History of Western Ohio and Auglaize County
St. Clair's Campaign
The expeditions of Harmar, Scott and Wilkinson against the Miami and Shawnee Indians, served only to exasperate them. The burning of their towns, the destruction of their corn, and the captivity of their women and children, instead of subduing them, aroused them to more desperate efforts in defense of their country. Impressed with the opinion that the United States wished to deprive them of their lands, and exterminate their race, they formed a league, composed of the Miamis, Delawares, Wyandots, Kickapoos, Mohawks, Pottawottomies, Ottawas, Chippewas, and a few Creek Indians. This league was organized and commanded by the celebrated chiefs, Little Turtle of the Miamis, Blue Jacket of the Shawnees, and Buckongahelas of the Delawares. "It was a league not to be despised. And these powerful chiefs not only had the aid of Simon Girty, but of McKee and Elliott, of the British Indian Department, and of a number of British and French traders who generally resided among the Indians, and supplied them with arms and ammunition in exchange for peltries." One of these traders was James Girty, who left St. Marys hurriedly when he heard of the approach of General Harmar's army.
By authority of an act of Congress of March 3d, 1791, Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory, was appointed Major General and Commander-in-Chief. On the 21st of March, 1791, the Secretary of War sent General St. Clair a letter of instructions, from which the following is an extract"
"While you are making use of such desultory operations as in your judgment the occasion may require, you will proceed vigorously, in every preparation in your power, for the purpose of the main expedition; and having assembled your force, and all things being in readiness, if no decisive indications of peace should have been produced, either by messengers or by the desultory operations, you will commence your march for the Miami village, in order to establish a strong and permanent military post at that place. In your advance you will establish such posts of communication with Fort Washington, on the Ohio, as you may judge proper. The post at the Miami village is intended for aweing and curbing the Indians in that quarter, and as the only preventive of future hostilities. It ought, therefore, to be rendered secure against all attempts and insults of the Indians. The garrison which should be stationed there ought not only to be sufficient for the defense of the place, but always afford a detachment of five or six hundred men, either to chastise any of the Wabash or other hostile Indians, or to secure any convoy of provisions. The establishment of said post is considered as an important object of the campaign, and is to take place in all events. In case of a previous treaty, the Indians are to be conciliated upon this point if possible, and it is presumed good arguments may be offered to induce their acquiescence. * * * * Having commenced your march upon the main expedition, and the Indians continuing hostile, you will use every possible exertion to make them feel the effects of your superiority; and after having arrived at the Miami village, and put your works in a defensible state, you will seek the enemy with the whole of your remaining force, and endeavor, by all possible means, to strike them with great severity. * * * * In order to avoid further wars, it might be proper to make the Wabash, and thence over to the Maumee, and down the same to its mouth at Lake Erie, the boundary (between the people of the United States and the Indians), excepting so far as the same should relate to the Wyandots and Delawares, on the supposition of their continuing faithful to the treaties. But if they should join in the war against the United States, and your army be victorious, the said tribes ought to be removed without the boundary mentioned."
On the 9th of March, 1791, General Henry Knox, Secretary of War, sent Brigadier General Scott, of Kentucky, a similar letter of instructions.
Pursuant to his instructions from the Secretary of War, General St. Clair proceeded to organize an army. He repaired to Pittsburg at the close of April to mobilize his forces for an early campaign. From Pittsburg he went to Lexington, Kentucky, and from thence to Fort Washington, where he arrived on the 15th of May. At that time, the United States troops in the west amounted to but two hundred and sixty-four non-commissioned officers and privates fit for duty; of these, seventy-five were at Fort Washington, forty-five at Fort Harmar, sixtv-one at Fort Steuben, and eighty-three at Fort Knox (Vincennes). "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 General St. Clair."
