[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]
The American
Frontier Post

This webpage reproduces an article in the

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Vol. 44 No. 1 (Spring 1951), pp47‑60

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: a blank space]
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p47 Fort Massac: since 1805

By Norman W. Caldwell*

Fort Massac was destined to play an important role in Aaron Burr's "great conspiracy" when the western states and territories became the scene of this drama. Burr and James Wilkinson, then governor of Louisiana Territory, conferred at the Fort in 1805, but little is known about their meeting at that time.1 During 1805 and 1806 the Fort Massac garrison was busy furnishing details of "Officers, non Commissioned Officers and Musicians" for recruiting in Kentucky and Tennessee.2 Early in 1806 the garrison was put under orders for p48a second time to go down the Mississippi, but the records do not reveal whether this movement was actually effected.3

When Burr's expedition began to descend the Ohio in the autumn of 1806, Wilkinson suggested countering the movement by assembling the troops stationed at Fort Massac, Vincennes, and other near‑by posts at the place called the Iron Banks, some fifteen miles below the modern Cairo, Illinois. The plan proposed moving the artillery from the several posts to this new site. Wilkinson recommended that Captain Daniel Bissell be given command of this enterprise.4

At the same time, President Jefferson issued, through the Secretary of War, his famous order of November 26, 1806, instructing post commandants along the rivers to arrest Burr's expedition. The President seemed satisfied that this order would "probably secure the interception of such fugitives from justice as may escape from Louisville."5 It is clear, however, that the President did not contemplate the certain seizure of Burr's boats on the upper waters, for he instructed Wilkinson at the same time to strengthen his defense works at New Orleans. He wrote also that "we had considered Fort Adams p49as the place to make a stand because it covers the mouth of the Red River." Nothing is said about Wilkinson's proposal for a stand at the Iron Banks.6 One can conclude only that neither Wilkinson nor Jefferson actually wanted to keep Burr from descending the rivers.

When the Burr expedition arrived at the mouth of the Cumberland (the force was partly assembled there, Burr himself coming down from Nashville with certain individuals who were to join the group from Blennerhasset Island) the question arose as to whether Captain Bissell would attempt to prevent the expedition from passing Fort Massac.7 According to the testimony of Sergeant Jacob Dunbaugh, a Massac soldier, made later at Burr's trial, a boat was sent down to Fort Massac on December 26, 1806, containing one of Burr's aides, who had orders "to ask captain Bissell whether he would oppose colonel Burr's passing by the fort." Dunbaugh accompanied Burr's men back to the mouth of the Cumberland, ostensibly to purchase some beef for the use of the garrison. He admits, however, that he carried Bissell's compliments to Burr and that the latter entertained him and asked him to join his party. Dunbaugh testified that Burr also sent Bissell a barrel of apples as a repayment of the compliment. The sergeant returned to Fort Massac on December 28. Dunbaugh's testimony is questionable as to veracity but it is the best evidence available on the subject.8

p50 On the evening of December 29, a barge approached Fort Massac "after sundown." What happened si related by Dunbaugh as follows:

Col. Tyler and Major Hill were in it [the barge], and I think also Major Smith. They went up to Captain Bissell's quarters, where they staid about 20 minutes; and I then heard col. Tyler tell the boat's crew to return to where Col. Burr was encamped; . . . . Between 12 or 1 o'clock that night, col. Burr's boats passed by the fort, and landed about one or two miles below the garrison.9

There is, of course, considerable disagreement as to Burr's real purpose. This being true, it follows that the historian may not be justified in hastily condemning Captain Bissell for permitting the expedition to pass the Fort.10 Bissell wrote Jackson to the effect that Burr's boats contained nothing "that would even suffer a conjecture more than a man bound to market."11 But Bissell does not seem to have inspected those boats! At least, Dunbaugh and Knox do not say that he did. John Murrell, however, says Bissell told him that he had been on the boats and had seen "no appearance of arms or ammunition."12

