Ohio History Journal

The Croghan Celebration

The Croghan Celebration.                    31


liberty that we are enjoying to-day, and I wish to say that upon this

spot, this historic spot that the tide turned in favor of the American

nation, in the war of 1812-13. How unfortunate you are to have within

your corporate limits the most historic spot in the United States of

America. I never stood upon this ground, upon this battlefield until to-

day. My mind turns back to my youthful days, when I read of the

bravery of Croghan and his 160 men, and I

often thought it was a miracle, he being a

mere youth and only 160 men, and de-

fending the fort against so many British

and Indians. But it was done, and from

that day to this, this spot has been a his-

toric spot, a spot that is dear in the minds

of our American citizens.

Now, there are others to make a few

remarks, and I want to give them a chance

to make them, and I only want to say in

conclusion that I congratulate the city of

Fremont in the respect and love that it has

shown for this spot, and its great defender.

I want to congratulate the city of Fremont

for having in your midst a young soldier

who is aiding to keep this a historic spot,

dearer and dearer each year in the mem-

ory of the American people, in the person of Col. Webb C. Hayes.

I thank you for your attention for you must be getting tired and I

will leave you, saying that I am glad it was my privilege to be with

you to-day, and I will ever remember this meeting as long as I live.

This day will be deep in my memory.





The only apology I have for the honor of appearing before you on

this interesting occasion is that my college friend of years ago, your

splendid, patriotic and enterprising fellow-citizen, Colonel Webb. C.

Hayes, invited me to come; his apology being that I am an official of

the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, whose business it

is to gather, preserve and disseminate the lore, historic and prehistoric

of our great state. The orator of the day, the Hon. Samuel D. Dodge,

has recited to you in graphic terms the history that led up to the

siege of Fort Stephenson and the incomparable bravery and patriotism

with which the youth George Croghan and his gallant little band defended

the crude stockade fort and stemmed the tide that to that moment seemed

against the Americans. The successful repulse of Proctor and the British

32 Ohio Arch

32         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


soldiers and Tecumseh, with his hundreds of braves, was the first real

victory on Ohio soil in the War of 1812. That we may all the more

appreciate the extent and significance of that event, let us for purposes

of comparison look to other parts of the world, and note some of the

stupendous acts that were being performed in the theatre of great

things. In this very month, indeed on this very day and the days fol-

lowing, in August, 1813, Bolivar, known as the Liberator and often called

the Washington of South America, as the head of several hundred vol-

unteer revolutionists, was entering as conqueror, Caracas, the capital of

Venezuela, which country was thus freed from the oppression of Spanish

monarchial rule and became one of the first republics of South America.

In Europe a greater scene was being enacted. The incomparable Napo-

leon was engaged in that series of military movements on the banks

of the Elbe, which were the crowning events of his generalship and the

culmination of his career. At this date (August 1813) Napoleon was

approaching Dresden with an army of 100,000

troups and upon that field he defeated 150,000 of

the allied forces. Two months later on the nearby

famous field of Leipsic with 150,000, the flower of

the French army, he was overwhelmed by the tre-

mendous host of 250,000 soldiers under the com-

bined powers of Europe. It was a crushing defeat

for the sublime rogue of Corsica, the greatest mili-

tary genius of modern times. These stupendous

events shook the foundations of European dynas-

ties, but were contests not for humanity and liberty

so much as for the supremacy of one form of

monarchy over another. Not on the banks of the

Elbe, but here on this picturesque spot, on the banks

of the peaceful little Sandusky, in the wild woods

of the Ohio Valley, devoid of the "pomp and circumstance" of gigantic

war, was being fought the battle for freedom and the best form of demo-

cratic government ever given man. Here, in this little stockade fort George

Croghan, a native American lad, with but 160 men, heroes of struggle and

sacrifice with a might almost miraculous, repelled the forces of the British

under Proctor, with 500 of the weathered veterans of the Peninsula War,

the trained troops of the victorious Wellington and two thousand or more

Indian braves under command of Tecumseh, the most sagacious and

daring leader of his race. How did George Croghan do it? He had

the versatility as well as the valor of the pioneer soldier. He had but

one mounted gun, "Old Betsy," whose venerable presence now stands

guard over the new grave of her old commander,-this one cannon

Croghan so deftly shifted behind the stockade walls, firing a shot now

through one port-hole and then through another, that the enemy were

fooled into the idea that Fort Stephenson was "chuck full" of firing

The Croghan Celebration

The Croghan Celebration.                   33


Betsies. The bravery of this American boy and his dauntless band ex-

ceeded in results for the betterment of humanity arid the advance of

civilization all the campaigns combined of Napoleon and his antagonists.

