GENERAL HARMAR'S EXPEDITION.
BY BASIL MEEK, FREMONT, OHIO.
JOSIAH HARMAR was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in
1753, and there died in 1813. He was a captain in the First
Pennsylvania Regiment, Continental Army, Lieutenant Colonel
of the same and served till the close of the Revolutionary War.
He was in Washington's army from 1778 to 1780. In 1783 he
was made Brevet Colonel, First U. S. Regiment. In 1787 he
was breveted Brigadier General, by Congress, and assigned to
duty in northwest. He became General-in-Chief of the army,
1789-1792, resigning the latter year. General Harmar was Adju-
tant General of Pennsylvania, 1793-1799, and was active in rais-
ing and equipping soldiers of the state for Wayne's campaign
against the Indians in the Northwest.
Spain, France and England, as we know, contended for
dominion over the country of the Northwest, basing their re-
spective claims upon discovery and settlement, but as it would
seem the principal ground of contention was more that of occu-
pation than discovery. According to the principle maintained
by civilized nations regarding the territorial acquisition by dis-
covery, it was not sufficient as among themselves, to discover
alone, but such discovery must be followed by actual settlement
or occupancy. Discovery gave only the right initiate; occupancy
must follow to consummate it.
But there was another power asserting rights to sovereignty,
whose claim could not be entirely ignored by the contending
powers mentioned. This consisted of the native inhabitants, the
North American Indians, whose rights, if occupancy governed,
were paramount to all others. They considered themselves to
be the rightful owners of the land from which they had sprung.
According to their traditions and belief, they were, so to speak,
indigenes, their first ancestors having, as a noted Indian chief
once said; "Come up out of the ground." They knew nothing
General Harmar's Expedition. 75
of the laws of civilized nations, and never had been permitted
to have their "day in court," where their claims could have been,
or were, represented for them, and their rights determined after
a fair hearing. That they should feel not disposed to be dis-
possessed of what they sincerely believed to be their just pos-
sessions without their consent is not to be wondered at.
But according to the rule maintained by civilized nations,
occupancy by savage people, gave only a qualified right as against
discovery by civilized powers; complete sovereignty, with the
right of disposition, was denied them; and their rights acquired
by occupancy might be superseded or destroyed by conquest or
Discovery by the civilized was superior to occupancy by the
savage upon the ground, it has been claimed, that the Creator
could never have designed that a comparatively few savages
should monopolize for hunting grounds an extent of territory
capable of supporting many millions of civilized people.
Our American doctrine maintained that the Indians had no
complete fee in the lands occupied by them, but only a qualified
vested right, by occupancy, which however could only be invaded
in just wars or extinguished by treaty, but like the other civilized
powers, our government denied to the savages unrestricted do-
minion; and in its dealings and treaties with them, these prin-
ciples were applied, and no complete title to lands was recog-
nized in the savages, unless by express grant from the govern-
The treaty of Paris in 1783, following the Revolutionary
war, did not bring peace with the Indian tribes of the North-
west; and though outwardly peace existed with all the civilized
nations, the war continued with the Indians. Their claims and
rights, whatsoever they were, had not been recognized or in any
way settled, in the treaty with England and the other powers
of 1783. The British, meanwhile, kept on good terms with the
Indians, and intrigued with them, and encouraged them in these
hostilities against the Americans, which continued with savage
fury. Murderous incursions by the Miamis and confederate
tribes from the Maumee and western country, and by the Wyan-
dots and their immediate allies from the Sandusky valley, were
76 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
frequent, attended with characteristic savage cruelties. It was
believed that British officers at Detroit furnished the Indians
with arms and supplies on occasion of the Harmar expedition,
of which we are writing.
The principal western tribes claimed that they had not been
parties to the treaty of Fort McIntosh in 1785, and were not
bound by its provisions, respecting boundary lines; that they
were rightfully, as original occupants of the soil, entitled to the
unrestricted dominion over the Northwest, and that no white set-
tlements should be made therein, and any already made should
be destroyed. During the years 1787, 1788 and up to 1789,
ravages on the frontiers by the hostile tribes were frequent.
The Federal authorities in the meantime, were vainly endeavoring
to negotiate with these Indians, and come to some peaceable
terms, by which settlers might be suffered to remain unmolested
in their homes, and that other settlements might be made, within
the disputed territory. The ultimatum of the Indians was un-
restricted title to the Ohio River line.
Finally at Fort Harmar, January 9th, 1789, by the treaty
with all the nations, the treaty of Fort McIntosh, as to
boundaries, was reaffirmed with the concession to the Indians,
"that the individuals of said nations shall be at liberty to hunt
within the limits ceded to the United States, without hindrance
or molestation, so long as they demean themselves peaceably or
offer no injury or annoyance to any of the subjects or citizens
of the United States." It will be remembered that the Six Na-
tions had ceded all their claims to these lands to the United
States in 1784, by the treaty at Fort Stanwix.
The Shawnees had by treaty made at the mouth of the
Great Miami, at Fort Finney, January 3rd, 1786, ceded to the
United States all territory acquired by it, by treaty with Great
Britain, and placed themselves under the jurisdiction and pro-
tection of the United States.
The peace following the treaty at Fort Harmar was of very
short duration. Hostilities by the western Indians was renewed
within a few months thereafter, and by the summer of 1790 the
raids of the Indians had become unbearable.
Fresh robberies and murders were committed every day
General Harmar's Expedition. 77
in Kentucky or along the Wabash and Ohio. Writing to the
Secretary of War, a prominent Kentuckian, well knowing all the
facts, estimated that during the seven years which had elapsed
since the close of the Revolutionary war, the Indians had slain
fifteen hundred in Kentucky itself, or on the immigrant routes
leading thither, and had stolen twenty thousand horses, besides
destroying immense quantities of other property. In the mean-
time a number of ineffectual attempts to conduct expeditions into
the enemy's country were made.
The Federal generals were also urgent in asserting the folly
of carrying on a merely defensive war against such foes. All
the efforts of the Federal authorities to make treaties of peace
with the Indians which they would keep had failed. The In-
dians themselves had renewed hostilities after making treaties
as we have seen and the different tribes had one by one joined
in the war, behaving with a treachery only equalled by their
ferocity. With great reluctance the National government con-
cluded that an effort to chastise the hostile savages could no
longer be delayed, and those on the Maumee and on the Wabash,
whose guilt had been peculiarly heinous, were singled out as
the objects of attack.
On June 7, 1790, General Knox, Secretary of War, in a
letter to General Harmar, directed him to consult with Gov-
ernor St. Clair upon the means of effectually extirpating these
bands of murderers, and outlining plans of an expedition for
that purpose, but leaving the details of the expedition to the
Governor and to General Harmar.
On July 15th, 1790, at Fort Washington, the present site
of Cincinnati, where he had arrived from Kaskaskia, Governor
St. Clair, in consultation with General Harmar, determined to
send a strong expedition against the Indians, located in their
towns above the headquarters of the Wabash; and having been,
by General Washington, President of the United States, vested
with authority to call for one thousand militia from Virginia,
and five hundred from Pennsylvania, he accordingly addressed
circular letters to several of the County Lieutenants of the
western counties of those states. Virginia, of which Kentucky
then formed a part, was called upon to furnish the following
78 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
number of men, to rendezvous at Fort Steuben, on the 12th of
September: Nelson County, 125, Lincoln, 125, and Jefferson,
50, total 300. To rendezvous at Fort Washington, September
15th, Madison County, 125, Fayette County, 200, Bourbon, 125,
Woodford, 85, and Mason, 40, total 700.
Pennsylvania was requested to furnish the following num-
ber to assemble at McMahen's Creek, four miles below Wheel-
ing, September 3rd: Washington County, 220, Fayette, 210,
West Moreland, 110, Allegheny, 60, total 500.
