MONUMENT AT FORT JEFFERSON.
On Thursday, October 24, 1907, through the efforts and
under the auspices of the Greenville Historical Society a monu-
ment was erected to mark the site of Fort Jefferson and to com-
memorate the historic events connected with that military post.
The monument, unique in form and material, is twenty feet in
height, seven feet broad at the base, with a shoulder about two
feet from the ground and a gracefully tapering shaft as shown in
the accompanying illustration. It is built of carefully selected
"grey-heads" or field boulders of various colors, faced on one
side and laid in Portland cement. The tablet, of bronze, size
two by three feet, is inserted on the north side of the shaft facing
the highway, at a height of five feet from the ground and bears
Built by the army of
General Arthur St. Clair
in October, 1791
And used as a military post
During the campaign against
The Northwestern Indian Tribes.
The day proved propitious and a large number of citizens of
Fort Jefferson, Greenville and adjacent towns gathered in the
afternoon of the day in question to enjoy the exercises of the
following program which had been arranged by Messrs. Alvin
Kerst, J. Jos. O'Brien and F. E. Wilson, Committee in behalf of
the Greenville Historical Society:
1. HAIL COLUMBIA ........................... Deubner's Drum Corps
2. A MERICA .................................................A udience
3. INVOCATION .. .................... ... Rev. Chas. H. Gross
4. A WORD FROM THE COMMITTEE ....................Frazer E. Wilson
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 113
5. PRESENTATION ................................. Geo. A. Katzenberger
6. UNVEILING .................................. Elizabeth D. Robeson
7. MILITARY SALUTE ....................Gun Squad, Co. M., 3rd Regt.
8. STAR SPANGLED BANNER . .............................Drum Corps
9. ACCEPTANCE ON BEHALF OF THE PUBLIC..........Prof. J. T. Martz
10. HISTORIC ADDRESS ............................Judge J. I. Allread
11. YANKEE DOODLE ......................................Drum Corps
12. A WORD FROM THE RED MEN ......................L. E. Wills
13. BENEDICTION ............................Rev. G. W. Berry
ADDRESS OF FRAZER E. WILSON.
SECRETARY GREENVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
One hundred and sixteen years ago to-day a military post which
was being erected on this very spot by the army of Maj. Gen. Arthur
St. Clair was named Fort Jefferson in honor of that great statesman
and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. We
are assembled to commemorate that event and to do honor to the mem-
ory of the heroes and patriots who sacrificed so much that we might
enjoy the benefits of a free nation. Father Time has been very good
to us, indeed, and it is hard to appreciate all the benefits conferred by
those who have gone before. Other men labored and we have entered
into the rewards of their labors. Under the inspiring influences of the
past I feel that it is good for us to be here. Let us unveil this tablet and
dedicate this monument with due reverence for the patriots who once
stood where we stand not knowing what another day might bring forth.
With these thoughts in mind I want to express a few words of appreciation
for the character and public services of one whose name has gone down un-
der a cloud because of defeat at a very critical moment in Western history.
Whenever the name of Arthur St. Clair is mentioned in this vicinity
our minds go back to that cold November morning in 1791 when his ex-
posed and decrepit army was surprised and suddenly attacked by a fierce
horde of howling savages on a branch of the upper Wabash. In face
of the terrible defeat that followed we are prone to forget or overlook
the previous and later record of this stalwart patriot. St. Clair was of
Scottish birth. He emigrated to America in 1755 and served with the
British in the French and Indian War, being in the important engage-
ments of Louisburg and Quebec. Like many of his hardy countrymen he
then settled in western Pennsylvania and engaged in farming until the
outbreak of the Revolution. The call of the Colonies appealed to him
and he espoused the cause of freedom, serving with distinction at Three-
Rivers, Trenton, Princeton and Hubbardstown and attaining the rank
of Major-General. In 1786 he was elected President of Congress and in
1788 was appointed Governor of the Territory Northwest of the Ohio
river. With such a record of faithful service on the credit side of
Vol. XVII.- 8.
