Ohio History Journal




[The Cleveland Herald and Gazette, of June 3, 1840, printed an

extract from a speech delivered by the brave Col. John O'Fallon, at the

raising of the log-cabin in St. Louis. This was during the famous "Log

Cabin Campaign," summer and fall of 1840. The speech reflecting the

political and public sentiment of the time, will be read with interest.-


Colonel O'Fallon-who it may be stated, delivered his

speech from the ramparts of a miniature Fort Meigs -was an

aid of Gen. Harrison, and bore no inglorious part in the scenes

he describes. How the testimony of such a gallant, honorable

gentleman puts to shame the slanders of the Administration

papers and orators:

It was on the first day of February, 1813, that the army

of Gen. Harrison, pitched their tents upon, and adjacent to the

ground where Fort Meigs was erected, and commenced the con-

struction of a stockade, which was afterwards surrounded by a

ditch and embankments, embracing several acres of ground. The

snow was deep upon the ground, the weather extremely cold;

and although the troops were raw and greatly unaccustomed to

such severe exposure, their ardor never abated. Under many

deprivations, they performed their several duties with the zeal

and alacrity, which springs from the soldier's deep confidence

in the tried skill and courage of his commander, and his warm

attachment to his person. Early in April, 1813, the garrison of

Fort Meigs numbered about 1000 effective men-two brigades of

militia having been discharged in consequence of the termination

of their period of service. This fact being early ascertained by

the British general commanding at Malden, an expedition against

Fort Meigs was immediately projected. His army of British

and Indians was near 4000 strong, and he gave his Indian

allies the most confident assurance that he could carry the Fort

by storm, should his invitation to Gen. Harrison to surrender


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Siege of Fort Meigs.               281

with the honors of war, be refused. He had a heavy park of

artillery, and this, with the imagined weakness of our defences,

he fancied would give him a ready and easy conquest of the

Fort. And it was even stipulated between the British general

and the celebrated Tecumseh, that, should the garrison be taken,

and Gen. Harrison remain alive, the American commander was

to be delivered to the Indian, who designed to wreak upon him

his savage vengeance for the death of his many braves and war-

riors who fell at the battle of Tippecanoe. Vain calculation!

Vain, this premeditated purpose of base and barbarous malice!

The God of battles was with the American general, and he was

reserved by a wise and far-seeing Providence, to be in after

times, the proud, the high blessing, the bright prospect, the noble

deliverer of his country.

Fort Meigs was invested and cannonaded with bomb shells

and red hot balls for seven days, during all which time Gen.

Harrison was ever at the point of danger, planning and directing

the defence, and his manner, his voice, his sagacious conduct,

and his undaunted courage inspiring his officers and men with

an abiding confidence of ultimate victory. Gen. Proctor, was,

at length driven to confess that he was contending with a com-

mander whose courage and military talents were equal to any

emergency; and despairing of redeeming the pledge he had given

to his army, to make an easy conquest of the garrison, and being

informed by intercepted communications, that Gen. Harrison

was in daily expectation of reinforcements, to effect that by

stratagem, which he now despaired of accomplishing by open

warfare, he calculated by a timely and well concerted deception

to decoy into an ambuscade, a large detachment of our garrison

-then scarcely sufficient effectually to man the defences. Should

he succeed in this, the ready sacrifice of the Fort would in-

evitably follow. Suddenly, a brisk and sharp firing was heard

in a thick woods near the Fort, through which the road passed

to the interior. The alarm strongly represented, as it was de-

signed to do, an Indian engagement. Shortly afterwards, loud

wailing and groans were heard, as would naturally proceed from

wounded and dying men. The whole garrison at once con-

cluded, that an attack was made upon our brothers in arms on

282 Ohio Arch

282       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

their way to our assistance. Not so, however, with Gen. Har-

rison. He alone was incredulous.. Many of his officers waited

upon him, and almost demanded permission to fly to the rescue.

For a time the greatest excitement prevailed in the garrison at

the idea of the sacrifice of their gallant comrades, without any

attempt to save them. Gen. Harrison's sagacity caught the de-

sign of the enemy in a moment, and it required the exercise of

all his powerful influence and authority to subdue the impetu-

osity of his officers and men, and to convince them of this cun-

ning device of the enemy planned for their destruction.

About two o'clock on the morning of the 5th of May, 1813,

two officers came expresses from Gen. Green Clay, who had

passed the Indian line, under cover of the night, at the most

imminent hazard of their lives. They brought information that

Gen. Clay with his brigade of Kentucky militia, was encamped

on the river, a few miles above the Fort, to which he would

proceed early that morning. This was most cheering intel-

ligence to Gen. Harrison; and with this addition to his force,

he determined at once to commence offensive operations, by

attacking the enemy at every assailable point, dislodge them

from their position, destroy their batteries, and thus terminate

the seige of Fort Meigs.