The regular United States troops in the west, were esti-
mated by General Harmar at four hundred effective men. With
these the militia were to act in concert. The manner of em-
ploying the whole force was arranged as follows: Three hun-
dred of the Virginia militia were ordered to rendezvous at
Fort Steuben, and with the garrison of the fort, to march to
Vincennes and join Major Hamptramck, who had orders to
call for aid from the militia of Vincennes, and to move up the
Wabash and attack any of the Indian villages on that river, to
which his force might be equal. The remaining twelve hundred
of the militia were ordered to assemble at Fort Washington,
and to join the regular troops at that post under the command
of General Harmar.
The militia from the counties of the Kentucky district, in
Virginia, began to assemble at the mouth of the Licking river,
about the middle of September. They were poorly equipped;
their arms generally bad and unfit for service, and the men
were almost destitute of camp kettles and axes. General Har-
mar, however, in the midst of many difficulties, began to organize
them. In the course of two or three days they were formed into
three battalions, under Majors Hall, McMullen and Ray, with
Lieutenant Colonel Trotter at their head. The Pennsylvania
militia arrived at Fort Washington about the 24th of September.
They were badly equipped, and among them many substitutes of
old infirm men, and young boys. They were formed into one
battalion with Major Paul, under Lieutenant Colonel Truby;
and four battalions of militia were placed under the command
of Colonel John Hardin, subject to the command of General
Harmar. The regular troops were formed into two small bat-
General Harmar's Expedition. 79
talions under Major Pleasgrave Wyllys and Major John Doughty.
The company of artillery which had three pieces of ordnance
was commanded by Captain William Ferguson. A small bat-
talion of light troops or mounted militia was placed under the
command of Major James Fontaine. The whole of General
Harmar's command may be stated as follows:
Three battalions, Virginia Militia, one battalion Pennsyl-
vania militia, and one battalion light troops mounted, in all of
the militia, 1133; and 320 regulars in two battalions, making the
total number of his troops 1453 men.
On September 26th, the militia, under the command of
Colonel Hardin, moved from Fort Washington, and advanced
into the country, in order to find for the cattle and to open a
road for the artillery. The regular troops under General Har-
mar, marched on the 30th of September, and joined the militia
on the 3rd of October, when the order of march was arranged
in the manner shown on page 80 herein.
The daily movements of the army were recorded in a manu-
script journal, which was kept by Captain John Armstrong of
the regulars, which is here given as follows:
"September 30th, 1790, the army moved from Fort Wash-
ington at half past ten o'clock, A. M., and marched about seven
miles N. E. Course. Encamped on a branch of Mill Creek.
"October 1st. Took up the line of march at half past eight
o'clock. At four o'clock halted for the evening, having marched
about eight miles; general course a little to the westward of
"2nd. Moved forty-five minutes after seven o'clock.
Marched about ten miles, a northwest course. The first five
miles were over a dry ridge to a lick; then five miles through
a low swampy country, to a branch of the waters of the Little
Miami, where we halted one hour; and forty-five minutes after
one o'clock moved on for five miles, and encamped on a muddy
creek, a branch of the Little Miami, one mile from Colonel
"3rd. The army moved at eight o'clock; passed Colonel
Hardin's camp and halted at Turtle Creek, about ten yards
80 Ohio Archi. and Hist. Society Publications.
General Harmar's Expedition. 81
wide, where we were joined by Colonel Hardin's command.
Here the line of march was formed.-Two miles.
"4th. The army moved at half past nine o'clock * * * *,
and at three o'clock crossed the Little Miami, about forty yards
wide; moved up it one mile, a north course to a branch called
Sugar Creek. Encamped. -Nine miles.
"5th. The army moved from Sugar Creek forty-five minutes
after nine o'clock. Marched through a level county a N. E.
course up the Little Miami, having it in view. * * * Halted
at five o'clock on Glade Creek, a very lively clear stream. -
"6th. The army moved ten minutes after nine o'clock. The
first five miles the country was brushy and somewhat broken;
reached Chillicothe, an old Indian village; recrossed the Little
Miami; encamped at four o'clock on a branch. - Nine miles, a
"7th. The army moved at ten o'clock; the country brushy
for miles, and a little broken until we came to the waters of the
Great Miami. Passed through several low prairies and crossed
the Pickaway fork of Mad River, which is a clear lively stream
about forty-five yards wide; encamped on a small branch one
mile from the former; our course, the first four miles, north,
then northwest.- Nine miles.
"8th. The army moved at half past nine o'clock. Passed
over rich land, in some places a little broken. Passed several
ponds and through one small prairie. A northwest course.-
"9th. The army moved at half past nine o'clock. N. W.
course. Passed through a level rich country, well watered,
course N. W. Halted half past four o'clock, two miles south
of the Great Miami. -Ten miles.
"10th. The army moved forty-five minutes after nine
o'clock, crossed the Great Miami. At the crossing there is a
handsome prairie on the S. E. side; the river about forty yards
wide: * * * * halted on a large branch of the Great Miami
at half past three o'clock; the general course N. W. * * *
82 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
"11th. The army moved at half past nine o'clock; marched
a northwest course seven miles, to a branch where French traders
had a number of trading houses; thence a north course four
miles, to a small branch and encamped at five o'clock; * * *
- Eleven miles.
"12th. The army moved at half past nine o'clock. Our
course a little to the W. of N. W. Crossed a stream at seven
miles and a half, running to the N. E., on which there are
several old camps, much deadened timber, which continues to
the river Auglaize, about a mile. Here has been a considerable
village. Some houses still standing. This stream is a branch
of the Omi (Maumee) River, and is about twenty yards wide.
From this village to our encampment our course was a little to
the N. of W. Rich land. - Fourteen miles.
"13th. The army moved at ten o'clock. Just before they
marched, a prisoner was brought in, and Mr. Morgan from Fort
Washington joined us. We marched to the W. of N. W. four
miles, to a small stream, through low swampy land; thence a
course a little to the N. of W., passing through several small
prairies and open woods to an Indian village, on a pretty stream.
Here we were joined by a detachment from Fort Washington
with ammunition. - Ten miles.
"14th. At half past ten in the morning, Colonel Hardin
was detached for the Miami village, with one company of reg-
ulars and six hundred militia; and the army took up its line
of march at eleven o'clock, a N. W. course. Four miles, a
small branch; the country level; many places drowned lands,
in the winter season. - Ten miles.
"15th. The army moved at eight o'clock. N. W. course.
* * * * The army halted at half past one o'clock on a branch
running west. - Eight miles.
"16th. The army moved at forty five minutes after eight
o'clock. Marched nine miles and halted fifteen minutes after
one o'clock; passed over a level country not very rich. Colonel
Hardin, with his command, took possession of the Miami town
yesterday (15th) at four o'clock, the Indians having left it just
before. - Nine miles.
"17th. The army moved at fifteen minutes after eight
General Harmar's Expedition. 83
o'clock, and at one o'clock crossed the Miami river to the vil-
lage. The river is about seventy yards wide, a fine transparent
stream. The river St. Joseph, which forms the point on which
the village stood, is about twenty yards wide, and when the
waters are high is navigable a great way up it.
"On the 18th I, (Armstrong) was detached with thirty men
under the command of Colonel Trotter. On the 19th Colonel
Hardin commanded in lieu of Colonel Trotter. Attacked about
one hundred Indians, fifteen miles west of the Miami village,
and from the dastardly conduct of the militia, the troops were
obliged to retreat. I lost one sergeant and twenty-one out of
thirty men of my command. The Indians on this occasion
gained a complete victory, having killed in the whole, near one
84 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
hundred men, which was about their number. Many of the
militia threw away their arms without firing a shot, ran through
the federal troops, and threw them into disorder. Many of the
Indians must have been killed as I saw my men bayonet many
of them. They fought and died hard." Here ends the journal
of Captain Armstrong.
