[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
During the French and Indian War

This webpage reproduces an article in the

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Vol. 43 No. 4 (Winter 1950), pp265‑281

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Fort Massac
since 1805

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p265 Fort Massac: the American Frontier Post

By Norman W. Caldwell*

For a generation after the abandonment of Fort Massac by the French (c. 1764), the site remained unoccupied by white men. The chief importance attached to the place in this period is the fact that it was the gateway for the route leading from the lower Ohio overland to Kaskaskia — a route commonly used by both white and red men.1 A French writer who visited Fort Massac in 1796 has emphasized its importance to the Illinois country and the adjacent regions.2 A traveler over this road was George Rogers Clark, who, accompanied by his band of Virginians, passed this way as he went to wrest the Illinois country from the English in the summer of p2661778. The importance of the route in the economy of the Illinois country has not been studied by careful students and merits further attention.

After the Revolutionary War the Illinois country passed under the control of the Government of the Articles of Confederation and in 1789 into the hands of the present federal authority. One of the pressing problems faced by the new national government was the increasing hostility of the Indians in the area north of the Ohio River. Though territorial cessions had been made by the Indians in treaties signed in 1784 and 1785, the savages were reluctant to part with their lands, which were rapidly being occupied by American pioneers. Since the British had not withdrawn their troops from certain of the northwest posts, the Indians were accordingly encouraged to stiffen their front against the Americans. At the heart of the matter was the British control of the northwest fur trade, the savages looking to the British rather than to the Americans for most of their supplies and for a market for their furs. Under such circumstances, Indian depredations against American frontiersmen, especially in eastern Ohio, were increasing at an alarming rate. President Washington accepted the challenge, realizing that the prestige of the new government was at stake. The immediate results were humiliating defeats met by the expeditions of General Josiah Harmar and Governor Arthur St. Clair in 1790 and 1791.

Enraged by these fiascos, Washington turned to General Anthony Wayne and charged him with the responsibility of succeeding where his predecessors had failed. Slowly, but deliberately, Wayne set about his task, which involved the recruiting and training of a regular army force and the waging of a campaign calculated in terms of years rather than months. Wayne's strategy involved a penetration into the heart of the region north of the Ohio River on the one hand and the refortification of the site of Fort Massac on the other. In addition to the problem presented by the Indians at this time, the government p267was also concerned with the "Genêt Affair," which had seriously affected national interests west of the mountains where certain "Frenchified" elements were active. A revived Fort Massac would tend to curb the activities of these people as well.3

Though the rebuilding of Fort Massac was considered in 1793, the matter was postponed until a favorable treaty had been signed with the Indians in Wabash country.4 Early in 1794 General Wayne received orders to refortify the site,5 and he chose as the leader of the expedition charged with this task, Major Thomas Doyle of the First Sublegion.6 Doyle was soon busy with preparations for the movement, which included the procurement of boats, tools, and a six‑months' supply of p268rations.7 The contingent assembled for the expedition was made up of Captain Isaac Guion's company of the First Sublegion plus a detachment of artillerymen.8 Final preparations having been completed, the troops, accompanied by two contractors' boats, departed from Cincinnati on May 24, 1794.9 The expedition passed the Rapids (at Louisville) on June 4, and eight days later arrived at the site of the old French fort.10 In accordance with his instructions Doyle threw up temporary breastworks about one corner of the old French works and was soon in "a good posture of defense."11 Having provided for temporary security, Doyle pursued the construction of the fort with such vigor that he was able to report the completion of the works by October 20, 1794.12

No adequate description of Fort Massac as rebuilt by the Americans has been found. The site is well known and the extent and position of the structure may still be traced by the p269earthworks. Though the site itself was above the level of flood waters, the surrounding area was frequently inundated.13 Collot states that the bank on which the Fort stood was about seventy-five feet above low water level. The Fort was placed so near the river bank (which was precipitous) that by the time Collot visited the place (1796) the two bastions facing the river were already in danger of being undermined by the caving of the river banks. A part of the ditch and palisade had already fallen into the river.14

The structure formed a rectangular enclosure of forty‑six feet on a side, made of a palisade of upright logs about twenty feet high, the whole being surrounded by a ditch. At each corner was a bastion two stories high, which, in addition to its normal function, afforded space for barracks for the troops. The adjacent area, comprising some sixty acres, was cleared to afford a better view as well as to provide a parade ground for the troops. The armament of the Fort consisted of eight twelve-pounder cannon in 1796, but had been reduced by 1808 to a small brass howitzer and a brass carronade two‑pounder.15

The name "Fort Massac" was given by the French and remained in official usage under American occupation. One p270writer, however, mentions that it was sometimes called locally "Fort Cheroquis."16 According to Collot the corruption of the name Fort Massac to "Fort Massacre" was also common, especially among the French speaking people.17

The presence of the Americans at Fort Massac aroused the hostility of certain bands of Shawnee and Delaware Indians who roamed in that area. At the same time the Creeks and certain other southern tribes who used the Tennessee River as a highway for their forays into the north were also aroused.18 Shortly after Doyle arrived at the site the Shawnee and Delaware called an assembly at Cape Girardeau in Spanish territory and later held a war council at New Madrid.19 These Indians, however, were given no encouragement by the Spanish authorities at New Madrid, who assured Doyle of their friendship.20 Fortunately Doyle procured the services of a young Shawnee brave named George, who knew eight Indian languages, and who seems to have acted as a liaison man between the whites and the near‑by savages. George also supplied game to the troops.21 The Chickasaw and Cherokee who frequented the Massac area in small numbers were generally friendly to the Americans. In October, 1794 Doyle reported that the Chickasaw were supplying plenty of game to the garrison, this being welcome to the troops who had lived for the most part up to p271that time on salt provisions.22 Early in 1795 Doyle had a small band of Cherokee living near the post.23

