The awful disaster which befell the troops under General St. Clair raised
a fearful storm of indignation against him. It is admitted by all who knew
him, that he was a man of very respectable abilities, of extensive
information, of upright purposes, of genial character and manners which endeared
him greatly to his friends. He was plain and simple in his dress and equipage,
and equally accessible to all. There can be no question that he was sincerely
devoted to the public welfare. Arthur St. Clair was born in Scotland, in the
year 1764. After receiving a liberal education in one of the most distinguished
universities of his native land, he studied medicine. Being of an
adventurous turn of mind, he obtained a subaltern's appointment to accompany General
Wolfe, in 1763, to the storming of Quebec.
After the peace he was assigned to the command of Fort Ligonier, and
received a grant of a thousand acres of land. In the conflict with Great
Britain he warmly espoused the cause of the colonists. He fought bravely, and
was promoted to the rank of brigadier. At Princeton and Trenton he gained new
laurels. Subsequently he attained the rank of Major General, and was stationed
at Ticonderoga. This post he abandoned upon the approach of Burgoyne's army.
For this he was unjustly accused of incapacity, cowardice and treachery. A
court-marital, after the most careful investigation, declared that Major
General St. Clair is acquitted with the highest honor of the charges against him.
It had been well and truly said that the works were incomplete, and incapable
of being defended against the whole British army. By a brave defense St. Clair
might have gained much personal renown. But he would have lost many men, and
in the end the fort would unquestionably have been taken. This loss would have
presented the subsequent capture of Burgoyne's army. By daring to do an
unpopular act, St. Clair exhibited moral courage far superior to that physical
daring which often gains a battle.
While residing on his farm at Ligonier, General St. Clair, in 1785, was
chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress, and soon was elected president
of that honorable body. After the passage of the ordinance for the government
of the Northwestern Territory, he was appointed Governor, and continued in
the office till the close of the year 1802, when he was removed by President
After his removal from office he returned to the Ligonier Valley. He had
laid up no money, but was poor, aged and infirm. He was very careless in money
matter, and was very unwisely negligent of his own accounts. He had a claim
against the government for a few thousand dollars, which he neglected to
present until it was forfeited by the statute of limitation. After two years
of harrassing troubles and disappointments, he relinquished the pursuit of
his claim in despair, and returned to his home a broken-hearted, worn-out man,
to dwell with a widowed daughter in abject poverty. The State of Pennsylvania,
his adopted state, took pity upon him, and, after some time, voted him an
annuity of six hundred and fifty dollars. This gave the gallant old soldier
a comfortable subsistence for the remainder of his days. He lived, however,
but a few years to enjoy this bounty. On the 31st of August, 1818, he died
at the age of eighty-four.
The return of St. Clair's routed army to Fort Washington spread
consternation and mourning into almost every family. Nearly one-half of the settlers
had entered upon this fatal campaign. All the settlements in the Miami country,
excepting those in the immediate vicinity of the forts, were abandoned. Many
of the terrified pioneers, retreating with the army, continued their flight
across the Ohio River into Kentucky, hoping to find safety in the stronger
posts which had been established there. The Indians, emboldened by their
great victory, ventured by night even into the streets of Cincinnati to spy
out the exposure of the town, and the best points upon which to make an
attack upon Fort Washington.
The country generally was so disheartened that it was proposed in Congress
to abandon the whole of the Northwestern Territory to the Indians, and make
the Ohio River the northern boundary of the United States. The people east
of the mountains were weary of these constantly recurring events of disaster
and blood, and were reluctant to make any further appropriations for the
conduct of such a war. It was nearly a year before the National Government
adopted any decisive measures for the chastisement of the Indians. In the
meantime a very cruel and bloody war, with varying success, was surging to
and fro all along the frontiers.
A few weeks after the great defeat General Scott dispatched two spies to
the scene of the late conflict to reconnoiter the position and movements of
the enemy. A few miles from the fatal spot they discovered a large party of
Indians rioting over the plunder they had taken. They were singing, dancing,
feasting, and, with great merriment, were riding the bullocks which they had
The men returning with this report, General Scott arranged his troops in
three divisions, and by forced marches advanced to attack the Indians by
surprise. The expedition was a complete success. He fell furiously upon the
bewildered warriors, killed two hundred of them, and put the rest to flight.
He also recovered the cannon and all the remaining stores which were in the
hands of the Indians. This victory was gained with the loss of but six men.