114 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
life's ledger the new Government naturally turned to him with con-
fidence when its western borders were assailed by savage foes. The
new settlements of the Americans on the north side of the Ohio river were
regarded by the Indians of the North as an invasion of their ancient
domains. The British, who still retained the military posts at Detroit
and along the lakes, took advantage of the situation and goaded on the
savages to attack the scattered settlements, furnishing them with arms,
ammunition, food, clothing, etc. To meet this alarming situation three
expeditions were sent against the Indian villages of the Maumee and
Wabash with indifferent success. These raids so greatly exasperated the
Indians against whom they were sent that they formed a confederacy
and entered into a conspiracy to drive the white settlers beyond the
Ohio. At this juncture St. Clair appeared on the scene. With a poorly
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 115
equipped and inadequately disciplined army of mixed and insubordinate
troops, which had been collected with great pains and labor, he left camp
at Ludlow's Station, near Fort Washington, September 17th, 1791, and
marched northward to the crossing of the Great Miami where he built
and garrisoned Fort Hamilton. Cutting a road through the wilderness the
army arrived on this ground October 12th, and proceeded to build another
post as one of a chain of forts connecting Fort Washington with the Maumee
at the present site of Fort Wayne, Indiana. On the 24th of October
this post, which was nearing completion, was named Fort Jefferson by
St. Clair, and a detachment with two pieces of artillery left to defend
it. Proceeding northward along an old Indian trail through the beautiful
open forest the army arrived on the present site of Greenville, Ohio, and
encamped until the 31st, awaiting supplies. Again taking up the line of
march the army veered a little west of north. About this time sixty of
the Kentucky militia deserted and the entire First Regiment of Regulars
was detached and sent in pursuit to protect the provision train and bring
back the deserters. In this weakened and disorganized condition the army
encamped on a branch of the upper Wabash on the evening of November
3rd, 1791. St. Clair intended to cast up a light earthwork on the follow-
ing day and make a forced march for the Maumee, which he thought
to be about fifteen miles distant but which was, in fact, about fifty miles
away. This he was not permitted to do but was surprised, surrounded and
terribly defeated early the following day. In this engagement St. Clair
had two horses shot from under him and several bullet holes shot through
his clothes. Altho suffering with the gout he rode up and down the lines
encouraging the troops but failed to save the day. After nearly three
hours of hard fighting the army retreated pell-mell and kept on with un-
told hardship and suffering until this place (Fort Jefferson) was reached
near night-fall-a distance of nearly thirty miles. The story of this de-
feat cast a gloom over the whole frontier and encouraged the Indians
to renew their attacks on the scattered settlers. This condition prevailed
until "Mad Anthony" Wayne defeated the allied tribes on the Maumee in
1794 and caused them to sign the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. St. Clair
was court-martialed and exonerated, and continued to serve as Governor
of the Territory Northwest of the Ohio until 1802, when he was removed
for stubborn persistence in ideas which he thought to be right but which
were at variance with the growing principles of equal rights and popular
representation. Broken in health and greatly reduced in fortune he died
in a log house near Ligonier, Pa., in 1818. He had sacrificed the comforts
of home and the social advantages of a brilliant political career besides
a considerable fortune in attempting to direct the destinies of a vast and
newly organized territory in the western wilderness. Measuring success
by conventional standards we might be tempted to call his later public
life a failure. Shakespeare makes Mark Antony say over the dead body
116 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones."
May it not be thus with Arthur St. Clair but rather may this
monument long stand as a fitting tribute of respect to his memory. May
the broken granite boulders typify the strength and rugged virtues of that
stalwart patriot and his faithful followers and may this bronze tablet fit-
tingly recall the advancement of the western frontier to this place.
Mr. President, on behalf of the Committee on Construction, I now
tender this beautiful and appropriate memorial to the Greenville Historical
Society to be disposed of at its pleasure.
REMARKS OF GEORGE A. KATZENBERGER.
PRESIDENT GREENVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
We have met to-day in the golden month of October to unveil a
monument erected to the memory of the brave pioneers who built here
a fort in the wilderness, one hundred and sixteen years ago. As in this
month the latest crops are gathered, so ought we to realize that we are
reaping the fruits of the labors of the pioneers.
Monuments not only contribute to our civilization, they mark its
progress and degree. They keep green the memory of patriotic services.
The members of the Greenville Historical Society after placing a me-
morial boulder in Greenville, were of the opinion that the most important
work to be done was the erection of a memorial at this place. Fort Jef-
ferson is the oldest historic spot in this county and we are glad to state
that we have had no difficulty in securing the co-operation of the citizens
of this village.
We all realize that great credit is due to Messrs. Patty and Coppock
for their unselfish action in deeding these two lots to the Trustees of
Neave Township for park purposes.
This is also an appropriate time to acknowledge the aid and co-
operation on the part of the residents of this place.
In presenting this monument to the public in behalf of the donors
we express the hope that it will be a reminder to us and to those who
come after us, of our indebtedness to the brave soldiers and pioneers who
opened this country to civilization ! May it increase our love for this, our
country, which extends its protection over all of us.
ADDRESS OF ACCEPTANCE.
PROF. J. T. MARTZ.
This fort was built, not for the protection of the white settlers in
its immediate vicinity, for there were none there at that time. Then
the howl of the wolf, the scream of the panther or the whoop of the
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 117
Indian alone broke the enchanted stillness of the then surrounding for-
est, a forest that has since disappeared under the sturdy stroke of the
woodsman's axe, to make way for civilization. But, ere this was ac-
complished, the ruthless hand of war was outstretched to allay and stop
the ravages of the Indian tomahawk, the scalping knife, and the midnight
torch applied to the white settler's dwelling here and many miles from
the location of this fort. The only way to stop the depredations of the
savages was to meet force with force-cunning and ambuscade with like
measures-in order to subdue the sullen savage, who then found his rude
home on the banks of the meandering streams, his habits of life in no way
changed by the influence of the encroaching white man.
But the effort, the hardships, the sufferings and trials of the citizen
soldier, in erecting structures similar to the one erected here, which we,
this day, commemorate, and other similar structures in parts of the country
where at that time danger lurked, have brought about during the passing
years a transformation of the abode of the sullen savage to homes of the
No wonder this fort was built, no wonder that the citizen and
soldier labored that they and their posterity should enjoy the blessings
of a free country, bereft of the dangers and terrors of night and of the
arrows that flew at noon-day. They had strong confidence in the result
of their labors, and they, in their natural way, encouraged those sterling
agencies intended to elevate and enoble the human character.
