Ohio History Journal

102 Ohio Arch

102       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


war for independence would have been greatly at variance with

the desires of the American people.

[Authorities for the above article are: John J. Jacob's Biography of

Michael Cresap; Olden Time-Monthly historical paper printed by Nevin

B. Craig at Pittsburg, 1847; Statement of George Rogers Clark; Wash-

ington-Crawford Correspondence-Butterfield; Doddridge's Notes; Nar-

rative of Capt. John Stewart; Pennsylvania Archives; McKiernan's Bor-

der History.-W. H. H.]







[This article was the substance of a speech made by the author at the

banquet of the Ohio Sons and Daughters of the American Revolu-

tion, at the Hollenden Hotel, Cleveland, February 22, 1902.-


It has been said that Belgium is the battleground of Europe.

Ohio may then be called the Belgium of America. It is the

great battlefield of the United States. For the Ohio Valley,

of which Ohio may be regarded as the center, was the arena in

the contest of centuries between the Latin and the Saxon races

for the American stakes. The French, through their discoveries

up the St. Lawrence, along the great lakes to the sources of

the Mississippi, and thence down that great river course to

the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the tributaries of those waterways,

including the territory east of the Mississippi and south of the

chain of lakes, except that strip settled by the English colonies

along the Atlantic coast, and reaching back to the Allegheny

mountains. The English, by their right of discovery and settle-

ment and through their royal charters and patents, claimed the

extension of their rights west from the Atlantic to the Mississippi

and even on beyond to the "unknown" sea.

It was at Logstown, some twenty miles below the site of

Pittsburg, 1753, when the first great conference was held between

the three rival races. The Indian, the native savage, represented

by Half King, chief of the Iroquois; St. Pierre, representing

the French, and he whose name we celebrate tonight, George

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Ohio's Part in the American Revolution.     103


Washington, representing the English. The French claimed the

territory, as we have seen, by the right of discovery and partial

settlement; the English by right of extension of their undisputed

colonies; the Indian by the original title of primeval occupa-

tion. There was no alternative but war, and Braddock's defeat

a few years later was the opening event of that series of his-

toric campaigns known as the French and Indian war, lasting

seven years, until 1763. That war was decided in that dramatic

encounter on the heights of Abraham at Quebec, in which the in-

vincible Wolf led the British and the intrepid Montcalm the

French. Both leaders died upon the field of battle, but its gauge

was to the Saxon; and by the treaty of Paris which followed,

France yielded to England all the territory she protested had

been her possessions in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys east

and south. The territory west of the Mississippi was ceded to

Spain, thereafter known as the Louisiana territory, and given

to Spain in lieu of her Florida and Mexican Gulf domain, which

Spain in turn ceded to England. And now the English flag

waved over Ohio soil, where before for a century and a half

the French flag had floated. The colonies had fought the French

war with the understanding that they were to be, in case of

victory, its beneficiaries and be permitted to occupy the Ohio

Valley as a rich and valuable extension to their Atlantic coast

lodgments. Our forefathers, even our revolutionary sires, were

expansionists. But the war over, and Britain triumphant, she

seized the territory west of the Alleghenies in the Ohio and

Mississippi valleys as the exclusive dominion of the crown. She

made it an Indian reservation, forbade the colonists to settle

thereon, even forbidding pioneers of the east and south to make

settlements except under licenses and restrictions so great and

excessive as to amount almost to a prohibition.

This was the situation until the year 1774, when the pro-

mulgation of the Quebec act, practically renewing and enforcing

the exclusive policy of the crown, aroused the indignation of

the colonists to such a degree that they began to protest, and it

was one of the chief causes of the declaration of independence.

The Earl of Dunmore was royal governor of Virginia. Virginia

claimed her strip of this reservation to the Mississippi, includ-

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ing what would now be the southern half of Ohio. He resolved

to take up arms against the domination of the crown.* It was

the first overt defiance of the Quebec promulgation. True,

Ohio was then occupied mostly by Indians who were the

subsidized allies of the English and who were fighting equally

with England for the exclusion of the colonies from this

territory that they (the Indians) might preserve their hunt-

ing grounds and homes. Governor Dunmore raised an army

of 3,000 and separated it into two divisions of 1,500 each,

one of which divisions he took with him to Pittsburg, and

there on flatboats floated down the Ohio to the mouth of

the Hockhocking river, where he built a stockade called

Fort Gower. He then proceeded to the interior of the state

and encamped below the present site of Chillicothe. The other

division of these Virginia frontiersmen was under the com-

mand of General Andrew Lewis. He marched to the mouth

of the Kanawha river intending to cross the Ohio, but before

doing so was met at Point Pleasant by the famous Indian chief,

Cornstalk, accompanied by other famous chiefs, including Te-

cumseh's father, with some 2,000 braves. A most desperate and

determined battle was fought in which the Indians were signally


That battle was an unique event in border warfare. It was

solely an American victory. The whites under Lewis were not

British soldiers, not even were they organized colonial militia.

They were "minute men" from      the river banks and hillsides

of Virginia's interior. They were backwoodsmen in buckskin

and homespun, settlers cradled and reared in the privations and

hardships of pioneer life. The enemy was the cruel red man

uncommanded and unattended by British or French allies. There

[*It is not suggested, much less claimed, that Dunmore took up

rebellious arms against his government in favor of the independence of

the Virginia colony or the other colonies. His expedition, however, was

in violation of the British provincial dictation and in behalf of the exten-

sion of Virginian dominion into excluded territory. That his purpose was

a double-faced one, namely to arouse the red men against the colonists

and thus intimidate the latter is not here referred to. For that view of

Dunmore's War see the excellent article by Mr. Hunter in another part

of this publication.-E. 0. R.]