General Scott visited the scene of St. Clare's defeat, and gives the
following account of the spectacle presented to him there:
"The place had a very melancholy appearance. Within the space of about
three hundred and fifty yards lay three hundred skull-bones, which were
buried by my men while on the ground. For five miles along the road the woods
were strewed with skeletons, muskets," etc.
Notwithstanding this victory of General Scott, the Indians had acquired
great confidence in themselves and great contempt for their enemies on the
Ohio. Their incursions were daily becoming more extended and daring. Very
vigilantly they guarded the Ohio River to cut off the boats of the emigrants.
Still, in the year 1793, about fifty settlers were added to the population
of Cincinnati. Three or four frame houses were erected, besides several log
cabins. A substantial but very plain house of worship was built. It was a
mere box, without the slightest attempt at ornamentation. But as Cincinnati
was the head-quarters of the Territorial Army and the seat of Territorial
Government, it assumed quite an important air of business. The town was built
on what was called the lower terrace, near the river, and consisted of a
straggling street, mainly of log cabins, intersected by short cross streets
which led to the second terrace. This eminence was crowned by the massive
walls of Fort Washington.
The ax had cut an opening in the gigantic forest for the erection of the
town. Some of the tough places were leveled, but stumps and logs were yet
seen everywhere. This rustic Presbyterian Church was occupied by its first
pastor, James Kemper. He was a man of sincere piety and an eloquent preacher.
During the summer a school was opened, which taught simply the elements of
reading, writing and arithmetic. It was attended by about thirty boys and
Gradually the National Government had been gathering its resources and
making preparations for a new expedition to the Maumee country. It was deemed
very important, for its influence upon the Indians, that the national
reputation should be retrieved. The troops were concentrated at the Falls of the
Ohio. The little army was entrusted to the leadership of General Anthony
Wayne. The impetuousity of his character had given him the sobriquet of Mad
Anthony. It was generally supposed that he was much better calculated to heada charge than to conduct a campaign. His success, however, in this expedition
gave him the reputation of being a general as well as a fighter.
General Wayne was born in Eastown, Chester County, Pennsyvania, on the 1st
of January, 1745. His father was a farmer who had served in the Indian Wars,
and who had taken his seat in the Provincial Legislature. Anthony received a
good common school education, though, as a boy, he was much more fond of
military amusements than of his books. At eighteen years of age cautiously
along the shores. One would paddle the canoe, while the other, a little ahead, would go on foot through the woods.
Upon one of these tours, two of these spies, Samuel Davis and Duncan
McArthur, had encamped at night nearly opposite the mouth of the Scioto. Early
the next morning they crossed the river in their canoe, and went a short
distance back into the woods, to one of the salt licks, which they knew to
be frequented by deer. This lick was about two miles below the present site
of Portsmouth, near the house subsequently reared and occupied by Judge John
It was a beautiful, serene, autumnal morning. A light fog, not yet
dispersded by the rising sun, hung over the lowland. With the silent, stealthy
tread of the catamount, looking anxiously in every direction to see if any
lurking savage were near, they approached the spring. Davis was creeping
along through a thicket of wood and brush, when he lifted his head to see if
any deer were in-sight. At that instant the crack of an Indian's rifle was
heard, and a bullet whistled by his ear; no foe was visible. The slight smoke of the rifle blended with the fog. The Indian, after a moment stepped
from behind the tree, which concealed him, to see what was the effect of his
shot. The quick eye of Davis caught sight of him, and in an instant the savage fell, shot through the heart.
Davis immediately, without moving, commenced reloading his rifle; under
such circumstances that was always the first thing to be done. McArthur,
hearing the shots, came rushing to him, and, at the same moment, quite a band
of Indians sprung forward, in the clear space around the lick. The two
rangers were so concealed in the rank weeds and underbrush, that they were not
perceived by the Indians. They immediately commenced flight at their utmost
speed, reached their canoe, crossed the Ohio, and were out of danger. Not long after this a boat was ascending the river, and when near the
mouth of the Scioto, was fired upon by Indians from the Ohio shore. One man
was instantly killed and two severly wounded. The remainder of the crew
rapidly pushed the boat towards the other shore, and put back to Maysville. A
fresh crew was procured, and the four rangers, who chanced to be then in
Maysville, were directed to guard the boat as far as the mouth of the Big
Sandy. Here, at the mouth of a small creek, on the Kentucky shore, they found a birch canoe concealed. It was large enough for eight men. A party
had evidently crossed the Ohio, and were prowling about somewhere in the
country. One of the rangers immediately returned to Maysville to give the
The other three, having seen the packet boat to the mouth of the Big Sandy,
commenced their return in a light canoe. The obvious danger was, that they
might be fired upon by savages, in ambush on the banks. To obviate this peril,
while one paddled the canoe, two advanced on foot to reconnoiter. Should
there be signs of savages, the rangers could cross to the other shore. Should
they be pursued, they could, from behind trees, take deliberate aim at the
Indians in their canoe, and shoot them down rapidly.