With this view, two officers were immediately despatched

to General Clay with orders to land about a mile above the Fort,

on the opposite side of the river, a detachment of 800 men under

one of his most trustworthy officers. To move upon the British

batteries, to carry them, spike the cannon, destroy the ammuni-

tion and carriages, and immediately upon the accomplishment of

this, to cross the river to the Fort, under cover of our artillery.

The brave Col. Dudley did, in a most gallant manner, take

the British batteries and spiked some pieces of their cannon;

but, too confident of his own strength, and ignorant of the

enemy, to be soon made available, he was induced in violation

of his instructions to occupy the ground taken until the enemy

had time to collect their forces in an adjacent woods, into which

he was cunningly enticed by a partial firing of a few Indians,

where after a bloody conflict, the largest part of his command

was taken.

Siege of Fort Meigs

Siege of Fort Meigs.               283

Gen. Harrison displayed, in the judgment of all his officers,

the highest order of military talent during the seige- for his

efficient plan of defence, by traverses through and across the

encampment, as a cover for his men -the manner of protecting

his magazine, the object of constant attack-as well as for

the plan, direction, and most opportune execution of the grand

object of the two sorties, made by detachments from the gar-

rison of Fort Meigs on the 5th of May, 1812.

The first sortie was directed against that portion of the

Indians, and Canadian militia, investing the south and west end

of the Fort, for the purpose of drawing them from the river,

whilst Gen. Clay's detachment was effecting their entrance into

the Fort.

The second sortie commenced its movement just at the

moment of the appearance on the opposite side, of Dudley's

detachment, advancing upon the British batteries, having the

double effect of engaging the Indians and preventing them from

crossing the river to co-operate against Dudley, and accom-

plishing the destruction of the enemy's batteries on the south-

east side of the river.

On no occasion during the last war, were greater honors

acquired than by Gen. Harrison, who conceived and directed,

and the gentlemen who executed his orders in these two bril-

liant sorties.

In both engagements our troops, whilst utterly exposed,

advanced upon and repulsed the enemy sheltered as he was by

his position, and outnumbering our men 4 to I.

In the last sortie our men marched as firmly as veterans,

to the very mouths of the British cannon, receiving unmoved,

their constant fire of grape shot, accompanied by a most galling

and destructive fire from the thousands of Indians and militia

on our front and flanks. Altho, a large number of our men

fell and perished upon the bed of honor, their surviving com-

rades never paused in their forward march, until the batteries,

with a large portion of the British regulars in charge of them,

were captured, and the whole Indian and Militia force was dis-

persed and routed. Thus ended the memorable seige of Fort

Meigs. * * * * * *

284 Ohio Arch

284       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

Opportunities have been afforded me of knowing Gen. Har-

rison in all the relations of life, as an officer and as a man, and

of being enabled to form a pretty correct estimate of his civil

and military office. I know him to be open and brave in his

disposition, of active and industrious habits, uncompromising in

his principles, above all guile and intrigue, and a pure, honest,

noble minded man, with a heart overflowing with warm and

generous sympathies for his fellow men. As a military man,

his daring, chivalrous courage inspired his men with confidence,

and spread dismay and terror to his enemies. In all his plans

he was successful. In all his engagements he was victorious.

He has filled all the various civil and military offices committed

to him by his country, with sound judgment and spotless fidelity.

In every situation, he was cautious and prudent, firm and ener

getic, and his decisions always judicious.   His acquirements

as a scholar are varied and extensive; his principles as a states-

man, sound, pure and republican.



In addition to the above article, the same paper, of the

same date, prints the following:




A gentleman of the highest respectability, says the editor

of the Louisville Journal, has sent us the annexed document,

which he vouches for as genuine. It was handed to him by

one of the signers of it, a half breed Indian and a relative of


COUNCIL BLUFF, 23d March, 1840.

To GENERAL HARRISON'S FRIENDS.-The other day, several news-

papers were brought to us, and peeping over them, to our astonishment

we find the Hero of the late war called coward.-This would have sur-

prised the tall braves, Tecumseh of the Shawnees and Round Head and

Walk in the Water of the Wyandots. If the departed could rise again,

they-would say to the white man, that General Harrison was the terror

of the late tomahawkers. The first time we got acquainted with General

Harrison, it was at the council fire of the late old Tempest (General

Wayne) at Greenville on the head waters of the Wabash, 1796. From

that period until 1811, we had many friendly smokes with him, but from

Siege of Fort Meigs

Siege of Fort Meigs.                    285

1812 we changed our tobacco smoke into powder smoke- then we found

Gen. Harrison was a brave warrior and humane to his prisoners-as

reported to us by two of Tecumseh's young men who was taken in the

fleet with Captain Barclay on the 10th September, 1813-and on the

Thames, where, he routed both the British and red men, and where he

showed his courage and his humanity to his prisoners both White and

Red - report of Adam Brown and family taken the morning of the battle,

5th October, 1813: We are the only two surviving of that day in this

country. We hope the good White men will protect the name of General


We remain your friends forever,

CHAMBLEE, Aid to Tecumseh,

B. CLADWELL, Captain.