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General Harrison arrived at Fort Wayne, and resumed the command on the 23d of September. The day previous to his arrival general Winchester had marched for Fort Defiance with 2000 men, consisting of four hundred regulars, a brigade of Kentucky militia, and a troop of horse.
§ 4. In this part of the country, one of the greatest difficulties which an army has to surmount, is that which arises from the difficulty of transporting provisions and stores. At all stasons the route is wet and miry. The country, though somewhat level, is broken by innumerable little runs, which are generally dry, except during or immediately after a heavy rain, when they are frequently impassable until the subsiding of the water, which is generally from twelve to twenty-four hours. Another of the difficulties of transportation arises from the nature of the soil, which being generally a rich loam, free from stones and gravel, in many places a horse will mire for miles full leg deep every step:
To avoid the inconveniences and dangers of delay in traversing this wilderness, each soldier was furnished with provisions for six days, and general Harrison proceeded to Fort St. Mary's, in order to forward a detachment with supplies by the Au Glaise river, which affords a water conveyance for a considerable part of the way. This detachinent was placed under the command of colonel Jennings.
The army being now in the centre of a country which presented every facility for the Indian mode of warfare, the utmost vigilance was necessary to prevent a surprise. The troops were formed into three divisions, viz. right and left wings and centre. Near the centre was the baggage, with a strong guard in front and rear.
The wings marched about 60 or 100 yards distant from the centre. The front guard, which was generally about 300 strong, marched far enough in advance for their rear to be even with the front baggage guard, and were preceded by a company of spies, 40 in number, who were generally one or two miles in advance. The rear of the spies was covered by the horse.
So great were the obstructions occasioned by the underbrush, &c. on this march, that the army never advanced more than from six to ten miles a-day. They generally halted about three o'clock to lay out and fortify their encampment, which was done by forming round it a breastwork of logs and brush, of four or five feet in height. As soon as it was dark, small fires were kindled, at the mouth of each tent, and large fires on the outside, about twenty paces from the breastwork.
On the 24th of September, being the third day of the march, the first trail was discovered; the number of Indians was supa posed, however, to be only twelve or fifteen. The were pursued by the horse for six or eight miles, when, being pressed, they scattered, which rendered further pursuit impracticable. The following day, ensign Legett, of the regulars, and four volunteers, solicited and obtained permission to push on to Fort Defiance, then 25 miles distant, to discover the strength and situation of the enemy. These gallant youths, however, had too little experience of the Indian mode of warfare to conduct with success an enterprize so hazardous. They fell the same evening, being shot, tomahawked, and scalped, in the most barbarous manner, and in that condition were found by the spies on the 26th, about six miles in advance of the encampment for the night.
Early on the 27th the spies were sent out to bury the dead, supported by about 40 of the troop of horse. They had not advanced far before the flankers discovered a body of Indians in ambuscade, on each side of a small Indian trail, on which they supposed the spies would march. Ballard, the commander, however, aware of the Indian stratagems, had placed his men in two divisions, and marched one on each side of the trail. Finding their plan frustrated, the Indians left the ambuscade, and made for an elevation a short distance ahead. While forming on this elevation they were fired on by the spies, which they instantly returned, accompanied by a loud and terrific yell. The cavalry were then ordered to advance to the charge; but the Indians on their approach raised the retreat yell, and precipitately fled to the swamps and thickets. The pursuit was continued for two or three miles; the nature of the country, however, rendered it impossible to act with effect. In this skirmish only one American was wounded slightly in the ankle. The Indians were supposed to have suffered more severely, as several trails of blood were discernible. After interring the remains of their unfortunate brethren, the detachment returned and took their usual station in front of the
army. On the 28th, shortly after forming the line of march, four Indians were discovered and fired on by the spies, but without effect. A general engagement being now expected to take place, the order of battle was formed; but no enemy appearing, the line of march was recommenced, and the advanced part of the horse was ordered to push forward to ascertain whether or not a strong force of the enemy was at hand. In a short time a fresh trail of Indians was discovered. These indications
the near approach to the enemy determined the general to cross the river as soon as possible, and accordingly, a tolerable ford being discovered by the troopers, the army passed over and encamped on the opposite shore. Here a fresh trail was perceived nearly equal to the one made by the army, which was supposed to be the trail made by Jennings' detachment, a supposition which was hailed with joy by the soldiers, whose provisions were now exhausted. Their joy, however, was but of short duration. A party of horse, who had been despatched down the trail, reported on their return, that it had been made by a large force of the enemy, whose encampment they had discovered about three miles below, two miles above Fort Defiance, with fires burning, war poles erected, and the bloody flag displayed.
Late on the night of the 29th, an express arrived from Jennings' regiment, stating that they were encamped on the Au Glaize, 40 miles above Fort Defiance, where Jennings had been ordered to erect a block-house. While engaged on this duty he had ascertained by his spies that Fort Defiance was in possession of the British and Indians, and he had therefore thought it imprudent to proceed further without reinforcements.
