Ohio History Journal

The Croghan Celebration

The Croghan Celebration.                   27






I am gratified, indeed, to be present and participate with you for

a brief while upon this historic occasion. I have not come to make a

formal speech, nor did I come to make you a speech at all. According

to the programme, I am to indulge only in a few "remarks."

What I shall say to you shall be born of the moment. I have

brought with me no well-turned phrases. I have come simply to join

with you in paying tribute to the memory of men who did valiant service

in the cause of the Republic in the long


The spot whereon we stand is sacred

ground, for wherever men have fought in

the cause of American liberty, that ground

is sacred and ever will be held so.

George Croghan is a name that is in-

delibly written in the history of the Re-

public, and this great community honors

itself when it brings back his remains

from the sunny South and gives them

sepulcher in the soil hallowed by his

genius and valor.

We bring to-day beneath this beautiful

summer sky a tribute of our gratitude

for what he did for us and for our suc-

cessors in the centuries which stretch be-

fore us with so much promise. We lay the

remains of this brave soldier to their everlasting sleep beneath the shade

of yonder monument.

I wish we knew the names of the hundred and sixty men who stood

with him August 2, 1813, that we might call the roll of them here to-

day and pay to them the tribute of our gratitude and our admiration.

The brave commander who rendered illustrious service here in a critical

period of the war of 1812, is known to us and his name is upon our

lips and it will be sung by our children in days to come, but his brave

compatriots are unknown. The one hundred and sixty men who stood

here--as brave men as ever placed their lives upon the sacrificial altar

of their country--are known, for God Almighty knows men who go

down to the battle field to preserve American institutions for ages to


There is one brave young man, who stood with Croghan, whose

name we cannot forget, and which we recall with pride and satisfaction,

and that is the name of Ensign Shipp. When the British General Proctor

28 Ohio Arch

28         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


came bearing a flag of truce, supported by an army trained in the art

of arms -five hundred British, eight hundred savages, I believe, twelve

hundred in all, -against an hundred and sixty-one, commander and

soldiery, it was believed that the flag of truce would win a complete

surrender of the small garrison. But the British commander knew little

of the metal that was in George Croghan and Ensign Shipp and the

hundred and fifty-nine others who shared with them the fortunes of

war. The young commander who had barely reached his majority sent

to meet the officers bearing the flag of truce, this young Ensign, younger

still than himself. The British officer demanded the surrender of the

garrison. The Ensign answered--and history can never forget his an-

swer: "My commandant and the garrison," said he, "are determined

to defend the post to the last extremity and bury ourselves in its ruins

rather than surrender to any force whatever."

It was pointed out by the British commander that resistance would

probably result in massacre by the savages. To this suggestion the

Ensign defiantly replied: "When the fort shall be taken there will be

none to massacre. It will not be given up while a man is able to


This was the note of sublime heroism. It was essentially the

answer of a brave American patriot. It was a sentiment kindred to

one uttered by General Grant during the Civil War. The great General,

as I remember, in one of his campaigns, crossed a river and sought an

engagement with the enemy with the river in his rear, and with only

one transport. When it was suggested that this was, perhaps, inade-

quate provision in the event of the necessity of a retreat, the great

captain of our armies made the laconic reply that if he was obliged to

retreat, one transport would be sufficient.

As Shipp made his way back to the fort, Major Croghan awaited

him. The latter knew the British would demand surrender and that

the brave Ensign would decline to accede to his demand. As the fort

opened for the Ensign's return, Croghan said: "Come in Shipp and

we will blow them all to Hell." That was a naughty word. (A voice:

"But it was the right one under the circumstances.") Yes, you are

right. If it was ever to be used, then was the occasion to use it, and

I think that a word like that, used in the cause of liberty, is a dis-

infected word.

(The Vice-President indicated he was about to close. Several

voices: "Go on! Go on!")

I do not want to talk longer than it took George Croghan to lick

the British and the savages here. He illustrated better than any man

can that it is not words which win victories, but it is deeds that accom-

plish them.

Fellow citizens, American liberty has cost something. It is a

singular fact that those great blessings to the human race which it

most longs for, which it most prays for, always come at the greatest

The Croghan Celebration

The Croghan Celebration.                     29


cost. Humanity, in all her march, back from the early mist of history,

down to this present hour, has won her victories for liberty mainly

upon the battle field. We who are here to-day are in the enjoyment

of liberty which was won upon the field of battle. We are a great,

happy, contented nation of eighty millions. We look out across the sea

to the Empire of Russia, with her one hundred and forty millions

struggling with the great problems of human liberty. We see their wars,

we see their massacres, we see their bloodshed unspeakable. We each

and every one wish that those people could come out of the bondage

of iron rule into the glad sunshine of liberty.

America has had five wars: the War of the American Revolution;

the War of 1812 which made us forever secure against the efforts of

Great Britain to wrest liberty from us - the liberty fought for by our

continental fathers; the war with Mexico was the third, and I am glad

to see here to-day and take by the hand several of the survivors of the

war with Mexico. Their presence is an inspiration. It is a curious

coincidence that there is now present a man who knew Croghan in the

Mexican War. It seems to carry us back from the present to the very

presence of the hero of Fort Stephenson. Then the war of the great

Rebellion-the mightiest war in the history of man. There are here

to-day scores of men bearing upon their breasts the evidence of their

loyalty to the Union in the hour of its supremest exigency. And later

came the war with Spain.

These five wars were fought by the people of the United States,

30 Ohio Arch

30         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


not to enslave men but to make men free, to enlarge in a vast degree

the zone of Republican government.

All honor to George Croghan and his heroic band. All honor

to the soldiers of the revolution. All honor to the soldiers of the

Mexican war. All honor to the soldiers of the Union. All honor to

the soldiers of the Spanish-American war. The American people honor

them. They honor them each and all. They hold them forever within

the embrace of their fondest memory.

Fellow citizens, it would be impossible for me to close these few

words without expressing that appreciation to Col. Webb C. Hayes

which is in the hearts of all of us here to-day. It is a happy circum-

stance that he, a soldier himself, and a son of one of the brave defenders

of the Union in the Civil War, should thoughtfully and generously bring

back from the soil of Kentucky where he was sleeping his everlasting

sleep the remains of this brave, fearless leader, in order that they might

rest here amid the theater of his immortal achievements.

All honor to Colonel Hayes for what he has so splendidly done,

and all honor to the community which respects and preserves the memory

of those who have served so well in the cause of their country.

I will leave you, my friends, and I leave you with regret. I leave

you, however, with the confident hope that you will go forward in the

enjoyment of peace and happiness which are the legitimate fruits of

those who fought here and elsewhere for Republican government.





The chairman has stated that I will make a few remarks, and this

is truly said. When your committee came to Columbus to invite me to

participate on this occasion I frankly told them that it would be im-

possible for me to make any preparation, but that I could come provid-

ing no speech was expected of me, and, fellow citizens, Col. Hayes

gladly accepted the promise, and it was with that understanding that I

am here to-day, for the purpose of participating with you in my pres-

ence more than by words or speech on this memorable occasion.

I sometimes think that we have never given sufficient importance

in history to the gallant deeds that were performed here in 1813. You

remember that up to that time the results of the war seemed against us.

We had met many reverses, but it was Col. Croghan and his 160 men

who won one of the most important victories, according to the numbers

engaged on our side and the numbers of the enemy, that is recorded

in American history. It was from this moment that the tide of the

battle turned in our favor. From that time victory after victory followed

until in a few months' time the war was ended, and victory seemed

vouchsafed to us so far as the mother country was concerned, the