Even more intriguing is the role played by Dunbaugh after Burr had passed the Fort. Captain Bissell gave the sergeant a furlough and permitted him to accompany Burr down the river, this presumably at Burr's request. Dunbaugh testified that Burr tried to persuade him to steal arms from the Fort and to influence others of the garrison to join the expedition.13 p51From these facts, it may be safely concluded that Dunbaugh was not a deserter, but rather was acting as Bissell's agent.14 Wilkinson, who was now active in building up the case against Burr, seemed, nevertheless, anxious to protect Bissell, who in the end declared Dunbaugh to be a deserter. Wilkinson accordingly held Dunbaugh in arrest.15

His behavior, in allowing Burr to pass Fort Massac, of course, put Bissell on the defensive. Writing to Jackson on January 5, 1807, he denied that there was anything suspicious or warlike about the Burr expedition, as has been mentioned above.16 Shortly thereafter, however, Bissell did seize two barges "supposed to be engaged in Col. Burrs expedition." Whether the War Department's order of November 26 had arrived at the Fort Massac at this time is not clear.17 In any case, Bissell was locking the door after the thieves had visited the stable!

When the Secretary of War finally got around to the matter of Bissell's behavior, it seemed that an earnest investigation was in order. The Secretary wrote to Bissell:

p52 I have particular reasons for requesting you to State to me in the most explicit manner all circumstances in any manner connected with Colo Burr or his party which took place at Massac or in its vicinity, while he lay at the mouth of Cumberland River or on Cumberland Island or at the time he passed Massac, or while he continued in the immediate vicinity of that Post, including all communications received by you from Burr or any of his party. This Statement I shall expect you to make, as if you were under oath, to tell the truth and the whole truth.

Candor demands that I should inform you that your own character and standing in the army may in some measure be affected by the Statement you are requested to make.18

There is reference to one letter at least written by one of Bissell's acquaintances concerning the Captain's conduct.19 Bissell filed his reply with the Secretary of War under date of July 10, 1807.20 This letter was followed by a later communication in which Bissell enclosed additional documents "in vindication of his character."21 Since the available records do not furnish information necessary to pass judgment upon Bissell, the historian must rest the case by presenting the facts as known. Two things, however, may be said about Bissell's conduct. In the first place, he probably could not have prevented Burr from passing the Fort even had he wished. According to Dunbaugh there were no cannon at Massac at that time. This fact, plus the width of the river, would have precluded any successful attempt to prevent the boats from descending, especially at night.22 In the second place, Bissell's reasons for p53permitting Burr to pass peaceably must have pleased the Secretary of War and the President of the United States. For proof of this we need only to point out that, far from being censured or disciplined for his action, Bissell in the following year (1808) was promoted from the rank of captain to the rank of lieutenant colonel.23

After the excitement arising from the Burr episode, Fort Massac resumed its role as a quiet frontier post. In 1808 it was designated as a center for the assembling of western recruits.24 In the following year a new company was evidently posted there, this being the company of light artillery commanded by Captain Daniel Gano.25 Some infantrymen were transferred at that time from Fort Massac to St. Louis.26 Captain Gano, who presumably commanded at Fort Massac after Bissell's departure, resigned early in 1809 and First Lieutenant Samuel Price of the Light Artillery assumed command of the post.27

By the year 1810 the West was again threatened by new Indian wars. Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, were rallying the red men, north and south, to unite against the ever-p54increasing pressure of the American frontiersmen. The peace established at Greenville and extended by the treaties made by William Henry Harrison was becoming uneasy. This situation was aggravated by increasingly bad relations between the United States and England over neutral rights on the sea. Western politicians such as Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and John Sevier would shortly be demanding war with England, not only to vindicate our rights on the sea, but also to remove the dangers of Tecumseh and his anti-American agitation. Westerners in general suspected that the English were backing Tecumseh's movement, and this was a not altogether false assumption.