General Butler, who had been appointed second in command, was employed during the months of April and May in recruiting troops in the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. But the work progressed so slowly that the necessary number of troops were not secured until the first week in September. In accordance with the powers with which General 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 troops. Of this number only about four hundred and eighteen Kentucky militia appeared at Fort Washington to join the expedition. When these recruits reached Cincinnati, no proper provision had been made for their subsistence, clothing and equipment. The officers at the head of the war department were mainly responsible for this deplorable state of affairs. Colonel William Duer was chief commissary and contractor, and Samuel Hodgdon, another satellite of the public offices, was chief quartermaster. Colonel Duer's only appearance in the campaign was at the Treasury Department, where, as Knox, the Secretary of War, wrote to St. Clair, he was in attendance in March, and drew $70,000, as reported by a committee of Congress.
In a report of the supplies in the quartermaster's department, it is stated that there was a deficiency in quantity and quality of tents, pack-saddles, kettles, knapsacks and cartridge boxes. Worse than this, the powder was poor or injured, the arms and accoutrements out of repair, and not even proper tools to mend them. Of six hundred and seventy-five stand of arms at Fort Washington (designed by St. Clair for the militia), scarcely any were in order; and with two traveling forges furnished by the quartermaster, there were no anvils. "As the troops gathered slowly at Fort Washington, after wearisome detentions at Pittsburg and upon the river, a new source of trouble arose, in the habits of intemperance acquired and indulged in by the idlers. To withdraw them from temptation, St. Clair was forced to remove his men, now numbering two thousand, to Ludlow's station, about six miles from the fort; by which, however, he more than doubled his cost of providing for the troops. Here the army continued until September 17th, when, being two thousand three hundred strong, including the garrisons of Forts Washington and Hamilton, and exclusive of militia, it moved forward to a point upon the Great Miami, where Fort Hamilton was built, the first In the proposed chain of fortresses. "Having completed this fort, the army on the 4th of October, continued its march toward the Miami village, and at a point about forty-two miles in advance of Fort Hamilton, the army halted and erected another fort, which was called Fort Jefferson. This fort was on a site which lies about six miles south of the present town of Greenville, 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 first move made by the Indian chiefs upon hearing of St. Clair's forward progress, was to dispatch the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, at the head of a small party of spies, to watch the motions of the American army and report its advancement. This work he accomplished most faithfully. So well were the Indians kept informed of its march, and of the failure of the Americans to send forward a sufficient number of scouts, that they were all soon greatly inspired with hopes of surprising their enemy. Their courage and determination were thus kept up. At the proper time, they, too, advanced."
The following from the journal of General St. Clair is a record of the movements of the army commencing with October 24th, 1791:
"October 24th, 1791.—Named the Fort Jefferson, (it lies in iat. 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 provisions arriving, they cannot bear to march in advance, and take none along with them. I received a letter from Mr. Hodgden by express; thirteen thousand pounds of flour will arrive on the 27th.
"26th. — A party of militia, sent to reconnoiter, fell in with five Indians and suffered them to slip through their fingers; in their coup 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; (an ambiguous expression) 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, etc.) which were upon the roads. Detached the first regiment in pursuit of them, with orders to Major Hamtramck 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 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 third of November, the main army, consisting of about fourteen hundred effective men, moved forward to a point near which Fort Recovery was afterward erected. Here, on the head waters of the Wabash river, among a number of small creeks, the army encamped. The details of the encampment here, and the disastrous defeat of Novmber 4th, are extracted from the commanding general's letter to the Secretary of War, on his return to Fort Washington.