On the 18th, the following general orders were published:
"CAMP AT THE MIAMI VILLAGE, Oct. 18, 1790.
"The General is much mortified at the unsoldier-like be-
havior of many of the men in the army, who make it a practice
to straggle from the camp in search of plunder. He, in the
most positive terms, forbids this practice in the future, and
the guards will be answerable to prevent it. No party is to go
beyond the line of sentinels without a commissioned officer, who,
if of the militia, will apply to Colonel Hardin for his orders.
The regular troops will apply to the general. * * * * The rolls
are to be called at troop and retreat beating, and every man ab-
sent is to be reported. * * * * The army is to march tomorrow
morning early for their new encampment at Chillicothe, about
two miles from here.
"JOSIAH HARMAR, Brigadier General."
On the arrival of General Harmar at the Miami village,
about two-thirds of the militia dispersed in search of plunder.
The "Chillicothe" referred to by General Harmar was a Shawnee
On the morning of the 19th, a detachment under the com-
mand of Colonel Hardin marched a northward course on the
Indian path, which led toward the Kickapoo towns; and after
passing a morass about five miles distant from the Miami vil-
lage, the troops came to a place where on the preceding day a
party of Indians had encamped.
At this spot the detachment made a short halt, and the
commanding officer stationed the companies at points, several
rods apart. From here the detachment moved on without re-
ceiving orders to make any arrangements for an attack; and
when Captain Armstrong informed Colonel Hardin that the
General Harmar's Expedition. 85
fires of the Indians had been discerned, Colonel Hardin believed
that the Indians would not fight, and rode in front of the ad-
vancing columns, until the detachment was fired on from be-
hind the fires. The militia, with the exception of nine, who re-
mained with the regulars and were killed, immediately gave way,
and commenced an irregular retreat, which they continued until
they reached the main army. Hardin, who retreated with them,
made several unsuccessful efforts to rally them. The small band
of regulars obstinately brave, maintained their ground until
twenty-two were killed. Captain Armstrong, Ensign Hartshorne
and five or six privates escaped from the carnage, eluded the
pursuit of the Indians, and arrived at the camp of General
The number of the Indians engaged on this occasion has
been variously estimated. Captain Armstrong placed the num-
ber at one hundred, while Colonel Hardin estimated it at one
hundred and fifty. They were commanded by the distinguished
Miami chief, Mish-e-ken-o-quoh, which signifies, Little Turtle.
The ground on which this action took place is about eleven miles
from Fort Wayne, near the crossing of Eel River, by the Goshen
On the morning of the 19th the main body of the army
under Harmar, having destroyed the Miami village, moved about
two miles to the Shawnee village, Chillicothe, which, after be-
ing destroyed, was left on the 21st, at ten o'clock, A. M., the
army marching about seven miles on the route to Fort Wash-
ington and encamped. Here, at the urgent request of Colonel
Hardin, General Harmar sent back a detachment of four hun-
dred men. Accordingly, late on the night of the 21st. a corps of
three hundred and forty militia and sixty regular troops, under
command of Major Wyllys, were detached that they might gain
the vicinity of the Miami village before day break, and surprise
any Indians who might be found there. The detachment
marched in three columns. The regular troops were in the
center, at the head of which Captain Joseph Ashton was posted,
with Major Wyllys and Colonel Hardin in the front. The
militia formed the columns to the right and left. Owing to some
delay, occasioned by the halting of the militia, the detachment
86 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
did not reach the banks of the Maumee till some time after
sunrise. The spies then discovered some Indians, and reported
to Major Wyllys, who halted the regular troops and moved the
militia on some distance in front, where he gave his orders and
plan of attack to the several commanding officers of the corps.
General Harmar reserved to himself the command of the regular
troops. Major Hall, with his battalion was directed to take a
circuitous route around the bend of the Maumee River, cross
the St. Mary's, and there, in the rear of the Indians, wait till
the attack should be brought on by Major McMullen's battalion.
Major Fontaine's cavalry, and the regular troops under Major
Wyllys, were all ordered to cross the Maumee at and near the
common fording place. It was the intention of Hardin and
Wyllys to surround the Indians' encampment; but Major Hall,
who had gained his position undiscovered, disobeyed his orders,
by firing on a single Indian before the commencement of the
action. Several small parties of Indians were soon seen flying
in different directions, and the militia, under McMullen, and
the cavalry, under Fontaine, pursued them in disobedience of
orders, and left Major Wyllys unsupported. The consequence
was, that the regulars, after crossing the Maumee, were attacked
by a superior force of Indians and compelled to retreat with
the loss of Major Wyllys and the greater part of their corps.
Major Fontaine, at the head of the mounted militia, fell, with
a number of his followers in making a charge against a small
party of Indians; and on his fall, the remainder of his troops
dispersed. While the main body of the Indians, led by Little
Turtle, were engaged with the regulars near the bank of the
Maumee, some skirmishing took place near the confluence of
the rivers St. Marys and St. Josephs, between detached parties
of Indians and the militia under Hull and McMullen. After
the defeat of the regulars, however, the militia retreated on the
route to the main army; the Indians having suffered a severe
loss did not pursue them. As soon as the news of the defeat
of the detachment reached the camp of Hardin, he immediately
ordered Major Ray to march with his battalions to the assistance
of the retreating parties; but so great was the panic which
prevailed among the militia, that only thirty men could be in-
General Harmar's Expedition. 87
duced to leave the main army. With this small number, Ray
met Colonel Hardin, on his retreat. On reaching the encamp-
ment, Hardin requested of Harmar that the main army be sent
back to the Miami village. This request General Harmar re-
fused, on the ground of lack of forage, and inability to move
the baggage. He also claimed that the Indians had received a
good scourging, and should they think proper to follow him, he
would keep the army in perfect readiness to receive them. The
general at this time had lost all confidence in the militia. The
bounds of the camp were made less, and at eight o'clock on
the morning of the 23rd, the army took up the line of march for
Fort Washington, which was reached on the 4th day of No-
vember. The army had lost one hundred and eighty-three killed,
and thirty-seven wounded. Among the killed were the follow-
ing officers: Major Wyllys and Lieutenant Ebenezer Farthing-
ham of the regular troops; and Major Fontaine, Captains Thorp,
McMurtrey and Scott; Lieutenants Clark and Rogers, and En-
signs Bridges, Sweet, Higgins and Thielkeld of the militia.
A considerable number of the regulars of General Harmar's
army had followed Washington and other generals in the War
of the Revolution. The killed of his little army were buried in
the low bank of the Ford of the Maumee, the present site of
Fort Wayne. General Harmar had lost the best of the militia,
and of the regulars; and was forced to struggle homeward to
Fort Washington as best he could, a greatly disappointed com-
mander. It was indeed a dreary march. The militia became
nearly ungovernable, so that at one time Harmar reduced them
to order only by threatening to fire on them with the artillery.
He had, however, succeeded sufficiently to, in some measure,
remove the sting of his defeat, by the destruction of the villages,
crops and other property of the enemy, and the killing of many
of the warriors.
On October 20th, 1790, Governor St. Clair, from Fort
Washington, wrote the Secretary of War concerning the result
of the expedition, in which he said:
"I have the pleasure to inform you of the entire success of
General Harmar at the Indian towns on the Miami and St.
Joseph rivers, of which he has destroyed five in number and a
88 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
very great quantity of corn and other vegetable provisions.