At this time the strength of Massac was probably at the lowest level since the Fort was rebuilt. According to returns made early in 1810 only twenty-eight officers and men were present.28 This figure was probably increased somewhat by recruiting which was being carried on at that time.29 As the crisis developed, Lieutenant Price did what he could to put the Fort in order and to repair and refit the arms.30 In the meantime, William Henry Harrison had precipitated hostilities by marching against Tecumseh's headquarters at Prophetstown, a movement which culminated in the Battle of Tippecanoe Creek.

Fort Massac might have played a major role in the War of 1812 had Tecumseh succeeded in uniting the northern and p55southern Indians in his grand scheme. A British observer, writing in November, 1812, pointed out the strategic position of the Fort in reference to the lower regions.31 Harrison's attack on Prophetstown in 1811, however, opened the war and found Tecumseh with his organization incomplete. As things developed, the northern tribes, aided by the British, were to fight largely without the help of their southern brethren. Harrison, now a brigadier general in command in the northwest, avenged General Hull's surrender of Detroit in the summer of 1812, by taking the offensive in 1813 and forcing the British and Indians back on Canadian soil.32 Fort Massac was accordingly destined to play the role of a training center, at the same time keeping watch against possible Indian attacks from the south via the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

The approach of war naturally brought uneasiness to the settlers in the Kaskaskia area, and Ninian Edwards, governor of Illinois Territory, suggested that the Massac garrison be removed to Kaskaskia for the protection of that area.33 This proposal was refused, the military forces at St. Louis and Ste Geneviève being considered adequate for the protection of Kaskaskia.

At this time there occurred the famous New Madrid earthquake. Beginning in mid‑December, 1811, severe shocks were felt at intervals until early in February. Serious damage to brick and stone work occurred as far north as Cape Girardeau on the Mississippi and as far up the Ohio as Fort Massac.34 p56The amount of earthquake damage at Fort Massac is not revealed, but Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.E. A. Allen, who succeeded Price to the command of the post at that time, made at least two requests for funds for repairs of the works.35

In December, 1812, Fort Massac began to receive trainees belonging to the new Twenty-Fourth Regiment of Infantry, an organization then being recruited in Kentucky and Tennessee under Colonel W. P. Anderson. Lieutenant Allen was relieved of the command at Massac, Captain Joseph Phillips of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry succeeding him.36 Following Phillips' company came all the troops of the Twenty-Fourth Regiment stationed at Knoxville under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edmund P. Gaines. These troops were stationed at Massac for the purpose of being "armed, clothed, equiped [sic], and held in readiness for service."37

Fort Massac was totally unprepared to receive such numbers of men, there being a general lack of shelter, equipment, and supplies at the post. Captain Phillips complained "of the insufficiency of the quarters" and stated that his men were "destitute of clothing & suffering."38 Colonel Anderson sent some clothing from Tennessee on December 14, this probably p57affording slight relief.39 When the main force under Gaines arrived in January, however, conditions grew worse.40 The men were without shelter and in a generally wretched situation. Shelter huts were constructed as quickly as possible, but the men suffered much.41 Efforts were made through local purchase to relieve the needs of the men for camp equipment.42 Clothing for six companies was forwarded by the Secretary of War early in January but was still being awaited at Fort Massac in mid‑March.43 Under these conditions it was difficult to keep up morale and to re‑enlist men whose terms were expiring.44 By April clothing and supplies must have arrived, for the troops were by that time ready to move toward the theater of operations.

In March, 1813, Colonel Gaines sent a detachment to Fort Pickering> under Lieutenant Joseph Anthony, for the purpose of dismounting the cannon at that post and shipping them up the river to Fort Massac. Anthony's mission was ended early in April when he was ordered to rejoin the Twenty-Fourth Regiment at Massac.45

On March 10, 1813, Colonel Anderson was ordered to move the Twenty-fourth Regiment to Cleveland, Ohio.46 Colonel p59Gaines was overjoyed at the receipt of this order and predicted glorious deeds for the regiment.47 He at once issued orders to the companies to prepare for the movement and appointed a rendezvous at Louisville for the stray companies of the regiment posted at Bellefontaine and Ste Geneviève.48 By early May the main force under Gaines was at Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The movement from Massac must have been effected some time in April.49 Captain Phillips remained at Fort Massac in command of a detachment of the Second Regiment of Artillery.50

