Ohio History Journal




[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

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

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

324      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.




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.


Brig. Gen., Ohio Quarters.

Fort McArthur

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:



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.


326 Ohio Arch

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

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.]