Ohio History Journal

366 Ohio Arch

366       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


some on board the fleet to take their second position nearer

Canada. They arrived a little before sunset that day at East

Sister Island, while General Harrison and Commodore Perry

in the Ariel, made a reconnoissance of the enemy's coast. It

was not until the morning of the 27th, that they began this last

journey across the lake. One account says the day was fine and

a propitious breeze made their passage a pleasing pastime. It

was a sublime and inspiring spectacle to behold sixteen ships

of war and a hundred boats filled with men borne rapidly and

majestically to the long sought shores of the enemy, and thus

they sailed until 4 p. m., when they landed four miles below

Malden. From this point, they marched to Detroit, and then

on to victory at the battle of the Thames. The battle of Lake

Erie was the first encounter of our infant navy, in fleet and

squadron, the Guerriere, the Java, and Macedonia had sur-

rendered in combat with single ships, but it was on the waters

of our fair Lake Erie, that the British nation was taught that

we could conquer them in squadron array. The battle of Lake

Erie opened to Gen. Harrison and his army the gate-way to

Malden, and enabled him to capture the only army that was

taken during the war of 1812. More than this, it restored to us

Detroit, gave our young nation once more, free navigation of the

Great Lakes, and shielded the frontier for 300 miles from the

assaults of the torch of a British and savage foe. Mr. Chairman,

the National Society, the United States Daughters of the War

of 1812, State of Ohio, presents with great pleasure, for safe-

keeping, this tablet with the patriotic hope that those who pass

by in future years, will stop and read of the brave men and their

deeds recorded hereon, and cherish anew love of liberty and

free government which made this a nation, and has always

kept it such. This tablet marks the nothern terminus of Ohio's

famous Harrison trail-a historic spot indeed in the history of

this republic.



Ladies and Gentlemen, we are standing upon one of the

most interesting spots connected with American history. From

the middle of the eighteenth century to the close of the War of

Old Fort Sandoski and the De Lery Portage

Old Fort Sandoski and the De Lery Portage.  367

368 Ohio Arch

368       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


1812 this portage leading from the head of Sandusky Bay across

the neck of Marblehead Peninsula to the open waters of Lake

Erie figured largely in the struggle of two great European pow-

ers for the possession of the vast realm lying west of the Alle-

gheny mountains. It was here, also, that the Indian tribes made

their last great effort to maintain their possession of the country,

and that the United States concentrated its last force which

completed Perry's victory and closed the War of 1812. Such

deeds as were here transacted deserve commemoration, and it

is fitting that we should here erect monuments to remind our

children and children's children of the price that has been paid

for the inheritance which they possess in these broad and fertile

fields, in these lines of communication open to them both by land

and water, and in the free political institutions under which they

enjoy without restriction life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is but two miles across this neck of land separating the

upper part of Sandusky Bay from the waters of Lake Erie. To

make the circuit by water one must travel fifty miles. With only

the primitive boats of 150 years ago the navigation of these fifty

miles was beset with many hazards. There had then been no

accurate soundings of the channel, so that unknown shoals where

in storms the breakers were high rendered the rounding of Mar-

blehead a dangerous procedure. So it came about that the In-

dians coming from Detroit and the upper lakes on their way to

the Ohio river preferred to make this portage rather than to

consume the time required in making the entire circuit by water

and at the same time free themselves from the hazards of that


Following them, the French and the Americans pursued the

same course in all their military expeditions. The English alone

pursued the other course, as in the expeditions of Proctor to

capture Fort Stephenson, at the lower falls of the Sandusky

river, where Fremont now stands.

In 1745 the first fort built by white men in Ohio, known

as old Fort Sandoski, was erected on this spot by English trad-

ers, who were conspiring with the famous Wyandot chief Nicolas

to drive the French from Detroit and all the upper posts. The

conspiracy, like that of Pontiac a little later, failed through the

Old Fort Sandoski and the De Lery Portage

Old Fort Sandoski and the De Lery Portage.    369

Vol. XXI - 24.