Serious troubles were brewing, however, with both northern and southern tribes. In October, 1794, a contractor's barge was captured by a band of Creeks just below the Fort and rumors of a general attack on the settlements in the Cumberland Valley were abroad. Doyle, whose effective garrison was greatly reduced by illness and expiring enlistments, sought reinforcements from the governor of Tennessee, who sent a small force of militia to Fort Massac for temporary duty.24 Doyle was also obliged to detain in the service men whose enlistments had expired in order to keep up his dwindling strength. (By June, 1795, Doyle's force was down to forty men.)25 News of the suspension of hostilities between Wayne and the northwestern tribes was heartening to Doyle, but the early months of 1795 brought new dangers.26 In February he was expecting "a visit" from the Creeks and the Cherokee.27 p272In April the hideous massacre of the Chew Party on the Ohio a few miles above Fort Massac presented the most serious act of hostility yet perpetrated by the savages in that area.28 Not until December, 1795, when strong reinforcements reached Fort Massac, was the situation eased, the command of the post passing at that time to Captain Zebulon Pike.29

Trouble continued, however, and in the following year another maker occurred near the present site of Grand Tower, Illinois.30 In the meantime, the Potawatomi or Kickapoo had made an attack on some Cherokee and Chickasaw camped near the mouth of the Tennessee. As a result of this affair Pike says he was forced to employ all his "Rhetorick" to prevent a general war from breaking out between these tribes. Some Chickasaw did kill a Piankashaw squaw who was living with a white woman near the post.31 Underwood, however, mentions lively trading as being carried on at Massac at this p273time between the Americans and Choctaw, Cherokee, and Chickasaw, the Indians trading venison hams and bear's oil to the troops for flour.32

By this time Captain Pike had effected extensive repairs at the Fort and had extended the works as laid out the year before. Enlistments had also increased the effective force.33

In the meantime the Massac authorities were also concerned with relations with the Spanish. The latter had supposedly remained neutral in reference to Indian affairs; however, the Americans did not cease to fear Spanish intrigue and from the outset General Wayne had instructed Major Doyle to "take care that no mistake is made but guard against Surprise & agression."34 Spanish territory early became a refuge for American deserters from Fort Massac and other nearby posts. The Massac authorities were constantly occupied with this problem, and in July, 1796, a detail from the Fort followed three deserters to New Madrid. There the sergeant called upon the Spanish commandant, Captain Thomas Portell, who, though he permitted the Americans to search for the men, refused to allow them to be taken away against their will. Two of the men were retaken.35 At about the same time an American soldier en route to New Orleans killed a Negro at New p274Madrid. The Spanish commandant, however, turned the soldier over to the Americans for justice.36

There seems to be no question but that Captain Portell and Captain Don Louis Lorimier, who was in charge of Indian affairs in the New Madrid district, were fairly well disposed toward the Americans. However, the fact that the Spanish patrolled the Mississippi with an armed vessel as far north as the mouth of the Ohio kept the Massac officials uneasy. The Spanish were also said to be free with Indian presents.37 When Pike took command of the post, Wayne sent a special message to Governor Gayoso at New Orleans to reassure him of the good intentions of the Americans.38 The Spanish, however, accused Pike of mistreating a Spanish officer and party who visited Fort Massac in the spring of 1796. This matter was made the subject of an official protest by the Spanish legation in Washington.39

It was also rumored at this time that the Spanish were planning to abandon the post at New Madrid and build a new fort nearer the mouth of the Ohio. Floods in the spring of 1796 had all but washed away the New Madrid installations. In August, 1796, Pike believed that "they Contemplate Building opposite the conflux of the Ohio with Mississippi." It was also rumored that the Spanish had located a large sawmill on the Mississippi just above the mouth of the Ohio and were p275offering high wages to entice American workmen to come there.40 At this time also the Spanish pursued a definite policy of trying to woo Americans to emigrate from the eastern banks of the river and settle in Spanish territory. Many Indians did emigrate to the Spanish side, according to Pike.41

Under these circumstances the question of strengthening Fort Massac arose. General Wayne was evidently concerned over General James Wilkinson's relations with the Spanish and there is evidence that the two men disagreed over strengthening the Fort.42 That Wilkinson actually plotted with the Spanish for their seizure of Fort Massac in the so‑called "Tom Powers Plot" is commonly alleged. Under this plan the Fort was to be taken by the Spanish and mounted with twenty guns. The plotters were also to have a sum of $100,000 for raising and maintaining forces there.43 Powers stopped at Massac in July, 1796, with a cargo of groceries and tobacco, evidently carrying messages to Wilkinson and his friends. Pike allowed Powers and one of his associates, Zachariah Cox, to pass unmolested.44 General Wayne was aware of Powers' mission and strongly suspected Wilkinson's relationship with the Spanish.45 Powers' interview with Wilkinson at Greenville and his return to New Madrid under military escort are well known to students of the period. Wilkinson says he ordered an American officer to escort Powers back to New p276Madrid because Powers had diplomatic status and had been interfered with on his way. Captain Pike was ordered to clear Powers and his escort as they passed Fort Massac.46

Crossing the track of Powers and Cox was the trail of two French agents, Collot and Warren. These men, traveling under instructions from the French minister in Washington, Adet, were exploring the situation in the west relative to French plans to resume control of Louisiana.47 When, therefore, the Frenchmen arrived at Massac, Pike placed them under arrest. Collot's printed version of the reasons for his arrest does not agree with the statement of Pike, who accused the Frenchmen of seditious activities against the American government. Though Collot's papers were seized, they could not be studied because no one at the Fort knew French! Pike at first considered holding the Frenchmen until the papers could be sent to Philadelphia for inspection, but was persuaded that this would be unreasonable. In the end the Frenchmen were released on condition that Captain James Taylor accompany them as long as they traveled within American territory.48 The result of the Collot affair was the issuance of new and more stringent instructions to post commandants regulating the visits of strangers to military posts.49

