Archaeological and Historical
COLONEL WILLIAM CRAWFORD.1
BY JAMES H. ANDERSON.
UPPER SANDUSKY, OHIO, May 6, 1896.
Hon. J. H. Anderson, Columbus, Ohio,
DEAR JUDGE: I am directed by the officers of the Wyandot
County Pioneer Association to extend you an invitation to de-
liver an address at the picnic to be held at CRAWFORD, Thursday,
June 11, on the occasion of the 114th anniversary of the burning
of Colonel William CRAWFORD. Hoping to receive a favorable
answer, so that you can be duly mentioned in future notices and.
advertisements, I beg to remain,
E. N. HALBEDEL, Secretary.
1 This address was delivered before five or six thousand people, on
the banks of the Tymochtee, near CRAWFORD's monument, in CRAWFORD
township, Wyandot county, Ohio. Before the formation of Wyandot
county, CRAWFORD township was in CRAWFORD county. CRAWFORD was burnt
by the Delaware Indians, June 11, 1782, where the monument now stands,
which is about seven miles north-west of Upper Sandusky, near CRAWFORD
Station, and the town of CRAWFORDsville. The monument bears this in-
scription: "In memory of Colonel CRAWFORD, who was burnt by the
Indians, in this valley, June 11, A. D. 1782." On the base are these words:
"Erected by the Pioneer Association of Wyandot County, August 3, 1877."
2 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wyandot County Pioneer Association,
and Fellow Citizens:
In the year 1749, when George Washington was surveying
the immense landed estate of his friend Lord Fairfax, he made the
acquaintance of William Crawford, whose home and birthplace
was in Orange county,2 Virginia, the most northern portion of
the valley.3 This rich and romantic region had not long been
occupied by white men when William Crawford came upon the
scene in 1732, and the customs of the inhabitants were simple and
primitive. When first seen by Washington, William Crawford
was a youth of fine, manly presence, above six feet in height, and
in point of strength and activity a very athlete. While surveying
in the neighborhood of the Crawford homestead, which became
the headquarters of Washington, a friendship4 sprang up between
these two noble minded young men that lasted till the tragic end
came. They were near the same age, reared in the country, sons
of widows; and in size, strength, activity, personal qualities and
characteristics were not unlike. Crawford now accompanied
Washington on his surveying tours, and thus acquired the art of
surveying which he thenceforth pursued, along with farming,
till stern war demanded his whole time, energies and resources.
In 1755 he forsook surveying, and farming, to face the com-
mon enemy of the settlement-the Indian. He accepted a com-
mission as ensign, and with Washington fought under Braddock,
in the bloody and disastrous engagement with the French and
Indians July 9, 1755, near Fort Du Quesne. And the gallantry
of Ensign Crawford was such that he was made a lieutenant the
next year. Lieutenant Crawford became noted for bravery,
activity, and discretion in the wars against the Indians, and French
and Indians. From 1755 to 1758 he was employed on the fron-
tiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia in garrison duty, leading scout-
2The county of Frederick, afterwards formed, included Crawford's
birth-place. It is now in the county of Berkeley.
3 The Shenandoah valley, or Valley of Virginia.
4 Weems' Life of Washington, pp. 28, 29.
Colonel William Crawford.
ing parties, and in other ways against the Indians, where, by dear
experience, he was taught the most effective way to fight and
subdue savages. It having been decided in 1758 to make another
attempt to reduce Fort Du Quesne, Washington, who was now
Commander-in-Chief of the Virginia troops, secured for Crawford
a commission as captain, who thereupon recruited a full company
of hardy frontiersmen to serve under "his friend and benefactor."5
And one of the privates in Crawford's company afterwards became
famous in the Revolutionary war as Major General Daniel Mor-
gan.6 Such were the men who decided to besiege and take Fort
Du Quesne. The army met with many misadventures and difficul-
ties on the way, which retarded its progress, but on the 25th of No-
vember, 1758, the French7 having recently withdrawn from the
fort and sailed down the Ohio, it was taken possession of by the
troops under Washington. After the occupancy of the post,
Crawford continued in the service of Virginia three years longer,
when he withdrew from army life, sought his old home in the
valley, and again took up the double occupation of farmer and
Captain Crawford's long military service having made him
familiar with the rich region of southwestern Pennsylvania, then
supposed to be a part of Virginia, he decided to make it his home.
So in 17658 he built a cabin on Braddock's road, at Stewart's
Crossings, about 40 miles from Pittsburg, on the Youghiogheny
river, in what is now Fayette county, Pennsylvania. It was then
in Cumberland, later in Bedford, afterwards in Westmoreland and
finally in Fayette. In 1765 it was a "howling wilderness" in
almost every direction. As soon as his cabin was ready for occu-
pancy9 he commenced trading with the Indians, and surveying
lands for speculators and settlers, and in two years a large part
of his farm, probably with the assistance of his slaves, was cleared.
5 Weems' Life of Washington, p. 29.
6 Hall's Romance of Western History, Chap. VII, p. 121.
As to the designs of France, see Bouquet's Expedition. Cincinnati,
1868, p. 11.
8 Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 114.
9 His wife and three children joined him in the Spring of 1766.
4 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
Crawford's place of 376 acres was better known than any other
west of the mountains, for his hospitality and big hearted gen-
erosity knew no bounds.10 In this log cabin, remote from the
refinements of civilization, Crawford was not forgotten by Wash-
ington, nor did they neglect to write to each other, as a hand-
some volume entitled The Washington-Crawford Letters, by C.
W. Butterfield, sufficiently attests. The first letter by Washing-
ton is dated September 21, 1767; the last by Crawford is dated
May 23, 1781, a few months before his awful death. Other letters
no doubt passed between these true friends and great men, that
were lost or destroyed. Crawford selected and surveyed for
Washington11 on and near the Youghiogheny, Great Kanawha,
and Ohio rivers, a great deal of land, forty or fifty thousand acres,
and these lands in the language of Washington were "the first
choice of," and "the cream of the country."" He also selected and
surveyed lands for Samuel and John, brothers of George Wash-
ington, and for their cousin Lund Washington. Some of the
earliest surveys in Brooke, Ohio, and Marshall counties, Virginia,
were made by Captain Crawford.13
On the 13th of October, 1770, George Washington, paid his
friend a visit, and his welcome was most hearty and cordial.
Crawford's lonely cabin in the wilds of the forest was hospitality
itself. Both were now in the prime of life, thirty-eight years old,
10 " He was a man of good judgment, singular good nature, and great
humanity; and remarkable for his hospitality--few strangers coming to
the western country and not spending some days at the crossing of the
Youghiogheny, where he lived." Brackenridge in the Knight and Slover
pamphlet, 1783, p. 16. Brackenridge was a brilliant man, a writer of books,
and for fifteen years judge of the supreme court of Pennsylvania. Wash-
ington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 129.
11 "If you will be at the trouble of seeking out the lands," wrote
Washington, from Mt. Vernon, September 21, 1767, "I will take upon me
the part of securing them as soon as there is a possibility of doing it, and
will moreover be at the cost and charges of surveying and patenting the
same. You shall then have such a reasonable proportion of the whole as
we may fix upon at our first meeting." Sparks' Writings of Washington
II. p. 348. See Crawford's answer, Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 8.
12 Washington to Neville, June 16, 1794.
13 De Hass' His. Ind. Wars, W. Va., p. 373.
Colonel William Crawford. 5
of robust health, and as old and intimate friends, greatly enjoyed
each others society. They rode over the fertile Washington
lands, and inspected the coal mines,14 stone quarries, and mill
seats thereon; they looked at the mighty forest trees, at the noble
navigable rivers, and then visited budding Pittsburg, which
boasted twenty log cabins occupied by Indian traders, and a post
called Fort Pitt, garrisoned by two companies of soldiers.