"The right wing, composed of Butler's, Clark's, and Patterson's battalions, commanded by Major General Butler, formed the first line; and the left wing, consisting of Bedinger's and Gaither's battalions, and the second regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Darke, formed the second line, with an interval between them of about seventy yards, which was all the ground would allow. The right flank was pretty well secured by the creek; a steep bank and Faulkner's corps, some of the cavalry, and their picquets, covered the left flank. The militia were thrown over the creek, and advanced about a quarter of a mile, and encamped in the same order. There were a few Indians who appeared on the opposite side of the creek, but fled with the utmost precipitation, on the advance of the militia. At this place, 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 everything 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 did not permit me to execute either; for on the 4th, about half an hour before sunrise, and when the men had been dismissed from parade, (for it was a constant practice to have them all under arms a considerable time before daylight), an attack was made upon the militia. These gave way in a very little time, and rushed into camp through Major Butler's battalion, (which, together with a part of Clark's, they threw into considerable disorder, and which, notwithstanding the exertions of both these officers, was never altogether remedied,) the Indians following close at their heels. The fire, however, of the front line checked them; but almost instantly a very heavy attack began upon that line; and in a few minutes it was extended to the second likewise. The great weight of it was directed against the center of each, where the artillery was placed, and from which the men were repeatedly driven with great slaughter. Finding no great effect of our fire, and confusion beginning to spread from the great numbers of men who were falling in all quarters, it became necessary to try what could be done by the bayonet. Lieutenant Colonel Darke was accordingly ordered to make a charge with a part of the second line, and to turn the left flank of the enemy. This was executed with great spirit. The Indians instantly gave way, and were driven back three or four hundred yards; but for want of a sufficient number of riflemen to pursue this advantage, they soon returned, and the troops were obliged to give back in their turn. At this moment they had entered our camp by the left flank, having pushed back the troops that were posted there. Another charge was made here by the second regiment, Butler's and Clark's battalions, with equal effect, and it was repeated several times, and always with success; but in all of them many men were lost, and particularly the officers, which, with so raw troops, was a loss altogether irremediable. In that I just spoke of, made by the second regiment and Butler's battalion, Major Butler was dangerously wounded, and every officer of the second regiment fell except three, one of which, Mr. Greaton, was shot through the body.
"Our artillery being now silenced, and all the officers killed except Captain Ford, who was badly wounded, and more than half of the army fallen, being cut off from the road, it became necessary to attempt the regaining it, and to make a retreat if possible. To this purpose, the remains of the army were formed as well as circumstances would admit, toward the right of the encampment, from which, by the way of the second line, another charge was made upon the enemy, as if with the design to turn their right flank, but in fact to gain the road. This was effected, and as soon as it was open the militia took along it, followed by the troops, Major Clark, with his battalion, covering the rear.
"The retreat, in those circumstances, was, as you may be sure, a very precipitate one; it was, in fact a flight. The camp and the artillery were abandoned; but that was unavoidable, for not a horse was left alive to have drawn it off, had it otherwise been practicable.
"But the most disgraceful part of the business is, that the greatest part of the men threw away their arms and accoutrements, even after the pursuit, which continued about four miles, had ceased. I found the road strewed with them for many miles, but was not able to remedy it; for, having had all my horses killed, and being mounted upon one that could not be pricked out of a walk, I could not get forward myself, and the orders I sent forward, either to halt the front or to prevent the men from parting with their arms, were unattended to. The route continued to Fort Jefferson, twenty-nine miles, which was reached a little after sun-setting.
"The action began about half an hour before sun-rise, and the retreat was attempted at half an hour after nine o'clock. I have not yet been able to get returns of the killed and wounded, but Major General Butler, Lieutenant-Colonel Oldham, of the militia, Major Ferguson, Major Hart, and Major Clark are among the former; Colonel Sargent, my Adjutant-General, Lieutenant-Colonel Drake, Lieutenant-Colonel Gibson, Major Butler, and the Viscount Malartie, who served as Aid-de-Camp, are among the latter and a great number of captains and subalterns in each.
"I have now, sir, finished my melancholy tale—a tale that will be felt sensibly by every one that has sympathy for private distress or for public misfortune. I have nothing, sir, to lay to the charge of the troops, but their want of discipline, which, from the short time they had been in service, it was impossible they should have acquired, and which rendered it very difficult, when they were thrown into confusion, to reduce them again to order, and is one reason why the loss has fallen so heavy on the officers, who did everything in their power to effect it.
"Neither were my own exertions wanting; but, worn down with illness, and suffering under a painful disease, unable either to mount or dismount a horse without assistance, they were not so great as they otherwise would, and perhaps ought to have been.