Fears of French intrigue in the Northwest Territory caused concern in military circles lest the French people about Kaskaskia and Cahokia be led to break their allegiance to the p277United States. General James Wilkinson (commandant in the West after the death of General Wayne in 1796) contemplated establishing a military post at Kaskaskia in 1797 but was given no authorization to that end. In September, 1797, upon receipt of a call from Kaskaskia for aid, the General decided on his own initiative to visit that place in person and to provide arms and munitions at Fort Massac "for arming and equipping the virtuous citizens." The territorial government in the meantime had called out militia units. Wilkinson planned a meeting with Kaskaskia leaders at Fort Massac for October 20, 1797, but it is not clear whether this meeting was held.50 New shipments of ordnance and munitions were sent to Fort Massac at about this time.51 The Fort was also put on special status for making returns.52 Another measure taken was to send additional troops to Fort Massac, these men belonging to the Third Regiment of Infantry formerly posted in Tennessee.53

The year 1798 saw continued bad relations with the French. After the "X Y Z Affair" in 1797, diplomatic relations between the United States and France were temporarily broken off, and war seemed certain. In fact, the two nations were actually carrying on an undeclared war on the seas. Fort Massac continued to receive artillery and munitions to supply the forces being raised.54 General Wilkinson spent some time p278at this post in July and August, 1798, inspecting the troops.55 Captain Pike, who had taken a detachment from Fort Massac to fortify a point on the lower Tennessee River, was ordered to destroy his works and return to Fort Massac at this time.56 It had not been thought necessary, however, to send regular troops to Kaskaskia; indeed the civil courts continued to function without the protection of soldiers. One judge was assured, however, that an escort from Fort Massac would be provided him in case of necessity.57 Fears of a French plot at Kaskaskia gradually subsided.

In 1799 the region about Fort Massac became the focus of high military strategy. Alexander Hamilton, having been commissioned major general in the new army being raised by the government in preparation for war against the French, laid plans in conjunction with General Wilkinson for the assembling of a large military force on the lower Ohio with the intention of launching an offensive against Louisiana in case France should secure the retrocession of that province from Spain. Orders were given to prepare for the provisioning of 1,000 men at Fort Massac, and this post was transferred from the jurisdiction of the Southern Department to that of the Northern Department, which was under Hamilton's command.

In the end, however, Fort Massac was not chosen as the site and the new "Cantonment Wilkinsonville" was erected early in 1801 at a site twelve miles farther down the river at the head of the Grand Chain. After the erection of Cantonment Wilkinsonville, Fort Massac was temporarily abandoned p279(May, 1801) as a military installation, its garrison and property being moved to the new post.58

Cantonment Wilkinsonville was short-lived. In the first place President John Adams, in 1800, had finally succeeded in arranging a satisfactory treaty with the French government, which, under the hands of a new master, Napoleon Bonaparte, had suddenly reversed its policy of hostility toward the United States. Secondly, Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated President in 1801, and he had no desire to continue the establishment Hamilton had created.59 Seizing the excuse that the site at Wilkinsonville was very unhealthful, the Secretary of War ordered the place evacuated in the summer of 1801. In 1802 a company of the First Regiment of Infantry, commanded by Captain Daniel Bissell, was ordered to re‑occupy Fort Massac.60 Pending the arrival of Captain Bissell at the Fort, Lieutenant D. Hughes assumed the command.61

In 1802 permanent post regulations were issued for the garrison at Fort Massac along with commissions for the officers and a post surgeon.62 Captain Bissell was charged with the care of government property at Wilkinsonville and other places in the vicinity which had been occupied temporarily by United p280States troops. Some of this property was probably removed to Fort Massac — at least such removals were authorized.63 After the liquidation of Wilkinsonville Bissell settled down to a long tenure as commandant of Fort Massac. He would not leave that command until 1808.

At this time President Jefferson became much concerned over the retrocession of Louisiana to France and the closing by Louisiana authorities of the Mississippi trade route. This situation became explosive and early in 1803 rumors were abroad that an armed force was being gathered in the west for an attack on Louisiana. The commanding officers at Fort Massac and other river posts were ordered to oppose any such force found descending the rivers "by all the prudent means in your power."64

The purchase of Louisiana in 1803 brought a fortunate solution to the western problem. Captain Bissell undoubtedly expected to participate in the occupation of the new province,65 but this was carried out under Wilkinson and Jackson with the use of other troops.66 Bissell later expected to be sent to occupy New Madrid and early in 1804 was awaiting orders accordingly.67 It is likely that a detachment from Fort Massac did occupy New Madrid sometime in 1804.68

p281 Early in 1805 military headquarters for the western regions were transferred to St. Louis in newly occupied Louisiana. Western garrisons, including those at Fort Massac and Kaskaskia, henceforth reported to the St. Louis headquarters rather than to Washington or Pittsburg as had formerly been the case.69 At this time Bissell's company was transferred to the lower Mississippi, and another company commanded by Lieutenant Nathan Heald occupied Fort Massac.70 General Wilkinson visited Fort Massac in connection with these changes.71 And then, late in 1805, Captain Bissell resumed his command at Fort Massac.72


The Editor's Note:

* This is the second of three articles on Fort Massac which Norman W. Caldwell has written for this Journal. The first appeared in the Summer issue and the third will be in the Spring, 1951, number. These articles were made possible, in part, by a research grant from Southern Illinois University, where the author is an associate professor of history.