And on November 6th, he writes: "On the 20th of last month,
I had the honor to inform you, generally, of the success that at-
tended General Harmar. I could not then give you the par-
ticulars, as the General's letters had not reached me; it is not
necessary now, because he writes himself. One thing, however,
is certain, that the savages have got a terrible stroke, of which
nothing can be a greater proof than that they have not attempted
to harass the army on its return. They arrived at this place
on the 3rd instant, in good health and spirits." It may be well
said to the optimistic Governor that he could "Wrest victory
out of defeat!"
Notwithstanding the loss to the Indians, they became more
than ever angry; all the western tribes made common cause with
the Miamis, and banded together in more open warfare. Their
murderous raids on the frontiers continued and increased in
numbers, so that the settlers were kept in constant fear of the
tomahawk and scalping knife. Subsequent history relates the
further measures and expeditions necessary to subdue the sav-
ages and bring peace to the harassed frontiers; but these are
not within the limits of this article. But it may be mentioned,
however, that in the spring of 1791, the President appointed
Governor St. Clair Major General and placed him in command
of the army. Colonel Richard Butler was promoted to general
and placed second in command. It was resolved to make another
campaign against the Indians in the summer. General Harmar,
smarting under what he considered to be unjust criticisms upon
his conduct of the expedition, demanded a Court of Inquiry,
which was granted by General St. Clair, Commander in Chief,
with General Richard Butler president, and Colonels Gibson and
Darke members. (State papers military affairs, Vol. 1, pages
20 to 36.)
The court sat at Fort Washington, beginning September
15, 1791, and spent several days examining the testimony. On
October 3rd General Butler transmitted to General St. Clair
the proceedings and finding of the Court of Inquiry. The
finding of the Court was highly honorable to General Harmar,
(Vol. II St. Clair Papers, p. 251) fully exonerating him from
General Harmar's Expedition. 89
any blame in regard to the expedition. On the inquiry, the
principal witnesses in their testimony attributed the failure of the
expedition to the insubordination of the militia. General Har-
mar declined to take part in the proposed St. Clair expedition,
resigned from the army and returned to his home in Phila-
In the preparation of the foregoing, the following works
have been freely drawn upon, "History of Indiana," by Dillon;
"Winning of the West," by Col. Roosevelt, and "The St. Clair
Papers," by Smith.
GENERAL HARMAR'S JOURNAL.
Diary of General Harmar from the Draper MSS., by courtesy of the
Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.
(Draper MSS. "W" Harmar's Papers, Vol. II, pp. 335-348 incl.)
"Wednesday, Sept. 8th, 1790.-Fort Washington, H. Qrs.
Capt. McCurdy arrived here this morning at daybreak, & left
the same morning at half past eleven o'clock on his way to Fort
Knox at Post Vincennes.
"Sunday, Sept. 12th--This afternoon a Captain-2 subs-
3 serjeants & 30 privates arrived, & encamped on the margin of
the Ohio, the lower Side of Licking. They are militia from Ma-
"Wednesday, Sept. 16th.--Lt. Col. Hall arrived this morning
at the mouth of Licking with 102 militia from Bourbon county.
"Thursday, Sept. 17th.--Col. Hardin & St. Col. Comt.
Trotter arrived this morning. The militia assembled are from
the following counties, viz: Fayette, Mercer, Bourbon, Mad-
ison, Woodford & Mason.
"Saturday, Sept. 25th.-- Major Doughty with the militia &
Federal troops arrived at the garrison this day.
"Sunday, Sept. 26th.--This day the Kentucky militia, &
Major Paul with part of the Pennsylvania Militia marched &
encamped about 4 miles from the garrison. Rained almost in-
cessantly during the whole night.
"Monday, Sept. 27th.- Rainy day - retards our movement.
"Tuesday, Sept. 28th - Still cloudy & Rainy.
90 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
"Thursday, Sept. 30th-- Marched this morning at eleven
o'clock, & encamped about 7 miles from Fort Washington, on
the waters of Mill Creek. Hilly country, but fine rich land; spice
bushes in abundance. Course N. E. by E.
"Friday, Octr. 1st, 1790.- Very fine day; marched thro' rich
level ground, well watered, but thick of underbrush; encamped
on the waters of Mill Creek-course N. by E. This day's march
about 9 miles. Col. Truby with the cattle left at Fort Washing-
ton arrived and encamped with us this evening-formed a
"Saturday, Octr. 2d. - Weather very fine. Marched & en-
camped upon the waters of the Little Miami, through rich land
generally, but we passed over some but middling: encamped in
a rich bottom in the military range, one mile in the rear of the
militia under Colonel Hadin. This day's march about 13 miles,
& a N. E. course.
"Sunday, Octr. 3d-- Marched about two miles and joined
Colonel Hardin - encamped on Turkey Creek on the waters of
Little Miami early, about 10 o'clock in the morning, & spent the
day in making arrangements for the order of March, &c., &c.
We are about 31 miles from Fort Washington on Clark's Old
"Monday, Octr. 4th.-- Marched about eleven miles &
crossed the Little Miami--course about N. E. by E. Several
horses lost last night, supposed to be stolen by the Indians. En-
camped on Caesar's Creek, two miles from the Little Miami, in
"Tuesday, Octr. 5th. Marched & encamped on Glady Creek
- course about North- 10 miles - 52 from Ft. Washington:
Generally bottom land, a few small prairies we crossed.
"Wednesday, Octr.- 6th.- Marched about 10 miles & en-
camped on the waters of the Little Miami, about 3 miles north
of Old Chillicothy: Recrossed the Little Miami-passed
through two or three beautiful prairies: 62 miles from Ft. W.
Lieut. Frothingham with a few Federal, & Capt. Hall (or Hale)
with a reinforcement of militia joined me this evening. Sharp
frost last night - the first of the season.
"Thursday, Octr. 7th. - Marched about 9 miles & encamped
General Harmar's Expedition. 91
on Mad River, alias the Pickaway Fork of the Great Miami.
Good country- 71 miles from Ft. W.: course a little W. of N.
"Friday, Octr. 8th-- Rainy -marched about 9 miles & en-
camped within 131/2 or 14 miles of the Great Miami - course a
little W. of N.- about 80 miles from Ft. W.- good country.
"Saturday, Octr. 9th. - Rainy, disagreeable weather-
marched & encamped within 31/2 miles of the Great Miami: About
90 miles from F. W. Course a little W. of N.
"Sunday, Octr. 1Oth. - Clear, cool weather. Crossed the
Great Miami at New Chillicothe on its banks - Course W. of N.
distance from F. W. about 100 miles. Several tracks of Indians
discovered this day - encamped on a branch of the Great Miami.
Frost at night.
"Monday, October 11th.- Cool weather. Passed through a
place called The French Store, situated on the waters of the
Great Miami, & encamped on the same small waters: About 12
miles this day, & 112 from F. W. A level poor country, white
oak land, badly watered: course about N. W.
"Tuesday, Octr. 12th-- Cloudy. Passed another New Chil-
licothy, at which is Girty's house, situated on Glaze Creek or
Branch of the Omee, which empties into Lake Erie - & en-
camped about 7 miles to the N. W. of it -about 125 miles from
F. W. Course nearly N. W.--level poor land, very badly
"Wednesday, Octr. 13th-- Disagreeable day. Encamped on
a branch of the Omee near La Somer's old house, about 135
miles from F. W. Course to the W. of N. W. Very level coun-
try, but badly watered. This morning a Shawanoese was taken
prisoner by the horse. Mr. Morgan arrived this morning.
"Thursday, Oct. 14th - Rainy, disagreeable day. Detached
Col. Hardin with a corps of 600 men before me to the towns
this morning. The army marched & encamped about 145 miles
from F. W. Very badly watered country--course, a little to
the W. of N. W.