More than one hundred and sixteen years ago this spot not only
re-echoed with the sound of the soldier's axe, in constructing Fort Jef-
ferson, for protection of life and property,-but often was the whoop of
the savage heard, giving warning to the soldier that death and torture
and suffering could only be evaded by the most unremitting watchfulness
and bravery; and these testimonials of energy, industry and perserverance
in the past are repeated in the present, and to-day give us encouragement
and direction for the future. Surely the labors and interest of this day
in erecting this monument, with its suitable tablet, show that the people
of Darke County are patriotic, and progressive, and may we not say that
our Society is taking a proud, pre-eminent stand among our sister counties,
in developing the elements of enduring patriotism and prosperity in our
midst; in teaching the rising generation to honor and cherish the public
institutions of our country, and in instilling in the minds of our citizens
the love of country so strikingly manifested by the very soldiers who
built this fort, and who so gallantly sacrificed their lives for the welfare,
the perpetuity and the safety of the generation which to-day is celebrating
the achievements their predecessors so dearly won. General St. Clair
reached this location on the afternoon of October 12, 1791, and took up
his line of march to the Northwest on the 24th day of the same month,
having been occupied twelve days in building the Fort. Why was it
built? Because the early spirit of emigration had taken hold of the
118 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
settlers of the West. Settlements had been made in Kentucky and on
both sides of the Ohio River, from Fort Duquesne to the Falls in this
river, and these settlements were constantly annoyed by the depredations
of the various tribes of Indians, who seemed determined that the Ohio
River should be the Northern Boundary of the Territory of the white
man; and they persisted in repelling by force of arms, and in murdering
any white man who claimed the right to, and did locate his home north
of this stream, or on its northern banks. And it was, to protect and
defend this territory belonging to our General Government from the
encroachments of these savages, instigated by the Emissaries of the British
Government, which was glad to seek an opportunity to continue a strife
that by treaty had been settled in the independence of our country years
before. The circumstances of St. Clair's defeat was the result of the
fortunes of war, and we can only honor the noble dead by recalling
him and his army in a proper way, and we know of no way more appro-
priate than by the erection of this monument and the, placing of the
significant tablet which your society dedicates to the public this day, and
which I gratefully accept in its behalf, firmly believing that no other
place in American history is more deserving of the same.
With this Fort are associated many trials and dangers of our early
soldiers; the adventures through which they passed; the Indian chiefs
who led the savages in their battles, ambuscades and individual adven-
tures of the whites as well as the Indians. As late as November 6, 1792,
Little Turtle commanded a band of two hundred and fifty Mingoes and
Wyandot warriors in an attack upon one hundred mounted riflemen
of the Kentucky militia, commanded by Captain John Adair, who had
been called upon to escort a brigade of pack horses from Fort Washing-
ton to the outlying forts. Two white prisoners were taken, who informed
Little Turtle that these horses were loaded with supplies for Fort St.
Clair, located near Eaton, in Preble county, and Fort Jefferson, and that
the riflemen were mounted on fine horses. As was his custom, Little
Turtle, a short time before daybreak and when near Fort St. Clair, at-
tacked this encampment on three sides, leaving the side toward the fort
open. The horses became frightened from the attack and the men were
thrown into confusion; the camp was captured, the men retiring beyond
the light of the fire, the Indians being thus exposed. When daylight
came so that the whites could be distinguished from the Indians, the sav-
ages were in turn attacked, and a running fight was kept up until the
Indians were driven off. They were last seen about the spot where
Eaton now stands. Two sergeants and four privates were killed and
buried in one grave near Fort St. Clair, and the balance of the expedi-
tion reached Fort Jefferson without any further adventure.
We might add that thirty years after the first treaty of Greenville,
Little Turtle died at Fort Wayne "of gout," which would seem remark-
able; but one writer describes him as a high liver and a gentleman. He
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 119
was a most astute and sagacious Indian statesman; had wit and humor
and intelligence; and, what was really remarkable, he was buried by the
United States soldiers with "the honors of war." His body was borne
to the grave with the highest military ceremonies by his enemy, the white
man. The muffled drum, the funeral salute, denoted that a great soldier
had fallen, and even his enemies paid their mournful tribute to his mem-
ory. The sun of Indian glory set with him, and the clouds and shadows
which for two hundred years had gathered around the destiny of the
redman now closed in the starless night of Death.
Yet his memory is still kept green by the many white men who are
enrolled in the lodges of "Little Turtle."
And now, in behalf of the citizens of Fort Jefferson and the public
in general, I accept this monument and tablet in commemoration of the
fort which so well served as a protection for the soldiers who sought
refuge and shelter therein on the memorable evening of November 4,
1791, and for the detachments that many times afterward found therein
a place of security and rest when on their extended marches and while
in the line of duty.
This fort, as is well known, also furnished ample protection for the
citizen and soldier during the campaign of General Wayne in 1793 and
1794 while collecting and preparing his army at Fort Greenville for the
campaign in the latter year which resulted in the glorious victory at the
battle of Fallen Timber with the Indians, Canadians and the British allies,
and in the year 1795, during the time elapsing for the collection of the
savages, the arrangement for their reception and the final signing of the
noted treaty of 1795, and during the dispersion of the members of the
various Indian tribes represented at that treaty.
This fort is further memorable for the aid and protection furnished
during the war of 1812 with the British and the Indians-a war which
resulted in the second treaty of Greenville in 1814, a treaty that gave
permanent peace and security to all the settlers in Darke and surrounding
counties. And while this fort was secondary to Fort Greenville in im-
portance and history, it still had its place in furnishing the necessary
security to the immediate inhabitants of the vicinity.