The Author's Notes:

1 Kaskaskians commonly called this trail "The Massac Road." See Land Deed, Sept. 19, 1809, Alpha Kingsley to William Morrison, for a piece of property "Situate on the Massac Road — about Six miles from Kaskaskia." Randolph County, Circuit Court, Deed Record Book L, 183. This road is traced on the Hutchins Map of 1778 entitled, "A New Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina, etc. by Thomas Hutchins, Captain 60th. Regiment of Foot, 1778," copy in the National Archives. This map is reproduced in Sara J. Tucker, comp., Indian Villages of the Illinois Country (Springfield, 1942), Part I: Plate XXIX.

[decorative delimiter]

2 Victor Collot, "A Journey in North America," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1908 (Springfield, 1909), 275‑76.

[decorative delimiter]

3 George Rogers Clark and others had enlisted in Genêt's schemes. For a discussion of this point see Humphrey Marshall, The History of Kentucky (Frankfort, 1824), II: 517. General Wayne wrote to Major Thomas Doyle concerning the purpose of the proposed establishment: "Massac, being contiguous to awar [sic] path and a crossing place on the Ohio, leading from Indian towns on the Wabash river & its vicinity —, to settlements in the Southwestern Territory; your situation will have a tendency to check any incursions which may be meditated against these settlements by predatory parties of those Indians; and at the same time afford you an opportunity of assuring such as you may find well disposed of the friendship of the United States." Wayne to Doyle, May 9, 1794, MSS. in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. (Future references to these materials available in microfilm will be designated by "HSP.") Wayne was here following the instructions of the Secretary of War, who had stressed the importance of the proposed fort in counteracting Genet's influence in the West. Extract, Secretary of War to Wayne, Mar. 31, 1794, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I: 458‑59 (cited hereafter as "ASP"). Another writer has emphasized the rising importance of the river trade and the role a military post in that region could be expected to play in maintaining American control over the traffic. General Philip Reade, "Partial Military Biography and Alphabetical Arrangement of Officers of the Legion of the United States . . . ," unpublished manuscript in the Filson Club, Louisville, Ky. (Referred to henceforth as "Reade MS.")

[decorative delimiter]

4 Secretary of War to President, Mar. 20, 1793, in C. E. Carter, ed., The Territorial Papers of the United States (Washington, 1936), IV: 243. A treaty of friendship had been signed with the Wabash Indians in 1792, but no land cession was involved. ASP, Indian Relations, I: 338. For a convenient summary of Indian cessions in Illinois, see Grant Foreman, "Illinois and Her Indians," Papers in Illinois History and Transactions for the Year 1939 (Springfield, 1940), 67‑111.

[decorative delimiter]

5 Clarence W. Alvord, The Illinois Country (Springfield, 1920), 411, citing ASP, Foreign Affairs, I: 458.

[decorative delimiter]

6 Writing to Doyle, Wayne asked: "How wou'd you like taking post low down the Ohio — (?)." Wayne to Doyle, Apr. 23, 1794, HSP. Three days later Doyle accepted the assignment and was soon busy preparing his force. Doyle had previously been on the site of Fort Massac. Wayne to Doyle, May 9, 1794; Doyle to Wayne, Apr. 26, 1794; Wayne to Doyle, May 1, 1794, all in HSP. In 1792 the regular army was reorganized into a "Legion," regimental organization being abandoned. The Legion was divided into four "Sub‑Legions," which in turn were subdivided into battalions and companies. In 1796 the Legion was abolished and the conventional organization resumed. William A. Ganoe, The History of the United States Army (New York, 1942), 99103.

[decorative delimiter]

7 Wayne to Doyle, May 7, 1794, HSP. The following tools and equipment were listed as being on hand at Fort Massac on Jan. 31, 1795, and quite likely indicate the sort of articles brought by Doyle's party. This list included tents, camp kettles, carpenters' and laborers' tools (planes, augers, gauges, chisels, square, compass, whipsaw, crosscut saw, handsaw, broadaxe, felling axes, pickaxes, froes, drawing knife, spades, hammers, a rule, wedges, mall rings, and files). Also listed are a smith's forge and iron (including files, an anvil, a sledge, hammers, tongs, and chisels). Six oxen, a wagon, 150 bushels of corn, two barges, and six sets of caulking irons were also listed. Return of Stores Tools &c belonging to the Quarter Masters department now in hand at Fort Massac Jany 31st 1794 (erroneously dated 1794, should be 1795), HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

8 Wayne to Doyle May 7, 1794, HSP; General Orders, Greenville, May 6, 1794, Wayne Orderly Book No. 6, 22 (Filson Club); Wayne to Captain Guion, May 7, 1794, HSP. Guion's Company on May 11, 1794, was comprised of 59 men, including officers. Guion to Wayne, May 11‑12, 1794, HSP. On June 30, 1794, Doyle reported 64 men present at Fort Massac, including sick and absent.º Monthly Return of Majr. Doyles Detachment at Fort Massac, June 30th, 1794, ibid.

[decorative delimiter]

9 Wayne to Doyle, May 9, 1794; same to same, May 14, 1794; Doyle to Wayne, May 11, 1794, all in HSP. The date of the departure of the expedition is given in the "Journal of Benjamin Van Cleve," originally published in the American Pioneer, Vol. II: 148‑53, 219‑24, 293‑96. The section titled "Rebuilding of Fort Massac," is printed on pages 220‑22. Extracts from the Van Cleve Journal have been republished in Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, Vol. XXXXIV, 741‑46 and as an appendix to Mrs. Mathew T. Scott's "Old Fort Massac," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1903 (Springfield, 1904), 62‑64. Van Cleve was a contractor's employee.