"Friday, Octr. 15th.--Cleared in the afternoon; Encamped
on the waters of Omee, about 153 miles from F. W. Course
about N. W. We have travelled through a very level country
92 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
since we crossed the Great Miami, but amazingly badly watered.
This day's march we had the sight several times of water.
"Saturday, Octr.- 16th.- Fine, clear weather. The Savages
have evacuated (with the traders) their favorite Miami Village
& towns. March & encamped about 163 miles from F. W. They
have left, Col. Hardin informs me, a great quantity of corn and
vegetables behind. Level country - very badly watered - course
"Sunday, Octr. 17th--Clear weather. Gained the Miami
Village about noon this day. It is beautifully situated between
the Rivers Miami and St. Joseph, and is about 170 miles from
F. W. Course nearly due W. this day. But in a direct line I
question whether it is more than 1OO miles from the fort. The
traders and savages have retired from it in the utmost consterna-
tion, leaving behind them vast quantities of corn and vegetables,
supposed 10,000 bushels in ears.
"Monday, Octr. 18th-- Cloudy, & like for falling weather.
Rode to Chillicothy, a Shawanoe Village, distant about two miles
from camp, & situated on the Omee - contains about 80 houses
& wigwams. A vast quantity of corn and vegetables hid in var-
ious places, holes, etc. Two Indians killed & scalped this day
by the calvary, & one killed at night by Capt. McLure. A great
number of horses lost last night.
"Tuesday, Octr. 19th. -The party under command of Col.
Hardin was worsted this day about ten miles from hence, by
about 100 or 130 Indians, owing to the shameful cowardly con-
duct of the militia who threw away their arms and would not
fight. The loss is considerable- Capt. Armstrong & the chief
part of the Federal part of the Federal troops are supposed to
have fallen a sacrifice.
"Wednesday, Octr. 20th.--Fine weather. Capt. Armstrong
got in this day much fatigued - 24 of the Federal troops killed
& missing, & of the militia-Total . Completed
burning & destroying the several towns with their corn, &c. this
day. The regular troops were shamefully left in the lurch by
the militia the clay before yesterday. ( ?)
"Thursday, Octr. 21st--Fine weather-Indian summer.
Having completed the destruction of the Maumee Towns (as
General Harmar's Expedition. 93
they are called), we took up our line of march this morning
from the ruins of Chillicothy for Ft. Washington. Marched
about 8 miles -detached Major Wyllys with 60 Federal & about
300 militia back to where we left this morning, in hopes he
may fall in with some of the savages.
"Friday, Octr. 22nd,- Fine weather. The detachment un-
der Major Wyllys & Col. Hardin performed wonders, although
they were terribly cut up. Almost the whole of the Federal
troops were cut off, with the loss of Major Wyllys, Major Fon-
taine, & Lt, Frothingham - which is indeed a heavy blow. The
consolation is, that the men sold themselves very dear. The
militia behaved themselves charmingly. It is supposed that not
less than 100 warriors of the savages were killed upon the
ground. The action was fought yesterday morning near the
old fort & up the river St. Joseph. The savages never received
such a stroke before in any battle that they have had. The
action at the Great Kanhawa, &c. was a farce to it.
"Saturday, Octr. 23d.- Indian Summer. Took up our line
of march this morning at 8 o'clock & encamped about 24 miles
from the ruins of the Maumee Towns, or the Miamii Village.
This day's march about 16 miles-much encumbered with our
"Sunday, Octr.- 24th. --Cloudy & like for rain. Sent off
Mr. Britt early this morning before we started (express) to
the Governor at Ft. W. Marched about 11 miles this day, &
35 miles from the ruins of the M. Towns - encamped on the
waters of the Omee near La Somce's old home.
"Monday, Octr. 25th. - Cold, rainy disagreeable weather.
Passed through a prairie about 4' or 5 miles in length, & en-
camped at Chillicothy near Girty's house on Glaze Creek or
River, about 52 miles from the ruins of the M. Towns. Snow at
"Tuesday, Octr. 26th - Clear, cold weather. Encamped at
a place called the French Store, the farthest the Kentuckians
have ever penetrated the Indian country this way. Fine food,
blue grass, &c. for our horses. It is about 64 miles distant from
the ruins of the Maumee Towns. It is situated on a branch of
the Great Miami.
94 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
"Wednesday, Octr. 27th. - Fine, clear weather. Passed
through one of our old encampments 7 miles from the French
Store and a great branch of the Miami, & encamped at New
Chillicothy on the banks of the Great Miami 7 miles further
(& supposed to be what Hutchins is his Map called Tawixtive)
-a beautiful prairie about 3 miles from the Great Miami before
we reached it. This day about 78 miles from the ruins of
the Maumee Towns.
"Thursday, Octr. 28th. - Like for falling weather. Marched
from New Chillicothy & encamped about 16 miles from it, &
94 from Ft. W. We have now got into a different kind of
country, finely watered (Symmes' Purchase): From New Chil-
licothy to Miamii Village is the most level & the poorest watered
I have ever seen.
"Friday, Octr. 29th. - Very rainy, disagreeable day.
Marched through a succession of beautiful prairies; passed two
branches of Mad River, & encamped on the waters of the Little
Miami near the where the militiamen were flogged-
about 110 miles from the ruins of the Maumee Towns. Finely
watered, excellent country.
"Saturday, Octr. 30th.-- Marched about 4 miles & halted
for two hours at Old Chillicothy, on the eastern side of the Lit-
tle Miami, in order to refresh our horses. Then immediately
came into a large prairie (better than a mile) - marched through
it & encamped on Glady Creek, the waters of the Little Miami
(land belonging to Col. Hardin) about 8 miles from Old Chilli-
cothy, & about 122 miles from the ruins of the Maumee Towns.
"All these Chillicothys are elegant situations-fine water
near them and beautiful prairies. The Savages knew how to
take a handsome position as well as any people upon earth.
When they leave one Chillicothy, they retire to another place &
call it after the same name. We are now in the Virginia Officers'
"Sunday, Octr. 31st--Fine, clear weather-Indian sum-
mer. Marched & halted a little while at what is called Sugar
Camp, about 5 miles - from thence to Caesar's Creek, a branch
of the Little Miami, 3 miles. Thence crossed the Little Miami
General Harmar's Expedition. 95
(Symmes' Purchase again) 1 mile & halted 4 miles to the S.
W. of it, about 135 miles from the ruins of the Maumee Towns.
"Monday, Novr. 1st--Fine, warm weather. Marched 5
miles to Turkey Creek, a branch of the Little Miami. From
thence to the Bridge on Muddy Creek 3 miles - from thence 3
miles further: 146 miles from the ruins of the M. Towns.
"Tuesday, Novr.- 2d.- Fine weather. Marchd by the Big
Lick & encamped on the waters of Mill Creek about 7 miles from
Ft. W., & 159 miles from the ruins of the M. Towns. A great
deal of white oak land in this day's march.
"Wednesday, Novr. 3d.-- Marched and gained Fort Wash-
ington 7 miles, & about 166 miles from the ruins of the Maumee
Towns- having in 5 weeks accomplished the destruction of the
Maumee Towns, with the vast quantity of corn, &c. therein, &
slain upwards of 100 of their warriors, but not without consid-
erable loss on our side-about 180 Federal & militia.
"Thursday, Novr. 4th - Fine weather. Busy in discharging
"Friday, Novr. 5th. -The Kentuckians set off for their re-
spective homes yesterday.
"Saturday, Novr. 6th.- Sunday, Novr. 7th. Lt. Denny set off
at rev. beat. Major Doughty with the Penna. militia ascended the
Ohio this afternoon for the Muskingum.
"Monday, Novr. 8th. --Fine weather. The Governor &
family also ascended the river this morning for Muskingum.
