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After numerous treaties had been made and broken by the Indians, and after the pioneers had suffered from the tomahawk and scalping knife for four years, the government in 1789, after many urgent entreaties, sent a detachment of three hundred and twenty troops to Cincinnati under the command of General Josiah Harmar. The detachment reached Cincinnati December 29th, 1789, and went into winter quarters on the Kentucky side of the river, near the mouth of the Licking. Preparations were made during the winter and the ensuing summer for a campaign against the Miami villages that was expected to accomplish much. On the 29th of September, 1780, General Harmar crossed the river, having been joined by the Kentuckians, composed of three battalions, under the Majors Hall, McMullen, and Bay, with Lieutenant Colonel Commandant Trotter at their head. The Pennsylvanians were formed into one battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel Trubley and Major Paul, the whole to be commanded by Colonel John Hardin, subject to the orders of General Harmar.
On the 30th the General having received all the supplies expected, the troops were formed into two small battalions under the command of Major Wyllys, and Major Doughty, together with Captain Ferguson's company of artillery and three pieces of ordnance.
"On the third of October, General Harmar joined the advance troops early in the morning; the remaining part of the day was spent in forming the line of march, the order of encampment and battle, and explaining the same to the militia field officers. General Harmar's orders will show the several formations."
The accounts of the march are so conflicting as to dates and its devious wanderings, that it becomes a task of no ordinary moment to harmonize them. It appears that on the fourth day out from Cincinnati the army crossed the Little Miami and moved up it to the mouth of Sugar creek near where the village of Waynesville is situated. On the next day, October 5th, a march of ten miles in a northeasterly course to a point near where Xenia, now stands. On the sixth it reached Chillicothe, now called Oldtown, a few miles north of Xenia. Some writers have become confused by the name, mistaking it for Old Chillicothe, in Ross county. This was the site of an old Indian village that had been abandoned some time previous for a locality of greater security. The morning following, the army again crossed the Little Miami and continued their march in a northeasterly direction, making nine miles that day. On the next day they moved in a direction west of north and crossed Mad river, which at that time was called the Pickaway Fork of the Great Miami, and made nine miles. It was on this river that most of the Pickaway towns were located, so often referred to by early writers. On the 8th they continued on a northwesterly course, crossing Honey creek, and made seven miles more. On the 9th they followed the same course, making ten miles, and encamped within two miles of the Great Miami. October 10th they crossed the Great Miami, taking a northerly course, and making ten miles more. On the 11th, taking the course of the previous day, they passed the ruins of a French trading station, and encamped after making eleven miles. The ruins referred to, were no doubt, a part of the ruins of old Fort Pickawillany, destroyed by Monsieur St. Orr, in 1752. Continuing the march on the 12th, on a course west of northwest, across Loramie's creek, and the head waters of the Auglaize. "Here they found the remains of a considerable village, some of the houses still standing; fourteen miles made this day." The statement that they crossed the head waters of the Auglaize is incorrect. The head waters lay fully forty miles northeast of that locality. It is probable that they crossed the head waters of the Wabash. The town that they found was probably an old Shawnee town, in after years, known as Old Town. On the 13th the army marched ten miles on the course of the preceding day, and encamped, being joined by a reinforcement from Cincinnati, with ammunition. Up to this time, desertions from the militia were of daily occurrence. It was at this point in the campaign that the trouble anticipated by the Secretary of War began to be manifested. On the 14th Colonel Hardin was detached with one company of regulars, and six hundred militia, in advance of the main body, and being charged with the destruction of the towns in the forks of the Maumee. "The militia were in a great measure unfit for service, as may be inferred from the evidence of Major Ferguson given before a court of inquiry.
In testifying as to their condition when they arrived at Fort Washington, said he: "They were illy equipped, being almost destitute of camp kettles and axes; nor could a supply of these essential articles be procured. Their arms were, generally, very bad, and unfit for service; as I was the commanding officer of the artillery, they came under my inspection, in making what repairs the time would permit; and as a specimen of their badness, I would inform the court, that a rifle was brought to be repaired, without a lock, and another without a stock.