[decorative delimiter]

10 Doyle to Wayne, June 4, 1794, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

11 Van Cleve's Journal, Trans. Ill. State Hist. Soc., 1903, p63.

[decorative delimiter]

12 He announced progress as early as July 3, and a month later reported three blockhouses finished. Doyle to Wayne, July 3, 1794, HSP; Doyle to Wayne, Aug. 2, 1794, Wayne MSS., Library of Congress. On Oct. 20, Doyle sent Wayne a draft plan of the completed works which he called "the most regular and best defencableº of any on the Ohio." Same to same, Oct. 20, 1794, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

13 See Estwick Evans, A Pedestrious Tour, of Four Thousand Miles, through the Western States and Territories, during the Winter and Spring of 1818, reprinted in Reuben Gold Thwaites, ed., Early Western Travels (Cleveland, 1904), VIII: 292. Long states that at times when the Mississippi was high and the Ohio low the former stream "backed" the latter up as far as Fort Massac. S. H. Long, Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains Performed in the Years 1819‑1820 (London, 1823), in Thwaites, Early Western Travels (Cleveland, 1905), XIV: 92. Underwood called the site "a most butiful [sic] place." He mentions the elevation as being "high." Journal, Thomas Taylor Underwood, March 26, 1792, to March 18, 1800 (Cincinnati, 1945), 21‑22. Photostats from this journal now in the Filson Club have been compared with the printed copy. The original is in the Draper MSS., Wisconsin Historical Society.

[decorative delimiter]

14 Collot, Trans. Ill. State Hist. Soc., 1908, p276.

[decorative delimiter]

15 Doyle carried a plan for building the fort, to which he presumably adhered. This plan has not been found, but some of the specifications are mentioned in Wayne's letter to Doyle of May 13, 1794, HSP. Doyle was to build "as good awork [sic] as the materials you can command." For later descriptions of the post, see W. B. Wait, ed., Journal from Boston to the Western Country and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans by William Richardson, 1815‑1818 (New York, 1940), 17; F. Cuming, Sketches of a Tour to the Western Country (Philadelphia, 1810) in Thwaites, Early Western Travels (Cleveland, 1904), IV: 277. Cuming admired the view and commented upon the beauty of the grounds, which contained a row of Lombardy poplars (p276).

[decorative delimiter]

16 Journal of André Michaux, 1793‑1796" in Thwaites, Early Western Travels (Cleveland, 1904), III: 73.

[decorative delimiter]

17 Collot, Trans. Ill. State Hist. Soc., 1908, p275. For the "Massacre" story and its relation to the name of the post, see "Fort Massac during the French and Indian War" (Part I of this study, Summer Journal, 1950). Cuming was perhaps the earliest writer to record the "Massacre" story. Thwaites, Early Western Travels, IV: 277. See also Edmund Flagg, in Thwaites, Early Western Travels (Cleveland, 1906), XXVI: 78.

[decorative delimiter]

18 Doyle was uneasy about the Indian situation from the beginning, considering himself without full authority to treat with the savages. Doyle to Wayne, May 11, 20, 1794, HSP. In the latter letter he states: "I am unauthorised at present to give them a Ration or any other Article of public property."

[decorative delimiter]

19 Doyle to Wayne, July 3, 1794, HSP; same to same, Aug. 2, 1794, Wayne MSS., Library of Congress.

[decorative delimiter]

20 Captain Thomas Portell, Commanding the District of New Madrid, to Doyle, July 1 (?), 1794; Doyle to Portell, July 6, 1794, Wayne MSS. At this time Doyle reported that one of his men, a waiter, had been seized by the savages.

[decorative delimiter]

21 Doyle to Wayne, Aug. 23, 1795, Wayne MSS.

[decorative delimiter]

22 Doyle to Wayne, Oct. 20, 1794, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

23 Doyle to Adjutant General, Mar. 23, 1795, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1795, Box no. 6. (Unless otherwise specified all references to military documents used in this article are taken from the Old Records Division of the Adjutant General's Office, now in the National Archives, Washington, D. C.) A Cherokee chief at that time talked to Doyle about making a general peace with the Americans, but nothing seems to have come of this. Doyle to Wayne, Feb. 8, 1795, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

24 Doyle to Wayne, Oct. 20, 1794, HSP. The War Department was aware of Doyle's situation and had determined to re‑enforce him as early as June 25, 1794. Secretary of War to President, same date, Carter, Territorial Papers, II: 487. Doyle especially emphasized the need of gunboats to command the shore opposite the Fort. He requested a "Strong Gundalo [sic] carrying a 3 pounder." Doyle to Wayne, Aug. 2, 1794, Wayne MSS. As for supplies for Indian presents, Doyle requested whisky and corn. Request for Supplies at Massac, Oct. 23, 1794, HSP; Doyle to General James Robertson, Sept. 19, 1794, ASP, Indian Affairs, I: 531; James Robertson to Governor Blount, Oct. 8, 1794, Carter, Territorial Papers, IV: 359; Blount to Secretary of War, Oct. 24, 1794, ibid., 361; Blount to Robertson, Nov. 22, 1794, ibid., 372. Doyle requested "woodsmen," meaning "scouts." The Tennesseans arrived on Oct. 19, and returned home on Nov. 9, 1794, ASP, Indian Affairs, I: 540. Previous to the arrival of the Tennesseans, the garrison at Massac consisted of 59 men, including 21 men sick. Monthly Return for Sept., 1794. See also returns for July 31, and Oct. 25, 1794. The return for Jan. 31, 1795, makes no mention of the Tennesseans.