Gentlemen of the Greenville Historical Society, we appreciate what
you have done for us and for Greenville, for we all have a common
interest in the result of the labors you are so ably and successfully put-
ting forth in bringing to the public notice the early achievements of our
pioneer settlers and the necessity and importance of impressing on the
minds of the children of today the blessings of liberty, the love of country
and of her institutions which we now enjoy.
Further, permit me to say, sir, we hope that the time will soon come
when the labors and influence of the Historical Society of Darke county
will succeed in securing an appropriation from the General Government
an amount sufficient to erect a suitable monument, with all the necessary
120 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
tablets, in the city of Greenville, Ohio, commemorating the establishment
of the fort there in 1793, the first treaty with the Indians August 3, 1795,
and the second treaty July 22, 1814, together with statues of General St.
Clair, General Anthony Wayne and General William H. Harrison, the hero
of the victory of the battle of the river Thames, which resulted in the death
of Tecumseh and the restoration of a permanent peace with the Indians.
This society has a work to perform, and as you have done for us, so do
likewise for others who also need your kind assistance.
May you always have ready hands and willing minds to labor suc-
cessfully in his great work.
HON. JAMES I. ALLREAD.
JUDGE COMMON PLEAS COURT, DARKE COUNTY.
The county historical society and the citizens of this community are
to be congratulated upon the building of this boulder monument and the
placing of this historic tablet marking the ancient site of Fort Jefferson.
The building of this fort by General Arthur St. Clair was an import-
ant historical event-important not only in the history of this county,
but of the whole Northwest Territory.
Here was built the first permanent structure within the limits of
what is now Darke county. And from here the army of volunteers
and regulars under St. Clair marched forth to meet the most crushing
defeat in all the history of Indian warfare.
The intimate connection of Fort Jefferson with St. Clair's defeat has
marked it for obscurity. The illfated expedition is never dignified as
St. Clair's campaign nor the engagement as St. Clair's battle, but is
designated in all the histories as "St. Clair's Defeat".
It must be remembered, however, that the historical importance of
a battle or engagement does not depend wholly upon success.
Bunker Hill was a great defeat for the colonists, yet, historically,
it marked the beginning of the struggle for independence.
The defeat of the Union forces at Bull Run aroused the North and
made Appomattox possible.
The defeat of St. Clair aroused the national government, inspired the
preparation and reorganization of an army which, under General Anthony
Wayne, achieved brilliant and complete victory in the battle of the Mau-
mee wilderness and brought the Indian chieftains, humiliated, to the
council ending in the Greenville treaty.
The Ohio valley and the Lake Erie region was the scene of the
most formidable and sanguinary of all the Indian conflicts. They began
with the struggles between the French and English traders; they devel-
oped into the French and Indian war; broke out again after the treaty
of peace between the French and English, in Pontiac's conspiracy; in
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 121
the raids leading to Lord Dunmore's war and a long list of less notable
but bloody conflicts up to the outbreak of the War of the Revolution.
At this time the British secured the Indians as their allies, and from
Canadian forts inspired and directed a mercenary warfare against their
From the time of French dominion the Ohio territory was a part of
Canada. And even after the cession of the French possession to the
English in 1763 the Ohio river was still the Canadian boundary.
To the achievements of George Rogers Clarke, in surprising and
reducing the English posts upon the Wabash; the foresight of Wash-
ington, who had himself crossed the Ohio country; and the persistence
of John Adams, one of the American commissioners, is due the cession
of the Northwest Territory at the close of the Revolutionary War. Then
for the first time the Canadian border extended only to the Great Lakes.
The Ohio country passed thereby under the dominion of the United
States, subject only to the Indian title.
To obtain a cession of the Indian titles immediately became the aim
of the national government.
In 1784 the treaty of Fort Stanwix was signed by the Six Nations, or
Iroquois, ceding title to all lands east of the present western boundary
In the following year the treaty of Fort McIntosh was made with
the chiefs of the Delawares, Wyandots, Chippewas and Ottawas, ceding
all lands east and south of the Cuyahoga and Great Miami rivers and
a line extending from the Indian portages upon the head waters of
these streams over a certain defined course, comprising in extent a large
part of the present territory of Ohio.
Upon the faith of this treaty Congress provided for the opening up
of the lands for settlement.
Some of the Indians, notably the Shawnees and Miamis, were not
represented, and all the tribes for one pretext or another became dis-
satisfied and repudiated the treaty.
In 1789 another treaty was made at Fort Harmar with the Wyan-
dots, Chippewas, Pottawatomie and Sac nations, confirming the treaty
of Fort McIntosh. But the very same year this treaty was violated and
In the meantime several expeditions had been made into the Indian
country, resulting for most part in failure.
In 1778 an expedition under General McIntosh was planned against
the Detroit villages. The expedition moved as far as the Tuscarawas,
built and garrisoned Fort Laurens, and then returned. The fort itself
was abandoned the following year. Shortly after the evacuation of the
fort an expedition was sent against the Shawnee villages, but resulted
In 1780 the Coshocton campaign under General Broadhead against
122 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
the Indian villages at the Muskingum forks was unimportant in results.
While in the same summer General Clarke led a body of 970 Ken-
tuckians against the Shawnees on the Little Miami and Mad rivers,
burned their villages and defeated them in battle.
