Ohio History Journal




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

this inscription:


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

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


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





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

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

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

of Caesar-

116 Ohio Arch

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.





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.





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

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

highest civilization.

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

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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

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

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.





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

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

own kindred.

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

of Pennsylvania.

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

hostilities resumed.

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 defeat.

In 1780 the Coshocton campaign under General Broadhead against

122 Ohio Arch

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

deadly character.

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

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

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

and Wayne.

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

his wishes."

"What shall prevent my passing?" the chieftain responded.

"These guns," answered the officer, pointing to those commanding

the stream.

"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

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

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

the exhausted.

Monument at Fort Jefferson

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

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.





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

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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

have made.

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.



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

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

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.