A year later, in April, 1814, Fort Massac was ordered evacuated, the troops then stationed there being removed to St. Louis. No information has been found in the military records as to the considerations involved. Evidently it was decided not to use the post further as a training center, and the theaters of war were by this time far removed from the lower Ohio. Harrison's victory over the Indians and the British at the Battle of the Thames in September, 1813, had resulted in the death of Tecumseh and in the permanent ascendancy of the Americans over the savages in the Old Northwest.51 Shortly thereafter an order was issued to abandon Fort Pickering at Chickasaw Bluffs, the small detachment there being sent down to New Orleans.52 Fort Massac was thenceforth no longer listed as a military post.53

p60 It is not clear as to what disposition was made of the buildings and property at Fort Massac. Brown describes the Fort as being "dismantled" in 1817.54 Nuttall pays no attention to the place in his journal, though he passed by the site.55 Shadrach Bond, in 1820, gave the opinion that "the works are of little value and it was unnecessary ever to occupy them again with a Military force."56 Maximilian of Wied visited the site in March, 1833, and described the ruins. Only stones remained at that time.57 Conclin's statement, in 1850, that the Fort was burned "a few days ago" is certainly erroneous.58 Later the site was maintained as a park by the city of Metropolis and in 1903a it became a state park.

(p58) 
[image ALT: A photograph of a flat area by a river, with a smaller raised area marked by wooden posts tightly set together, about 40 cm high. On the shoreline, three flagpoles, the tallest of which flies an American flag; and a statue of a standing man on a tall stone base. It is a view of the commemorative park at Fort Massac, Illinois, as it appeared in the mid‑20c.]

Where Fort Massac's Bastions Looked Out Over the Ohio

The outlines of the old French fortifications are traced in Illinois' first state park.


The Editor's Note:

* This is the third and final article in this series on Fort Massac. The first appeared in the Summer, 1950, issue and the second in the Winter number of this Journal. The author, Norman W. Caldwell, is an associate professor of history at Southern Illinois University and a research grant from that institution made possible, in part, the great amount of work required by these articles.


The Author's Notes:

1 See, for example, Isaac J. Cox, "Western Reaction to the Burr Conspiracy," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1928 (Springfield, 1928), 73‑87; Christian Schultz, Travels on an Inland Voyage (New York, 1810), II: 3. The only reference to Burr's visit found in the sources is that made in the testimony of Lieutenantº Daniel Hughes on behalf of Wilkinson in 1811. Hughes stated that Burr arrived at Massac in his own boat and remained there two days. He left the Fort in Bissell's boat and traveled southward with the troops then descending the Mississippi. Deposition of Captainº Daniel Hughes, Jan. 20, 1811, in James Wilkinson, Memoirs of My Own Times (Philadelphia, 1816), II: Appendix.

[decorative delimiter]

2 Inspector General to Major William McRea, May 4, 1805, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Feb. 12, 1805-Sept. 4, 1809, unnumbered pages. (Unless otherwise specified all military documents referred to in this article are in the Old Records Division of the Adjutant General's Office, now in the National Archives, Washington, D. C.). General Orders, St. Louis, Apr. 7, 1806, Wilkinson Order Book, 581.

[decorative delimiter]