"Thursday, Novr. 18th. -Early this morning detached Lt.
Kersey with a small party as far as the bridge on Muddy Creek
with the Shawanoe prisoner, from that place to set him at liberty
& let him run to his nation.
"Saturday, Novr. 20th. - Lt. Kersey returned this morning,
taken the Shawanoe as far as the bridge, who parted from him
seemingly with regret.
"Col. Mentzes, Inspector, arrived here this morning, in a
Ky boat, with Lt.- McPherson of Capt. Trueman's detachment &
57 Federal troops.
"Novr. 24th. - Capts. Trueman & Cushing arrived.
"Novr. 25th. - Capt. Armstrong & Ens. Hartshorn start for
96 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
"Monday, Novr. 29th. -An express arrived from Col. Todd
& Col. Johnson, County Lieutenants in Kentucky, informing that
the people are desirous of carrying on another expedition against
the Savages (to strike the Weau Towns) - wishing my consent.
I have returned them a favorable answer, & despatched Cadet
Armstrong with 500 lbs. powder, & 1000 lbs.- lead & some pro-
visions, to be lodged at the mouth of the Kentucky river for the
use of the militia upon the proposed expedition.
"Tuesday, Novr. 30th. - Capt. Ballard Smith & Lieut. Spear
arrived at the garrison this evening--the former from the
Rapids - the latter from Post Vincennes."
MAJOR FERGUSON'S REPORT.
Major Ferguson's report of General Harmar's expedition, made to
Richard Butler, Esquire, Major General and President of the
Court of Enquiry, now sitting.
(Draper MSS. "U" Frontier Wars, Vol. IV, pp. 47-56, and 58-61 incl.)
SIR:-I have duly considered the objects which now em-
ploy your attention and investigation: the following is a just de-
tail of the transactions of the late Companies as far as came
within my knowledge. Some time about the 15th July it was
determined to carry on an Expedition against the Miamie Vil-
lages. 1000 Militia from Kentucky and 500 from Pennsylvania
with what could be collected of the 1st U. S. Regt. and one Com-
pany of artillery was to form the army.
The Militia from Kentuckey began to assemble at Fort
Washington about the middle of September, these were very ill
equiped, being almost destitute of Camp Kittles and axes, nor
could a supply of these essential articles be procured. Their
arms were generally very bad and unfit for service. I being
Commanding Officer of Artillery, they came under my inspection
in making what repairs the time would permit, and as a specimen
of their badness am to inform the court, that a Riffle was brought
to be repaired without a Lock and another without a stock; I
asked them what induced them to think these guns could be
repaired at that time, and they gave me for answer that they
were told in Kentuckey that all repairs would be made at Fort
Washington; Many of the officers told me that they had no idea
General Harmar's Expedition. 97
of the there being half the number of bad arms in the whole
District of Kentucky as was then in the hands of their men.
As soon as the principal part of the Kentucky Militia arrived,
the General began to organize them, in this he had many diffi-
culties to encounter. Col. Trotter aspired to the command (altho
Col. Hardin was the eldest officer) and in this he was encour-
aged both by men & officers, who openly declared unless Col.
Trotter commanded them they would return home; After two
or three days the business was settled & they were formed into
three battalions under the command of Col. Trotter, and Col.
Hardin had the command of all the Militia. As soon as they were
arranged, they were Mustered, crossed the Ohio and on the 25th
March and encamped about ten miles from Fort Washington.
The last of the Pennsylvania Militia arrived on the 25th
Septr. These were equipped nearly as the Kentuckey, but were
worse armed, several were without any. The Genl. ordered all
the arms in store to be delivered to those who had none, and those
whose guns could not be repaired.
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, viz. The
smart active woodsmen, 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 prob-
ably had never fired a gun. Major Paul of Pennsylva 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; and even of such
materials the numbers came far short of what was ordered, as
may be seen by the Returns.
On 31st Septr. the Genl. with the Continental Troops marched
from Fort Washington to join Col. Harden who had advanced
into the country for the sake of feed for the cattle & to open
the Road for the Artillery. On the 3rd. the whole army joined,
and was arranged in order of March, Encampment & Battle,
these will appear by the orderly Book, with this difference in
the Encampment; this space we were to occupy when in order
98 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
of Battle (which was to be open) was always to be fitted up
with our fires, nor was any intervals to be left between Battalion;
this was done to prevent in some measure the cattle & horses
from getting out of Camp, and the Centinels Ground Camp had
orders not to let the cattle or horses pass out after dark; just
before which time they were brought within our fires. These
precautions aided by the care and industry of Mr. Wells & his
assistants succeeded well in preventing loss of Cattle; I have
been informed there were only two Oxen lost from the time
the whole army took up the line of march until it returned to
Fort Washington. But I am sorry to say it was not the case
with the Pack Horses, the generality of the people employed
in that department were ignorant of their duty, Indolent and
inactive; nor was it the power of the General to remedy these
defects, the shortness of the time for assembling & organizing
the Army put it out of his power to look about and select fit
characters, he was of course obliged to take those that offered,
after he was in the woods it was out of his power to exchange
them for better & punishments for neglect of duty was out of
the question. The principles on which the horses were employed
induced the drivers (who were chiefly parties in the business)
to loose & otherwise destroy them, rather than return them
to their owners, by this means the proprietors had a high ap-
praisement paid them for their horses and daily pay for services
untill they were lost, by adding to the above the negligence of
Centinels, I account for the number of Horses lost which in
my opinion was out of Gen. Harmar's power to prevent. After
the Army was arranged we continued our march without any
material occurrence untill the 13th when the Horse fell in with
two Indians & took one of them prisoner, who informed that
the Indians were not in force at the Mamie Village. This day
we reached a place called the French Store at which place a
French man who was then with the General as a guide, had lived,
he informed that the Village was about ten leagues distant. From
this place on the morning of the 12th, Col. Hardin was detached
with 600 men to endeavor to surprise the Mamie Village, the
Army moved at the same time, and altho' it rained the whole
day we continued our march with diligence untill late, the horses
General Harmar's Expedition. 99
were ordered to be tied up this night to enable the Army to move
early the next day which it did; this diligence of the Army on
its march induces me to believe the General was endeavoring to
guard against any disaster that might happen to Col. Harden,
which I am of opinion would have been in his power, for Col.
Harden had not gained more than four miles of the army
in the first days march. On the 17th the Army arrived at the
Mamie Village, here were evident signs of the enemy having
quitted the place in the greatest confusion. Indian dogs & Cows
came into our Camp this day which induced us to believe the
families were not far off. A party of 300 men with three days'
provisions under the command of Col. Trotter was ordered (as
I understood) to examine the country round our Camp, but
contrary to the Generals orders returned the same evening, this
conduct of the Colonel did not meet the Generals approbation,
and Col. Hardin anxious for the character of his countrymen
wished to have the command of the same detachment for the
remaining two days which was given him. This command
marched on the morning of the 19th & was the same day shame-
fully defeated: Col. Hardin told me that the number which
attacked him did not exceed 150 and that had his people fought
or even made a shew of forming to fight he was certain the
Indians would have run; But on the Indians firing (which was
at a great distance) the Militia run numbers throwing away their
arms, nor could he ever rally them. Major Rhea confirmed the
same. I do not know what influenced the General to make the
detachment on the 21st. But from the enemy being flushed with
success on the 19th, it became necessary, if in his power, to give
them a check to prevent the army from being harrassed on its
return, which they might have done, will readily be granted by
everyone who has the least knowledge of the Indians, and an
Army encumbered with cattle & Pack horses much worn down:
and altho the detachment was not so fortunate as was reasonably
to have been expected, yet I firmly believe it prevent the savages
from annoying our rear, as the never made their appearance
after. With respect to reporting that detachment which consisted
of four hundred chosen Troops I always believed them superior
to 150 Indians which was the greatest number as yet discovered;
100 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
had it not been for misconduct & disobediance of orders by the
officers who was on the command. I understood that Major
Rheas Battalion had been advanced to cover them which was
as many as could possibly have been spaired, taking into view
that those in Camp could not be depended on, & many were
without arms, having thrown them away. To support with the
whole army was impracticable, the pack horses being weak and
greatly reduced in numbers; the Artillery Horses being much
reduced and unable to undergo much more fatigue, but at the cer-
tain loss of the Artillery. As it was, we were obliged to send
to Fort Washington for horses to assist in hauling it in. The
march of the Army was regular and as well conducted as was
possible to be done with Militia.
