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opportunity might present itself, to strike a blow with effect.
It was his opinion, that the apparent tranquillity on the frontier, and elsewhere, was temporary, and indicated that the enemy were collecting in force, to oppose the legion on its march, and attack it in some position, unfavorable for the action of cavalry; yet he expressed entire confidence in his ability to sustain himself, and keep the enemy in check, if nothing more, till his troops should be collected; which he hoped would be in time, to give the haughty savage a blow, that would compel him to sue for peace, before the next opening of the leaves.
If he should be disappointed in the arrival of his forces, as he expected to be, he assured the Secretary, that he would not commit the legion, so as to endanger its safety, or put at hazard the honor and reputation of the government; and that, unless more powerfully supported than he then was, he would content himself with taking a strong position, in advance of Fort Jefferson; where he might protect the frontiers, secure the out-posts, and improve the discipline of his army, during the winter. It was a matter of regret, that at so interesting a period, when so much was at stake, the army had not been completed, according to the original plan of the government. But it will be remembered, that during the tedious negotiation with the Indians, which continued between three and four months, the American officers and agents were strictly prohibited from making any movement of a military character.
When that prohibitory order was received, in the spring of 1793, General Wayne was at Legionville, with a portion of his troops, where he continued in a state of inactivity, during the season. When the order was revoked, after the failure of the negotiation, about the 1st of September, he repaired to Fort Washington, and encamped with his troops on the bank of the Ohio, between the village of Cincinnati and Mill creek. To that encampment, he gave
the name of “Hobson's Choice,” it being the only place in that vicinity, suited for the object intended. During the time they remained in that encampment, waiting for reinforcements, they were constantly and laboriously engaged in military exercises and movements, particularly those which had been adopted, as best suited to the nature of the service, in which they were employed.
The country through which they had to march, was a dense wilderness, containing ravines, thickets, morasses, water courses, etc.; at any of which, the whole force of the Indians might be made to operate, at once, on the legion, without warning. The General foresaw this; and that the obstructions to be encountered, and the character of the enemy with whom he had to contend, made it hazardous to pursue the customary modes of marching through cultivated, civilized, countries.
The subject had therefore occupied his mind, when first he received his appointment; and before he left Philadelphia, he conversed on it freely with the President, who had more experience in the mode of Indian warfare, and understood it better, than any other officer living. With the information derived from that high source, General Wayne formed a plan for conducting his marches, and constructing his encampments, in the Indian country, well calculated to guard against surprise, and enable him, in case of a sudden attack, to form his line of battle without confusion, and in the shortest time possible.
In addition to the videttes, usual in military movements, a strong guard preceded the army, which followed in parallel lines, at such distances, and so arranged, that the line might be quickly formed, by a single maneuvre. General Harrison, in his subsequent successful campaigns, in the Indian country, adopted the same plan, with great success, having seen its operation in the army of General Wayne.
In accordance with the determination before expressed,
the General took up his line of march for the frontier, on the 7th of October, and on the 13th of the same month, arrived at a fork of the south west branch of the Miami, now called Stillwater, six miles in advance of Fort Jefferson, in perfect order and without an accident. Finding that he could not proceed further, for want of provisions, he determined to halt, and encamp with his army at that point, which was at an intermediate distance between Fort Jefferson and the fatal battle-ground of 1791.
In his letters to the War Department, he repeated his conviction, that the safety of the western frontier— the reputation of the legion--and the dignity of the nation forbade a retrograde movement, or the giving up of an inch of ground then possessed, till the Indians should be compelled to sue for peace. He informed the Secretary, that the greatest difficulty, under which he then labored, was the want of a sufficient force, occasioned by the non-arrival of the mounted volunteers, to enable him to furnish escorts, to secure the convoys of provisions and other supplies, from insult and disaster; and at the same time, to retain a sufficient force in camp, to sustain it against the attacks of the enemy, who appeared to be numerous, determined, and desperate.
In the same dispatch, he advised the Secretary, that Lieutenant Lowery, of the 2d sub-legion, and Ensign Boyd, of the 1st, with a command of ninety non-commissioned officers and privates, having in charge twenty wagons loaded with grain, belonging to the Quartermaster General's department, and one, belonging to the Contractor, loaded with military stores, were attacked on the morning of the 17th of October, near Fort St. Clair, by a very superior number of the enemy; and that those gallant young officers, together with thirteen non-commissioned officers and privates, who had been abandoned by the greater part of the escort, on the first fire, were killed after an obstinate resistance,
On that occasion, the savages took about seventy packhorses, leaving the wagons and stores standing in the road, which were afterwards brought into camp with the loss only of a few trifling articles. It appears from the Executive Journal of the Senate, that Lieutenant John Lowery, who commanded this detachment, was from the State of New Jersey - that he had served with reputation in the levies of 1791, under General St. Clair, and was, of course, in the desperate battle of November 4th. It also appears that, in consequence of his good behavior, on that campaign, he received his commission in the regular army.
The General, admonished by that disaster, immediately dispatched a company of light infantry, and a troop of dragoons, to reinforce a detachment consisting of four companies of infantry, which had been sent out under the command of Colonel Hamtramck, as an escort to the wagons and pack-horses of the Quartermaster General, and the .contractor. Soon after this movement, information was received at head quarters, that the Indians at Au-Glaise had sent their women and children into places of safety, and that the warriors were collecting in great force. It was understood, however, that they could not continue embodied long, for the want of provisions.
In communicating that intelligence, the General advised the War Department, that he had then in camp, seventy thousand rations, and expected a hundred and twenty thousand more, by the return of the escort under the command of Colonel Hamtramck. As yet, General Wilkinson had not been able to resume his command in the army, by reason of his severe indisposition; and a large number of the men reported on the sick list, continued unable to perform military duty.
The site, selected by General Wayne, for his winter quarters, was a beautiful high plain, lying on one of the small streams which form the Stillwater-branch of the Big Miami river. The encampment was called Greenville, and
gave name to the creek on which it was built. spacious, and the buildings, though constructed of logs, were very commodious and comfortable, and it was so strongly fortified, as to defy any assault that could be made on it by the enemy.
When this work was finished, all fears for the safety of the army were dismissed, and the General again applied himself, with great assiduity, to instruct and improve his troops in military tactics. It does not appear that any serious effort was made to molest this encampment, or the separate garrisons in its vicinity, after the affair of October, 1793. But on the 30th of June following, a very severe and bloody battle was fought under the walls of Fort Recovery, between a detachment of American troops, consisting of ninety riflemen and fifty dragoons, commanded by Major McMahon, and a very numerous body of Indians and British, who at the same instant, rushed on the detachment, and assailed the Fort on every side, with great fury. They were repulsed, with a heavy loss, but again rallied and renewed the attack, keeping up a heavy and constant fire during the whole day, which was returned with spirit and effect, by the garrison.
The succeeding night was foggy and dark, and gave the Indians an opportunity of carrying off their dead, by torchlight, which occasionally drew a fire from the garrison. They, however, succeeded so well, that there were but eight or ten bodies left on the ground, which were too near the garrison to be approached. On the next morning, McMahon's detachment having entered the Fort, the enemy renewed the attack, and continued it with great desperation during the day, but were ultimately compelled to retreat from the same field, on which they had been proudly victorious on the 4th November, 1791.
The expectation of the assailants must have been to surprise the post, and carry it by storm, for they could not possibly have received intelligence of the movement of the