Croghan and his 160 followers were victorious because they were typical

pioneer Americans- Americans, a new type of character in the history

of the world. Someone has said that God sifted four races to produce

the American. Each one of you within the sound of my voice can

vividly recollect how on that magnificent May morning, 1898, Dewey

sailed into the Bay of Manila and almost in the twinkling of an eye sunk

the Spanish fleet, without the loss of a single American sailor and

scarcely the scratching of the paint from any of the American ships.

We thought that that was the most unparalleled event in history and

could never be repeated, but in sixty days thereafter it was encored in

the Bay of Santiago when the fleet of Cervera emerged and on that

July Sunday morning left the bay for the sea to encounter the storm

of fire and shot from the ships of Sampson and Schley. The war cor-

respondent of the London Times, one who for the last forty years had

been an eye-witness of the chief military and naval feats, both in the

old world and the new, gave in his paper a most graphic picture of this

battle of Santiago, which he viewed from the deck of one of the American

vessels. At the close of his vivid description, he made the significant

remark that the behavior of the American sailor was one of the most

marvelous exhibitions of coolness, bravery and accuracy he had ever wit-

nessed. Said he, "I verily believe that had those rival seamen exchanged

places, namely, had the Spanish sailors possessed the modern, thoroughly

equipped American ships and thus emerged from the bay, and had the

American sailors possessed the decrepid and time-worn ships of Spain,

the result would have been the same, namely, that the Americans

would have won the victory, because that victory was won by the char-

acter of the American boy who manned the American ships." The

American boy, Croghan, who defended Fort Stephenson against such tre-

mendous odds was the same type as the sailors of Dewey and Sampson

and Schley and the followers of the generals who led in the Spanish

War. It is related that when the Sultan of Turkey heard of the great

victory of the Americans at Manila and Santiago, he sent for the Amer-

ican ambassador and asked him if the reports of the marvelous feats

of the Americans were true. The ambassador replied that they were,

when the sultan asked if he could buy ships and guns like those which

the Americans employed. The ambassador told him that he supposed

the sultan could get them, they were made in America for money by

great manufacturers. "Then," said the sultan, "I will buy some of them

that I may win great victories." "Oh," said the ambassador, "that you

can do; but you cannot buy the American boys to man them for you."

It is of such men and boys as those who fought the American Revolution,

Vol. XVI- 3.

34 Ohio Arch

34         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


the War of 1812, of 1848, the Rebellion of 61-5 and the Spanish War

that this republic is composed. Your Vice-President and your Governor

have told you in eloquent language of the heroism and patriotism of

the American soldiers in those wars for independence, unity, liberty and

humanity. It is a noble record of a noble people and in that record

Ohio has taken a most conspicuous part. Three thousand Revolutionary

soldiers, scarred and wearied after the battles for independence, came

across the Alleghanies to establish homes for their declining years in the

peaceful and fruitful plains and valleys of Ohio. Their lives had been

dedicated to independence and freedom and their buried bones made

sacred the soil of Ohio. The seed of that Revolutionary patriotism

ripened into an hundred fold in the war for the national Union, for

300,000 loyal recruits went forth from the "Buckeye State" to fight on

the battle-fields of the Sunny South for the preservation of the republic

whose foundation was laid by their revered sires. In the crypt of St.

Paul's Cathedral, London, that splendid temple erected to the faith of

Christianity, lie the remains of its great architect, Christopher Wren.

They repose beneath the floor in which is sunken a simple plate, upon

which is inscribed the name "Christopher Wren," and the Latin inscrip-

tion "si monumentum requiris, circumspice"; if you seek his monument,

look about you. So I say, we may erect monuments, the graven metal

or carved marble, to the heroes of the past, not for them, for they

need them not, but for us that this reminder of their heroic deeds may

lead us to emulate their examples and push on to loftier heights. No,

I would say of George Croghan and the heroes of 1776 and 1812, if you

should ask for their monument, look about you and contemplate the mag-

nificent republic of which they laid the corner-stone, a republic whose

people present the highest of type character and civilization and whose

principles of liberty and humanity are being borne to all the inhabitants

of the earth and the islands of the sea. James A. Garfield, than whom

there was no more exalted example of the American citizen, soldier,

statesman, scholar and orator, a martyred President from Ohio, at the

close of one of his brilliant addresses used these words: "The history

of the worlds is a divine poem; the history of every nation is a canto in

that poem; and the life of every man is a word in that poem. The

harmony of that poem has ever been resounding through the ages and

though its melody has been marred by the roaring of cannon and the

groans of dying men, yet to the Christian philosopher, to you and me,

that poem breathes a prophecy of more happy and halcyon days to

come." What a word was the life of George Croghan in that poem of

universal history--a word that was a clarion note of bravery, heroism

and patriotism, a note that shall ever resound clear and distinct in the

harmony of American history.