3 Inspector General to Captain Bissell, Apr. 19, 1806, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Feb. 12, 1805-Sept. 4, 1809, unnumbered pages. According to this, all troops in the Indiana Territory excepting the garrison on the Wabash were to be removed. Bissell handed in monthly returns for the Massac garrison on various dates from Oct. 12, 1806, to Dec. 4, 1808. These returns have not been found, though reference is made to them in War Office, Letters Received, III: 18‑19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 29, 73, 210. See also Inspector General to Bissell, Sept. 21, 1807, acknowledging returns for April, May, and June, 1807. Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Feb. 12, 1805-Sept. 4, 1809, unnumbered; also same to same, Jan. 8, Apr. 1, 22, 1808, ibid.; same to Lieutenant H. Johnson, Feb. 14, 1808, ibid.; same to Bissell, Feb. 26, 1808, acknowledging various returns. See also "A statement showing the position of the Troops in January 1808," War Office, Military Book, III: 174‑75; Secretary of War to Bissell, July 1, 1808, ibid., 375; Bissell to Secretary of War, May 14, 1808, same to same, Apr. 2, 1808, ibid., IV: 32, 35. After June, 1808, monthly returns from Fort Massac were made by Lieutenant Johnson and a man named Whitlock, though Bissell was nominally still in command of the company. Lieutenant H. Johnson to Secretary of War, June 4, July 1, Sept. 30, 1808, ibid., 205, 206, 209; W. Whitlock to Secretary of War, Aug. 4, Sept. 4, 1808, ibid., 440, 445.

[decorative delimiter]

4 Wilkinson to Jefferson, Oct. 21, 1806, Burr Conspiracy Papers (MSS., Library of Congress). In the light of the role Bissell was to play shortly in permitting Burr's company to pass Fort Massac, one wonders how effective his plan would have been.

[decorative delimiter]

5 Jefferson to [image ALT: an underscored blank], Jan. 3, 1807, Harman Blennerhasset Papers (MSS., Library of Congress), 2. For some strange reason this order did not reach Fort Massac for forty days. Professor Channing thinks this was an inordinately long time. Edward Channing, The Jeffersonian System, 1801‑1811 (New York, 1906), 162.

[decorative delimiter]

6 Jefferson to Wilkinson, Jan. 1, 1807, photostat from Cincinnati Daily Times, July 4, 1927, Library of Congress.

[decorative delimiter]

7 Bissell had, of course, not received the Secretary of War's order of Nov. 26. This long letter summarizes the progress of the Burr affair from the official Washington viewpoint. Interestingly enough it contains no instructions for stopping Burr at Massac. Of course, Burr had already passed the Fort by this date.

[decorative delimiter]

8 Examination of Jacob Dunbaugh, Sept. 19, 1807, Burr Trial, as printed in The Universal Gazette (Washington, D. C.), Oct. 8, 1807. Dunbaugh's trip to the mouth of the Cumberland may have given rise to the rumor that Burr himself had gone to Fort Massac and had been escorted back to his camp by the troops. See Lexington Dispatch of Jan. 17, 1807, Universal Gazette, Feb. 12, 1807. Thomas Hartley, one of Burr's men, later testified that he was at the Fort before Burr's boats arrived. Burr Trial Papers, American State Papers, Miscellaneous, I: 508 (cited hereafter as "ASP").

[decorative delimiter]

9 Dunbaugh's Testimony, Sept. 21, 1807, Universal Gazette, Oct. 8, 1807. Burr's boats, by this time, had dropped down the river to a point just above the Fort. See Report of James Knox, Burr Conspiracy Papers, Library of Congress.

[decorative delimiter]

10 According to one source Burr's men did not even know the real intent of their leader. The story that Burr intended to go to the Red River country to settle on the Baron de Bastrop's lands was certainly a subterfuge to conceal the real objective of the expedition. See News from Lexington, Jan. 17, 1807, Universal Gazette, Feb. 12, 1807.

[decorative delimiter]

11 Bissell to Jackson, Jan. 5, 1807, in Jefferson's Message to Senate and House, Jan. 28, 1807, as published in Universal Gazette, Feb. 5, 1807. See also Secretary of War to Wilkinson, Feb. 3, 1807, War Office, Military Book, III: 126.

[decorative delimiter]

12 John Murrell to Andrew Jackson, Jan. 8, 1807, ASP, Misc., I: 473. Murrell had been sent by Jackson to bear a letter to Bissell. He arrived at Fort Massac after Burr's force had passed by.