In September, 1782, General Clarke led a second expedition against
the Shawnees, burning their villages and destroying their corn.
There were other minor expeditions to the Indian country, but with-
out any permanent results.
In March, 1782, occurred the Moravian massacre, and in June fol-
lowing the unsuccessful expedition of Colonel Crawford.
In June, 1789, Major Dowty with 140 men from Fort Harmar com-
menced the building of Fort Washington, on the present site of Cincin-
nati. A few months later General Harmar with 300 men arrived and
took command of the fort.
In September, 1799, General Harmar, with a force of 1,300 men, led
an expedition against the Indian villages on the Miamis and Maumee.
While near the villages on the Maumee, an advance detachment of 300
militia fell into an ambush and met with severe loss. Later a detach-
ment under Colonel Hardin was repulsed with great loss and driven back
to the main army. Dispirited by these reverses, General Harmar returned
to Fort Washington, his expedition a failure.
In May, 1791, General Scott with 800 men penetrated into the Wabash
country and destroyed several Indian villages. In August of the same
year General Wilkinson with 500 men destroyed the Kickapoo villages
upon the lower Wabash. The only effect of these expeditions was to
exasperate and inflame the Indians.
The time had now come for more determined action by the national
government. The sturdy pioneers from the older colonies had three
years before planted civilization at Marietta, and were rapidly pushing
their settlements along the Ohio and into the interior. Israel Ludlow
and others had planned a permanent settlement at Fort Washington, and
government surveyors had extended government lines between the two
Miamis almost to the Indian villages.
The Indians fully realized that town building and pioneer settlement
meant the ultimate destruction of their hunting grounds, and that the
forest fellers and farm builder would gradually but surely drive them
toward the open prairies of the west and the frozen lakes of the north.
Impressed with this belief and goaded by instances of wrongs, imagin-
ary and real, they inaugurated a border warfare of the most intense and
The chieftains of the Six Nations, with all the fire of Indian oratory,
told the story of their being driven from their rich hunting grounds and
the graves of their ancestors in the Mohawk valley. The Delawares, with
equal eloquence, told how their council fires on the banks of the Delaware
and Susquehanna had been extinguished before the onrushing tide of
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 123
the white man's civilization. And the Shawnees, noted for the eloquence
of their chieftains, told the story of twenty-five years of border warfare.
The Ohio river, from time immemorial, had been an open highway;
separating the territory of the hostile tribes north and south. It was the
Mason and Dixon line. And no Indian tribe had the hardihood or daring
to plant its villages upon its banks.
The villages of the northern tribes were built upon the upper waters
of its tributaries and upon those of the Great Lakes, while the southern
tribes found security in the fastnesses of the mountains of Tennessee
and in the plains beyond.
This natural and traditional boundary the Indians fondly hoped to
establish as the permanent boundary between them and the whites. And
this hope furnished the inspiration for their quick and ready repudiation
of the treaties ceding portions of the Ohio territory.
The chieftains proclaimed the re-establishment of the Ohio river
boundary as their purpose. This declaration found ready response among
the savages and became the slogan under which all the tribes were now
united. Their hostility threatened every settler. Indian bands roamed
the forests from river to lake. The conflict was constant. It was a duel
to the death. The shooting down of men and the massacre of women
and children were of almost daily occurrence. The passing of boats
upon the rivers was interrupted; the blockhouses themselves attacked,
and tradition has it that Indian spies were seen skulking in the streets of
Cincinnati by night with a view to its attack.
It must not be supposed that the confederacy of Indian tribes con-
fronting the Ohio river settlements at this time were weak numerically
or lacking in martial spirit. On the contrary, they were the most power-
ful, determined and warlike ever encountered in the onward march of
Chief among all the tribes was the Wyandot, whose villages were
near the present site of Detroit and along the Sandusky river, the islands
of Lake Erie forming a line of communication.
Their youths were taught that flight or surrender even to a superior
force was disgraceful. This trait is exemplified in the incident related
of General Wayne requesting the capture of an Indian from Sandusky.
The scout of whom this request was made replied that it was impossible,
as the Indians there were Wyandots, and could not be taken alive. In
the battle of the Fallen Timber it is reported that of the thirteen Wyan-
dot chiefs present but one survived the battle, and he was badly wounded.
They were indeed the Spartans of the Indian tribes.
To the warlike Wyandots was intrusted the Grand Calumet, the sym-
bol of union and of power. By this emblem they had the power to call all
the tribes and nations together and to kindle the council fires.
Next in importance were the Shawnees. They came originally from
south of the Ohio river and established their villages on the banks of
124 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
the Scioto, near its midwaters. From their central location they radiated
in every direction. Their neighbors were the fierce Wyandots. The
Shawnees were restless and aggressive. They were conspicuous in every
Indian conflict from the times of the French and Indian wars down to
the last Indian treaty. They were in the direct front of immigration, and
beat an ugly and reluctant retreat. They were the special object of the
war of Lord Dunmore and of the expeditions of General Clarke and
others, and were conspicuous in the campaigns of Harmar, St. Clair
They produced the greatest chieftains: Cornstalk, who led the
Indian forces at Point Pleasant; Blue Jacket, prominent in the battles
of the Miami country, and who spoke for war in the great council of
all the Indian nations and tribes at the Auglaize; Black Hoof, the old
man eloquent, who was with the victors at Braddock's defeat, was in
all the wars of the Ohio country, and was famed far and wide as a war-
rior of great sagacity and energy and daring; and Tecumseh, the George
Washington of the Indians, who later united all the tribes north and south
for final defense against the whites.
