[The following address delivered by the late Dr. A. W. Munson on
Memorial day of 1895, at Shingle Grove, near Ft. McArthur burying
ground was read at a recent D. A. R. meeting in Kenton, and will be
especially interesting to our readers now, as this year (1912) marks the
centennial of the founding of the old fort.]
Comrades and Friends:- We have met here on this pleas-
ant afternoon of May 30, 1895, in this beautiful grove, beneath
these grand forest trees, around these graves to do honor to the
memory of those who were buried here more than 80 years ago.
I know that there are those who are disposed to doubt the cor-
rectness of the position assumed by most, if not all the members
of "Pap Thomas' Command" of Union Veteran Union of our
city, viz.: That these graves contain the remains of soldiers who
died here at the post of duty as defenders of our country in the
war of 1812. Now if this assumption be true then it is highly
proper that the memory of these heroes should receive the same
consideration that the other defenders of our country are
To establish the correctness of this proposition I will ask
you to bear with me for a short time while I refer to some of
the more important historical events, which will, no doubt,
sustain the foregoing assumption to the satisfaction of all
At the commencement of the war of 1812 this whole region
was a vast and dense forest, not a single white inhabitant was
found in all the territory now embraced within the limits of this
county. Numerous tribes of Indians were scattered over the
great northwest many of whom were hostile and engaged in
committing depredations upon the defenseless frontier settlers.
So alarming had become the attitude of both Indian and British
emissaries towards the frontier inhabitants that Gov. Meigs, of
Ohio, called out the Militia early as May 1812, and the 1st
Regiment under Col. McArthur was stationed at Urbana while
other troops were quartered at Dayton.
Vol. xxi.-21. (321)
322 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
Gov. Shelby, of Kentucky, at the same time called the troops
of that state and they were also stationed at Dayton, Ohio.
William Hull, who was then Governor of the Territory of Michi-
gan, and who had been a valiant officer in the Revolutionary
War was appointed a Brigadier-General and given command of
all the Ohio and Kentucky troops. The hostile attitude of the
British and Indians along the Canadian frontier became so
alarming that Gov. Hull decided to move his army to Detroit for
the defense of that post. To accomplish this it became necessary
that he should march his army through the dense forest from
Dayton to Detroit. This course having been decided upon, Gov.
Meigs dispatched Col. Duncan McArthur with his troops, to
open the way for Hull's army. He succeeded in cutting the way
as far as the Scioto river and by the 9th of June he had com-
pleted a block house and stockade on the south bank of that
stream and named it Ft. McArthur.
This fort was located about a mile from this place, down the
river and on the opposite side. General Hull arrived with his
army at Fort McArthur on the 19th day of June and proceeded
on his way to Detroit, cutting a passage for his troops through
the dense forest. This road was ever afterwards known to the
people of this country as "Hull's Trail." In 1838, only 26 years
after it was opened, I often passed along and across it. A thick
growth of underbrush marked its course. Hull's army arrived
the first evening at a point about 3 miles northwest from the
village of Dunkirk and built a stockade and called it "Mud Fort"
in honor, I suppose, of the nature of the soil upon which it was
built. In the fall of 1838 I visited this fort. A family named
Hodge lived there for many years afterward. Hull arrived with
his army at Detroit early in July and in August thereafter he
surrendered his whole army and the post at Detroit to the
British and Indians under the British General Proctor. The
surrender was made against the vigorous protest of his sub-
ordinate officers, viz.: Cols. McArthur, Findlay and Cass.
The news of this disaster spread consternation among the
people of Ohio and volunteers were called for to march to the
defense of the north-western frontier. Gen. Edward W. Tupper,
Fort McArthur. 323
of Gallia County, organized a force of 1000 men and on the 30th
of August had them concentrated at Urbana, ready to march.
Here let me read an extract of a letter he wrote to Gov.
Meigs at that time:
Gov. MEIGS, "URBANA, Aug. 30, 1812.