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370       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


treachery of one of the followers of Nicolas-in this case a

woman. In 1748 old Fort Sandoski was destroyed, and both

the Indians and the English took their departure.

The English traders, however, soon returned, which led the

French to send a formidable force to establish their possessions

along the south shore of Lake Erie and onward to the Ohio

river. In 1754 the French built Fort Junundat, on the opposite

side of Sandusky Bay from old Fort Sandoski. This was the

work of the distinguished engineer de Lery, who, skirting along

the southern shore of Lake Erie, entered Sandusky bay and

reached old Fort Sandoski on Sunday, August 4, 1754. In fur-

ther pursuit of his journey he made a portage of two miles to

"the great lake" at the present site of Port Clinton.

After the capture of Fort Duquesne by the British in 1758,

and Wolfe's victory on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec in

1759, Canada with all its dependencies was surrendered to the

British crown, but it still remained to carry into effect the full

terms of the conquest by taking over the western forts. The

commission for the occupation of old Fort Sandoski and the

opening of the trail to the Ohio river was executed by the notori-

ous Major Robert Rogers, leaving Ensign Pauli and fifteen men

at Fort Sandoski to complete the work in 1761. In 1763 Fort

Sandoski was the first to fall as the result of the conspiracy of

Pontiac. All the garrison was massacred except Ensign Pauli,

who was carried as a prisoner to Detroit, where he made his es-

cape. About the same time a party of ninety-six men under

Lieutenant Cuyler was sent out to relieve Detroit, but was in-

tercepted on the way, and the most of them killed, the Lieutenant,

however, with thirty men, managed to escape and to reach Fort

Sandoski only to find it in ashes. Two months later, on the 26th

of July, a detachment of 260 men under the command of Captain

Dalyell arrived at the ruins of the old fort, and, furious at the

spectacle, came up to the falls of Sandusky-now Fremont-

to avenge the massacre and destroyed the Wyandot village at

that place.

In 1764 Colonel Bradstreet, accompanied by Israel Putnam

and 1,183 men, visited old Fort Sandoski and paused for a little

rest. While there he made an unfortunate agreement with the

Old Fort Sandoski and the De Lery Portage

Old Fort Sandoski and the De Lery Portage.     371


Indians which eventually led to his dismissal from the service.

His distinguished engineer, Montresor, was left to rebuild the

fort, which, however, was only partially accomplished.

There is not much more recorded concerning the portage

of old Fort Sandoski until the War of 1812, when, after the

victory of Commodore Perry, on September 10, 1813, General

Harrison, with his entire army, moved down from his head-

quarters at Fort Seneca, on the Sandusky river, first to Fort

Stephenson at Fremont, and then to the old portage from Fort

Sandoski, at Port Clinton. Here, following the example of

the French expeditions of earlier times, he hauled his vessels

and his supplies across the famous de Lery portage, where we

now stand, ready to transport his army for a final conflict on the

banks of the Thames. He constructed a fence across this pen-

insula in order to confine the thousands of horses connected

with his command, until he should return from his expedition

across the lake. Within the Marblehead peninsula, thus inclosed,

he turned loose the horses to be guarded by a small force until

his return. After the battle upon the Thames the victorious

army returned to Port Clinton, gathered up their horses and sup-

plies and joyfully started upon their homeward journey.

Thus it will be seen that my opening remarks were amply

justified by the facts. The deeds here recorded deserve to be

imprinted upon the memory of every citizen of Ohio. They

should be reiterated in the presence of our children at home, and

should be incorporated into the text-books prepared for the in-

struction of schools. As a slight effort to perpetuate their

memory, we erect these monuments, and leave to future gen-

erations the record engraved upon these tablets. May no care-

less hand ever deface them, and no ruthless hand ever do them





This is a day for memory, when our thoughts revert to other

times and scenes. We stand today upon historic ground. In

the breezes there once floated over this spot the milk-white ban-

ner of Navarre, bespangled with the golden lilies of the Bourbon

house. Here, too, floated the meteor flag of England-the cross