"We were overpowered by numbers; but it is no more than justice to observe that, though composed of so many different species of troops, the utmost harmony prevailed through the whole army during the campaign.
"At Fort Jefferson I found the first regiment, which had returned from the service they had been sent upon, without either overtaking the deserters, or meeting the convoy of provisions. I am not certain, sir, whether I ought to consider the absence of this regiment from the field of action as fortunate or otherwise. I incline to think it was fortunate, for I very much doubt whether, had it been in the action, the fortune of the day had been turned; and, if it had not, the triumph of the enemy would have been more complete, and the country would have been destitute of every means of defence.
"Taking a view of the situation of our broken troops at Fort Jefferson, and that there were no provisions in the fort, I called upon the field officers, viz: Lieutenant-Colonel Darke, Major Hamtramck, Major Ziegler and Major Gaither, together with the Adjutant-General, Winthrop Sargent, for their advice what would be proper further to be done; and it was their unanimous opinion, that the addition of the first regiment, unbroken as it was, did not put the army on as respectable a footing as it was in the morning, because a great part of it was now unarmed; that it had been found unequal to the enemy, and should they come on, which was possible, would be found so again; that the troops could not be thrown into the fort, both because it was too small, and that there were no provisions in it; that provisions were known to be on the road, at the distance of one, or at most two marches; that, therefore, it would be more proper to move, without loss of time to meet the provisions, when the men might have the sooner an opportunity of some refreshment, and that a proper detachment might be sent back with it, to have it safely deposited in the fort. This advice was accepted, and the army was put in motion at ten o'clock, and marched all night, and the succeeding day met with a quantity of flour. Part of it was distributed immediately, part taken back to supply the army on the march to Fort Hamilton, and the remainder, about fifty horse loads, sent forward to Fort Jefferson. The next day a drove of cattle was met with, for the same place, and I have information that both got in. The wounded who had been left at that place were ordered to be brought to Fort Washington by the return horses.
"I have said, sir, in a former part of this letter, that we were overpowered by numbers. Of that, however, I have no other evidence but the weight of the fire which was always a most deadly one, and generally delivered from the ground — a few of the enemy showing themselves afoot, except when they were charged; and that, in a few minutes our whole camp, which extended above three hundred and fifty yards in length, was entirely surrounded and attacked on all quarters. The loss, sir, the public has sustained by the fall of so many officers, particularly General Butler and Major Ferguson, cannot be too much regretted; but it is a circumstance that will alleviate the misfortune in some measure, that all of them fell most gallantly doing their duty. I have had very particular obligations to many of them, as well as to the survivors, but to none more than Colonel Sargent. He has discharged the various duties of his office with zeal, with exactness, and with intelligence, and on all occasions afforded me every assistance in his power, which I have also experienced from my Aid-de-Camp, Lieutenant Denny, and the Viscount Malartie, who served with me in the station as a volunteer."
The following comments on the deportment of General St. Clair in the engagement is taken from Howe's "Historical Collections
of Ohio," Vol. II, p. 225:
"During the engagement General St. Clair and General Butler were continually going up and down the lines; as one went up the other went down the opposite side. St. Clair was so severely afflicted with the gout as to be unable to mount or dismount a horse without assistance. He had four horses for his use; they had been turned out to feed over night and were brought in before the action. The first he attempted to mount was a young horse, and the firing alarmed him so much that he was unable to accomplish it, although there were three or four people assisting him. He had just moved him to a place where he could have some advantage of the ground, when the horse was shot through the head, and the boy holding him through the arm. A second horse was brought and the saddle and bridle of the first disengaged and put on him; but at the moment it was done the horse and servant who held him were killed. The general then ordered the third horse to be got ready and follow him to the left of the front line, which by that time was warmly engaged, and set off on foot to the point designated. However, the man and horse were never heard of afterwards, and were supposed to have both been killed. General St. Clair's fourth horse was killed under the Count de Malartie, one of his aids, whose horse had died on the march.