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Ohio's Part in the American Revolution.     105


were in that opposing force only chosen Indian braves officered

by skilled and crafty chiefs

That was the first battle of the revolution, fought on October

10, 1774, six months before the shot was fired at Lexington that

"echoed around the world." It was the first blow for American

freedom, struck on the banks of the Ohio, by Virginia frontiers-

men. Lewis and his troops proceeded to join Dunmore when

a treaty with the Indians was secured and the entire army began

their march home by way of Hockhocking. On arriving at

Fort Gower this Virginia army for the first time received the

news of the assembling of the First Continental Congress at

Philadelphia and the officers of the army held a meeting and

passed a resolution to the effect, after complimenting the suc-

cess of their general, that they professed allegiance to the king

and crown, but added that "their devotion would only last while

the king deigned to reign over a free people, for their love of

liberty for America outweighed all other considerations, and they

would exert every power for its defense when called forth by the

voice of their countrymen." This was the first declaration of in-

dependence, declared by Virginia volunteers at the mouth of

the Hockhocking on that soil that was subsequently to be con-

secrated as the great state of Ohio.

The war of the revolution was now on. It waged gloriously

and courageously along the New England coast, but no less po-

tently and mercilessly in the Ohio Valley and along the streams

and hillsides of (to be) Ohio commonwealth.

The scattered settlers of the Ohio Valley had more at stake

than the New England colonists, for the colonists in New Eng-

land were assured of an English government, but the destiny of

the Ohio valley might fall-probably would-into the hands of a

foreign nation, either France or Spain, the latter of which held

untold territory immediately west of the Mississippi. It was

the British policy to fight the colonists at the front through hired

Hessians. It was also the British policy to attack and harass

the colonists in the rear of the rebelling states by employing the

tomahawk and the scalping knife of the Indian. Ohio, immedi-

ately adjacent to the frontier lines of Pennsylvania and Virginia,

became the scene of constant Indian and English warfare to the

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year 1783. There were many brilliant campaigns worthy the pen

of the most graphic and imaginative historian. The expeditions,

for instance, three in number, of George Rogers Clark, who at the

instigation of Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, with Ken-

tucky and Virginia troops, proceeded down the Ohio and then

marched northeast through what was subsequently Illinois, In-

diana and Ohio, taking the settlements of Kaskaskia, Vincennes

and Cahokia and destroying the Indian villages in the interior

of our present state. The years 1780 and 1782 were memorable

for the most bloody campaigns. The second daring expedition

of Clark was almost simultaneous with the historic expeditions

of Crawford from the east toward Detroit. The last expedition

in 1782 of George Rogers Clark was one from Kentucky north

into the interior, attacking the Indians at Piqua, Xenia, Chilli-

cothe and elsewhere with a regiment of a thousand valiant

frontiersmen. They were a veritable band of Rough Riders,

and the annals of history present no deeds more daring, more

brave, more patriotic, more adventurous than the incidents of that

campaign; it was to the revolution what Sherman's march to the

sea was to the rebellion. Clark's last expedition broke the back-

bone of the revolution. It saved the Northwest to the colonies.

The revolution was over for New England colonies in 1783,

but not so for the inhabitants of Ohio Valley. The English

refused to yield possession of many British posts along the lake

shores and particularly at Erie, Sandusky, the mouth of the Mau-

mee, at Detroit and other places. It was the policy of England

to retain those posts and from them send out incursions with

Indian allies to continue a guerrilla warfare against the colonial

settlements. The British, especially their agents in America.

hoped, and indeed expected, the attempted independence of the

colonies would prove a failure and dependence come again. The

famous ordinance of 1787 established and opened up the North-

west Territory and our revolutionary sires left their New England

homes and sought new abodes in the West. The Ohio Company

came down the "beautiful river," as the French called it, in that

second Mayflower in 1788. You easily recall the warfare that was

then renewed by the British and the Indians to repel the colonial

settlements in the southern, central and subsequently in the

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Ohio's Part in the American Revolution.      107


northern portions of our state. There were the expeditions of

Harmar (1789), his defeat; of St. Clair (1791), his defeat on the

site of Fort Recovery, in which battle his loss was 600 killed, and

250 wounded, and some two or three hundred lost or missing, a

total loss equal to the greatest loss suffered by the colonists in the

Revolution, the loss of Washington at the defeat of German-

town. Then followed that brilliant campaign of Anthony

Wayne in 1794; his marching with 5,000 intrepid soldiers from

Fort Washington north to the Maumee, and his famous victory

on that August day at Fallen Timbers, when he signally routed

the Canadian troops with their Indian allies under Little Turtle

and Tecumseh.

That was the real close of the Revolution, and it ended in

Ohio, on whose soil it had begun twenty years before at the battle

of Point Pleasant between Cornstalk and Lewis.

The truth of history is that there was more of the revolu-

tion on Ohio soil than there was on the soil of many of the New

England states. It lasted here a score of years, three times as long

as was suffered by the more pretentious settlements in the At-

lantic states. For instance, Connecticut saw no such warfare.

There was no campaign, not even a battle of note upon the

soil of Connecticut, yet from the standard histories you would

scarcely imagine that there were any "doings" of importance in

those famous years west of the Allegheny mountains. The

history of the United States has not yet been written. When

it is written, it will be written by a Western man with the Ohio

valley as his point of view.

Ohio, therefore, it is seen, it a great factor in the revolution.

She always rises to the emergency. She cannot even be lost nor

ignored in the days of our revolutionary sires.