On the 20th of October, Washington and Crawford started
down the Ohio in a large canoe, scanning the country with a view
to locating lands they were entitled to as officers in the French
and Indian wars. They often left the boat to get a better view
of the land.15 When they reached the mouth of the Great Ka-
nawha,16 they soon turned about and started for Pittsburg again.17
In what is now Meigs county, Ohio, they left their canoe, and
Washington wrote in his journal: "Walked across the neck on
foot with Captain Crawford,-the distance according to our walk-
ing about eight miles."18 They entered the canoe again and con-
tinued on to Mingo Bottom, now in Jefferson county, Ohio, two
miles and a half below Steubenville, where they remained three
days. Thus George Washington, the truest and noblest char-
acter of whom we have any account, accompanied by his good
and faithful friend William Crawford, visited the soil of our own
Ohio 126 years ago. On the 25th of November, Washington
bade adieu to the Crawfords and started through the forests and
over the mountains for his Potomac home-Mt. Vernon-where
he arrived December 1, 1770, having been absent nine weeks
and a day.19 When these warm friends and brave men parted on
the banks of the Youghiogheny, little they suspected the fortune,
good or evil, in store for them, that one would rise to the highest
distinction, winning unfading laurels, and imperishable glory,
and the other, far from friends, at the hands of savages, after a
14 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 16.
15 See daily journal or diary kept by Washington.
16 October 31st. See Washington diary.
17 November 4th. See same.
18 November 5th. See same.
19 Sparks' Writings of Washington, Vol. II, pp. 516, 534.
6 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
life of usefulness and honor, suffer a most barbarous, and inde-
scribably cruel, and awful death.
In 1770, Crawford was appointed one of the justices for
Cumberland county. It was on the 11th of March, 1771, that
William Crawford, Arthur St. Clair, and other men of promi-
nence were appointed by Governor Penn, justices of the peace
for Bedford county.20 They were ex-officio judges of the county
courts. When Westmoreland was formed, Crawford was ap-
pointed a justice for that county, and became the president judge
of the courts.21 It was the intention of Washington and Lord
Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, together to visit Crawford
this year (1773); but the death of Miss Custis, Washington's step-
daughter, on June 19, 1773, prevented the journey, and kept him
at home. In a letter to the Earl of Dunmore, dated April 13,
1773, Washington, writing from Mt. Vernon, said: "I beg the
favor of your lordship to inform me as nearly as you can of the
precise time you will do me the honor of calling here, that I may
get ready accordingly, and give notice of it to Mr. Crawford,
* * * that he may be disengaged when we get to his house."22
While Washington could not go at that time for the reason
given, Lord Dunmore made the journey during the summer,
spending considerable time at Crawford's place, and at Pitts-
burg.23 Thus Crawford was visited in his distant, humble home,
by the two most distinguished men then living in America.
Washington again wrote to Crawford-this time on the 25th of
September, 1773-touching the location of lands, "Down the
Ohio, below the mouth of the Scioto," to which both were entitled
"Under a proclamation of the year 1763." "By Mr. Leet I in-
formed you," continued Washington, "of the unhappy cause
20 Bedford county, as then organized, was taken from Cumberland,
March 9, 1771.
21 Westmoreland was taken from Bedford, February 26, 1773. See
Washington-Irvine Corr. p. 114.
22 Sparks' Writings of Washington, Vol. II, p. 373.
23 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 29. " In 1773, Lord Dunmore, the
governor of Virginia, paid a visit to Crawford at his house upon the
Youghiogheny, the occasion being turned to profitable account by both
parties." Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 115.
Colonel William Crawford. 7
which prevented my going out this fall. But I hope nothing
will prevent my seeing you in that country in the spring. The
precise time it is not in my power to fix; but I should be glad if
you would let me know how soon it may be attended with safety,
* * * after which I will fix upon a time to be at your house."
But Washington never visited Crawford at his home on the
Youghiogheny again, for the mutterings of the coming Revolu-
tion could already be heard.
Crawford was by no means idle during Dunmore's war. In
the month of May, 1774, having received a captain's commission
from the Governor of Virginia, he raised a company without
delay and set out for Fort Pitt.24 "You could not do better,"
was Lord Dunmore's dispatch of the 20th of June to the officer
in command at Fort Pitt, "than send Captain William Crawford
with what men you can spare to join him, to co-operate with
Colonel Lewis, or to strike a blow himself, if he thinks he can do
it with safety. I know him to be prudent, active and resolute."
Crawford, meantime having received a major's commission from
Lord Dunmore, moved at the head of five hundred men down
the Ohio to attack the Shawanese.25
On September 20, 1774, he wrote Washington, "I am this
day to set out with the first division for the mouth of Hock-
hocking, and there to erect a post on your Bottom where the
whole of the troops are to rendezvous." Crawford was in com-
mand of one division of the Virginia army, and Dunmore the
other, at the place of rendezvous on the Washington Bottom,26
and later the army crossed the river to the Indian, or Ohio side,
and built Fort Gower.27
A treaty of peace having been signed, the war against the
Indians ended in November, and Crawford returned home. The
people were pleased with the treaty, and with the results of the
24 "I am now setting out for Fort Pitt at the head of one hundred
men," wrote Crawford to Washington, May 8, 1774. Washington-Craw-
ford Letters, p. 49. Fort Pitt was changed to Fort Dunmore.
25 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 52.
26Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 53.
27 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 53.
8 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
campaign.28Major Crawford had destroyed two Mingo villages
(within the limits of the present county of Franklin, Ohio), taken
fourteen prisoners, rescued several white captives, and the "plun-
der" carried away had been sold for four hundred pounds ster-
ling, besides what was returned to a Mohawk Indian who was
present.29 His services at Wheeling where he built a fort30-and
elsewhere, were highly commended. On November 14, 1774,
Crawford in a letter to Washington said: "I yesterday returned
from our late expedition against the Shawanese, and I think we
may with propriety say we have had great success, as we made
them sensible of their villainy and weakness, and I hope made
peace with them on such a footing as will be lasting."
Crawford's associate on the bench, Arthur St. Clair, famous
in later years as an officer of the Revolution, as President of Con-
gress, as Governor of the Northwest Territory, and for his disas-
trous defeat by the Indians in 1791, took exception to Craw-
ford's course as in conflict with the peace policy of Penn, and
thereupon on the 22d of July wrote Governor Penn as follows:
"Captain Crawford, the president of our court, seems to be the
most active Virginia officer in their service. He is now down
the river at the head of a number of men, which is his second
expedition. How is it possible," asked St. Clair, "for a man to
serve two colonies in direct antagonism to each other at the same
time?" This was Crawford's offence: he accepted a commission
to fight the Indians from the Governor of Virginia, and thought
his native State was right respecting the country about the head
waters of the Ohio, which had been a subject of dispute for years.
As he was an active supporter early in 1775 of the Virginia con-
tention touching the boundary line between that State and Penn-
sylvania, he was removed the same year from office in West-
28 For the terms of the treaty see Crawford's letter of Nov. 14, 1774, to
Washington. It was entered into at Camp Charlotte, in what is now
Pickaway Co., 0., whither the army under Dunmore had marched from
Fort Gower. Hardby were the Shawanese villages.
29 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 56.
30 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 9, of biog. sketch, also p. 96.
It was first called Fort Fincastle; then Fort Henry.
Colonel William Crawford. 9
moreland county ("superceded," was the word used), and lost
popularity among some of his new neighbors.31
The county of Yohogania, Virginia, was created in Novem-
ber, 1776. Of this county Crawford was a justice several years,
and a surveyor by appointment until it ceased to exist.32 But he
was also otherwise busily employed as will be seen. It was on
the 16th of May, 1775, that the Scotch-Irish,33 and other residents
of the western part of Pennsylvania, assembled at Pittsburg, to
give utterance to their views concerning the encroachments of
Great Britain. Crawford's presence was soon felt, and his bold
utterances in behalf of the American colonies found an echo in
every heart. A committee of defence was agreed upon of which
Crawford was a conspicuous member.
After the battle of Lexington, Crawford tendered his services
to the Council of Safety at Philadelphia, but owing to the peace
policy of Governor Penn, and his associates, and possibly the
boundary dispute, they were not accepted. Virginia, his native
State, glad to accept the services of this veteran warrior, author-
ized him to raise a regiment. His influence and name on the
frontier were such that he recruited a full regiment in a short
time. On the 12th of January, 1776, he was appointed lieutenant-
colonel of the Fifth Virginia.34 By act of Congress he was ap-
pointed on the 11th of October following, colonel of the Seventh
Regiment of the Virginia Battalions, his commission to be dated
August 14th. He took part during the year in battles and skir-
mishes on Long Island, and the remarkable retreat through New
Jersey. One of the heroes that crossed the Delaware with Wash-
ington on Christmas day, he fought at Trenton the next, and at
Princeton on the 3d of January, 1777. In August Crawford was
with Washington near Philadelphia, using all his powers in the
31 Crawford's Expedition against Sandusky, p. 101.
32 Same work, p. 102.
33While the Scotch-Irish are self-reliant, industrious, and generally
honest, it must be confessed that many of the inhuman monsters who
encouraged, egged on, and led the savages in their hellish atrocities along
the border, were like the three Girtys, Elliott, McKee, and Caldwell of that
34 Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 116.