With respect to the General's conduct report says he was
intoxicated all the Campain and unable to execute the impor-
tant duties of his Station. I have mentioned my commanding
the Artillery which was posted at the head of the center Column,
and here the General chiefly was during the march, of course.
I had an opportunity of seeing and being with him through the
day in the morning I received my orders from him and when
we halted to encamp he chiefly pointed out the ground where
the Artillery should be posted, my duty called me often to his
Tent before we marched in the morning and after we halted in
the evening; in short had he been given to Drunkeness I had as
good an opportunity of seeing it as any other officers in the
Army, yet I do declare that from our leaving Fort Washington
untill our return I never seen Genl. Harmar intoxicated or so
as to render him unfit for the execution of any duties: In him
and his abilities as an officer I placed the greatest confidence never
doubting in his orders but obeying with chearfulness being con-
scious they. were the production of experience and sound judg-
I am sir
Your Most Obedient Humble Servant
W. FERGUSON, Major.
General Harmar's Expedition. 101
STATEMENT OF ENSIGN BRITT.
To Major General Butler, President of the Court of Enquiry, Fort
Being called upon to relate the circumstances attending Gen-
eral Harmar's expedition against the Maumee Indians; the fol-
lowing have come particularly under my notice.
With respect to the personal conduct of General Harmar,
I knew that he was indefatigable in making arrangements for
the execution of the plans which had been formed for the ex-
pedition; and know also that the difficulties were great which
he had to encounter in Organizing the Militia, and endeavoring
to establish that harmony which was wanting in their Com-
manding officers, Colonels Hardin & Trotter which he accom-
plished apparently to their Satisfaction. He was at all times
diligent in attending to the conduct of the Officers in the dif-
ferent departments of the Army, and was always ready to
attend to such occurrences as were consequent to the same-
and the necessary exertions to have his orders carried into ex-
ecution were not wanting-but there were great deficiencies on
the part of the Militia-either owing to the want of authority
in some of their Officers, or from their Ignorance or inatten-
tion. Indeed the generality of them Scarcely deserved the name
of anything like Soldiers. They were mostly substitutes for
others-who had nothing to Stimulate them to their duty.
As to the disposition for the Order of March, form of en-
campment, and Order of battle; they are matters which I being
a young Officer can say little about. I presume they will answer
The General's motives for detaching Col. Hardin on the 14th
October, when he was told we were but 10 Leagues from the
Indian Town-I supposed to be from information he received
by a prisoner who was taken on the 13th. That the indians at
the Maumee Village were in great consternation and confusion-
and the prospects were they might be easily defeated if found
in that Situation. In order to support this detachment, the
Horses of the army were ordered to be tied up at night, so that
the whole army might be ready to march early in the morning;
which was done accordingly and when Colonel Hardin reached
102 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
the Village the main body was not more than 5 or 6 miles in his
The detachment under Colo. Trotter was ordered to recon-
noitre for 3 days the neighborhood, to endeavor to find out the
Savages, who had fled from their Towns-this party returned
the evening of the same day they Started-and next morning
Col. Hardin marched with the same party and fell in with the
Indians, and an engagement ensued in which he was routed-
Owing to the cowardly behaviour of the Militia under his com-
The motives which I conceived led to the detaching the party
under Major Wyllys on the 21st Were that the Indians having
avoided engaging the whole army, would collect at their Towns
and harrass the rear and flanks, as much as possible on its re-
turn; and a Stroke at them before they could assemble in large
bodie would prevent their doing it with much effect. The party
accordingly met with the Indians and a battle followed, in which
numbers were killed on both sides. The moment the news of
this arrived in Camp, Major Ray with his Battalion of Kentucky
militia was ordered to March to the support of Major Wyllys;
but did not proceed far before they returned.
Any Occurrences that followed this last action I am unac-
quainted with, as I was sent from the Army with dispatches for
his Excellency Govr. St. Clair then at this place.
FORT WASHINGTON; Septr. 16th, 1791.
D. BRITT, Ensign 1st U. S. Regt.
DIARY OF LIEUTENANT DENNY.
FORT WASHINGTON, September 16th' 1791.
MAJOR GENERAL BUTLER
President of Court of Enquiry.
(Draper MSS. "U" Frontier Wars, Vol. IV, pp. 25-33 incl.)
SIR: Agreeably to your directions I present the court with
the following detail of circumstances relative to the campaign
carried on by General Harmar against the Maumee Towns:
July 11th, 1791 Governor St. Clair arrived at Fort Washing-
General Harmar's Expedition. 103
ton from the Illinois country, he remained only three days, during
which time it was determined that General Harmar should carry
on an expedition against certain hostile tribes of Indians, for
which purpose, I understand, he was to have 1000 Militia from
Kentucky & 500 from Pennsylvania with all the federal troops
on the Ohio.
15th. The Governor embarked for New York, intending, on
his way, to order out the Militia as soon as possible; I believe
the 15th of September was the appointed time for the army to
assemble at Fort Washington.
General Harmar began his preparations, and every day was
employed in the most industrious manner. The calculations for
provisions, horses & stores were immediately made out, & orders
given accordingly. Great exertions were used by Captn. Fer-
guson to get in readiness the artillery & military stores, & in-
deed every officer was busily engaged under the eye of the Gen-
eral in fitting out necessary matters for the expedition, but par-
ticularly the quarter master-not a moment's time appeared to
15th & 16th of Sept. The Kentucky Militia arrived, but in-
stead of seeing active rifle men, such as is supposed to inhabit
the frontiers, we saw a parcel of men, young in the country, and
totally inexperienced in the business they came upon, so much
so, that many of them did not even know how to keep their
arms in firing order. Indeed their whole object seemed to be
nothing more than to see the country, without rendering any ser-
vice whatever -a great many of their guns wanted repairs,
& as they could not put them in order, our artificers were obliged
to be employed - a considerable number came without any guns
at all. Kentucky seemed as if she wished to comply with the
requisitions of Government as ineffectually as possible, for it was
evident, that about two-thirds of the men served only to swell
19th Sepr. A small detachment of Pennsylvania militia ar-
22nd. The Governor returned from New York.
25th. Major Doughty with two companies of federal troops
joined from Muskingum, & the remains of the Pennsylvania Mi-
104 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
litia came this day - the Militia last mentioned were similar to
the others - too many substitutes. The General lost no time in
organizing them, tho he met with many difficulties. The Col-
onels were disputing for the command, & the one most popular
was least entitled to it. The General's design was to reconcile
all parties, which he accomplished after much trouble. The
Kentuckians composed three Battalions under the Majors.
Hall, McMillion & Rhey, with Lt. Col. Coml. Trotter at their
head. The Pennsylvanians were formed into one Battalion under
Lieut Col. Truby and Major Paul, the whole to be commanded by
Colonel John Hardin, subject to the orders of Genl. Harmar.
26th Sepr. The Militia marched on the rout towards the
30th. The General having got forward all the supplies that
he expected, he moved out with the federal troops formed into
the small Battalions under the immediate command of Major
Wyllys & Major Doughty, together with Captain Ferguson's
company of artillery, & three pieces of ordnance.