[decorative delimiter]

25 Doyle to Wayne, Apr. 15, 1795, Wayne MSS.; Monthly Returns, May 31, June 30, July 31, Aug. 31, Sept. 30, and Oct. 31, 1795. At this time a shortage of clothing was reported at the post. Items requested were coats, vests, shirts, overalls, clasps, shoes, blankets, and epaulettes. Return of Clothing Wanting to Complete Lt. Greggs Detachmt at Fort Massac July 20th, 1795, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

26 Wayne to Doyle, Jan. 31, 1795, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

27 Doyle to Wayne, Feb. 8, 1795, ibid.

[decorative delimiter]

28 Eighteen lives were lost, including those of Colonel Samuel Chew, a prominent Marylander, four white men, a white woman and child, and eleven slaves. A detachment from Massac visited the site and recovered Chew's body, which was interred at the Fort. The Colonel's papers and effects were also partly recovered. The Indians who perpetrated this deed were thought to be a large band of Kickapoo and Potawatomi, and were thus northern Indians. Report of Surgeon's Mate Hammill to Doyle, Apr. 30, 1795; Doyle to Wayne, June 25, 1795, both in HSP. Hammill was with the party which visited the scene of the massacre.

[decorative delimiter]

29 Zebulon Pike died in 1834. He was the father of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, the explorer, who died in 1813. The younger Pike, however, then a subaltern, was with his father at Fort Massac. Underwood Journal, 21. Underwood relates how young Pike saved his father from drowning in the river at Massac in 1796, after a boat in which they were riding capsized. Ibid., 25. Pike got his orders to move to Fort Massac late in November and probably arrived there in the following month. Wayne to Pike, Nov. 29, 1795, HSP. Underwood, who accompanied Pike, erroneously states that they arrived in September. Underwood Journal, 21. These men were from the remainder of Captain Guion's company of the Third Sub‑Legion and all of Captain Pike's company of the same organization. Nine artillerists were also sent. General Orders, Greenville, Nov. 3, 1795, Wayne Orderly Book, Vol. VIII, in Mich. Pioneer and Hist. Coll., Vol. XXXIV: 650‑51. Doyle left Fort Massac in June, 1795, the command devolving temporarily to Lieutenant Aaron Gregg.

[decorative delimiter]

30 Killed in this massacre were a Mr. Chalfin, his wife and six children, and another white man and woman. Two other members of the party escaped. Pike to Wayne and Wilkinson, Apr. 12, 1796, HSP. The Indians who had committed this crime were pursued, without being overtaken, by a military company from Kaskaskia commanded by Captain Durion. Pike to Wayne, July 5, 1796, HSP. At this time Pike feared a general attack by the Creeks. Pike to Wayne, Aug. 6, 1796, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

31 Pike to Wilkinson, July 3, 1796; Pike to Wayne, July 5, 1796, both in HSP. These women were probably camp followers. In August, Pike warned the American officer at Vincennes, Captain Pasteur, of hostile Indian movements in that area. Pike to Pasteur (extract), Aug. 30, 1796, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

32 Underwood Journal, 25. He says, "Te [sic] oil is fine to fry any thing."

[decorative delimiter]

33 Underwood says 100 men accompanied Pike's group. Underwood Journal, 21. Doyle had asked for this number in his letter to Wayne of July 3, 1794, HSP. Lieutenant Gregg had re‑enlisted some of Doyle's original force. Doyle to Wayne, Feb. 8, 1795, ibid. The forces on Feb. 1, 1796, comprised ten artillerists and two companies of the Third Sub‑Legion, and one cavalryman, totalling 92 men. Monthly Return of Troops, Feb. 1, 1796. The return of Apr. 12, 1796, showed 98 men on duty, that for May, 95. Men listed as being on extra duty were: one as an armorer, one as a waggoner, one as a brickmaker, one as a blacksmith, and three as carpenters. Returns for June and July, 1796, show approximately the same figures. In 1796 a battalion of infantry and one company of artillery were allotted to man the posts on the Wabash, Fort Massac, Chickasaw Bluffs, and Natchez. Military Stations, 1796, ASP, Military Affairs, I: 113. The repairs effected by Pike included the setting up of pickets about the fort and the digging of a ditch four feet deep and ten feet wide. A number of "Abetees" (abatis) were also constructed. Underwood Journal, 21.

[decorative delimiter]

34 Wayne to Doyle, May 26, 1794, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

35 Doyle to Wayne, July 3, 1794; Pike to Wayne, Aug. 6, 1796, both in HSP. Pike reported at this time that during his administration at Massac to that date eight men had made good their escape by desertion. See also Pike to Wayne and Wilkinson, Apr. 12, 1796, ibid. In this earlier letter Pike listed the deserters as four in number. The sergeant in charge of the detail was young Zebulon Montgomery Pike.

[decorative delimiter]

36 The Negro, James Dorsey, had a criminal record. Among other crimes, he had robbed General St. Clair at one time. Also he had escaped from jail in Cincinnati. The soldier, Jacob Lee, pled self defense. Nothing further is heard of the matter. Pike to Wayne and Wilkinson, Apr. 12, 1796, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

37 Doyle to Wayne, Oct. 20, 1794, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

38 Wayne to Pike, Nov. 29, 1795, HSP. Pike to Wayne, Apr. 12, 1796, ibid. Pike states that Gayoso seemed well disposed toward the United States.

[decorative delimiter]

39 Just what Pike did that offended the officer is not clear. Underwood writes that the Spanish made their visit in March, arriving in a galley pulled by eighteen oars on each side and commanded by a Captain Dondecozo. Pike entertained the officers and both sides fired salutes as the galley left. Underwood Journal, 24. Pike refers to a Lieutenant Ferrusolo, a member of the Spanish party, as being a person "very Tenacious and not capable of candour," from which it may be assumed a personal matter arose between these two men. Wayne ordered Pike to explain the matter to the Secretary of State as well as to himself. Pike to Wayne, Aug. 6, 1796, HSP; Wayne to Pike, July 6, 1796, ibid. Pike was further ordered "to receive & treat there [sic] flag with due respect agreably to the rule outlined in the Secretary of States letter of the 10th June 1796; & which is founded upon the Law of Nations."