10 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
effort to keep the British out of that city; and his services later on,
at the head of a detachment of three hundred light armed men
acting as scouts, were of the highest value, and so regarded by
Washington. "He rendered efficient service," and "took an
active and prominent part" in the battle of Brandywine,35 where
he "came near being captured;" and afterwards fought with his
usual bravery at Germantown. Washington received a letter
from General Reed, saying that Crawford, then with him, was
"a very good officer."36
In November, 1777, the Congress "Resolved, that General
Washington be requested to send Colonel William Crawford to
Pittsburg to take command under Brigadier General Hand, of
the Continental troops and militia in the Western Department."
Without delay Crawford left for York, Pennsylvania, where the
Congress was then sitting, probably to confer with the members,
and receive instructions, but was soon on his way towards his
Western home, and the scene of his labors. He had won the
confidence and regard of his regiment; and even Washington's
in a greater degree than ever as "a brave and active officer."
The officers of his old regiment, the Seventh Virginia, sent
Colonel Crawford a most complimentary and affectionate address,
to which he responded in a well expressed, patriotic, feeling let-
ter.37 He had proved himself a most capable soldier in the east,
35 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. X.
36 Same, p. X.
37Address of the Officers of the Seventh Virginia Regiment to Colonel
We beg leave to take this method of expressing our sense of the
warmest attachment to you, and at the same time our sorrow in the loss of
a commander who has always been influenced by motives that deservedly
gain the unfeigned esteem and respect of all those who have the honor of
serving under him. Both officers and soldiers retain the strongest remem-
brance of the regard and affection you have ever discovered towards them;
but as we are all well assured that you have the best interests of your
country in view, we should not regret however sensibly we may feel the
loss, that you have chosen another field for the display of your military
talents. Permit us therefore to express our most cordial wish that you
may find a regiment no less attached to you than the Seventh, and that
your services may ever be productive of benefit to your country and honor
Colonel William Crawford. 11
fighting the well-disciplined troops of the enemy. but it was in
the backwoods that he had risen superior to his surroundings, and
his military genius had shown with undimmed luster. The mem-
bers of Congress as well as Washington, fully realized that few
men possessed Crawford's experience or knowledge of the wiles
and strategy of the red men, who were now unusually bold and
daring. In the fall of 1777, and in the spring of 1778, these foes
were more dangerous and merciless than ever, scalping parties,
infesting and terrorizing the entire border. In the spring of 1778,
about sixteen miles above Fort Pitt on the Allegheny river, Colo-
nel Crawford superintended the erection of a stockade fort, which
by direction of General McIntosh was called Fort Crawford.
And during this year, and from time to time the two subsequent
years, Crawford was in command at this post.38
General George Rogers Clark of Virginia, a true military
genius, was in Dunmore's war where he became a warm friend
of Crawford. General Clark, recognizing and appreciating
Crawford's talents, invited him early in 1778 to join his secret
military expedition against the British posts between the Ohio
and Mississippi rivers, but Crawford, then otherwise engaged,
reluctantly declined. But he assisted the general in many ways,
particularly in securing recruits along the frontier fit for such
COLONEL Crawford'S ANSWER.
GENTLEMEN: Your very affectionate and polite address demands my
warmest acknowledgments, which I beg leave to return to you in the strong-
est terms of gratitude and affection. Be assured the officers of the Seventh
regiment will ever share my tender regard; and I have great hopes that
they will continue to merit the highest esteem of their insulted and in-
jured country. My kind wishes will ever attend the lowest soldier in the
My own abilities are small, but I have this serious satisfaction, -that
they have been and shall continue to be exerted to the utmost in defense
of American liberty, justice, and the rights of humanity.
I have the honor to be, gentlemen,
Your most humble servant,
38 In May 1778 he took command of the new Virginia regiment just
raised under General McIntosh. Crawford's-Campaign against Sandusky,
12 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
dangerous service. The expedition, as every one knows, was
a great success; the British posts in the Illinois country were all
taken; and the princely domain between the Ohio and Mississippi
saved to our nation.39
In contemplation of an early movement against Detroit,
Colonel Crawford and General McIntosh erected in the fall of
1778, two forts-McIntosh and Laurens.40 The money, however,
to properly equip an invading force sufficiently strong to capture
a place and post like Detroit was wanting, and the project was
for the time abandoned.
In September, 1778, Colonel Crawford's command included
the troops then at Fort Pitt, from Yohogania, Monongalia and
Ohio counties, Virginia, and on the 8th of October he was directed
to form the militia into a brigade. On the 27th of October, he
was at Fort McIntosh, where he received orders to unite the Vir-
ginia troops from Berkeley and Augusta counties, into one corps
and those from Hampshire and Rockingham into another, to
be known as the Third and Fourth Regiments of his brigade.
From these he was instructed "to select a company of officers
and men for light infantry."
Fort Laurens,41 the first fort built in what is now the State
of Ohio, was often visited by Crawford, on official business, and
going and returning he made several narrow escapes. The
vicinity was haunted by Indians who hardly ever spared the life
of a captive.42 When it was decided in the month of August, 1779,
to abandon forts McIntosh and Laurens, Indian depredations
39Clark's Campaign, Cincinnati: Robert Clark & Co., 1869, p. 1.
40 Washington-Crawford Letters, p. 71. "Under Brigadier General
McIntosh, who succeeded General Hand, in August 1778, at Pittsburg,
Crawford took command of the militia of the western counties of Virginia,
and had in charge the building of Fort McIntosh, at what is now Beaver,
in Beaver Co., Pa. He marched with that officer into the Indian country
in November, in command of a brigade, and was present at the building in
December, of Fort Laurens, upon the west bank of the Tuscarawas river,
in what is now Tuscarawas Co., Ohio. Washington-Irvine Correspon-
dence, p. 116.
41 Washington-Crawford Letters p. 71.
42 Crawford's Expedition, p. 110.
Colonel William Crawford. 13
greatly increased; the merciless savages grew bolder day by day.
Hence on several occasions, at the head of a small force, Craw-
ford invaded their country, and his incursions were usually suc-
cessful, for after each the Indians were less aggressive. We may
well believe his services were highly valued by the poor exposed
settlers, for there were only a few men whose public spirit, cour-
age and tact fitted them for such enterprises, and these were re-
garded by the defenseless borderers, as the very saviors of the
In the year 1780, Crawford visited the American Congress,
and implored that august body to give the frontier better protec-
tion, and to make larger appropriations for that purpose. His
earnest appeals had a salutary effect, for the necessary war ma-
terial and supplies were "soon afterward forwarded to Fort Pitt,
and other Western posts."43 After returning home, and during
that year, Crawford again on several occasions led small bands
in pursuit of marauding savages.