SIR:-With all the exertion we could make we are not in a
situation to make a campaign in the wilderness. When I issued
orders for an immediate preparation for a march I caused an
examination of the public arms, and although two officers have
been employed ever since we arrived here, there are still 30
rifles and 20 muskets awaiting repairs. We have no tents,
few camp kettles, many blankets wanting, and no pay for the
soldiers, yet they are ready to risk their lives in any perilous
General Tupper, following Hull's Trail marched his little
army past Fort McArthur and arrived at the Maumee Rapids,
and encountered a large force of Indians and engaged them in
battle. He attempted to cross the river but the enfeebled and
half starved condition of his men rendered it impossible to stem
the rapid current of the river, and he was forced to retrace his
steps, and, with his wounded and sick, marched back to camp
near Fort McArthur, arriving there the latter part of October.
I know that some persons think there was but one encampment
here and that was at the Fort on the south side of the river.
I believe the following extracts from letters written by
Gen. Tupper will settle that question and convince any one that
there was a camp near "McArthur Block House." A small
garrison under Capt. McClelland, was stationed at Fort Mc-
Arthur, and no doubt those who died at the fort were buried
nearby, but all evidence of those graves have long since dis-
appeared by the cultivation of the grounds.
Upon his return from the Maumee, in October, he went into
camp on yonder little hillside, his camp extending down into
yonder little ravine, where a spring of good water was found, the
same that is now seen by the side of yonder road. From this
camp he wrote to Gov. Meigs as follows:
324 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
"CAMP NEAR MCARTHUR BLOCK HOUSE,
November 9, 1812.
SIR: Since writing to you this morning a circumstance has
occurred which makes another communication necessary. I
ordered Capt. Hinkton to the rapids with his company of spies,
and with orders to take a prisoner if possible. He has just
returned and brought with him Capt. Clark, a British subject
who was out with a party of about 500 Indians and fifty British
with two gun boats, six bateaux and one small schooner at the
foot of the rapids. Capt. Clark had just arrived with the van
of the detachment. The rafts had not yet anchored when the
spies surprised him and brought him off undiscovered. At the
same time several of Capt. Hinkton's spies lay concealed on the
bank, within five rods of the place where some of the first boats
were landing. Capt. Clark was taken prisoner on the 7th, a little
before sunset. He informs me that the forces contemplate
remaining there from ten to fifteen days. I know not, sir,
whether it will meet your approbation or that of our commander-
in-chief, but I have ordered every man in the brigade who does
not fear the fatigue of a rapid march and is in condition to per-
from it, to draw five days' provisions and march with me for
the rapids in the morning, taking nothing with them but their
provisions, knapsacks and blankets. Although the forces will
not exceed 650, I am convinced it is sufficient to rout the forces
now at the rapids and save the greater part of the corn which is
all important to us.
A moment was not to be lost. We shall be at the rapids
in three days. I write you in great haste. The preparations
making our march will employ me the whole night. I shall
not take with me a man but such as shall volunteer their services.
I have apprised them that they have to endure hunger, fatigue,
difficulties and dangers such as peril of their lives, and
encounter the sufferings of a rapid march on short rations.
EDWARD W. TUPPER,
Brig. Gen., Ohio Quarters.
Fort McArthur. 325
To his Excellency,
R. J. MEIGS, Gov. of Ohio.
Such, my fiends, was the indomitable courage of the volun-
teer Ohio soldiers of the war of 1812. Do they not compare
favorably with the veterans of the war of 1861 to 1865? Such
was the spirit of those who sleep in these graves; are they not
entitled to the same honorable recognition as those of the latter
war? Gen. Tupper returned from this expedition to his camp
here, and on December he writes Gov. Meigs as follows:
"CAMP NEAR MCARTHUR BLOCK HOUSE,
December 8, 1812.