Early on the morning of the 30th, captain Garrard and 30 of his troopers were ordered to proceed with all possible despatch to Jennings' block-house, to escort a brigade of pack horses with provisions for the relief of the starving army. The detachment reached the block-house in the course of the following day, and, after resting a few hours, again set off as an escort to the provisions. They rejoined the army on the evening of the 2d of October, drenched with 36 hours incessant rain. This was a joyful evening to the soldiers. Provisions were now plenty, and the escort was accompanied by their beloved general Harrison, who resumed the command. During the absence of the detachment, the army had taken possession of Fort Defiance, the British and Indians having retreated down the river.
05. On the 4th of October, general Harrison, having left at Fort Defiance the force which constituted the left wing of the army, under general Winchester, returned to the settlements to organize and bring up the centre and right wing. On the day of his departure, he ordered general Tupper, with the mounted troops under his command, consisting of nearly 1000 men, to proceed on an expedition to the Rapids. This expedition was never carried into effect. Its failure arose partly from the undisciplined state of the troops which had been selected for the enterprize, and partly from a disagreement which took place between their commander and general Winchester, who comVOL. II.
manded at Fort Defiance*. The ineficiency of raw militia was perhaps never more strikingly displayed than on this occasion.
General Tupper, after returning with his mounted volunteers to Urbanna, was despatched with the centre of the north-western army, consisting of a regiment of regulars, and the Ohio volunteers and militia, to Fort M'Arthur. The right wing, consisting of a brigade of Pennsylvania, and a brigade of Virginia militia, were stationed at Sandusky.
06. Shortly after his arrival at Fort M'Arthur, general Tupper organized another expedition for the purpose of proceeding to the Rapids of the Miami. He left the fort on the 10th, with a force consisting of upwards of 600 men, the soldiers carrying provisions in their knapsacks for five days. On the evening of the 13th, being then about 13 miles from the rapids, an officer was despatched to examine the situation of the enemy, by whom it was ascertained that the British and Indians still occupied the settlements and fort at the rapids, and that the boats and vessels lay a little below.
In consequence of this information the detachment halted until sunset, when they proceeded to a ford about 2 miles above the rapids, whence scouts were again detached to observe more particularly the situation and force of the enemy.
The necessary information being soon received, the troops were ordered to cross the river, in order to attack the enemy at the dawn of day. Unfortunately, however, it was impracticable for the troops to cross. Every expedient that could be devised was unavailing, and a number of men who were swept down the rapids were with difficulty saved, with the loss of their muskets and ammunition.
In the morning, convinced that he was unable to get at the enemy, general Tupper ordered the spies to endeavour to decoy them over; and they accordingly proceeded down and discovered themselves. The stratagem, however, proved unsuccessful ; for though a few Indians crossed the river, they were too cautious to be drawn within the lines. The main body was then marched down the Miami, opposite to the encampment of the enemy. They appeared in considerable disorder as the advanced guard opened from the woods. The British, who were in the vessels and boats, immediately slipped their cables and proceeded down the river. The Indian women were seen running off on the road leading to Detroit; the men commenced a fire at the detachment from their muskets and a four-pounder.
* For Tupper's report of the causes of the fail of this expedition, and the proceedings of the court of enquiry on his conduct, see p. 134 of the Official Documents in this volume.
General Tupper having observed a number of mounted Indians proceeding up the river, and fearful of the camp being surprised, ordered the detachment to return, When within about a mile of the encampment, some of the soldiers, pressed probably by hunger, the provisions being now entirely exhausted, fired upon a drove of hogs, contrary to orders, and pursued them nearly half a mile; others left the ranks, and entered a field to gather corn. At this moment a body of mounted Indians came upon them, killed four men, and then commenced an attack on the rear of the right flank. The column being instantly thrown back, commenced a brisk fire, which caused the Indians to give ground; but they quickly rallied, and passing along the van-guard, made a violent charge upon the rear of the left column. This column was also thrown briskly back, and
every attempt made to break the lines being resisted, in 20 minutes the Indians were driven from the field. Conceiving, however, that the charge of the mounted men was merely intended to throw the troops into disorder to make room for an attack of the foot, general Tupper ordered the right column to move up into marching order, lest that attack should be made on the right flank. This column had scarcely regained their position, when information was received that the Indians were crossing the river in considerable numbers. Tupper immediately ordered the left column to resume their marching order, and proceeded to the head of the right column, where he found that a number of Indians had crossed on horse-back, that some were still in the middle of the river, and about 200 on the opposite bank. A battalion was immediately ordered to advance and dislodge them. This attack was successful. The Indians were forced to retire, and several of them were shot from their horses while crossing the river.
The horses rode by the Indians in this attack are stated to have been much superior to those they had been accustomed to use. They were high and active ; they were also supplied with pistols and holsters. A number of Indians were shot from their horses ; but they were with great dexterity thrown on again, and carried off the field. Split Log led on several of the charges at the commencement of the attack, mounted on a well trained white horse, from which he sometimes fired, and at other times leaped from him behind a tree. It was supposed that he was wounded in the action, as another warrior rode the same horse in some of the last charges.
After the retreat of the Indians the detachment were compelled to return with all speed to Fort M'Arthur, as their provi