"Amongst the militia were a great many hardly able to bear arms, such as old, infirm men, and young boys; they were not such as might be expected from a frontier country, that is, the smart, active woodsman, well accustomed to arms, eager and alert to revenge the injuries done them and their connections. No; there were a great number of them substitutes, who probably had never fired a gun. Major Paul, of Pennsylvania, told me, that many of his men were so awkward, that they could not take their gun locks off to oil them, and put them on again, nor could they put in their flints so as to be useful."
On the 14th Colonel John Hardin marched forward and reached the Miami towns thirty-five miles distant about noon on the 15th, but found nothing but deserted villages. On the morning of the 17th, the main army arrived, and the work of destruction commenced; and by the 21st the chief town, five other villages, and nearly twenty thousand bushels of corn in ears, had been destroyed. When General Harmar reached the Maumee towns and found no enemy, he thought of pushing forward to attack the Wea and other settlements upon the Wabash, but was prevented by the loss both of pack horses and cavalry horses, a great many of which the Indians had stolen, in consequence of the wilful carelessness of the owners. About one hundred horses were stolen on the night of the 17th. On the day that the corn was destroyed two Indians were discovered by a scouting party, as they were crossing a prairie. The scouts pursued them and shot one; the other made his escape. A young man named Johnson, seeing the Indian was not dead, attempted to shoot him again; but his pistol not making fire, the Indian raised his rifle and shot Johnson through the body, which proved fatal.
On the evening of the same day Captain McClure and McClary fell upon a strategem peculiar to backswoodsmen. They conveyed a horse a short distance down the river undiscovered, fettered him, unstrapped the bell tongue, and concealed themselves with their rifles. An Indian, attracted by the sound of the bell, came cautiously up and began to untie him, when McClure shot him. The report of the gun alarmed the camp, and brought many of the troops to the place. A young man, presumably an Indian, taken at Loramie's was brought to see the Indian just killed, and pronounced him to be "Captain Punk — great man — Delaware chief."
On the 18th, the main body of the troops was to move to Chillicothe, a village of the Shawnees about two miles down the river on its north bank. Previously to the movement down the river General Harmar dispatched Colonel Trotter with three hundred men to scour the woods in search of an enemy, as the tracks of women and children had been seen near by. No better idea of the utter want of discipline in the army can be given, than by some extracts from the evidence of Lieutenant (afterward Captain) Armstrong; this gentleman was with Trotter during the 18th of October, and also with Hardin, who, on the 19th took the command, General Harmar being much dissatisfied with Trotter's ineffective Indian chase of the previous day.
"After we had proceeded about a mile," says Armstrong, "the cavalry gave chase to an Indian, who was mounted; him they overtook and killed. Before they returned to the column a second appeared, on which the four field officers left their commands and pursued, leaving the troops near half an hour without any directions whatever. The cavalry overtook the second Indian, and, after he had wounded one of their party, killed him also.
"When the infantry came up to this place they immediately fell into confusion, upon which I gained permission to leave them some distance on the road, where I formed an ambuscade. After I had been some time at my station, a fellow on horseback came to me, who had lost the party in pursuit of the first Indian; he was much frightened, and said he had been pursued by fifty mounted Indians. On my telling this, story to Colonel Trotter, notwithstanding my observation to him, he changed his route, and marched in various directions until night, when he returned to camp.
"On our arrival in camp, General Harmar sent for me, and after asking me many questions, ordered one subaltern and twenty militia to join my command. With these I reached the river St. Joseph about ten at night, and with a guide proceeded to an Indian town, about two miles distant, where I continued with my party until the morning of the 19th. About nine o'clock I joined the remainder of the detachment under Colonel Hardin. We marched on the route Colonel Trotter had pursued the day before, and after passing a morass about five miles distant, we came to where the enemy had encamped the day before. Here we made a short halt, and the commanding officer disposed of the parties at a distance from each other; after a halt of half an hour, we were ordered to move on, and Captain Falkner's company was left on the ground; the Colonel having neglected to give him orders to move on.