[decorative delimiter]

40 Pike to Wayne, July 5, 1796; Aug. 6, 1796, HSP. He also refers to Spanish activity in the neighborhood of Chickasaw Bluffs (present Memphis).

[decorative delimiter]

41 Pike to Wayne, Aug. 6, 1796, HSP. See also Max Savelle, "The Founding of New Madrid, Missouri," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. XIX, no. 1 (June, 1932), 30‑56.

[decorative delimiter]

42 Pike to Wilkinson, July 3, 1796; Wayne to Pike, Sept. 2, 1796, HSP. Wayne ordered certain military stores to be sent to the Fort "together with a Six pounder & a quantity of Ammunition." Wayne to Pike, July 6, 1796, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

43 Reade MS., 217; Thomas S. Hinde, "National and Western Conspiracies," American Pioneer, Vol. II (1843), 278‑82; Mann Butler, A History of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Cincinnati, 1836), 246; Marshal, History of Kentucky, II: 228.

[decorative delimiter]

44 Pike to Wayne, Aug. 6, 1796, HSP; Reade MS., 93.

[decorative delimiter]

45 In a letter to Pike, Wayne says that "the Caitiff P. . . .r — Secreted his Criminal embassy — & price of perfidy — received at New Madrid — by being packed in the centre of barrels of Coffee, Sugar, Rice, & with tobacco, & then screwed down & headed — which got safe into the hands of the Person [i.e. Wilkinson] for whom it was intended." Wayne to Pike, Aug. 6, 1796, HSP. Wayne ordered Pike to continue to treat the Spanish flag with respect and "delicacy."

[decorative delimiter]

46 James Wilkinson, Memoirs of My Own Times (Philadelphia, 1816), II: 219; Powers' Narrative, Dec. 5, 1797, ibid., Appendix.

[decorative delimiter]

47 General Wayne had already warned Pike to watch for these men. Wayne to Pike, May 28, 1796, HSP. A special officer, Captain James Taylor, was posted at Massac to await their appearance. For a discussion of Collot's journey, see Arthur B. Darling, Our Rising Empire, 1763‑1803 (New Haven, 1940), 249 ff. See also Wayne to Pike, July 6, 1796, HSP.

[decorative delimiter]

48 Collot in Trans. Ill. State Hist. Soc., 1908, p276; Pike to Collot and Warren, July 26, 1796, HSP. Collot bore no ill will against Pike, whom he thought influenced by "the jealous suggestions of some persons who surrounded him." See also Collot to Pike, Aug. 12, 1796, HSP. At Kaskaskia Collot made pretense of seeking justice for the "insult" against him. Ibid.

[decorative delimiter]

49 Rules and Regulations relative to Maritime and frontier Posts or fortified places, Mar. 26, 1797, Military Book, III: 151‑53. (Military Book no. 3 covers "Letters Sent" from the War Office for the period Feb. 28, 1807, to Mar. 28, 1809. This order of 1797 is quoted for reference.)

[decorative delimiter]

50 Wilkinson to John Edgar and William St. Clair, Sept. 14, 1797, in Carter, Territorial Papers, II: 627; Militia Orders, Sept. 22, 1797, Jan. 30, 1798, Territorial Papers, III: 486‑87, 499‑500.

[decorative delimiter]

51 These guns and munitions, gathered from Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and other near‑by points, included three brass nine-pounder cannon, two brass five and one‑half inch howitzers (including cartridges and shot), twelve barrels of cannon powder, and 5,000 musket cartridges. Cannon and Stores to be Sent to Pittsburg for Fort Massac, July 20, 1797, in War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1797, Box 9. According to Mrs. Scott, some clothing was also sent. Trans. Ill. State Hist. Soc., 1903, p60.

[decorative delimiter]

52 General Orders, Headquarters Camp on the Wabash, Nov. 3, 1797, Wilkinson Order Book, 1797‑1808, p95. (Wilkinson was at this time in the vicinity of Fort Massac.)

[decorative delimiter]

53 "On receipt of this Letter you are immediately to take the measures for preparing small crafts sufficient to bear the Detachment of the 3d Regt, Station'd in the State of Tennessee, & its Baggage to Fort Massac." This movement was to be kept secret. Order to General Wilkinson, June 4, 1797, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1797‑1808, Box 10.

[decorative delimiter]

54 From Apr. to June, 1798, Isaac Craig, Deputy Quartermaster General at Pittsburg, issued two iron 24‑pounder cannon, two 8‑inch brass howitzers (with carriages, ramrods, etc. as well as shot for these guns), 46 barrels of cannon powder, 50 barrels of musket powder, and 4 barrels of rifle powder, all to be sent to Fort Massac. Abstract of Military Stores issued at Pittsburg, Apr.‑June, 1798, by Isaac Craig, Quartermaster General, in War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1797‑1798, Box 10.

[decorative delimiter]

55 See various orders, July 31-Aug. 7, 1798, Wilkinson Order Book, 124‑25. These are the inclusive dates of the General's stay at the Fort.

[decorative delimiter]

56 General Order, Aug. 1, 1798, Wilkinson Order Book, 124‑25.

[decorative delimiter]

57 Winthrop Sargent to Judge Symmes, Jan. 14, 1798, in Carter, Territorial Papers, III: 498.

[decorative delimiter]

58 This account of events in the period 1799‑1801, is summarized from the author's "Cantonment Wilkinsonville," Mid‑America, Vol. XXXI, no. 1 (Jan., 1949), 3‑28. This article treats in detail military affairs in the Fort Massac area for the period.