The Delawares were originally from east of the Blue Ridge and were
driven west, settling first in the Muskingum valley and later on in the
Auglaize. They were formerly said to be peaceful, but finally assimil-
ated the spirit of their more warlike neighbors. They marked Colonel
Crawford for the stake and carried the sentence into execution.
Their chieftain was Buck-on-gehelas. Some idea of his character
may be formed by an incident occurring the day after Wayne's victory
at Fort Defiance, fought under the guns of the British fort. Buck-on-
gehelas had assembled his tribe in canoes and was passing up the stream
to make terms with the victors. Upon approaching the British fort an
officer hailed the chieftain and said that the commander wished to speak
to him. The chieftain, disgusted with the false promises of the British,
said, "In that case, let him come to me." "That will never do," was the
reply, "and he will not allow you to pass the fort unless you comply with
"What shall prevent my passing?" the chieftain responded.
"These guns," answered the officer, pointing to those commanding
"I fear not your cannon," the chief replied. "After suffering the
Americans to insult your flag without firing upon them, you must not
expect to frighten Buck-on-gehelas."
With this scornful reply the canoes passed the fort without moles-
The Ottawas formerly occupied the valley of the Ottawa river of
Canada; they were driven westward, beyond Lake Michigan, thence from
place to place until a fragment settled in the Maumee country. Although
held among the Indians to be a cowardly tribe, yet they produced the
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 125
great Pontiac, who is acknowledged to have been one of the foremost
chiefs and warriors of Indian history. Like the Delawares, they were
ready pupils in the school of the fierce Wyandots and the aggressive
The Miamis were the original inhabitants of all the section north of
the Ohio and between the Scioto and Wabash rivers. Their principal vil-
lages were upon the two Miamis and the Miami of the Lake (now Mau-
To this tribe belonged Little Turtle, who commanded the Indian
forces in the campaigns of Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne, and was con-
spicuous at the signing of the treaty of Greenville where he plead ele-
quently for the domain of his ancestors.
In addition to these tribes specially prominent in the frontier history
of Ohio, the confederacy included the Kickapoos, Pottawatomie and
Chippewas of the Michigan and upper lake regions.
The aggressive chieftains at the time of St. Clair's campaign were
Little Turtle, chief of the Miamis; Blue Jacket, chief of the Shawnees;
Buck-on-gehelas, chief of the Delawares; and also Simon Girty, the rene-
gade who had attained the rank of chief among the Mingo, and whose
atrocities made him the terror and dread of all the frontier settlements.
And it has been reported that Joseph Brant, the Mohawk chief, with
150 of his warriors were present at the battle.
The extent of the confederacy at this time was not definitely known,
but may be inferred from the gathering of the next year at the council
of the Auglaize, of which Corn Planter, the Iroquois chieftain, said,
"There were so many nations we could not tell the names of them."
This was to be their last desperate stand and their rendezvous was to be
in the Miami and Maumee country. Such was the situation which con-
fronted Washington when Congress authorized him to act. Washington
was himself an Indian fighter. He was in the defeat of Braddock and
later on led the English forces to decisive victories against the combined
forces of French and Indians.
Washington planned the compaign. General St. Clair, an officer in
the old French wars, a major-general of the war of the revolution, presi-
dent of the Continental Congress and at that time governor of the North-
west Territory, was chosen to command.
The object was to build a strong military post at the junction of the
St. Mary's and St. Joseph with the Maumee, near the Miami villages, to
be connected with Fort Washington by an intermediate chain of forts.
The purpose was to overawe the Indians and enforce submission.
From January, 1791, St. Clair was engaged in collecting men and
supplies. On May 15 he arrived at Fort Washington. By September
he had 2,300 available men, of whom 600 were militia. The main army
on September 17 moved forward twenty-five miles to a point on the bank of
the Great Miami, where Fort Hamilton was built.
126 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
The country was then reconnoitered, and on October 12 this point,
forty-four miles from Fort Hamilton, was selected for the second fort,
and named in honor of Jefferson. Two hundred men under Major Fergu-
son began the work of constructing the fort, block houses and stockade.
Leaving a strong garrison here, the main army, on the morning of
the 24th, again took up the march. They followed an old Indian trail
to the present site of Greenville and thence into the unbroken woods.
From the hour the army left this fort misfortune beset it at every turn.
On the day before leaving Fort Jefferson three men-two deserters and
one mutineer-were drawn up before the army and shot. Notwithstand-
ing this, desertions occurred almost daily, and on October 31 sixty militia-
men deserted in a body. Fearing they would capture and plunder the
wagon trains, St. Clair dispatched the first regiment of regulars to pursue
them, save the wagon convoy, if possible, capture the deserters. Thus
weakened the remnant of the army pursued its toilsome journey.
Indian scouts "hawkeyed and wolf-hearted," peered from the hills
overlooking this fort, and skulked along the line of march. They saw every
defection and knew every division. They counted the remnant of the
army that on November 3 encamped on the spot of dry ground made
famous by the following dawn.