His great desire, however, had long been to equip and lead
an expedition against Detroit, or Sandusky, for from these points
the Indians came who wrought death and destruction along the
frontier. Upper Sandusky,44 "the grand rallying point for the
British Indians before starting for the border," was on the great
highway between the north and the south. The Sandusky river
was the water-way, and highway of travel, between Canada and
the Mississippi. From time out of mind the Sandusky, Scioto,
and Ohio rivers, had been the water-route between Detroit and
the south, for warlike Indians, then for French explorers and
soldiers, and later for the British. They came in boats from De-
troit across the lake to the head of the Sandusky Bay, or to Lower
Sandusky, now Fremont. William Walker, an intelligent Indian
chief, whom many of you knew very well, wrote as follows:
"Ascending the Sandusky river to the mouth of the west branch,
known as the Little Sandusky, in a bark or light wooden canoe,
you could in a good stage of water ascend that tributary four or
five miles further. Thence east across to the Little Scioto is a
43 Crawford's Expedition, p. 111.
44 History of Wyandot county, Ohio, p. 241.
14 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
distance of about four miles. This was the portage."45 "This
place," writes Col. James Smith, in his "Life and Travels," who
was here in 1757, "is in the plains between a creek that empties
into Sandusky, and one that runs into Scioto; and at the time of
high water, or in the spring season, there is but about one-half
mile of portage, and that very level, and clear of rocks, timber
and stones.-"46 As the portage was short and trifling, Indians and
others as before stated, going south and returning, made use of
these streams. Hence Crawford felt that a river town so promi-
nent and obnoxious as Upper Sandusky, which was a sort of
entrepot, should be wiped out, for here the Indian allies of Great
Britain received annuities47 and other allowances, and their sup-
plies48 before starting for the settlements. The Wyandot or Half
King's town, or capital, was really the most important place in
the Indian country; and in Crawford's opinion the peace and safety
of the frontier depended on its destruction, and the crushing de-
feat and conquest of the Sandusky Indians. This was also the
opinion of General Irvine, commandant at Fort Pitt.49
At a meeting of the people of Westmoreland county, held
on the 18th of June, 1781, to devise ways and means for the de-
fense of the frontier, Crawford's presence had an inspiring effect,
and his words carried great weight. It was there decided to
render active and efficient aid to Gen. Clark's expedition against
Detroit. Thereupon Col. Crawford, actively co-operated with
Col. Lochry,50 and General Clark, in trying to raise and equip an
45 Communication to C. W. Butterfield, 1872.
46 An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and Travels
of Col. James Smith. Lexington, Ky., 1799, p. 86.
47 History of Wyandot county, Ohio, p. 241.
48 Crawford's Campaign against Sandusky, p. 165.
49 In General Irvine's instructions to Col. Crawford, dated Fort Pitt,
May 14, 1782, he says: "The object of your command is to destroy with
fire and sword, if practicable, the Indian town and settlements at San-
dusky, by which we hope to give ease and safety to the inhabitants of
this country." (Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 118.)
50 Col. Lochry and all his brave men, about one hundred and forty, were
either killed or captured near the mouth of the Miami, on their way to
join Gen. Clark's expedition. (Washington-Irvine Correspondence, pp
Colonel William Crawford. 15
army to march against Detroit. He also did all in his power to
aid and strengthen the effort Colonel Gibson, the officer then in
command at Fort Pitt, was making, to organize a sufficient force
to go against Sandusky, or Upper Sandusky as it was commonly
called. But both schemes or projects fell through, not for want
of men, or martial spirit, but lack of means,-the sinews of war.
Of one of these expeditions it was intended that Crawford should
be a leading officer; and the attempt he made to set Colonel Gib-
son's on foot, "was his last effort as an officer on the continental
establishment." These two projects so dear to his heart, he
thought the only means of stopping the inroads of the savage and
preventing further barbarities.51
But now, desperate as our affairs seemed in the west, the
star of hope had risen in the east. The power of England was
broken. The battle of Yorktown had been fought-October 19,
1781-peace between the colonies and mother country was at
hand,"52 and the old warrior thought the time propitious to lay
aside the sword, and return to the bosom of his family. As a
soldier of the Revolution, Crawford had now served his country
six years, and sought retirement. Though placed on the retired
list, he would still hold his commission, and stand ready to re-
spond to the calls of his country whenever and wherever his
services might really be needed. The exposed condition of the
frontier settlements was ever before him, nor could he turn a
deaf ear to the cries of the lonely settlers.
The year 1782 is dawning. Crawford, now fifty years old,
in fairly vigorous health, is at home on the Youghiogheny, happy
in the belief that here he can remain henceforth, free from war's
51 Col. James Marshal, the commandant at Fort McIntosh, wrote to Gen.
Irvine on the 2d of April, 1782, as follows: "This is most certain that
unless an expedition be carried against some of the principal Indian towns
early this summer, this country must unavoidably suffer." On the 4th
of April he wrote: "The people in general on the frontiers are waiting
with anxious expectation to know whether an expedition can be carried
against Upper Sandusky early this spring or not." (Washington-Irvine
Correspondence. pp. 285, 286.)
52 The surrender of Lord Cornwallis was an assurance to Crawford that
the struggle would soon end.
16 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
tumults and alarms. In his cabin by the river he loved to tell
his children, grand children and others-for all sought his com-
pany-the story of his eventful life. He now longed for peace,
but the stars and signs in the western firmament were lurid and
warlike. The cruel and merciless Indian was still on the war-
path. While American arms were triumphant in the east, the
Western frontier was still the witness and theater of horrible
savage barbarities. The tomahawk and scalping knife were
doing their bloody work. Settlers daily fell victims, houses and
barns went up in flames, fields were laid waste, and stock stolen
or slain. A state or terror reigned along the Pennsylvania and
Virginia border. The despairing, almost phrensied settlers were
calling aloud for help. Is it surprising then that Crawford, though
in retirement, found himself taking a deep interest in another pro-
posed expedition against Sandusky, and the Sandusky Indians?
His advice was sought and freely given. "Not less," said he,
"than four hundred men should venture so far into the enemy's
country."53 As Crawford had long favored an advance against
the Sandusky Indians, the settlers naturally turned to him as the
particular person to lead it. This he declined; there were others
equally capable, and he had done his share. His only son, John,
had decided to enlist, so had his distinguished son-in-law, Major
William Harrison, of the great Virginia family of that name.
His nephew, William Crawford, had already volunteered.
John Crawford was "A young man greatly and deservedly
esteemed as a soldier and citizen,"54 wrote the historian Bracken-
enridge in 1782. Sarah, the eldest daughter of Colonel Crawford,
wooed and won by the gallant and scholarly Harrison, was the
most charming and beautiful young woman55 in western Penn-
sylvania, if tradition and history are to be relied on. As Craw-
ford still held his commission as a colonel in the regular army,
and as Irvine, the officer in command of the Western Department,
desired him to lead the expedition, should he refuse? That was
the question. Finally, yielding to the entreaties of General
53 Sparks' Corr. Amer. Rev. vol. 11, p. 509.
54 Slover's Narrative (ed. of 1783), p. 23, note.
55 Robert A. Sherrard to Butterfield: 1872.
Colonel William Crawford. 17
Irvine, at Fort Pitt, and his beloved son, son-in-law, and nephew,
and no doubt other relatives, he reluctantly consented to accept
the command if chosen by the volunteers.
Mingo Bottom, two and a half miles below the Steubenville
of to-day was agreed upon as the place of rendezvous. Crawford56
now began in earnest to get ready for the long, perilous march.
On the 14th of May, 1782, in consideration of love and affection,
he duly conveyed to his son-in-law, William Harrison, a farm
near his own on the Youghiogheny. On the 16th he made his
last will and testament, giving to his wife during life, the home
farm, and three slaves, Dick, Daniel and Betty, and all his per-
sonal property except a slave boy named Martin. He gave his
son John the aforesaid boy Martin, and five hundred acres of
land, and after his wife's death the home farm, and the three slaves,
Dick, Daniel and Betty. He gave to each of his grand children,
Moses and Richard, sons of John Crawford, four hundred acres,
and to his grand daughter Anne four hundred acres. He made
bequests to Anne Connell, and her four children: all the rest of
his estate to be divided equally between his three children.57
On Saturday, the 18th, he bade adieu to his weeping wife,
daughters, grand children, and others, and then set out on horse-
back for Mingo Bottom, going by way of Fort Pitt for instruc-
tions.58 His son, son-in-law, and nephew had already started.
Crawford needing more officers, General Irvine detailed two,
then on duty at the fort, to accompany him, namely, Lieutenant
Rose as aide-de-camp, and Dr. Knight as surgeon. On the 21st
General Irvine wrote to Washington: "I have taken some pains
to get Colonel Crawford appointed to command, and hope he will
be. He left me yesterday on his way down to the place of ren-
dezvous. He does not wish to go with a smaller number than
56 Crawford was looked upon as "one of the first gentlemen in the
West." History of the Girtys, p. 175.
57 Crawford's will is of record in Westmoreland county. It was proved
Sept 10, 1782, and recorded Dec. 29, 1819.