Encountering no foe, they reached the mouth of the Scioto in safety. Here
McArthur went back a little distance, among the hills for game. He approached
the deer lick, of which we have before spoken, and concealing himself,
waited a hour for the approach of a deer. At length he saw two Indians coming to
the lick; they were so near that it was impossible for him to escape without
being discovered. They were burly savages, thoroughly armed with rifles,
tomahawks and scalping knives. The situation of McArthur seemed
desparate. In their line of approach they would certainly soon catch sight of him.
Instantly he decided upon his mode of action.
When the savages were within fourteen paces of him, he fired, and shot one
through the heart. He had supposed that the other one, not knowing the
number of foes who might be concealed, would instantly take to flight. In this
he was mistaken. The Indian did not even dodge, as his companion sank dead
by his side. Grasping at his rifle, he looked sternly around in search of
his invisible foe. McArthur's gun was discharged. The Indian's rifle was
loaded. A personal conflict was hopeless. There was no chance for McArthur
but in flight; and he was not a fleet runner.
But he broke from his concealment, and was rushing along, at his highest
possible speed, when, his feet becoming entangled in the boughs of a fallen
tree, he stumbled and fell. At that instant the savage fired, and the ball
whistled by him, just singeing his hair. He sprang to his feet and rushed
towards the savage, who was now on an equality with him, as both guns were
discharged. But at that moment several other Indians came rushing through
the thickets, with unearthly yells.
He turned again in his flight, the savages pursuing, like baying
bloodhounds, and continually firing upon him. One of their bullets struck his
powder-horn, and effectually shivered it, scattering all its contents. Terror
lent wings to his flight. To his surprise, he gained upon the Indians, and
at length they either lost sight of his track, or, for some other reason,
relinquished the pursuit. When he reached the banks of the river he found his
companions paddling up and down in the canoe, watching for him. They had
heard the firing, had rightly judged its cause, and had despairingly hoped
that their comrade might possibly escape. McArthur was hastily taken on board,
and the canoe crossing rapidly to the other side of the river, they all soon
found themselves safely in Maysville.
President Washington was well aware of the atrocities which had been
perpetrated upon the Indians, and he was anxious to do everything in his power
to secure friendly relations with them. Congress met in Philadelphia on the
5th of November, 1793. In his speech on that occasion, the President said:
"The reiterated attempts which have been made to effect a pacification
with the Indians, have issued only in new and outrageous proofs of
perservering hostility on the part of the tribes with whom we are at war."
In September of this year General Wayne had so organized his army as to
be ready to move forward into the Indian country. By rapid marches, he
advanced up the Valley of the Great Miami to Fort Jefferson, which was about
five miles southwest of the present Town of Sidney. At this spot he established
a camp, strongly fortified it, and called the place Greenville. Here he
wintered, preparing for the campaign of the next Summer, should all efforts at
peace be unavailing. Commissioners in the meantime, had been sent to confer
with the chiefs. Elated with their success, they demanded that all the white
settlements should be removed to the other side of the river, and that the
Ohio should henceforth and forever be the boundary line between their hunting
grounds and the American settlements.
This demand, of course, could not be complied with. Both parties prepared
to renew the war. On the 17th of October, 1793, Lieutenant Lowry and Ensign
Boyd, with about ninety men, were escorting to the camp at Greenville, twenty
wagons, loaded with grain and stores. The Indian chief, of whom we have before
spoken, Little Turtle, at the head of a party of Indians, attacked them. He
had superior numbers, and the battle was fought with great desparation on
both sides. The Americans were totally routed, with the loss of fifteen men,
including both of the officers in command. The rest of the troops fled,
abandoning everything. The Indians, who had begun to despise their opponents,
captured seventy horses with all the wagons.