"On the day of the battle St. Clair was not in his uniform; he wore a coarse cappo coat and a three-cornered hat. He had a long queue and large locks, very gray, flowing beneath his beaver. Early in the action, when near the artillery, a ball grazed the side of his face and cut off a portion of one of his locks. It is said that during the action eight balls passed through his clothes and hat. After his horses were killed he exerted himself on foot for a considerable time during the action with a degree of alertness that surprised everybody who saw him. After being on foot some time, and when nearly exhausted, a pack horse was brought to him. This he rode during the remainder of the day, although he could hardly prick him out of a walk. Had he not been furnished with a horse, although unhurt, he must have remained on the field.
"During the action General St. Clair exerted himself with a courage and presence of mind worthy of the best fortune. He was personally present at the first charge made upon the enemy with the bayonet and gave the order to Colonel Darke. When the enemy first entered the camp by the left flank, he led the troops that drove them back, and when a retreat became indispensable, he put himself at the head of the troops which broke through the enemy and opened the way for the rest and then remained in the rear, making every exertion in his power to obtain a party to cover the retreat; but the panic was so great that his exertions were of but little avail. In the height of the action a few of the men crowded around the fires in the center of the camp. St. Clair was seen drawing his pistols and threatening some of them, and ordering them to turn out and repel the enemy."
General Knox assigned as reasons for St. Clair’s defeat, 1st, the deficiency of good troops; 2d, the want of appropriate training among those he had; 3d, the lateness of the season. The committee of the House of Representatives appointed to investigate the matter, reported the causes: 1st, the delay in preparing estimates, etc., for the defense of the frontiers, and the late passage of the act (March 3d) for that purpose; 2d, the delay caused by the neglects in the quartermaster's department; 3d, the lateness of the season when the expedition was commenced; 4th, the want of discipline and experience in the troops; and especially exonerated General St. Clair from all blame in connection with the disaster. J. H. Perkins in his "Annals of the West," cites two causes that seem to have been overlooked by the Secretary of War and the Committee of Congress, viz., the surprise by the Indians, who were not expected by the army; and the confusion produced by the flying militia.
Unfortunately the same ill feeling between the officers of the militia and regulars was exhibited the evening previous to the battle, that was so prevalent in Harmar's campaign. Late in the evening a reconnoitering party of regulars advanced a mile beyond where the militia were encamped, and Colonel Oldham, who commanded the militia, was ordered to have the woods thoroughly examined by the scouts and patrols, as Indians were known to be hanging about the outskirts of the army. In all this St. Clair seemed to have done his entire duty, as far as sickness would permit him.
"During the night, Captain Slough, who had charge of the advanced party of scouts, found so large a body of savages gathered about him, that he fell back and reported his observations to General Butler. But the general, for reasons unexplained, made no dispositions in consequence of this information, and did not report it to the commander-in-chief. Colonel Oldham also obeyed his orders, the woods were searched, and the presence of the enemy detected; but he, too, reported, through Captain Slough, to General Butler, beyond whom the information did not go.
"The death of General Butler in the engagement, in regard to which there are many conflicting statements, precluded the possibility of any explanation on his part of his conduct, so much calculated to mislead the commander-in-chief, and so to endanger the safety of the army, as this withholding of indispensible information at such an important juncture. It is only known that there was an unfriendly feeling existing between Generals St. Clair and Butler, during the whole progress of the campaign.