DEAR SIR:-I have been compelled to send for a supply of
medicine, owing in part to our medicine chests been crushed by
the falling of a tree, and in part to the great consumption neces-
sary for the uncommon swelling of our sick list. I have directed
the express by Franklinton, that they may, if possible, be drawn
from the hospital stores at that place. If they cannot be, I must
beg of you to take measures to have us supplied. Our sick list
this morning amounts to 229, about 13 of whom are considered
dangerous, but all the others require medicine and those added
to the men who can not do duty for want of clothing will give
you a melancholy future for camp. Our great number of sick
arose from the situation of our camp. Owing to the flatness of the
face of the country at this place, we cannot get a camp in proper
form, without taking in ground where other water settles.
Indeed I have seen sentinels standing in mud and water half leg
deep. This and the dampness of our tents here creates colds
which fall heavily on the lungs, often producing fevers, and in
all cases render the men unfit for duty. The situation of the
men as to clothing is really distressing. You will see many of
them wading through the snow and mud almost barefooted and
half naked. We have not more than five blankets for six men.
Not half of the men have a change of pantaloons and linen.
E. W. TUPPER".
326 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
You old comrades can appreciate such a situation, can't
you? Let us stop for a moment and reflect. These men were
held in the wilderness, the only means of communication was by
courier and horse, with no road save a trail through the forest.
The nearest place where the supplies referred to could be obtained
was at Fanklinton, a distance of over 70 miles, and possibly none
could be obtained nearer than Chillicothe, about 150 miles away.
How long do you suppose it would require a man on horesback to
make such a journey-many days at least, and during that time
the sick soldiers must suffer on without medical relief.
These scenes were enacted just over on the side of yonder
little hill, amid the great, dense forest. The actors in this drama
were soldiers-boys, who had volutarily left home, friends and
all, and marched into the great wilderness to defend our country
from the savages of the forest and the tyranny of British oppres-
sion. Does any one suppose for a moment that none of those
soldiers fell a victim to the ravages of the diseases so vividly
depicted to the Governor of the state by their commander?
Do you suppose that some died, and what do you suppose
was done with their dead bodies? Why, the only rational answer
is, they were buried near their camp, and that was here in these
graves amid the forest trees-buried by their comrades in their
rude coffins made of puncheons split from the forest trees. That
their coffins consisted of puncheons split from forest trees there
is no doubt. I have here in my hand a small piece taken from
the grave just by that black walnut stump. I, in company with
Capt. Parrot and others, made an examination of that grave to
settle the question as to the identity of these little mounds, and
there beneath a large walnut tree which had grown since that
grave was made the skeleton of a human being was found which
had lain there for over eighty years.
I said in the fore part of this address that at the time of the
war of 1812 there were no white inhabitants in all this wilderness
country. It was some years after the close of the war before
any white settlers were located near this place. About 1820
Alfred Hale, and his family settled at Ft. McArthur and remained
a few years during which time two member of the famly died
and were buried near the fort on the south side of the river.
Fort McArthur. 327
The first cemetery to be used by the early settlers in this part of
the country was located about a mile east of this place, a short
distance north of the river.
A number of the early settlers were buried there, and
although the ground is enclosed at this time and is preserved as
a cemetery, it is in a dilapidated condition, none having been
buried there for some time.
Now, comrades and friends, I hope and believe from what
has been disclosed here today, none will hereafter doubt that these
graves are the last resting places of soldiers of 1812, who died in
camp near here in the discharge of their duty, and were by their
comrades buried in these graves, and that all belief or suspicion
that they may be the graves of some white settlers will be forever
dispelled. It is, therefore, highly proper that this memory of
these dead soldiers each year hereafter receive the same recog-
nition that our other heroic dead are receiving.
[On July 4, (1912), under the auspices of the Daughters of the
American Revolution, Hardin county, exercises commemorative of the
Hundredth Anniversary of the building of Fort McArthur, were held
in a grove nearby the site of the fort. A large crowd of adjacent
residents assembled and listened to an address by E. O. Randall de-
scriptive of the fort and the circumstances attendant upon its erection
and history. Colonel Tecumseh Cessna presided and remarks were made
by Hon. J. D. Pumphrey and Hon. F. D. Hurch.]