On the 24th of August, General Wayne was reinforced, by the arrival of
General Scott from Kentucky, with about sixteen hundred mounted volunteers.
In December, he moved forward to the battle-field where St. Clair was routed.
Here he again erected defensive works, and named them Fort Recovery. They
reached the place on Christmas day, and pitched their tents on the battleground.
One of the party writes:
"When the men went to lie down in their beds at night, they had to scrape
the bones together, and carry them out, that they might make their beds at
night, they had to scrape the bones together, and carry them out, that they
might make their beds. The next day holes were dug, and the bones remaining
above ground were buried. Six hundred skulls were among them. The flesh was
entirely off the bones, and in many cases the sinews yet held them together.
After this melancholy duty was performed, a fortification was built, and
named Fort Recovery, in commemoration of the ground in 1791. On the
completion of the fort, one company of artillery, and one of riflemen were left,
while the rest returned to Greenville."
General Wayne then advanced about sixty miles, along the banks of the
Auglaize, until he reached its junction with the Maumee. Here he constructed,
in the heart of the enemy's country, very strong and scientifically arranged
works, which he named, not inappropriately, Fort Defiance. Directly between
the junction of the two streams he erected four strong, massive blockhouses.
These homes were connected by stout palisades, enclosing an area of one or
two acres. Just outside of the pickets there was a wall of earth, faced with
logs. Beyond that, there was a ditch, fifteen feet wide and eight feet deep,
fed by water from the Auglaize.
The fort was on the site of a large Indian settlement, which had extended
several miles up and down the Maumee River. The situation was very beautiful
and commanding. The Indians in this region, having long been in friendly
intercourse with the French, were far advanced in civilization. Vegetables
of almost every kind were in abundance. There were more than a thousand acres
waving with corn, and there were also large apple and peach orchards.
Having erected and garrisoned this fort, General Wayne returned to
Greenville. The whole body of troops under his control, occupying these forts,
and ready to march beneath his banners, amounted to about three thousand men.
The Indian warriors preparing for battle amounted, so far as General Wayne
could ascertain, to two thousand men. Many British officers were associated
with them, besides a large number of Canadian troops.
The British authorities in Canada did not disguise the interest they took
in the success of the savages. They encourage them to a vigorous resistance,
leading them to hope, as the Indians testified, in the co-operation of their
arms. Lord Dorchester issued a proclamation to the savages, in which he told
them that it was probable that England would soon join them in the war against
the United States, and that the Indians, in that case, would be able to select their own boundary line, meaning clearly that the line of the Ohio,
which they claimed, should be forced upon the United States. He wrote:
"From the manner in which the people of the United States push forward,
and talk, I should not be surprised if we were at war with them in the course
of the present year. In that case a "line will have to be drawn by the warriors".
President Washington had given General Wayne very minute instructions
respecting the campaign. He suggestion the order of march, the way to guard
against surprises, the mode of forming speedily in order of battle in the
thick woods. The camp at night was always to be in the form of a hollow square, protected by a breastwork of fallen timber or of earth. The cavalry
and baggage were to be within the square. The troops were to be kept under
the highest possible state of discipline, and to be especially exercised in
loading and firing with rapidity and accuracy. Particularly they were to be
taught to load while running. The general was entreated not to spare powder
or lead in giving the troops skill in these practices, so essential in
The Indians had carefully watched the proceedings of the troops in
erecting Fort Recovery, on the ground rendered memorable by the defeat of St.
Clair. They resolved to make a desparate effort to destroy the small
garrison left in guard there, and to gain the fort for themselves. On the 30th
of June, 1794, a large force, consisting of fifteen hundred Indians, with
several companies of Canadians, with blackened faces and in Indian costume,
led by British officers, in full dress, made a furious attack upon the fort.
Major McMahon was encamped just outside of the works, with about one hundred
and fifty troops. Mr. Burnet, in his Notes, gives the following account of
this important conflict.
"On the 30th of June a very severe and bloody battle was fought, under the
walls of Fort Recovery, between a detachment of American troops, consisting
of ninety riflemen and fifty dragoons, commanded by Major McMahon, and a very
numerous body of Indians and British, who at the same instant rushed on the
detachment and assailed the fort on every side with fury. They were repulsed
with a heavy loss, but again rallied and renewed the attack, keeping up a
heavy and constant fire during the whole day, which was returned with spirit
and effect by the garrison.