"After we had proceeded about three miles, we fell in with two Indians on foot, who threw off their packs, and the brush being thick, made their escape. I then asked Colonel Hardin where Captain Franklin was. He said he was lost, and then sent Major Fontaine with part of the cavalry in search of him, and moved on with the remainder of the troops. Some time after, I informed Colonel Hardin a gun had been fired in our front, which might be considered as an alarm gun, and that I saw where a horse had come down the road, and returned again; but the Colonel still moved on, giving no orders, nor making any arrangements for an attack.
"Some time after, I discovered the enemy's fires at a distance, and informed the Colonel, who replied that they would not fight, and rode in front of the advance, until fired on from behind the fires, when he, the Colonel, retreated, and with him all the militia except nine, who continued with me, and were instantly killed, with twenty-four of the federal troops. Seeing my last man fall, and being surrounded by the savages, I threw myself into a thicket, and remained there three hours in daylight. During that time I had an opportunity of seeing the enemy pass and repass, and conceived their number did not amount to one hundred men; some were mounted, others armed with rifles, and the advance with tomahawks only.
"I am of opinion that had Colonel Trotter proceeded, on the 18th, agreeably to his orders, having killed the enemy's sentinels, he would have surprised their camp, and with ease defeated them; or had Colonel Hardin arranged his troops, or made any military disposition, on the 19th, that he would have gained a victory. Our defeat, therefore, may be ascribed to two causes: the unofficerlike conduct of Colonel Hardin (who, I believe, was a brave man) and the cowardly behavior of the militia; many of them threw down their arms, loaded, and I believe that none, except the party under my command, fired a gun."The Indians killed in this affair nearly one hundred men. The real strength of the Indians was in a well chosen position, and in the cowardice of the militia, who formed numerically, the principal force opposed to them. This destructive contest was fought near the spot where the Goshen State road now crosses Eel river, near Heller's Corners, about twelve miles west of Fort Wayne."
There are several accounts given of the escape of Captain Armstrong. The one already given is from "Western Annals." Knapp, in his "History of the Maumee Valley," says "Captain Armstrong broke through the pursuing Indians and plunged into the deepest of one of the morasses referred to, where he remained to his chin all night in water, with his head concealed by a tussock of high grass. Here he was compelled to listen to the nocturnal orgies of the Indians, dancing and yelling around the dead bodies of his brave soldiers. As day approached they retired for rest, and Armstrong, chilled to the last degree, extricated himself from the swamp, but found himself obliged to kindle a fire in a ravine into which he crawled, having his tinder-box, watch, and compass still on his person. By the aid of the fire, he recovered his feeling, and the use of his limbs, and at length reached the camp in safety." McClung, in his "Sketches of Western Adventure," says: "Captain Armstrong was remarkably stout and active, and succeeded in breaking through the enemies' line, although not without receiving several severe wounds. Finding himself hard pressed, he plunged into a deep and miry swamp, where he lay concealed during the whole night within two hundred yards of the Indian camp, and witnessed the dances and joyous festivity with which they celebrated their victory."
For some years after this ill-fated encounter, bayonets, gunbarrels, and other war material, were found on this battlefield in quantities, and bullets have been cut from the neighboring trees in such numbers as to attest the desperate character of the engagement.
On the 20th, General Harmar published the following order:
Camp at Chillicothe,
(One of the Shawnee Towns on the Omee River)
October 20th, 1790.
"The party under Captain Strong, is ordered to burn and destroy every house and wigwam in this village, together with all the corn, etc., which he can collect. A party of one hundred men, (militia) properly officered, and under command of Colonel Hardin, is to burn and destroy, effectually, this afternoon Pickaway town with all the corn, etc., which he can find in it and its vicinity.