58 For the "instructions" see Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p.
59 Sparks' Corr. Amer. Rev. II. p. 509.
18 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
At Mingo Bottom, Colonel Crawford was duly elected to
command the expedition. David Williamson was made field
major, and second in command; Thomas Gaddis, field major,
and third in command; John McClelland, field major, and fourth
in command; Major Brinton, field major, and fifth in command;
Daniel Leet, brigade major; Dr. John Knight, surgeon; Thomas
Nicholson, John Slover and Jonathan Zane, guides. There were
of course other officers. Lieutenant John Rose, of the regular
army, went as aide-de-camp to Crawford. General Irvine wrote
to Washington on the 21st as follows: "Crawford pressed me
for some officers, and I have sent with him Lieutenant Rose, my
aide-de-camp, a very vigilant, active, brave young gentleman,
well acquainted with service and [Dr. Knight] a surgeon. These
are all I could venture to spare."60
Butterfield in writing of the campaign says: "The project
against Sandusky, was as carefully considered, and as authorita-
tively planned as any military enterprise in the west during the
Revolution." On the 25th of May, the volunteers, four hundred
and eighty strong, all mounted on good horses, began their march
from Mingo Bottom. "The route," says Butterfield, "lay
through what is now the counties of Jefferson, Harrison, Tus-
carawas, Holmes, Ashland, Richland, Crawford-nearly to the
center of Wyandot county." One of the volunteers, Lieut. Francis
Dunlevy, wrote a brief account of the campaign.61 He after-
wards became a classical scholar and held high positions in Ohio.
In four days the army reached the Upper Moravian village-sixty
miles from Mingo Bottom.62 On the 2d of June the Sandusky
river was seen three miles west of where Crestline now stands.
On the 3d of June the volunteers encamped for the night on the
Sandusky Plains, near where the village of Wyandot may now
be seen. On the 4th, after traveling six miles, they came to the
mouth of the Little Sandusky, a spot well known to John Slover,
60 Sparks' Corr. Amer. Rev. vol. III. p. 502.
61 See his declaration for a pension: 1832.
62 See Dr. Knight's Narrative.
Colonel William Crawford. 19
one of the army pilots.63 On the same day they found Upper
Sandusky Old Town, situate on the Sandusky river about three
miles in a south-easterly direction from the Upper Sandusky of
to-day, deserted. Not an Indian was to be seen.64 "We advanced
on," says Knight in his Narrative, "in search of some of their
settlements, but had scarcely got the distance of three or four
miles from the old town" when we learned that Crawford's
mounted scouts who had been sent forward to reconnoiter, had
discovered "about three miles in front," near a grove they were
occupying, "a large body of Indians running toward them."
Crawford heard of their presence with great satisfaction, and
commenced a forward movement. Near where the scouts had
first sighted them they were soon seen by the entire cavalcade,
some little distance ahead taking possession of the grove the re-
connoitering party had so recently abandoned,-since well known
as Battle Island. Crawford at once saw the advantage this would
give the Indians, and ordering his men to dismount, moved
swiftly forward, and by rapid firing soon dislodged the enemy,
and occupied the grove.
It was 2 o'clock in the afternoon of the 4th of June when this
contest, known as the Battle of Sandusky, began,-three miles
and a half northeast of the present county seat of Wyandot
county-American frontiersmen on one side,65 and British sol-
diers and Indians on the other. Crawford's troops, though out-
numbered, had the best position,66 that is they were in possession
of the grove-Battle Island-and on higher ground, while the
63 Crawford's Campaign against Sandusky, p. 151.
As to the high character of Dr. John Knight, and John Slover, see
Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 128.
64Col. Crawford "took every precaution to guard against ambuscades
and surprises." "Unceasing vigilance was the watchword." (History of
Wyandot County, Ohio, p. 246.)
65 General Irvine in speaking of the expedition, said it was composed
of "disinterested and virtuous men, who had the protection of the coun-
try in view." (History of Wyandot County, Ohio, p. 242.)
66 See report dated "Camp Upper Sandusky, June 7, 1782," of Lieut.
John Turney of Corps of Rangers, to Major A. S. De Peyster, British
Commandant at Detroit. (Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 368.)
20 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
Indians and their white allies were sheltered by the tall coarse
prairie grass that then covered the Sandusky Plains.
The Delaware Indians, under Captain Pipe, a noted war
chief, and Wingenund, another chief, and the renegade, Simon
Girty, first met the Americans; but the Wyandots led by Zhaus-
sho-toh, and Captain Mathew Elliott, another white renegade,
soon came to their relief. Two companies of white soldiers from
Detroit were in the fight, and forty-four "lake Indians."67 The
enemy was reinforced on the second day by one hundred and
forty Shawanese, and more white soldiers, and lake Indians. The
whole were commanded by Captain William Caldwell, a British
officer, assisted by Captain Alex. McKee, Captain Elliott, Captain
Grant, Lieutenant Turney, Lieutenant Clinch, besides Simon Gir-
ty, and other white officers68 in uniform. Girty, Elliott and McKee,
though renegades and deserters,69 spoke the Delaware and Wy-
The first day the battle raged with varying fortunes, some-
times more favorable to one side than the other till dusk, when the
British and Indians, defeated but not discouraged, drew further
back and the firing ceased.70 Lieut. John Turney, of the Corps of
Rangers, writing to Major De Peyster at Detroit, from "Camp
Upper Sandusky, June 7, 1782," says: "On the 4th about 12 o'clock
the enemy appeared about two miles from this place. Captain Cald-
well with the rangers, and about two hundred Indians, marched
out to fight them, and attacked them about 2 o'clock. The enemy
* * * had every advantage of us as to situation of ground
people could possibly wish for. The action became general and
was dubious for some time. * * The battle was very hot till
night, which put a stop to firing."71 There was no lack of bravery
on either side during the entire time the contest lasted-from 2
67Captain William Caldwell's report to Maj. De Peyster. Washington-
Irvine Correspondence, p. 371.
68 See Capt. Alex. McKee's report to De Peyster, dated Upper Sandusky,
June 7, 1782. See same work, p. 370. See communication of Indian chief,
Capt. Snake to Maj. De Peyster, same work, p. 369.
69 Deserted March 28, 1778. See same work, pp. 17, 127.
70 Crawford's Campaign against Sandusky, pp. 211, 212.
71 Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 368.
Colonel William Crawford. 21
o'clock till dark-although only five of the volunteers were killed
and nineteen wounded. The loss of the British and Indians,
though since denied, was probably far heavier,72 but as they were
constantly expecting the reinforcements73 then marching to their
relief, they were by no means disheartened.
On the part of the Americans, Crawford with consummate
ability directed the fight, and his officers and men so far as known
bravely did their duty. Lieutenant Rose was probably Craw-
ford's most efficient officer.74 Cool and daring, his martial bear-
ing and words of encouragement stimulated every drooping spirit,
reviving the sanguine expectations, enthusiasm, and courage of
every man. Pursued during the engagement "by a party of
mounted Indians who were so close to him at times as to throw
their tomahawks," Rose happily escaped, owing to "his coolness
and superior horsemanship." The strategy and vigilance of Ma-
jor Williamson and Major Leet, were generally commended.
Lieutenant Dunlevy, Philip Smith, Sherrard, Canon, John Camp-
bell, and others were brave, reliable and efficient.75
72 Capt. Wm. Caldwell of Butler's Rangers, who commanded at Upper
Sandusky, in his report dated June 11, 1782, says: "Our loss is very
inconsiderable; one ranger killed, myself and two wounded; Le Vellier,
the interpreter, killed; four Indians killed and eight wounded."
73 Lieut. Turney to Major De Peyster, commanding at Detroit. Wash-
ington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 368. Captain Elliott and Lieutenant
Clinch "in particular signalized themselves," says Lieut. Turney to Maj.
74 "John Rose and John Gunsaulus, were the undoubted heroes of the
conflict on the side of the borderers." History of the Girtys, p. 167.
75 Capt. William Caldwell, in command at Upper Sandusky, where he
was shot through both legs, writing from Lower Sandusky, to Maj.
De Peyster, June 11, 1782, puts our killed and wounded at two hundred
and fifty and intimates that we had six hundred in the fight. He asks
that the Indians be supplied with provisions, ammunition, tobacco, "and
such other things as are necessary for warriors." He compliments Chief-
with-one-Eye, Dewantale, Sidewaltone, and other lake Indians; and be-
lieves that none of the Americans could have escaped if he had not been
wounded. (Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 371.)