"According to St. Clair's account of it, the difficulty first arose on the march to Fort Jefferson. Butler, in St. Clair's absence, changed the order of march, and on his arrival an altercation occurred between them, the result of which was, St. Clair asserts, 'that he afterward seldom came near me.' Subsequently, at Fort Jefferson, Butler proposed to proceed at once with one thousand men, and take post at the Miami village, in advance of the march of the remainder of the army. St. Clair received the proposition with undisguised contempt, and that circumstance greatly heightened the animosity between them. These altercations produced, it appears, so much mutual aversion between the parties, that, during the subsequent part of the campaign, little intercourse was maintained between them. * * * *
"Captain Slough in his evidence given before the committee of Congress, deposed that he was sent out during the night with a party of observation, that he saw a large body of Indians going toward the camp, apparently for the purpose of reconnoitering it, and that in that belief he had hastened back to the militia camp, to communicate the information he had received. 'I halted my party,' said he, 'near Oldham's tent, went into it, and awakened him, I believe about twelve o'clock. I told him that I was of his opinion, that the camp would be attacked in the morning, for I had seen a number of Indians. I proceeded to the camp, and as soon as I had passed the camp guard, dismissed the party, and went to General Butler's tent. As I approached it, I saw him come out of the tent, and stand by the fire. I went up to him, and took him some distance from it, not thinking it prudent that the sentry should hear what I had seen. I also told him what Colonel Oldham had said, and that, if he thought proper, I would go and make the report to General St. Clair. He stood some time, and after a pause, thanked me for my attention and vigilance, and said as I must be fatigued, I had better go and lie down.'
"General St. Clair afterward affirmed that, if he had known that the Indians were near and in force, he would have attacked them during the night, under, as he supposed, such circumstances as would insure victory.
"If these statements are true, there was nothing, absolutely nothing, to excuse the abuse and persecution to which St. Clair was afterward subjected."
The record of incidents attending the defeat and retreat of the army are very full. To avoid prolixity, we quote from a few, only, of the many interesting narratives.
McClung, in his "Sketches of Western Adventure," describes the experiences and heroism of William Kennan, of Flemming county, Kentucky. Kennon at that time was a young man of eighteen, and was attached to St. Clair's corps of rangers who accompanied the regular force. "He had long been remarkable for strength and activity. In the course of the march from Fort Washington he had repeated opportunities of testing his astonishing powers in that respect, and was universally admitted to be the swiftest runner of the light corps. On the evening preceding the action his corps had been advanced, as already observed, a few hundred yards in front of the first line of infantry, in order to give seasonable notice of the enemy's approach. Just as day was dawning he observed about thirty Indians within a hundred yards of the guard's fire, advancing cautiously toward the spot where he stood, together with about twenty rangers, the rest being considerably in the rear.
"Supposing it to be a mere scouting party, as usual, and not superior in number to the rangers, he sprang forward a few paces in order to shelter himself in a spot of peculiarly rank grass, and firing with a quick aim upon the foremost Indian, he instantly fell flat upon his face, and proceeded with all possible rapidity to reload his gun, not doubting for a moment but that the rangers would maintain their position and support him. The Indians, however, rushed forward in such overwhelming masses that the rangers were compelled to fly with precipitation, leaving young Kennan in total ignorance of his danger. Fortunately the captain of his company had observed him when he threw himself into the grass, and suddenly shouted aloud, 'Run, Kennan! or you are a dead man!' He instantly sprang to his feet and beheld Indians within ten feet of him, while his company was already more than a hundred yards in front. Not a moment was to be lost. He darted off with every muscle strained to its utmost, and was pursued by a dozen of the enemy with loud yells. He at first pressed straight forward to the usual fording place in the creek, which ran between the rangers and the main army; but several Indians who had passed him before he rose from the grass threw themselves in the way and completely cut him off from the rest. By the most powerful exertions he had thrown the whole body of pursuers behind him, with the exception of one chief (probably Messhawa), who displayed a swiftness and perseverance equal to his own. In the circuit which Kennan was obliged to take the race continued for more than four hundred yards. The distance between the two was about eighteen feet, which Kennon could not increase nor his adversary diminish. Each for the time put his whole soul into the race.
"Kennon, as far as he was able, kept his eye upon the motions of his pursuer, lest he should throw his tomahawk, which he held in a menacing attitude, and at length, finding that no other Indian was immediately at hand, he determined to try the mettle of his pursuer in a different manner, and felt for his tomahawk in order to turn at bay. It had escaped from its sheath, however, while he lay in the grass, and his hair almost lifted the cap from his head when he saw himself totally disarmed. As he had slackened his pace for a moment the Indian was almost in reach of him when he recommenced the race; but the idea of being without arms lent wings to his feet, and, for the first time, he saw himself gaining ground. He had watched the motions of his pursuer too closely, however, to pay proper attention to the nature of the ground before him, and he suddenly found himself in front of a large tree which had been blown down, and upon which brush and other impediments lay to the height of eight or nine feet.