[decorative delimiter]

13 Dunbaugh's Testimony, Sept. 21, 1807, Universal Gazette, Oct. 8, 1807. For a copy of Dunbaugh's furlough, see ASP, Misc., I: 591. According to another witness Dunbaugh did furnish Burr a small number of cartridges, but this witness did not know whether the powder concerned was government or private property. Examination of Charles Willie before Henry Toulmin, Judge of Mississippi Territory, taken at Fort Stoddert, Apr. 9, 1807, Burr Conspiracy Papers, Library of Congress.

[decorative delimiter]

14 Wilkinson to Jefferson, Mar. 27, 1807, Burr Conspiracy Papers, Library of Congress; same to same, Apr. 3, 1807, ibid. Here Wilkinson called Dunbaugh a deserter, though it is plain that the latter bore a furlough signed by Bissell and that he also carried a letter from the Captain to Wilkinson. The contents of this letter reveal little of significance. Bissell to Wilkinson, Dec. 31, 1806, Burr Trial Papers, ASP, Misc., I: 591. Dunbaugh evidently was on close terms with Bissell. He says that before he left Massac he took leave of Mrs. Bissell and that Bissell himself said: "Dunbaugh, I wish you success, let you go where you will." Dunbaugh also alleges that Bissell visited Burr at his encampment below Massac on Dec. 30. Dunbaugh's Testimony, Sept. 21, 1807, Universal Gazette, Oct. 88, 1807. Dunbaugh also asserted that Bissell had him pose as a spy on Burr, this for his protection against arrest. Dunbaugh to Burr (undated), Burr Trial Papers, ASP, Misc., I: 591.

[decorative delimiter]

15 Wilkinson to Jefferson, Apr. 15, 1807, Burr Conspiracy Papers, Library of Congress. Bissell advertised Dunbaugh as a deserter, offering $10 reward for his arrest. Document in ASP, Misc., I: 592.

[decorative delimiter]

16 Bissell to Jackson, Jan. 5, 1807, in Jefferson's Message to Senate and House, Jan. 28, 1807, Universal Gazette, Feb. 5, 1807. In this letter Bissell also stated he had not yet received the Secretary of War's orders of Nov. 26, 1806, relative to stopping Burr's force. It is noticed that Bissell's letter to Jackson of Jan. 5, had reached Washington in only twenty-three days via Nashville. See Channing, Jeffersonian System, 162.

[decorative delimiter]

17 Bissell to Secretary of War, Jan. 25, 1807, War Office, Letters Received, III: 21.

[decorative delimiter]

18 Secretary of War to Captain Bissell, May 30, 1807, War Office, Military Book, III: 188‑89.

[decorative delimiter]

19 William Chribbs to Secretary of War, June 19, 1807, ibid., 50. This letter was marked, "Relative to the conduct of Cap: Daniel Bissell," but has not been found. One wonders what Chribbs' testimony was like. Bissell had once been indicted at Kaskaskia for conspiring to murder Chribbs!

[decorative delimiter]

20 Bissell to Secretary of War, July 10, 1807, War Office, Military Book, III: 25. Unfortunately this letter has not been found; it is only recorded as having been received. It would make an interesting document for use in a study of the Bissell case.

[decorative delimiter]

21 Bissell to Secretary of War, Dec. 28, 1807, ibid., 30. At the trial of Burr, Bissell played only a minor role. His testimony was given over in part to the disparagement of that of Dunbaugh, the Captain insisting that he did not offer his services to Burr, but only presented his compliments. He denied giving Dunbaugh any special instructions in connection with the furlough. Burr Trial Papers, ASP, Misc., I: 591, 592.

[decorative delimiter]

22 Dunbaugh's Testimony, Sept. 21, 1807, Universal Gazette, Oct. 8, 1807. It seems strange that no cannon were present at the Fort. Had these been withdrawn by Wilkinson's order?

[decorative delimiter]

23 Secretary of War to Bissell, Dec. 15, 1808, War Office, Military Book, IV: 4; Bissell to Secretary of War, Dec. 29, 1808, Jan. 25, 1809, War Office, Letters Received, IV: 47, 49.