"The cause of the detachment's being worsted yesterday, was entirely owing to the shameful, cowardly conduct of the militia who ran away, and threw down their arms without firing scarcely a single gun. In returning to Fort Washington, if any officer or men shall presume to quit the ranks, or not to march, in the form that they are ordered, the General will most assuredly order the artillery to fire on them. He hopes the check they received yesterday will make them in future obedient to orders.
"Josiah Harmer, Brigadier General."
On the 21st the army commenced its retreat, supposing that the enemy had been sufficiently chastised. After marching eight miles, General Harmar received word from his scouts that the Indians had re-occupied the villages that he had left. The General being anxious to efface the disgrace of the 19th, detached eighty regular troops under Major Wyllys, and nearly the whole of his militia under Colonel Hardin, with orders to return to Chillicothe and destroy such of the enemy as presented themselves.
"The detachment countermarched and proceeded with all possible dispatch to the appointed spot, fearful only that the enemy might hear of their movement and escape before they could come up. The militia in loose order took the advance, the regulars moving in a hollow square brought up the rear. Upon the plain in front of the town, a number of Indians were seen, between whom and the militia a sharp action commenced. After a few rounds, with considerable effect on both sides, the savages fled in disorder, and were eagerly and impetuously pursued by the militia, who in the ardor of the chase were drawn into the woods to a considerable distance from the regulars.
"Suddenly from the opposite quarter several hundred Indians appeared, rushing with loud yells upon the unsupported regulars. Major Wyllys, who was a brave and experienced officer, formed his men in a square, and endeavored to gain a more favorable spot of ground, but was prevented by the desperate impetuosity with which the enemy assailed him. Unchecked by the murderous fire which was poured upon them from the different sides of the square, they rushed in masses up to the points of the bayonets, hurled their homahawks with fatal accuracy, and putting aside the bayonets with their hands, or clogging them with their bodies, they were quickly mingled with the troops, and handled their long knives with destructive effect. In two minutes the bloody struggle was over. Major Wyllys fell, together with seventy-three privates and one lieutenant. One captain, one ensign, and seven privates, three of whom were wounded, were the sole survivors of this short but desperate encounter.
Many of the Indians in this encounter and other skirmishes of the expedition fought on horseback, having their horses equipped with bunches of bells hanging down the left side of their heads, and introduced here 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 evil spirits. "Their most hideous and terrific appearance, added to the noise of the bells and the flapping of the pendant 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 Indian loss was nearly equal, as they sustained several heavy fires which the closeness of their masses rendered very destructive, and as they rushed upon the bayonets of the troops with the most astonishing disregard to their own safety. Their object was to overwhelm the regulars before the militia could return to their support, and it was as boldly executed as it had been finely conceived. In a short time the militia returned from the pursuit of the flying party which had decoyed them to a distance; but it was now too late to retrieve the fortune of the day. After some sharp skirmishing, they effected their retreat to the main body, with the loss of one hundred and eight killed and twenty-eight wounded."
"Major McMillan came up with his force while the battle was raging, but could not turn its tide, although he succeeded in enabling the discomfited to retire, which they did in comparative good order."
The following incident is related by Knapp in his history of the battle. It occurred at the crossing of the river: "A young Indian and his father and brother were crossing, when the ball of a white man passed through his body, and he fell. The old man seeing his boy fall, dropped his rifle, and attempted to raise his fallen son, in order to convey him beyond the reach of the white men, when the other son also fell by his side. He drew them both to the shore, then sat down between them, and with fearless, Roman composure, awaited the approach of the pursuing foe, who came up and killed him also."
To put the best face possible on the great defeat, General Harmar, on the evening of the 22d, issued the following order:
"Camp Eight Miles from the Ruins
of the Maumee Towns, 1790.