"The Indian (who heretofore had not uttered the slightest sound) now gave a short, quick yell, as if secure of his victim. Kennan had not a moment to deliberate. He must clear the impediment at a leap or perish. Putting his whole soul into the effort, he bounded into the air with a power which astonished himself, and clearing limbs, brush and everything else, alighted in perfect safety upon the other side. A loud yell of astonishment burst from the band of pursuers, not one of whom had the hardihood to attempt the same feat. Kennan, as may readily be imagined, had no leisure to enjoy his triumph, but dashing into the bed of the creek (upon the banks of which his feat had been performed), where the high banks would shield him from the fire of the enemy, he ran up the stream until a convenient place offered for crossing, and rejoined the rangers in the rear of the encampment, panting from the fatigue of exertions which have seldom been surpassed. No breathing time was allowed him, however. The attack instantly commenced, and, as has already been observed, was maintained for three hours with unabated fury.
"When the retreat commenced, Kennan was attached to Major Clark's battalion, and had the dangerous service of protecting the rear. This corps quickly lost its commander, and was completely disorganized. Kennan was among the hindmost when the flight commenced, but exerting those same powers which had saved him in the morning, he quickly gained the front, passing several horsemen in the flight. Here he beheld a private in his own company, an intimate acquaintance, lying upon the ground with his thigh broken, and in tones of the most piercing distress, implored each horseman who hurried by to take him up behind ham. As soon as he beheld Kennan coming up on foot he stretched out his arms and called aloud upon him to save him. Notwithstanding the imminent peril of the moment, his friend could not reject so passionate an appeal, but seizing him in his arms he placed him upon his back and ran in that manner for several hundred yards. Horseman after horseman passed them, all of whom refused to relieve him of his burden.
"At length the enemy was gaining upon him so fast that Kennan saw their death 'was certain unless he relinquished his burden. He accordingly told his friend that he had used every possible exertion to save his life, but in vain; that he must relax his hold around his neck or they would both perish. The unhappy wretch, heedless of every remonstrance, still clung convulsively to his back, and impeded his exertions until the foremost of the enemy (armed with tomahawks alone) were within twenty yards of them. Kennan then drew his knife from his sheath and cut the fingers of his companion, thus compelling him to relinquish his hold. The uphappy man rolled upon the ground in utter helplessness, and Kennan beheld him tomahawked before he had gone thirty yards. Relieved of his burden, he darted forward with an activity which once more brought him to the van. Here again he was compelled to neglect his own safety in order to attend to that of others.
"The late Governor Madison, of Kentucky, who afterward commanded the corps which defended themselves so honorably at Raisin, a man who united the most amiable temper to the most unconquerable courage, was at that time a subaltern in St. Clair's army, and being a man of infirm constitution, was totally exhausted by the exertions of the morning and was now sitting down calmly upon a log, awaiting the approach of his enemies. Kennan hastily accosted him and inquired the cause of his delay. Madison, pointing to a wound which had bled profusely, replied that he was unable to walk any further, and had no horse. Kennan instantly ran back to a spot where he had seen an exhausted horse grazing, caught him without difficulty, and having assisted Madison to mount, walked by his side until they were out of danger. Fortunately, the pursuit soon ceased, as the plunder of the camp presented irresistible attractions to the enemy. The friendship thus formed between these two young men endured without interruption through life. Mr. Kennan never entirely recovered from the immense exertion which he was compelled to make during the unfortunate expedition. He settled in Flemming county, and continued for many years a leading member of the Baptist church. He died in 1827."
From "History of Western Ohio and Auglaize County with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers and Prominent Public Men" by C. W. Williamson, W.M. Linn, Pub, Columbus, 1905.