[decorative delimiter]

59 Hamilton had already resigned from the Army before the new post was built.

[decorative delimiter]

60 For the liquidation of Wilkinsonville, see the author's "Cantonment Wilkinsonville," Mid‑America, Jan., 1949, pp3‑28. See also Inspector General to Captain Richard H. Greaton, Commanding Officer at Wilkinsonville, Mar. 1, 1802, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Sept., 1800-Apr., 1803, p242; same to Lieutenant John Whipple, Apr. 9, 1802, ibid., 277, (providing for the reoccupation of Fort Massac); same to Captain Greaton, Apr. 9, 1802, ibid., 278. Greaton was ordered to surrender post records and troops to Whipple who would dispose of them according to orders. Others of the troops at Wilkinsonville were sent to Southwest Point, Tennessee. Same to Captain Francis Johnson, Apr. 6, 1802, ibid., 270. In spite of general reductions in the army, good men were ordered re‑enlisted. Same to various commanding officers, Dec. 9, 1802, ibid., 382‑83. In the reshuffling of troops which took place at this time single companies of infantry were posted at Vincennes and at Fort Massac. Two companies of infantry and one of artillery were posted at Southwest Point in Tennessee and one company of artillery at Chickasaw Bluffs. "Estimate of all the Posts and Stations where garrisons will be expedient," Dec. 23, 1801, ASP, Military Affairs, I: 156.

[decorative delimiter]

61 Inspector General to Lieutenant John Whipple, Apr. 9, 1802, in Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Sept., 1800-Apr., 1803, p242.

[decorative delimiter]

62 Inspector General to Captain D. Bissell, Apr. 29, 1802, in Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Sept., 1800-Apr., 1803, p289.

[decorative delimiter]

63 Inspector General to Captain Bissell; June 4, 1802, ibid., 303. For the next two years Fort Massac served as a center for recruiting activities in that area. A recruiting office was also established at Nashville at this time. Inspector General to Captain D. Bissell, Jan. 18, 1903, ibid., 402; same to Daniel Vertner, Jan. 18, 1803, ibid., 404; Inspector General to Lieutenant Daniel Hughes, Aug. 23, 1803, ibid., 184. By mid‑November Hughes was back at Fort Massac clearing up his accounts. Hughes to Secretary of War, Nov. 19, 1803, War Office, Letters Received, II: 104; same to same, Dec. 6, 1803, enclosing his recruiting accounts, ibid., 105.

[decorative delimiter]

64 Inspector General to Commandants at Forts Fayette, Massac, Pickering, and Adams, Feb. 23, 1803, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Sept., 1800-Apr., 1803, p433. This rumor, a predecessor of the Burr Plot of 1806‑7, merits further investigation. At this time the garrison at Fort Pickering (present Memphis) was reinforced by a Massac detachment and a full company was posted at Kaskaskia.

[decorative delimiter]

65 Bissell to Secretary of War, Apr. 26, May 9, 1803, War Office, Letters Received, II: 18; Secretary of War to Bissell, Oct. 5, 1803, War Office, Military Book, IV: 111. The strength of Bissell's company on Dec. 31, 1803, was 78, including officers. General Return of the Army, 1803, ASP, Military Affairs, I: 175.

[decorative delimiter]

66 Secretary of War to Jackson, Oct. 31, 1803, War Office, Military Book, 1800‑1803, pp555‑56.

[decorative delimiter]

67 Bissell to Secretary of War, Jan. 7, 1804, War Office, Letters Received, II: 24. On Mar. 28, he wrote again "relative to taking possession of the Military posts in the district of New Madrid (Louisiana)." Ibid., 25.

[decorative delimiter]

68 In July, 1804, Bissell submitted to the Secretary of War a sketch of the town of New Madrid. Letter of July 17, 1804, War Office, Letters Received, II: 27. A letter from the Inspector General written in Dec., 1804, refers to Bissell's company as being at Massac "and at New Madrid." Inspector General to Captain Bissell, Dec. 7, 1804, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Dec. 10, 1803-Feb. 10, 1805, unnumbered pages.

[decorative delimiter]

69 General Orders, Mar. 19, 1805, Wilkinson Order Book, 529.

[decorative delimiter]

70 Inspector General to Lieutenant Heald, Apr. 28, 1805, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Feb. 12, 1805-Sept. 4, 1809, unnumbered pages.

[decorative delimiter]

71 General Orders, Headquarters, Fort Massac, June 5, 8, 1805, ibid., 543; Inspector General to Captain Bissell, Dec. 7, 1804, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Dec. 10, 1803-Deb. 10, 1805, unnumbered pages. Wilkinson remained at Fort Massac from June 4 to 17, 1805. Order Book, 542‑46.

[decorative delimiter]

72 Wilkinson to Commanding Officer, Fort Adams, June 10, 1805, Wilkinson MSS., 1796‑1806, Library of Congress. See also General Orders, St. Louis, Nov. 25, 1805, Wilkinson Order Book, 567. The fact that no clothing return was made for Fort Massac for the year 1805 may indicate that there were few or no troops present at the post in Bissell's absence. Schedule of clothing that would probably be on hand the 1st Dec., 1805, at the different posts and places, showing the several Companies, agreeably to the Returns made to this Office. War Office, Military Book, Nov. 17, 1803-Feb. 28, 1807, pp396‑97. Massac is marked "No Return" in this report. By December, Bissell was again at Fort Massac. Inspector General to Captain Bissell, Dec. 11, 1805, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Feb. 12, 1805-Sept. 4, 1809, unnumbered pages. Major Thomas Cushing, Inspector General, was then at St. Louis on a tour of installations in the western regions.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 11 Nov 13