"The General is exceedingly pleased with the behavior of the militia in the action of this morning. They have laid very many of the enemy dead upon the spot. Although our loss is great, still it is inconsiderable in comparison to the slaughter among the savages. Every account agrees that upwards of one hundred warriors fell in the battle. It is not more than man for man, and we can afford them two for one. The resolution and firm, determined conduct of the militia has effectually retrieved their character in the opinion of the General. He knows they can and will fight."
Knapp, in his history of the campaign, in commenting on the generalship of Harmar is severe, but just, in his criticism:
"It is easy to judge from the events narrated what kind of fitness Harmar possessed for the service to which he was called. A general who encamps in the neighborhood of the enemy, with a force large enough to exterminate him, and contents himself with sending out detachments to be destroyed, successively, where no adequate reason exists why the whole force should not have been brought into action, deserves not the name of a military man. Harmar kept two-thirds or three-fourths of his troops eight miles from the battle ground, inactive, and of as little service as if he had left them at Fort Washington. He appeared to be fully consoled for the loss of the brave officers and soldiers who fell by the savage tomahawk and rifle, by the reflection expressed in the general orders that the American troops could afford to lose twice as many men as the Indians. My unfavorable judgment is supported by that of the actors of that campaign who still survive."
The Indian chiefs, Little Turtle and Blue Jacket, commanded the savages in the two battles with Colonel Hardin with the same ability that they exhibited afterward in St. Clair's defeat.
Before closing the history of this disastrous campaign, the captivity and escape of Jackson Johonnet must receive notice. On the eleventh day of the march, when near the junction of Loramie's creek with the Great Miami, eleven of Harmar's scouts were intercepted and taken prisoner by a party of Kickapoo Indians.
"Having been bound and secured in the usual manner, they were driven before the captors like a herd of bullocks, and with scarcly a morsel of food, were forced to make the most exhausting marches in the direction of the Kickapoo village. On the second day, George Aikins, one of his companions, a native of Ireland, was unable to endure his sufferings any longer and sunk under his pack in the middle of the path. They instantly scalped him as he lay, and stripping him naked, pricked him with their knives in the most sensitive parts of the body, until they had aroused him to a consciousness of his situation, when they tortured him to death in the usual manner.
"The march then recommenced, and the wretched prisoners, faint and famished as they were, were so shocked at the fate of their companion, that they bore up for eight days under all their sufferings. On the ninth, however, they reached a small village, where crowds of both sexes came out to meet them, with shrieks and yells, which filled them with terror. Here they were compelled, as usual, to run the gauntlet, and as they were much worn down by hunger and fatigue, four of the party, viz: Durgee, Forsythe, Deloy and Benton, all of New England, were unable to reach the council house, but fainted in the midst of the course. The boys and squaws instantly fell upon them, and put them to death by torture.
"Here they remained in close confinement, and upon very scanty diet for several days, in the course of which the news of Harmar's defeat arrived. Piles of scalps together with canteens, sashes, military hats, etc., were brought into the village, and several white women and children were taken through the town on their way to the villages farther west. At the same time four more of his companions were led off to the western villages, and never heard of afterward. Himself and a corporal named Sackville were now the only survivors. They remained in close confinement two weeks longer. Their rations were barely sufficient to sustain life, and upon the receipt of any unpleasant intelligence, they were taken out, whipped severely, and compelled to run the gauntlet.
"At length, on the fourteenth night of their confinement, they determined to make an effort to escape. Sackville had concealed a sharp penknife in a secret pocket, which the Indians had been unable to discover. They were guarded by four warriors and one old hag, of seventy, whose temper was as crooked as her person. The prisoners having been securely bound, the warriors lay down about midnight to sleep, ordering the old squaw to set up during the rest of the night. Their guns stood in the corner of the hut, and their tomahawks, as usual, were attached to their sides. Their hopes of escape were founded upon the probability of eluding the vigilance of the hag, cutting their cords, and either avoiding or destroying their guard. The snoring of the warriors quickly announced them asleep, and the old squaw hung in a drowsy attitude over the fire. Sackville cautiously cut his own cords, and after a few moments' delay, succeeded in performing the same office for Jackson.