"The preceding night was foggy and dark, and gave the Indians an
opportunity of carrying off their dead by torch-light, which occasionally drew a
fire from the garrison. They, however, succeeded so well that there were but
eight or ten bodies left on the ground, which were too near the garrison to
be approached. On the next morning McMahon's detachment having entered the
fort the enemy renewed the attack, and continued it with great desperation
during the day, but were untimately compelled to retreat from the same field
on which they had been proudly victorious on the 4th of November, 1791.
"The expection of the assailants must have been to surprise the post and
carry it by storm, for they could not possibly have received intelligence
of the movements of the escort under Major McMahon, which only marched from
Greenville on the morning preceding, and on the same evening deposited in
Fort Recovery the supplies it had conveyed. That occurrence, therefore, could
not have led to the movement of the savages.
"Judging from the extent of their encampment and their line of march in
seventeen columns, forming a wide and extended front, and from other
circumstances, it was believed that their numbers could not have been less than
from fifteen hundred to two thousand warriors. It was also believed that
they were in want of provisions, as they had killed and eaten a number of
pack horses in their encampment the evening after assault, and also at their
encampment on their return, seven miles from Fort Recovery, where they
remained two nights, having been much encumbered with their dead and wounded.
"From the report of Major Mills, adjutant general of the army, it appears
that twenty-two officers and non-commissioned officers were killed, the thirty wounded. Among the former was Major McMahon, and among the latter,
Lieutenant Drake. Captain Gibson, who commanded the fort, behaved with great
gallantry, and received the thanks of the commander-in-chief, as did every
officer and soldier of the garrison, and the escort, who were engaged in
that most gallant and successful defense.
"Immediately after the enemy had retreated, it was ascertained that their
loss had been very heavy; but the full extent of it was not known, till it
was disclosed at the treaty of Greenville. References were made to that battle,
by several of the chiefs in council, from which it was manifest that they had
not, even then, ceased to mourn the distressing losses sustained on that
occasion. Having made the attack with a determination to carry the fort or
perish in the attempt, they exposed their persons in an unusual degree, and,
of course, a large number of the bravest of the chiefs and warriors perished
before they abandoned the enterprise.
"From the facts afterwards communicated, it was satisfactorily ascertained
that there were a considerable number of British soldiers and Detroit militia
engaged with the savages on that occasion. A few days previous to that affair,
the general had sent out three small parties of friendly Indians, Chickasaws
and Choctaws, to take prisoners, for the purpose of obtaining information.
One of these parties returned to Greenville, and reported that they had
fallen in with a large body of Indians, at Girtystown, near the crossing of the
St. Mary's River, on the evening of the twenty-seventh of June. They were
apparently bending their course towards Chilicothe, on the Miami. There were
a great many white men with them. The other two parties followed the trial
of the hostile Indians, and were in sight when the assault on the post
commenced. They affirm, one and all, that there were a large number of armed
white men with painted faces, whom they frequently heard conversing in
English, and encouraging the Indians to persevere; and that there were also three
British officers, dressed in scarlet, who appeared to be men of distinction,
from the great attention and respect which were paid to them. These persons
kept at a distance in the rear of the assailants.
"Another strong corroborating proof that there were British soldiers and
militia in the assault is, that a number of ounce balls and buck-shot were
found, lodged in the block-houses and stockades of the fort, and that others
were picked up on the ground, fired at such a distance as not to have momentum sufficient to enter the logs. It was supposed that the British who
were engaged in the attack, expected to find the artillery that was lost on
the fatal fourth of November, which had been hid in the ground, and covered
with logs by the Indians, in the vicinity of the battle field. This interference
was supported by the fact that, during the conflict, they were seen turning
over logs and examining different places in the neighborhood, as if
searching for something. There were many reasons for believing that they depended
on that artillery to aid in the reduction of the fort. But, fortunately, most
of it had previously been found by its legitimate owners, and was then
employed in its defense."
It will be remembered that St. Clair, after his awful defeat, was compelled
to abandon his artillery. General Wayne succeeded in recovering all these
pieces, except one, which could not be found. Nearly twenty years after his
day this piece was accidently discovered, buried deep in the mud. It passed
into the possession of an artillery company in Cincinnati, who may, probably,
still retain it.