Major De Peyster, writing from Detroit, June 12, 1782, to Brigadier-
General H. W. Powell, commanding at Niagara, says: "I have the pleas-
ure to inform you, that the rangers and confederate Indians from this
22 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
As soon as those who had enlisted for the campaign met at
Mingo Bottom, Indian runners who had been acting as spies,
started to notify the Delawares and Wyandots, who in turn notified
the Shawanese, and their British allies, at Detroit, of the invasion
of the Indian country.76
It is well established that Crawford's army, though outnum-
bered by the enemy, was clearly victorious on the 4th, that the
fighting on the 5th was desultory, and that little damage was
done, and that on the evening of the 5th our sentries discovered
that the enemy was being largely reinforced by bands of Indians
and mounted rangers.77 The Indians mostly came from the
Shawanese towns78 south of the Sandusky Plains, and the white
soldiers from Detroit, De Peyster, the British commandant at
that place having dispatched Butler's Rangers, and some "Lake
Indians" to help repel the invaders.79 They came from Detroit
post, have been successful in opposing the enemy at Sandusky." De
Peyster, writing from Detroit, July 18, 1782, to Thomas Brown, Super-
intendent of Indian Affairs, claims "a complete victory over 600 of the
enemy." "Col. Crawford, who commanded, was taken in the pursuit.
and put to death by the Delawares, notwithstanding every means had been
tried by an Indian officer present to save his life. De Peyster regrets
the revival of "the old savage custom." (Washington-Irvine Corre-
spondence, p. 372.)
76 Crawford's Campaign against Sandusky, p. 159.
77 Washington-Irvine Correspondence, pp. 292, 293. De Peyster sent the
Rangers to the Sandusky river in a vessel, called the Faith. (History of
the Girtys, p. 162.)
78 Lieut. Rose to Gen. Irvine, Washington-Irvine Correspondence, pp.
371, 372. "On the 5th * * about 12 o'clock we were joined by one
hundred and forty Shawanese, and had got the enemy surrounded."
(Lieut. Turney to Major De Peyster, from "Camp Upper Sandusky, June 7,
1782.) On the 4th of June the advantage was on the side of the Americans.
The loss of the enemy (British and Indians) was six killed, 11 wounded,
including Capt. Caldwell. The enemy was reinforced June 5th by 140
Shawanese, a detachment of rangers, and some "lake Indians." (Wash-
ington-Irvine Correspondence, pp. 122, 123.) See John Leith's Narra-
tive, p. 15.
79 The Wyandot Half-King begs Major De Peyster to send him some
provisions, ammunition, clothing and a little rum to drink His Britannic
Majesty's health, and hopes that the Detroit Indians will be ready to come
to his aid when again needed. (Lieut. Turney's second report to Major
De Peyster, from Camp Upper Sandusky, June 7, 1782.)
Colonel William Crawford. 23
by lake and river, bringing two field pieces and a mortar. When
the astounding discovery was made that the enemy was receiving
such reinforcements,80 Crawford at once called a council of war,
at which it was decided not to attack the enemy so "superior in
numbers" that night, as intended, but to prepare to retreat in
good order soon after dark. Simon Girty was seen during the day
by Lieut. Francis Dunlevy, and others, who knew him well. Dun-
levy, who was stationed near the edge of the prairie to watch the
movements of the enemy, often saw Girty, who appeared to be in
a high state of excitement, riding back and forth on a white horse
giving orders. Many of the volunteers thought Girty was in
command. Our troops about 9 o'clock formed in proper order to
begin the retreat,81 with Colonel Crawford at the head, and the
wounded near the center. The enemy suspecting Crawford's
object began firing, which resulted in much confusion among the
volunteers.82 Some got separated from the main body and were
shot and scalped, or captured, others reached home after many
80 Capt. Snake, in a speech sent to Maj. De Peyster, dated Upper San-
dusky, June 8, 1782, in behalf of the Mingoes, Shawanese and Delawares,
says: "Let the rangers * * remain about ten days, and then march to
our villages." Capt. Snake asks for more soldiers and stores, cannon
and provisions. Capt. Alex. McKee, writing to the same British officer
from Upper Sandusky, June 7, 1782, says: "You have already an account
of the repulse of 500 of the enemy who advanced near this place and
were surrounded by near an equal number of Indians with the rangers."
McKee then describes the retreat and pursuit, refers to what the Indians
intend to do, and says they want further assistance * * "with a further
supply of ammunition and stores suitable for warriors." (Washington-
Irvine Correspondence, pp. 369, 370.)
81 On the 5th of June 1782, "we heard a cannon fire at Upper Sandusky.
* * At length the Americans under Col. Williamson stole a retreat
on the Indians who were gathering around them in great numbers; but
Col. Crawford with most of his men was taken by them. They toma-
hawked all his men and burnt him alive." (Short Biography of John
Leith, p. 16. Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 305.)
82 "Confusion followed, and some in the front line hurried off, followed
by many pushing forward from the rear. The advance under command
of Maj. McClelland, was furiously attacked by the Delawares and Shawan-
ese and suffered severely, the major being fatally wounded." (History
of Wyandot County, p. 246.)
24 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
narrow escapes and much suffering; but upwards of three hundred
remained together, pushing ahead, while resisting and fighting
the pursuing Indians83 and British.84 About 2 o'clock in the after-
noon of the 6th the enemy had become so daring and troublesome
that the army in retreat decided to make a stand and fight for
their lives. An encounter then took place near the Olentangy
creek, in what is now Whetstone township,85 Crawford county,
called the battle of Olentangy, about five miles from the present
site of Bucyrus, and six from Galion, in which the Americans were
once more successful. It lasted about an hour, and our loss, says
Lieut. Rose, was "three killed and eight wounded." During the
battles and retreat Major Williamson and Lieutenant Rose were
active, vigilant and invaluable.
The returning volunteers, at the head of whom was Major
Williamson, without much further annoyance reached Mingo Bot-
tom, and crossed the Ohio the lath of June; they were discharged
the 14th, and thus a memorable campaign lasting twenty days
came to an end.86 John, the beloved son of Colonel Crawford,
reached home about the same time.87
On the 16th General Irvine informed Washington of the
83"De Peyster lost no time in dispatching Rangers and some Lake
Indians to the help of the Wyandots. The former were a company com-
manded by Capt. William Caldwell. Crossing Lake Erie to Lower San-
dusky, they began their march up the Sandusky river, making all pos-
sible haste to succor their Indian allies." (History of the Girtys, p. 163.)
84 Lieut. John Turney, who took command of the British and Indians
after Capt. Wm. Caldwell was wounded, in his report to Major A. S. De
Peyster, commanding at Detroit, says: "Some of the Indians pursued"
the Americans, and "as soon as I heard of the retreat I pursued them
with the rangers." On the 11th of June Capt. Caldwell wrote to De
Peyster: "The Delawares are still in pursuit, and I hope we will account
for most of the 600." (Washington-Irvine Correspondence, pp. 368, 371.)
85 On the north-west quarter of section 22.
86 Washington-Irvine Correspondence, pp. 122, 123.
87 Maj. Wm. Harrison, the son-in-law of Col. Crawford, and his nephew,
William Crawford, were captured and put to death by the Delawares.
Both suffered the most cruel torture. (Washington-Irvine Correspond-
ence, pp. 376, 377.)
Colonel William Crawford. 25
result of the expedition; on the 5th of July he notified the execu-
tive of Pennsylvania of the failure of the campaign. On the 6th
of August Washington wrote to Irvine, "I lament the failure of
The State of Pennsylvania paid all losses sustained by the
soldiers, and in many instances awarded pensions, and later the
general government granted pensions.88 The loss our invading
army sustained is believed to have been seventy, killed, captured,
missing, and those who died of wounds.89
The real name of Crawford's brave and brilliant young aide-
de-camp was not John Rose, but Gustave Henri De Rosenthal.
He was born in Livonia, Russia, and was a baron of the empire.
Having killed a fellow nobleman in a duel near the palace in St.