They saw the tired men lie down without a ditch or wall of logs
to protect them from attack. The Indian chieftians knew this was the
time to strike. Tomorrow the defenses would be put up, and soon the
regulars would return. The whole available force of the Indians were
now ready for the attack. At the opportune moment, upon the early
dawn, it opened with great fury. The onset was terrific. The militia-
men, who occupied a position a quarter of a mile in advance, were swept
back upon the main army before they could scarcely fire a shot, and the
whole army was in consternation. The men, after recovering from the
surprise, fought most valiantly. St. Clair, although suffering from the
gout, behaved splendidly. He and General Butler, who was second in
command, rode up and down the line encouraging the men.
The Indians maintained an advantageous position and kept up a
galling crossfire upon our troops who were in the open. They picked
off the officers in uniform. Almost all the officers and half the army
had been killed or wounded and the remnant was surrounded. The
only hope was to cut through the Indian lines. An advance was made,
the Indian lines gave way, the retreat began, and soon developed into an
utter rout, which continued until Fort Jefferson,-29 miles from the field
of action,-was reached. The scene following the beginning of this re-
treat beggars discription. No parallel is found in the annuals of history.
The Indians were indeed savages. Their brutality and fiendishness knew
no bounds. They revelled in human blood. They followed the fleeing
army for several miles, putting to torture and to death the wounded and
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 127
Upon reaching Fort Jefferson, General St. Clair ordered the retreat
continued to Fort Washington. The sick and wounded were quartered
and cared for at Fort Jerfferson. The available army, however, left the
same night and arrived at Fort Hamilton on the afternoon of the 6th
and at Fort Washington on the 8th.
Thus ended, in dreadful disaster, the campaign so carefully planned.
The army was disheartened and almost destroyed, the settlers alarmed
and panic-stricken, and the Indians encouraged and emboldened.
General Butler, second in command, Major Ferguson, whose de-
tachment built this fort, and upwards of 900 men were left upon the
field of battle.
The country was alarmed, congress aroused, and a new army was
raised, which under Wayne the "Sleepless Chief," struck terror into the
hearts of the Indians and made them sue for peace.
The reputation of St. Clair never emerged from the clouds of his
defeat. He retained the governorship of the Territory, but his prestige
and influence were gone. Under the creation of the new state, he re-
turned to his native state of Pennsylvania and there, within sight of the
estates he had sacrificed to the cause of the revolution, spent his last
days in poverty.
In January, following the battle of St. Clair's defeat, General Wil-
kinson accompanied a detachment to the battlefield for the purpose of
burying the dead. The bodies showed most cruel torture. They were
collected and there, amid the snows and blasts of winter and in the
wilderness they sought to recover for civilization, were consigned to
One hundred and sixteen years have passed since the white man's ax
rang out in the unbroken wilderness in the construction of this fortifica-
tion. A transformation has occured beyond the wildest dreams of the men
then living. The Indians have been extirpated, the forests cleared, the
lands drained and improved to the highest state of cultivation, homes built
and every convenience and comfort installed.
Wayne, upon his arrival here, considered this fort unsafe because
of the hills overlooking it, and because of the ease with which it might
be attacked, and marched five miles further and built Fort Greenville,
where his army was established for the winter.
From this new fort, after thorough preparation, Wayne moved into
the wilderness, and to the new fort in triumph he brought the Indians,
thoroughly subdued, for final treaty.
Every great event has its influence The Great Miami was the
natural boundary of the first state to be carved out of the Northwest
Territory. The early Indian treaties extended to this line. Congress, in
providing for the opening up of the lands for settlement, and St. Clair, in
fixing the limits of Hamilton county, made the Great Miami the western
boundary. But in the mind of Wayne, Fort Recovery-within whose shad-
128 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
ows slept the heroic dead of two armies-stood forth as the more ap-
propriate and fitting monument. Fort Recovery, therefore, became the
future landmark for treaties and state lines.
Every age has its peculiar problem. The pioneers dealt with the
problems of poverty. They struggled for the future. They laid the
foundations of a new state. And as we look about in this day of plenty,
we should remember the sacrifices and suffering of those who rescued
the country from the wilderness and built deep and strong the foundation
of our present prosperity.
A WORD FROM THE RED MEN.
L. E. WILLS.
No doubt after hearing of the many depredations by the Indians
towards the whites, you wonder why the Little Turtle Tribe of Red Men,
an order which was named after the red man, have been invited to assist
and participate upon this occasion. And indeed you have cause to wonder,
from the fact, as I have said, that we were named after the red men of the
forest, and at the time this fort was built the red man and the whites were
engaged in a frightful war.
If this was a debate I assure you that I could quote you some history
in defense of the red men that would cause many of you to change your
minds and your opinions, but as this is not a debate I will just call to
mind a few instances that might correct some of your minds in regard
to why you are here.