The Indians were very adroit in their stratagems, and the utmost caution
was requisite in a conflict with them. Captain Shaylor was in command of the
little garrison at Fort Jefferson. Immediately after the retreat of the savages
from their signal defeat at Fort Recovery, as no Indians were around, and it
would take sometime to re-organize new war parties, all the garrisons felt
much at their ease. Captain Shaylor, as the Indians well knew, was very fond
of hunting. One pleasant summer morning the captain heard the gobble of a
flock of turkeys in the woods at a little distance from the fort. Calling his
son, they eagerly sallied forth to shoot some game for dinner. They fell into
an ambuscade, the son fell, fatally wounded. The gobble of the turkeys was
but a decoy for the Indians. The captain turned and fled to the garrison, the
Indians, with loud yells, pursued, hoping either to capture him, or to enter
the gates at his heels. They were, however, disappointed. He rushed in, though with an arrow quivering in his back, and the gates were immediately
closed after him.
General Wayne, in all his movements, followed very closely the instructions
given him by President Washington. In his marches the army generally halted
about the middle of the afternoon. The quartermasters, with the quartermaster-general, surveyor and engineers, selected the ground, and laid off the
encampment of each company. They went a little in advance, so that the troops,
as soon as they arrived, proceeded in pitch their tents. Each company fortified twenty feet in front of its position. This was done either by
throwing up the earth, or by cutting down trees, and piling up the logs. The
whole breastwork, around the encampment, was usually completed before dark. Fort Defiance, at the mouth of the Auglaize, was one hundred and three
miles from Greenville. During the construction of the fort the cavalry scoured
the whole of the highly cultivated region for miles around, destroying the
crops and burning the deserted villages. Having finished and strongly garrisoned
the fort, Wayne pressed forward, down the banks of the Maumee, a distance of
forty-five miles, where, at what is called the Rapids, and within seven miles
of the old English Fort Miami, he constructed Fort Deposit. It is said that
the army which he assembled here amounted to two thousand regulars, besides
eleven hundred riflemen, commanded by General Scott. General Wayne was very
careful to guard his camp by scouts, who ranged the forest in all directions.
One of the scouts, who obtained great distinction, was William Wells. He was captured by the Indians when a mere child, and was adopted into the
family of Little Turtle. Here he was treated with the utmost kindness, and
he became strongly attached to all the inmates of the lodge. Indeed he became
an Indian, in all his sympathies, character and manners. He was one of the most
valiant in their war parties, and in his paint and plumes could not be
distinguished from other Indians. He commanded three hundred warriors in the
attack upon St. Clair, and so directed their fire as to annihilate the artillerists.
Notwithstanding this great victory, he felt assured that, in the end, the
whites would triumph. He therefore decided to abandon the Indians, and return
to his countrymen. One morning he said to Little Turtle, his adopted father,
pointing to the heavens:
"When that sun reaches the meridian, I shall leave you for the whites. And
whenever you meet me in battle, you must kill me, as I shall endeavor to do
It is very remarkable, that after this abrupt departure, the ties of
friendship continued unbroken between these highly gifted men. Wells soon
joined Wayne's army. His knowledge of Indian haunts and modes of warfare,
rendered him an invaluable acquision to the troops. After peace was restored
he returned to his foster father, Little Turtle, and their friendship remained uninterrupted until his death.
In one of his excursions, Captain Wells, upon approaching the banks of St.
Mary's River, discovered a group of Indians ascend the stream in a canoe. He
was himself in Indian costume, and spoke their language like a native. The
Indians, perceiving him, and not suspecting any danger, turned their canoe
towards the shore. As they approached, Captain Wells recognized, among the
rest, his Indian father and mother. At the same moment he heard his companions,
who were lying in ambush cocking their rifles, to pour a deadly fire into the
Captain Wells, alarmed at the danger to which his friends were exposed,
turned to his men and ordered them to desist, declaring that he would shoot
down the first man who should fire into the boat.