"But their work was scarcely begun yet. It was absolutely necessary that the old squaw should fall asleep, or be silenced in some other way, before they could either leave the hut, or attack the sleeping warriors. They waited impatiently for half an hour, but perceiving that although occasionally dozing, she would rouse herself at short intervals, and regard them suspiciously, they exchanged looks of intelligence, (being afraid even to whisper) and prepared for the decisive effort. Jackson suddenly sprang up as silently as possible, and grasping the old woman by the throat, drew her head back with violence, when Sackville, who had watched his movements attentively, instantly cut her throat from ear to ear. A short gurgling moan was the only sound which escaped her, as the violence with which Jackson grasped her throat, effiectually prevented her speaking.
"The sleepers were not awakened, although they appeared somewhat disturbed at the noise, and the two adventurers, seizing each a rifle, struck at the same moment with such fury as to disable two of their enemies. The other two instantly sprang to their feet, but before they could draw their tomahawks or give the alarm they were prostrated by the blows of the white men, who attacked them, at the moment that they had gained their feet. Their enemies, although stunned, were not yet dead. They drew their tomahawks from their sides, therefore, and striking each Indian repeatedly upon the head, completed the work by piercing the heart of each with his own scalping knife. Selecting two rifles from the corner, together with their usual appendages, and taking such provisions as the hut afforded, they left the village as rapidly as possible, and fervently invoking the protection of heaven, committed themselves to the wilderness.
"Neither of them were good woodsmen, nor were either of them expert hunters. They attempted a southeastern course, however, as nearly as they could ascertain it, but were much embarrassed by the frequent recurrence of impassable bogs, which compelled them to change their course, and greatly retarted their progress. Knowing that the pursuit would be keen and persevering, they resorted to every method of baffling their enemies. They waded down many streams, and occasionally surmounted rocky precipices, which, under other circumstances, nothing could have induced them to attempt. Their sufferings from hunger were excessive, as they were so indifferently skilled in hunting, as to be unable to kill a sufficient quantity of game, although the woods abounded with deer, beaver, and buffalo.
"On the fourth day, about 10 o'clock, A. M., they came to a fine spring, where they halted and determined to prepare their breakfast. Before kindling a fire, however, Sackville, either upon some vague suspicion of the proximity of an enemy, or from some other cause, thought proper to ascend an adjoining hillock and reconnoiter the ground around the springs. No measure was ever more providential. Jackson presently beheld him returning cautiously and silently to the spring and being satisfied from his manner that danger was at hand, he held his rifle in readiness for action at a moment's warning. Sackville presently rejoined him with a countenance in which anxiety and resolution were strikingly blended. Jackson eagerly inquired the cause of the alarm. His companion, in a low voice, replied that they were within one hundred yards of four Indian warriors, who were reposing upon the bank of the little rivulet on the other side of the hillock. That they were about kindling a fire in order to prepare their breakfast, and that two white men lay bound hand and foot within twenty feet of them.
"He added that they were evidently prisoners, exposed to the same dreadful fate which they had just escaped; and concluded by declaring, that if Jackson would stand by him faithfully, he was determined to rescue them or perish in the attempt. Jackson gave him his hand and expressed his readiness to accompany him. Sackville then looked carefully to the priming of his gun, loosened his knife in the sheath, and desired Jackson to follow him, without making the slightest noise. They, accordingly, moved in a stooping posture up a small and bushy ravine, which conducted them to the top of the gentle hill. When near the summit, they threw themselves flat upon the ground, and crawled into a thick cluster of whortelberry bushes, from which they had a fair view of the enemy. The Indians had not changed their position, but one of the white men was sitting up, and displayed the countenance of a young man, apparently about twenty-five, pale, haggard and exhausted. Two Indians, with uplifted tomahawks, sat within three feet of him. One lay at full length upon the ground, while the remaining one was in the act of lighting a fire.