October 3rd. General Harmar joined the advanced troops
early in the morning, the remaining part of the day was spent
in forming the line of March, the Order of Encampment &
Battle, and explaining the same to the militia field officers. Gen-
eral Harmar's orders will shew the several formations.
4th. The army took up the Order of March as is described
in the orders.
5th. A reinforcement of horsemen & Mounted infantry
joined from Kentucky. The Dragoons were formed into two
troops, the mounted rifle men made a company & this small Bat-
talion of light troops were put under the Command of Major
Fontain. The whole of General Harmar's command then may
be stated thus-
3 Battalions of Kentucky Militia ......................
1 Battalion of Pennsylvania Militia ................... 1,133
1 Battalion light troops mounted Militia...............
2 Battalions federal troops ............................ 320
Total .......................................... 1,453
General Harmar's Expedition. 105
The Line of March was certainly one of the best that could
be adopted & great attention was paid to keep the officers with
their commands in proper order, & the pack horses etc. as com-
pact as possible.
The Order of Encampment appeared to be well calculated
not only for defense but to preserve the horses & cattle from
being lost; however, notwithstanding every precaution was taken,
& repeated orders given to the horsemaster to hopple well their
horses, and directions to the Officers & men not to suffer any to
pass through the lines, many of them, owing to the carelessness
of the Militia, & the scarcity of food, tho great attention was
paid in the choice of ground, broke loose and strayed through
the lines after night, & even passed the chain of sentries which
encircled the camp, and were lost - patroles of Horsemen were
ordered out every morning by daylight to scoure the neighbour-
ing woods & to bring in any horses that might have broke
through the lines; and a standing order directed the picquets
to turn out small parties & drive in every horse. This was done,
I believe, to expedite the movement of the army. There was
no less attention paid to securing the cattle--every evening
when the army halted, the guard which was composed of a
commissioned officer & 30 or 35 men, built a yard always within
the chain of sentries & sometimes in the square of encampment,
& placed a sufficient number of sentries round the enclosure,
which effectually preserved them. There was not more than 2
or 3 head lost during the whole of the campaign.
13th October. Early in the morning a patrole of horsemen
captured a Shawanoe Indian.
14th October. Colonel Hardin was detached with 600 light
troops to push for the Miami Village. I believe that this detach-
ment was sent forward in consequence of the intelligence gained
of the Shawanao prisoner, which was, that the Indians were
clearing out as fast as possible, and that if we did not make
more haste, the towns would be evacuated before our arrival.
As it was impossible for the main body with all their train to
hasten their march much, the General thought proper to send
on Colonel Hardin in hopes of taking a few before they would
all get off. This night the Horses were all ordered to be tied
106 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
up that the army might start by day light on purpose to keep
as near Colonel Hardin as possible,-the distance to the Indian
towns when the detachment marched ahead was about 35 miles.
15th. Every exertion was used to get forward the main
body--this day we found that the advanced party had gained
but very few miles.
16th. In the evening, met an express from Col. Hardin, who
had got into the village, informing the General that the enemy
had abandoned every place.
17th. About noon, the army arrived at the Omee Towns.
18th. Col. Trotter was ordered out with 300 men Militia
& regulars, to reconnoitre the country & to endeavor to make
some discoveries of the enemy; he marched but a few miles
when his advanced horsemen came upon 2 Indians & killed them.
The Colonel was contented with this victory & returned to camp.
Colonel Hardin was displeased, because Col. Trotter did not
execute his orders - requested the General to give him the Com-
mand of the party, it was granted, & accordingly Hardin marched
next morning, but I believe that he had not two thirds of his
number when two miles from camp, for to my certain knowl-
edge many of the Militia left him on the march & returned to
their companies. Whether he knew it or not, I can't tell, but
proceeded on with a determination to trace some fresh signs of
the enemy. I believe the plan was merely to gain some knowledge
of the savages. He at length came upon a party not exceeding
one hundred, but was worsted, owing entirely as I am informed,
to the scandilous behaviour of the Militia, many of whom never
fired a shot but ran off at the first noise of the Indians & left
the few regulars to be sacrificed - some of them never halted
until they crossed the Ohio. The Army in the main time was
employed burning & destroying the houses & corn, shifting their
position from one town to another.
21st Oct. The army having burned five villages besides the
Capital Town & consumed & destroyed near 20,000 bushels of
corn in ears, took up the Line of march on the rout back to Fort
Washington & encamped about 8 miles from the ruins-9 o'clock
p. m. the General ordered out 400 choice men, Militia & regulars,
General Harmar's Expedition. 107
under the command of Major Wyllys to return to the Towns in-
tending to surprise any parties that might be assembled there,
supposing that the Indians would collect to see how things were
left. The General had felt the enemy, knew their strength, &
calculated much upon the success of this enterprise. It was the
general opinion that the force of the savages was nothing equal to
this detachment, and unless by some such means, there was no
possibility of getting any advantage of them. However, the best
laid plan, was in some measure defeated by the disobeydiance of
the Militia who ran in pursuit of small parties & left Major
Wyllys unsupported, the consequence was that the Major with the
most part of the regulars were killed & our loss was equal if not
greater than the savages.
The intention of this detachment was evident to all the army
& would have answered the fullest expectations, provided a due
obeydiance had been observed on the part of the Militia to
provide against disobeydiance of orders what I believe no one
would think of, & had it not been the case, the Major might have
returned crowned with laurels. The main body waited for the
return of his detachment, but to our mortification, about 11
o'clock of the 22nd, a fellow who ran back from the field give
some information of Major Wyllys's misfortune. The General
immediately dispatched Major Rhey with his Battalion to the
assistance of the parties, but the Major did not get the length
until he met Col. Hardin returning to camp with his wounded.
I am led to believe that about this time the General lost the
confidence he had in the Militia, those of them among the dead
were of the best men--the effective strength was very much
reduced by sickness & other ways--the regular troops did not
furnish more than 200, they were very insufficient, and I am
clearly of the opinion, that had the enemy made an attack upon
our camp this evening or the morning following, the Militia were
so panic struck, that very few of them would have stood. The
consequences that would have happened stared every person with
horror - the sick & wounded & all the stores artillery etc. would
have fallen a prey to the savages. This was also the opinion of
several of the principal officers, who advised General Harmar
108 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
of the danger of attempting to return to the Towns, from the
time it would take up & the probability that the delay would give
the savages time to collect from distant quarters.
22nd October. Continued encamped, fixing biers for the
wounded, and making repairs.
The frost had destroyed the food early on our march out,
& the horses of the army was now very much reduced, so much
so, that it was utterly impossible for the main body to perform
anything rapidly, and to get back upon the road which we had
so lately passed, was attended with difficulty - however, the
greatest attention was paid, the little army was kept compact,
and vigilancewas the word from all who had any reputation to
The Militia on the return began to be refractory, showing
great signs of a revolt-discharging their pieces in open defiance
of the General orders, some of them, however, were detected
& punished, which give umbrage, and was afterwards the cause
of many idle ill-natured reports spread, without any foundation,
to injure the General's reputation.
The army returned by slow marches back to Fort Wash-
ington. General Harmar's conduct during the campaign was
observed to be sober, steady, & attentive to the service, and as
my duty required me to be frequently near him, should certainly
have discovered it, had he been at any time intoxicated as has
been reported. Every evening as duly as the army halted, the
General made his remarks for that day, & issued orders for
the movement & arrangements for the next, and every morning
he was found among the first prepared for the field.
I have the honor to be
Your very humble servant
Lieut. & Agt. 1st Regt. of the U. S.
LIEUT. DENNIS Statement of Genl Harmar.