"That family," said he, "has fed me when hungry, clothed me when naked, and
nursed me when sick, and has treated me with as much affection as one of their
This speech touched the hearts of his comrades, who knew of his previous
history. They dropped their rifles, and shook hands cordially with the trembling Indians. Such are the joys of peace and friendship. Captain Wells
assured the family that they had nothing to fear. He, however, told Little
Turtle that General Wayne was approaching with a force which the Indians
could not resist, and that the best thing they could do was immediately to
make peace. Urging his father to keep, for the future, out of danger, they
took an affectionate leave of each other. The Indians seemed very grateful
for this manifestation of kindness, and paddled rapidly from the shore. Another of the scouts, under the command of Captain Wells, was a man of
remarkable history, by the name of Henry Miller. He, and a younger brother,
Christopher, had been captured by the Indians when children, and had been
kindly adopted into an Indian family. He lived with the Indians until he was
twenty-four years of age. Though he had fully adopted the Indian's mode of
life, and had entirely identified himself with the tribe, he began to yearn
for a return to civilized life. He could not, however, persuade his brother
to accompany him in his contemplated flight. Many years passed away, during
which the brothers heard nothing of each other. Henry escaped through the
woods, and safely reached his friends in Kentucky. Henry and Wells had known
each other when residing with the Indians.
There were four other men, united with these two, who usually went out
together, as scouts, making a party of six. In June, 1794, while the
headquarters of the army were at Greenville. General Wayne dispatched Wells and
his corps on one of their excursions. They were particularly requested to
bring sone Indian into camp, as a prisoner, from whom the movements of the
savages could be ascertained. They crossed the St. Mary's River, and, as
they were proceeding along the banks of the Auglaize, they discovered a slight
smoke curling up through the tree-tops, at a distance.
With great caution three of them crept along with the stealthy tread of
an animal, seeking to plunge upon its prey, till they reached a spot screened
by the dense boughs of a fallen tree, from which they saw three Indians, within
half gun-shot distance, making themselves very merry around the camp-fire.
They had just killed a deer, and were feasting upon the savory cuts. The plan
of the scouts was immediately formed. Wells and Miller were to shoot two of
the Indians, one on the right and the other on the left. Immediately, upon
the report of the guns, McClellan, who was fleet of foot as a deer, was to
spring forward and seize the center Indian, while instantly supported by his
The guns were fired, and the two Indians dropped dead, shot through the
heart. McClellan, with uplifted tomahawk, rushed upon his victim. The Indian,
without even grasping his rifle, bounded down towards the river. At that
place there was a bluff bank, nearly twenty feet high. Giving a tremendous
leap, he landed in the stream but a short distance from the shore, and sank
in the soft oozy bottom of mud, up to his waist. He was effectually
imprisoned. McClellan sprang up after him, and found himself in about the same
predicament. As they were both floundering in the mire, the Indian drew his
knife. McClellan, brandishing his tomahawk, ordered the Indian to throw his
knife into the water, or he would instantly cleave his brain. He did so, and surrendered without further opposition. By this time Wells
and his companion came to the bank and discovered the two struggling in the
mire. Their prisoner being secure, they selected a place where the bank was
less precipitous, went down, dragged the captive out and tied him. He was
sulky, and refused to speak either English or Indian. Some of the party went
back for their horses. The captive was painted, as was usual with the Indians,
and was covered with mud. Upon washing off the mud and paint, they found,
much to their suprise, that he was a white man.
He however seemed very sullen, and refused to answer any questions. He was
manifestly, in all his character, thoroughly an Indian, although the blood
of the white man flowed in his veins. Henry Miller, for some cause, began to
suspect that this might be his long, lost brother, Christopher. After looking
at him very closely, he came up and called him by his Indian name. The man
stared in great surprise, seemed bewildered, and asked him how he could possibly know his name. The mystery was soon solved. The captive was indeed
Christopher Miller. His escape from death seemed to have been providential.
Had he chanced to have stood either upon the right or the left of the little
group of three, he would certainly have been shot.
Christopher was still not at all disposed to make friends of his captors.
They took him to Greenville and placed him in the guard-house. General Wayne
questioned him very closely, respecting the intentions of the Indians, but
could get nothing from him. His brother and Captain Wells exhausted all their
powers of persuasion in the endeavor to induce him to abandon the Indians,
and return to civilized life. It is, however, a remarkable fact, that while
it is easy, so to speak, to make an Indian of a white man, it is very difficult
to lead one from the savage to the civilized state. The descent is easy, the
ascent laborious and painful.
Gradually Christopher became more reconciled and genial. At length he
promised that, if they would release him from confinement, he would join them.
To this arrangement General Wayne consented, though he had but little faith
that his captive would keep his word. They equipped him in a new uniform,
and mounted him upon a very fine horse. He joined the company of Captain
Wells, and continued through the war a faithful and intrepid soldier.