"Sackville cocked his gun, and in a low voice directed Jackson to fire at one of the guards who, from the quantity of beads and silver about his head, appeared to be a chief, while he selected the other guard for a mark. Each presented at the same moment, took a steady aim and fired. Both Indians fell — the chief shot dead, the other mortally wounded. The other two Indians squatted in the grass like terrified partridges, when the hawk hovers over them, and lay still and motionless. Sackville and Jackson reloaded their guns as rapidly as possible, and shifted their positions a few paces in order to obtain a better view of the enemy. In the mean time the two Indians cautiously elevated their heads above the grass, and glanced rapidly around in order to observe from what quarter the fatal shots were discharged. The thin wreaths of smoke which curled above the bushes where our adventurers lay, betrayed their hiding place to the enemy. Before they could take advantage of it, however, they were ready to fire again, and this second volley proved fatal to one of their enemies who lay without motion, but the other was only slightly wounded, and endeavored to reach the bushes upon the opposite side of the brook.
"Sackville and Jackson now sprang to their feet and rushed upon him, but the desperate savage shot Sackville through the heart as he advanced, and flourished his tomahawk so menacingly at Jackson, that he was compelled to pause and reload his gun. The savage seized this opportunity to grasp the two rifles belonging to the Indians who had been first killed, and Jackson in consequence was compelled to retreat to the friendly shelter of the bushes, which he had too hastily abandoned. At this instant, the two prisoners having burst the cords which confined them, sprung to their feet and ran towards the bushes for protection. Before they could reach them, however, the Indian shot one dead, and fired his last gun at the other but without effect. Jackson having reloaded, again fired upon their desperate enemy and wounded him in the neck from which he could see the blood spouting in a stream. Nothing daunted, the Indian rapidly reloaded his gun and again fired without effect.
"The savage, although much exhausted from loss of blood, sat up at their approach and flourishing a tomahawk in each hand seemed at least determined to die game. Johonnet was anxious to take him alive, but was prevented by his companion, who leveling his gun as he advanced, shot his adversary through the head, and thus put an end to the conflict. It was a melancholy victory to the survivors. Johonnet had lost his gallant comrade, and the rescued white man had to lament the death of his fellow captive. The last Indian had certainly inflicted a heavy penalty upon his enemies, and died amply revenged. The rescued prisoner proved to be George Sexton, of Newport, Rhode Island, a private in Harmar's army.
"Fortunately for Johonnet, his new comrade was an excellent woodsman, and very readily informed his deliverer of their present situation, and of the proper course to steer. He said that, in company with three others, he had been taken by a party of Wabash Indians, in the neighborhood of Fort Jefferson; that two of his comrades having sunk under their sufferings had been tomahawked and scalped upon the spot; that himself and his dead companion had been in hourly expectation of a similar fate; and concluded, with the warmest expressions of gratitude for the gallantry with which he had been rescued. So lively, indeed, was his sense of obligation, that he would not permit Jackson to carry his own baggage, nor would be suffer him to watch more than three hours in the twenty-four. On the following day, they fortunately fell in with a small detachment from Fort Jefferson, by which they were safely conducted to the fort. Here Jackson remained until summoned to attend St. Clair, in his disastrous expedition against the same Miami villages where he had lately suffered so much." *
Notwithstanding the compliments paid to the militia in his General Order of October 22d, General Harmar had lost all confidence in the militia. The ill feeling that existed between the regular troops, and the officers and enlisted men of Kentucky began to be manifested on the return march to Fort Washington. "At old Chillicothe, now Old Town, on the Little Miami," says Colonel Hardin, "a number of the militia, contrary to orders, fired off their guns. I endeavored to put a stop to such disorderly behavior, and commanded that those offenders that could be taken should be punished agreeably to general orders; and having caught a soldier myself in the very act of firing his gun, ordered a file of men to take him immediately and carry him to the sixpounder, and for the drummer to tie him up and give him six lashes. I was shortly after met by Colonel Trotter and Major McMullen, and a number of militia soldiers who, in an abrupt manner, asked me by what authority I ordered that soldier whipped; I replied in support of general orders, on which a very warm dispute ensued between Colonel Trotter, Major McMullen and myself.