When Columbus discovered and landed on our Eastern shores,
his report upon his return was that he had discovered a country inhabited
by a copper colored race of people, who, upon the first sight of the white
man, became frightened and ran away; but upon repeated efforts became
more friendly and showed them much hospitality. That is the first in-
stance in history that we have of the red man. History also teaches us
that the primitive red men of the forest were a people who loved their
freedom above all things. They were a people who considered their word
and promise as sacred as their lives. They were a people to whom vice
and treachery were perfect strangers. They were also a God-fearing
people, who, history tells us, never entered upon any important duty
without offering up an invocation and prayer asking The Great Spirit for
his protecting power. When rain failed to descend and the buffalo had
forsaken their hunting grounds they gathered together and for days offered
up incantation and prayer and smoked the pipe of peace, believing that
their words would ascend to Him in the smoke and cause the rain to fall
and the buffalo to return. That society at that time was not named the
Red Men's Order, but the same people-the same society descended on
down until it became the Improved Order of Red Men. And we were
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 129
named after the primitive red men of the forest, a people that were not
much different from what we are to-day. As I told you, they were a
God-fearing people, the same as we. Their word was as sacred to them
as their lives, and I am not so sure that that is true of all of us. I am
proud to say that I belong to an order that was named after a people
as proud and noble as they. Then you might say, why this war? I believe
and honestly believe that the white man's greed for land, their superior
intelligence, the mistreatment of the red man was the cause of the war,
and if I had time I could go back in history and prove the assertion I
Whether that war was right or whether it was wrong great minds
have differed and they still differ. At any rate, the red man was driven
from the east, driven westward. At that time this country was a wild
wilderness. The wild beast roamed at will, and the cry of the stealthy
panthers could be heard at any time. The rippling waters of the humblest
brooks ran on undisturbed to the great rivers in the great beyond.
The Indians now being driven westward we can imagine that we
see the tepee of the Indians placed on those distant hills and the smoke
from the tepee ascending into the heavens. We can imagine that we
see the dusky squaw. We can also imagine that we see the little dusky
papoose playing and roaming at will. Then we can also imagine that
we see the band of soldiers that stole, as we are told, through yonder
valley and arrived at this spot and built this fort, and no tongue can tell
nor no pen thoroughly describe the privations and tortures that they en-
dured before that fort was built.
This is all that I have to say in regard to the Order of Red Men.
The Historical Society being acquainted with the history of the Order of
Red Men invited us to be here on this occasion and that is why we are
here. In regard to the building of the fort and the circumstances con-
nected with it you have been told.
REMARKS BY WESLEY VIETS.
Not having the slightest hint of my name being called on this oc-
casion I am entirely unprepared to come before you, and I do not feel
that I can add anything to what has been said in regard to the history
of this old fort. All I can say is what I know from my own experience.
I came to this place nearly seventy-three years ago, and it was
then comparatively a wilderness. I have played on this spot hundreds
of times as a boy and we always called it the war ground. We would
say: "We will go over to the war ground and hunt bullets." We would
pick up 6-ounce bullets that were shot from the old guns, the old flint
lock that we had to load and prime it. Powder was ignited through a
flint and we still had them when I was old enough to shoot squirrels
in that woods. Pocket money was a little scarce and we boys would
Vol. XVII.- 9.
130 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
come over here and hunt bullets and then mold them into small bullets
to use in squirrel hunting.
In regard to the fort, a great many asked me where the old fort
was. Now I can't tell that. I am not old enough to remember. I re-
member very distinctly what we called a magazine stood right about
where that apple tree stands, and here was another magazine right here,
and down below the hill was a large spring. There was an under-
ground ditch dug from that magazine and it was dug deep enough that
a man could walk underneath from that magazine to this one and from
there it extended to the spring below. That was covered with what we
called puncheon laid across the ditch and then covered with dirt, and
this underground ditch was used for protection in going from one place
to another for water. You can see the low place right along there ex-
tending to that magazine and from that on down it goes to that old
spring, which has been running ever since I can remember and still af-
fords water. Then across on the other hill there is another place that
there was said to be a magazine. And I remember when there was a
dam from the road across the creek there, which was called the beaver
dam, but what it was put there for I don't know.
I can remember when there was but one frame house in this place:
that stood on the corner there and was burned down three years ago.
There was at that time eight or ten log cabins. I can remember when
every frame house in the town was raised. Our first school house was
built all of round logs. The fire place took wood in four feet long.
The wood was hauled by the patrons of the school and piled up, and
the pupils would go out and chop it. It would take two or three boys to
carry the back log, as we called it. The chimney was made of sticks.
That was burned down finally and we put up a frame school house on
the same site. We would have school generally three months in the
year. About the holidays we had great times. We turned the teacher
out, and if he was a little obstinate and didn't like to come to our
terms about a treat we would take him down to the creek, cut a hole
in the ice and put his head in the water a while.
My father came here between 1813 and 1815. In looking over old
papers a few years ago I found a license reading something like this:
"This is to certify that Hezekiah Viets has the privilege of bringing
a store to and selling goods in Fort Jefferson from this date until the sit-
ting of the next court, which will probably be in July."
This small tract of ground which was called the old war ground was
all cleared off, not even any stumps on it. We didn't consider it any-
thing to pick up a bayonet, a musket barrel, an old lock, Indian toma-
hawk and bomb shells. In clearing the farm above here I found in the
fork of a tree a part of a bomb shell half as large as my hand. I found in
1860 one bomb shell that was called an eight pounder. That was filled with
Monument at Fort Jefferson. 131
powder yet and had the cork in where the fuse was attached, but the
powder had been wet and would not ignite. We had not yet learned to
appreciate these old relics and failed to take care of them, consequently
they were mislaid or destroyed. Only a few years ago I picked up a
half dozen grape shot, a scalping knife, and what they called a bullet
puller, to draw the loads from the guns. I picked them up right here,
just north of the house there. But in regard to the old fort, I have paid
but little attention to its history.