was obliged to proceed from the Kanawha, leaving a letter affixed to a pole directing Loughery to follow to the Falls of the Ohio. Loughery’s stores and forage gave out at this point and he detached Capt. Shannon with seven men in a small boat to overtake Clark and secure supplies. This detachment had not proceeded far when the Indians, who were carefully watching the expedition, captured Shannon and all of his men but two and also attained a letter to Col. Clark detailing Loughery’s situation. Joseph Brant, with one hundred Indian warriors, lay in wait to attack Clark at the mouth of the Miami River, but Clark passed in the night, and the Indians being afraid of the cannon and the number of men, did not molest him, but concluded to wait for Loughery’s party. It is said that the Indians placed the prisoners they had taken in a conspicuous position on the north shore of the Ohio River and promised to spare their lives on condition that they would hail Looughery’s party and induce them to land and surrender. However this may have been, at about 10 o’clock on August 24th, Loughery having reached an attractive spot about en miles below the mouth of the Big Miami, near the present town of Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana landed on the north side of the Ohio River in the mouth of a creek which has since been called Loughery’s Creek. The Ohio River was very low and a large sandbar extended from the south almost across to the north bank of the river. Col. Loughery’s party, wearied with their slow and laborous progress and discouraged by the failure to overtake Clark’s army, removed their horses ashore and turned them loose to feed while some of the men cut grass sufficient to keep them alive until they should reach the Falls. A buffalo had been killed and all were engaged in preparing a meal when the Indians appeared on both sides of the river and began firing from the woods. The soldiers seized their arms and made a defense as long as their ammunition held out. An attempt was made to escape by the boats, but they were so unwieldy and the water so low that the Indians cut them off. Unable to escape or defend themselves, Col. Loughery surrendered. Brant, the
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Indian Chief, says thirty-six, including five officers, were killed and sixty-four made prisoner. One or two escaped, but did not reach home for several months afterward. Loughery was tomahawked by a Shawnee Indian after the battle while sitting on a log, and all the wounded who were unable to march were similarly dispatched. The prisoners were March eight miles up the Miami River to an encampment where the Indians were joined by one hundred white men under command of Capt. Thompson and three hundred Indians under Capt. McKee, both British officers. All of the British and Indians, with Brand’s band of warriors, went down against the Kentucky settlements as far as the Falls of the Ohio, leaving a sergeant and eighteen men to guard the prisoners. No attack was made on Clark’s army, however. The prisoners were taken to Detroit and sent from there to Montreal.
The disaster to Loughery was the culmination of the misfortunes to this ill-fated expedition. All thought of accomplishing anything more than the destruction of Indian villages was abandoned. Nothing of note was done until the fall of 1782, when another expedition was organized and moving rapidly from Wheeling destroyed the large Shawnee towns on the Miami and the British posts as far north as Lake Erie.
Lieutenant Isaac Anderson, who succeeded the command of Shannon’s company after the capture of the latter, has kept a diary of the expedition from the start at Carnahan’s Block House, including the fight, captivity, and his wonderful escape from Montreal and trip through the wilds of Maine, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania to his home. This diary is now in the possession of his son Isaac R. Anderson, who resides at Venice (Ross P.O.) Ohio and the diary is also copied in McBride’s history of Butler County, Ohio.