Petersburg, he fled in disguise to our country, then at war with
Great Britain, entered our service, fought long and gallantly for
our independence, was the hero of the retreat from the Sandusky
Plains,90 and finally having been pardoned by the Emperor Alex-
ander, he left Philadelphia for his Russian home in the month of
April, 1784. He there married an early love, gained distinction,
was appointed grand marshal of the province of Livonia, became
the father of five children, kept up a correspondence with General
Irvine, and after his death with his son, and in consideration of
his long and valuable services our government granted him
bounty lands in Ohio, and the State of Pennsylvania gave him
88 Crawford's Campaign against Sandusky, pp. 246, 247.
89 Lieut. Rose in writing June 13, 1782, to Gen. Irvine, says: "Our loss
will not exceed thirty in killed and missing." The Pennsylvania Journal
and Weekly Advertiser of July 6, 1782, estimates the missing at from
fifty to seventy. "The entire loss was about fifty men." (Washington-
Irvine Correspondence, p. 123.) "The result is a total loss of less than
seventy." (Crawford's Campaign, p. 259.)
90"I furnished the party with ammunition, and sent written instruc-
tions to the commander, and also sent two Continental officers -Major
Rose, my own aide-de-camp, and Doctor Knight, surgeon of one of the
regiments under my command - to assist Colonel Crawford. After the
defeat, the second in command [Williamson], and others, informed me
that it was owing in a great degree to the bravery and good conduct
of Major Rose that the retreat was so well effected." (Gen. Irvine to
26 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
two tracts in the northwestern part of that State. This accom-
plished man and friend of our country, the only Russian on the
American side in the war of Independence, died in his native land
on his own estate in 1829.91
On the night of the 5th of June, as the army, somewhat panic
stricken, was retreating92 from the Sandusky Plains, Colonel
Crawford, then some distance from the field of action, not seeing
his son John, son-in-law William Harrison, nephew William
Crawford, or aide-de-camp Lieutenant Rose, called aloud for
each, and continued to call till the troops in much confusion had
got some distance ahead. Then seeing Dr. Knight, he begged
him to remain with him, saying his horse had nearly given out,
and that he could not keep up with the troops; he also condemned
the precipitate and disorderly retreat, and the violation of orders in
deserting the wounded. Failing, during the excitement and rout,
to find his missing relatives, or Lieutenant Rose, for it was now
quite dark, and the firing becoming very hot, Crawford, Knight,
and two other soldiers finally concluded to start east. They after-
wards fell in with Captain Biggs and Lieutenant Ashley. About
2 o'clock on the afternoon of the 7th, a number of Delaware In-
dians, whose camp was only a half mile distant, suddenly ap-
peared before them, not twenty steps away. Dr. Knight and the
others, getting behind trees were about to fire, when Crawford
induced them not to do so. The other four were so fortunate as
to escape, but "The Colonel and I," says Knight in his narrative,
"were then taken to the Indian camp."93 Here they found nine
91 He was exceptionally fine looking, was born in 1753, and died in
Rival, June 26, 1829. Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 117.
92 Lord Derby was kind enough to transmit through the U. S. Legation
at London, copies of various letters, dispatches, and speeches, from which
liberal quotations have been made, relating to the battle of Sandusky,
the retreat of the Americans, the capture of Col. Crawford, and his awful
death by torture. Though in some particulars they are exaggerations,
still they are valuable as the enemy's version of that unhappy episode
of the Revolution. (Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. iv.)
93 "A number of people inform me that Colonel Crawford ought to be
considered as a Continental officer, and are of the opinion that retaliation
should take place." (Irvine to Washington, July 11, 1782.)
Colonel William Crawford. 27
other prisoners, among whom was John McKinley, formerly an
officer in the 13th Virginia Regiment, and all were constantly
watched, with little to eat, till Monday morning, the 10th of June,
when in charge of seventeen Delawares, they all started as they
were informed, to Upper Sandusky-the Half King's town,
thirty-three miles hence. At the Half King's town, Colonel
Crawford had an interview with the notorious Simon Girty, whom
he had long known, and begged him to save his life, offering him
a thousand dollars. Girty promised to exert all his influence to
save him, with probably no intention whatever of doing it. He
also informed him that his son-in-law and nephew had been cap-
tured by the Shawanese, but afterwards pardoned. This was
false, for the guide John Slover, who was captured, said after his
escape, that he saw the dead bodies of William Harrison and Wil-
liam Crawford at Wapatomica, as they lay black, bloody and
mangled.94 Slover recognized the faces of both. Girty was born
in Pennsylvania, and the Colonel had known him before his de-
sertion. His father came from Ireland, and this is what Henry
Howe, the historian, says of him: "The old man was beastly in-
temperate, and nothing ranked higher in his estimation than a
jug of whisky. 'Grog was his song, and grog would he have.'
His sottishness turned his wife's affection. Ready for seduction,
she yielded * * * to a neighboring rustic, who to remove
all obstacles to their wishes, knocked Girty on the head, and bore
off the trophy of his prowess.95 When Simon Girty was a subal-
tern at Fort Pitt, and more or less intimate with Crawford, there
94 "As they lay black, bloody-burnt with powder." Slover also saw
their clothing and horses. (Slover's Narrative.) William Harrison was
tied to a stake, when the savages fired powder at him until he died;
they then quartered him, and left the quarters hanging on four poles.
(The Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser of July 27, 1782.)
95 Historical collections of Ohio, vol. II. p. 186. See Campbell's Bio-
graphical Sketches, p. 147.
Oliver M. Spencer was taken captive while a youth by the Indians in
1792. He says of Simon Girty: " His dark shaggy hair, his low forehead,
his brows contracted and meeting above his short flat nose, his gray sunken
eyes averting the ingenuous gaze, his lips thin and compressed, and the
dark and sinister expression of his countenance to me seemed the very
picture of a villain."
28 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
is a tradition that he was a suitor for the hand of one of the Colo-
nel's daughters, whose refusal offended him. Be that as it may,
he still professed friendship, and promised to do all he could for
him. Tom Jelloway, one of the so-called Christian Indians, who
understood English, overheard the conversation between Craw-
ford and Girty, which he was careful to repeat to the hostile Dela-
ware chiefs, Captain Pipe and Wingenund. Crawford's offer of
money is said to have incensed these chiefs, and fixed their deter-
mination to torture him to death. On the morning of the 11th,
Crawford, as well as Captain Pipe and Wingenund, arrived at
Upper Sandusky Old Town, where Knight and the other nine
prisoners had spent the night. Thereupon Captain Pipe, having
painted with his own hand all the prisoners, including Crawford
and Knight, black, started with them on the trail leading to the
village of the Wyandots. They had not traveled far till four of
the prisoners were tomahawked and scalped. Captain Pipe and
Crawford were well acquainted, having frequently met, and on
the 17th of September, 1778, both signed a treaty of peace at Fort
Pitt, between the Delawares and the United States. On the
march, Crawford and Knight, who walked between The Pipe and
Wingenund, were carefully guarded. The crafty Pipe told the
colonel he was glad to see him, and that he should be adopted as
an Indian when they met his friends, meaning the prisoners, at
the Wyandot village. After reaching the famous springs where
Upper Sandusky now stands, and they changed their course for
the Delaware town on the Tymochtee, Crawford and Knight lost
hope, and felt that their doom was sealed. When the Little Ty-
mochtee was reached, the Indians caused Crawford and Knight,
and the remaining five prisoners, to sit down on the ground,
whereupon "a number of squaws and boys fell on the five pris-
oners and tomahawked them all." An old squaw cut off the head
of John McKinley, a gallant officer of the Revolution, and a rela-
tive no doubt of Governor McKinley,96 and kicked it about upon
the ground. The young Indian fiends often came to where Craw-
ford and Knight were sitting, and dashed the reeking scalps in
96Since the above was written, Governor McKinley has been made
President of the United States.
Colonel William Crawford. 29
their faces. At the end of these dreadful and barbarous scenes,
Crawford and Knight were told to move on. They were then in
what is now Crawford township, Wyandot county, and soon met
Simon Girty and some Indians on horseback. Well knowing
Crawford's dreadful doom, they had come from the Half King's
town to witness the holocaust.97 Riding up to Crawford, Girty
spoke to him, but said nothing of the determination the two chiefs
had come to. Girty now saw the chiefs for the first time since he
had given Crawford his promise, but made no effort to save him,
nor is it at all likely he could have saved him. These two war
chiefs were not only in close alliance with the British, and deter-
mined enemies of the Americans, but as Delaware Indians, loved
to inflict cruel tortures, and to witness human suffering and agony.