"The General being informed of what had happened, came forward and gave Colonel Trotter and Major McMullen a very severe reprimand, ordered the federal troops to parade, and the drummer to do his duty, swearing he would risk his life in support of his orders; the man received the number of lashes ordered, and several that were confined were set at liberty; numbers of the militia seemed much pleased with what had been done. This intended mutiny being soon quashed, the army proceeded in good order to Fort Washington.
"When the army arrived at the mouth of the Licking, the General informed me he had determined to arrest some of the militia officers for their bad conduct, and send them home in disgrace ; but I opposed his intention, alleging that it would be a disgrace to the whole militia; that he would perhaps stand in need of their assistance on some future occasion, and it would sour their mind and cause them to turn out with, reluctance; and that his discharging them generally with honor, perhaps, would answer a better purpose; the general readily indulged my request."
The following extracts from the letters written by Judge Symmes to Captain Dayton, the first, dated November 6th, 1790, and the second bearing date, August 15th, 1791, exhibit the bad state of feeling among officers and men at the times of writing:
1. "One consequence I dread, which I fear will work us injury in future attempts against the Indians. A most bitter jealousy and reviling has taken place between the regular troops and the militia, and this is not confined to the privates alone. I fear a flame of abuse will ere long break out. As I was not on the expedition, I cannot judge between them, but I much fear the effects thereof.
"I am, dear sir, yours,
"John C. Symmes.
2. "The governor's proclamations have convulsed these settlements beyond your conception, sir, not only with regard to the limits of the purchase, but also with respect to his putting part of the town of Cincinnati under military government. Nor do the people find their subordination to martial law a very pleasant situation. A few days ago a very decent citizen, by the name of Shaw, from New England (and one too, who lived with his family a considerable distance beyond the limits assigned by proclamation round Fort Washington, for the the exercise of the law martial), was put in irons, as I was yesterday credibly informed, his house burned by the miltary and he banished from the territory. I hear his charges are, that of purchasing some of the soldiers' clothing, and advising in some desertions, but of this he was not otherwise convicted (for he asserts his innocence), than by the soldiers' accusation after he had deserted and been retaken, which he might possibly do in order to shift the blame in some degree from himself in hopes of more favor. There are, indeed, many other acts of a despotic complexion, such as some of the officers, Capt. Armstrong, Capt. Kirkwood, Lieut. Pastures, and Ensign Schuyler, very recently, and Capt. Strong, Capt. Ford, Capt. Ashton, and Ensign Hartshorn, while General Harmar commanded, beating and imprisoning citizens at their pleasure. But here, in justice to the officers generally of the levies, I ought to observe that, as yet, I have heard no complaint of any severity or wantonness in them. The violences of which I speak are found among the officers of the regular troops, who, in too many instances, are imperiously haughty, and evidently effect to look down on the officers of the levies.
"Your most devoted, humble servant,
"John C. Symmes.
"Hon. Jonathan Dayton."
* The statement that Johonnet and Sexton "fell in with a small detachment from Fort Jefferson, by which they were safely conducted to the fort, etc." is a gross error. The erection of Fort Jefferson did not take place until the middle of October, 1791. The detachment referred to, by the author of "Sketches of Western Adventure," was probably a rear-guard of scouts on duty in the rear of Harmar's retreating army and the fort to which they were conducted was probably Fort Washington.
With the exception of the error noted, McClung's account of the adventures of Johonnet is the most plausible one that has ever appeared in print.
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.