As to what took place after Crawford's capture, we have ample
testimony, for Dr. Knight, his fellow captive, whose escape was
marvelous, was present nearly all the time.
As the party moved along toward the Tymochtee, almost
every Indian the prisoners met, struck them with their fists or
with sticks. Girty, waiting until Knight came along, asked, "Is
that the doctor?" Knight told him who he was, and went toward
him reaching out his hand, but Girty, calling him a damned rascal,
told him to begone.
A fire was started on the 11th of June, on the east bank of the
Tymochtee, near this grove and about three-quarters of a mile
from the Delaware village. Ordinary prisoners were toma-
hawked without much ado; but Crawford, the "Big Captain,"
97 Maj. De Peyster writing from Detroit, August 18, 1782, to Gen. Fredk.
Haldimand, says: "Your letter of the 11th of July, * * regretting the
cruelty committed by some of the Indians upon Colonel Crawford, and
desiring me to assure them of your utter abhorrence of such proceedings,"
has been received. * * "I had sent messengers throughout the Indian
country, previous to the receipt of your letter, threatening to recall the
troops, if they, the Indians, did not desist from cruelty. I have frequently
signified to the Indians how much you abhor cruelty, and I shall to-
morrow dispatch a person I have great confidence in, to carry your
instructions to the southern nations." De Peyster then says he has
reinforced Captain Caldwell, and sent " Captain Grant to the Miamie with
the armed vessels and gun boats." At that date the Maumee was called
the Miamie, or the Miamie of the Lakes.
30 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
was reserved for a death more terrible: exceeding in fiendish,
ferocious, devilish cruelty, and barbarity, anything recorded in
savage annals.98 Around the fire stood a crowd of Indians, thirty
or forty men, and sixty or seventy squaws and boys.99 Simon
Girty was present, along with some Wyandot Indians; also Cap-
tain Elliott;100 and Knight thought another British captain was
there. Sammy Wells,101 the captive negro boy well known to
the early settlers on the Sandusky Plains, was present holding
Girty's horse. Dr. Knight was a short distance from the fire,
strongly bound, and guarded by an Indian named Tutelu. Chris-
tian Fast, a captive boy of seventeen, a native of Westmoreland,
and known to Crawford, was in the crowd.102 Crawford was
stripped naked and ordered to sit down. The Indians then beat
him with sticks and their fists, and Knight was treated in the same
way. The fatal stake-a post about fifteen feet high-had been
set firmly in the ground. Crawford's hands were bound behind
his back, and a rope fastened-one end to the foot of the post, and
the other to the ligatures between his wrists. The rope was long
enough for him to sit down, or walk around the post once or twice
and return the same way. Crawford then called to Girty, and asked
him if they intended to burn him. Girty answered "Yes." He then
replied he would take it all patiently. Upon this Captain Pipe
made a speech to the Indians, who at its conclusion yelled a hid-
eous and hearty assent to what had been said. The spot where
Crawford was now to be tortured and burnt, marked by a monu-
98 Gen. Haldimand, writing from Quebec, July 28, 1782, to Sir Guy
Carlton, says: "The rebels were near 600 strong." and "250 were killed
and wounded"; "Colonel Crawford, who commanded, and two captains,
were tortured by the Indians." * * "I hope my letter will arrive in
time to prevent further mischief." * * "This act of cruelty is to be the
more regretted as it awakens in the Indians that barbarity to prisoners
which the unwearied efforts of his majesty's ministers had totally extin-
guished." (Washington-Irvine Correspondence, p. 373.)
99 Knight's Narrative, p. 11.
100 Slover's Narr., p. 23. See letter of Major De Peyster. Washington-
Irvine Correspondence, p. 372.
101 Was living in Wyandot Co., in 1857. History of Wyandot Co., O.,
102 Knapp's History of Ashland county, pp. 507, 508.
Colonel William Crawford. 31
ment to commemorate his memory, is within the limits of Craw-
ford township, as it is defined to-day, as nearly every one is
aware, a short distance northeast of the town of Crawfordsville, in
Wyandot county, Ohio, "On a low bottom on the east bank of
the Tymochtee creek."103 It was here at about 4 o'clock in the
afternoon, Tuesday, June 11, 1782, the frightful torture and orgies
commenced. The Indian men took up their guns, and shot pow-
der into the colonel's body from his feet as far up as his neck.
Not less than seventy loads were discharged upon his naked body.
They then crowded about him, and to the best of Knight's belief,
cut off both his ears; for when the Indians drew back, he saw the
blood running from both sides of his head. The fire was about
six or seven yards from the post to which Crawford was tied. It
was made of small hickory poles, burnt quite through the middle,
each end of the poles remaining about six feet in length. Three
or four Indians at a time would each take up one of the burning
poles, and apply the burning ends to his naked body already burnt
black with gunpowder. These red devils stood on every side of
the old soldier, and met him with their burning fagots, whichever
way he moved, or ran round the post. Some of the squaws,104
103 Howe's His. Coll. Ohio, p. 546. William Walker, the late Wyandot
Chief, wrote: "The precise spot was pointed out to many inquirers and
early white settlers by the Indians. The place is about seven miles north-
west from Upper Sandusky, near Carey, hut nearer to Crawfordsville,
and near to the east bank of the Tymochtee creek." The spot was pointed
out to Walker in the spring of 1814, "by a Wyandot of high respectability
who was present when Crawford was tied to the stake." (Crawford's
Expedition against Sandusky, p. 386.)
104 A gentleman at Quebec, writing to a friend in Edinburgh, July 17,
1782, says: "A Colonel Clark, commanding a large party of Americans
in the Illinois country, has been for some years meditating an attempt
upon Fort Detroit, but hitherto has always been defeated by the vigilance
and activity of the Indians. This year Clark had assembled about 4000
men, and we have heard was on his march to Detroit. He had ordered
a Major Crawford to advance before his main body with about 500 men.
and they had actually reached St. Douskie, when intelligence was brought
to Major De Peyster, the commanding officer at Detroit. He instantly
collected all the Indians he could, and sent Capt. Caldwell with them
and a party of regulars, to surprise Major Crawford before he was joined
by Clark. He did so effectually, for he completely routed the party and
32 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
with broad boards or wooden shovels, would scoop up quantities
of live coals, or hot embers and cast them on him; so that in a
short time he had nothing but coals of fire or hot ashes to walk on!
In the midst of these excruciating tortures, Crawford called to
Girty, and begged him to shoot him; the brutal white savage mak-
ing no answer, he called again. Girty then, by way of derision,
told Crawford he had no gun; at the same time turning about to
an Indian who was behind him, he laughed heartily, and by all his
actions and gestures, seemed delighted at the horrid scene. Girty
then came up to Knight, and bade him prepare for death, and
swore a fearful oath that he need not expect to escape, but should
be burnt at the Shawanese town, and suffer death in all its ex-
tremities. Girty continued talking, but Knight was in too great
anguish and distress on account of the torments Crawford was
suffering before his eyes, as well as the expectation of undergoing
the same fate himself in two days, to make any answer to the
Crawford at this period of his suffering, besought the Al-
mighty to have mercy on his soul, spoke very low, and bore his
torments with the most manly fortitude. He continued in all the
extremities of pain, for an hour and three-quarters or two hours
longer, as near as Knight could judge; when at last being almost
spent, he lay down upon his stomach. The savages then scalped
him, and repeatedly threw the scalp into the face of Knight, say-
ing "he is your great captain." An old squaw, whose appearance
Knight thought every way answered the ideas people entertain
of the devil, then got a board, took a parcel of coals and ashes,
and laid them on his back and head.105 He then raised himself
took about 200 prisoners. The Indians gave over the prisoners to their
women, who instantly tomahawked every man of them with the most
horrid circumstances of barbarity." (The Remembrancer, London, 1782,
Part II, pp. 255, 256.)
105 "Simon Girty arrived last night from the upper village (Half-King's
town) who informed me, that the Delawares had burned Colonel Craw-
ford and two captains at Pipes-Town, after torturing them a long time.
Crawford died like a hero; never changed his countenance tho' they
scalped him alive, and then laid hot ashes upon his head; after which
they roasted him by a slow fire." (Capt. Caldwell, writing from Lower