[decorative delimiter]

24 Secretary of War to Wilkinson, Dec. 2, 1808, War Office, Military Book, III: 456.

[decorative delimiter]

25 Inspector General to Lieutenant Thomas L. Butler, July 12, 1809, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Feb. 12, 1805-Sept. 4, 1809, p149.

[decorative delimiter]

26 Inspector General to Captain James House, Mar. 14, 1809, ibid., 37. It is likely that all of Bissell's company may have been transferred. This letter approves the transfer of five men "to late Capt. Bissell's Company" then at St. Louis, these men being referred to as "belonging to a Detachment of Infantry at Fort Massac." The phrase, "late Capt. Bissell's Company," is confusing because Captain Russell Bissell, who died about 1805, had commanded a company at St. Louis. Daniel Bissell, after his promotion in 1808, assumed the command at St. Louis. See also Inspector General to Bissell, Feb. 11, 1809, ibid., 18‑19; same to Colonel Thomas H. Cushing, May 29, 1809, ibid., 113‑14. In 1810 an order was issued to the effect that certainly infantry clothing on hand at Fort Massac should be delivered to a Captain Floyd, this evidently indicating that infantry were no longer at this post. Secretary of War to Commanding Officer, Fort Massac, Nov. 22, 1810; same to Captain G. R. C. Floyd, same date, Military Book, V: 6‑7.

[decorative delimiter]

27 Inspector General to Lieutenant Price, Sept. 25, 1809, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Sept. 4, 1809-Mar. 7, 1811, pp20‑21. Gano's resignation was accepted Apr. 20, 1809. Price was busy at the end of the year in recruiting activities. Secretary of War to Robert Brent, Dec. 29, 1809, Military Book, IV: 252.

[decorative delimiter]

28 Statement of the present disposition of the Troops of the United States, and of the strength of each Company, taken from the last Returns. Dated Feb. 19, 1810. Military Book, IV: 284‑85.

[decorative delimiter]

29 Men being enlisted in this area were attached to the company at Fort Massac. Inspector General to Lieutenant Price, Sept. 13, 1810, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Sept. 4, 1809-Mar. 7, 1811, p233. This recruiting was ordered stopped on Mar. 14, 1812. Same to same, Mar. 14, 1812, Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Mar. 8, 1811-July 13, 1812, p332. In spite of these efforts, however, Price's company mustered only thirty men in February, 1811. Disposition of Troops, Feb. 21, 1811, Military Book, V: 59.

[decorative delimiter]

30 See Statement of the present disposition of the Troops of the United States and of the strength of each Company taken from the last returns. Feb. 12, 1811, Military Book, V: 59. The officer mentioned as commanding Fort Massac at this time was Captain John H. T. Estes. Shortly thereafter Price is again listed as commandant. List of Commanding Officers, in Inspector's Office, Letters Sent, Mar. 8, 1811-July 13, 1812, p6; Price to Secretary of War, May 23, 1811, War Office, Letters Received, V: 327; Price to Secretary of War, Nov. 2, 1811, War Office, Letters Received, VI: 365; Secretary of War to Price, Nov. 30, 1811, Military Book, V: 241.

[decorative delimiter]

31 T. Tackle to the Earl of Bathurst, Nov. 24, 1812, Wisconsin Historical Collections, XX, Madison, 1911, p3.

[decorative delimiter]

32 Adjutant General to Colonel William Russell, Aug. 22, 1812, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Sent, May 7, 1812-Oct. 31, 1812, p63.

[decorative delimiter]

33 Edwards to Secretary of War, Mar. 3, 1812, C. E. Carter, The Territorial Papers of the United States (Washington, 1948), XVI: 194. The garrison at Massac numbered only 36 men in June, 1812. The strength at near‑by posts then was: Vincennes and vicinity, 117; Fort Madison, 44; Fort Dearborn, 53. Report communicated by the Adjutant General to the House of Representatives, June 13, 1812, in Frank E. Stevens, "Illinois in the War of 1812‑1814," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1904 (Springfield, 1904), 115. See also ASP, Military Affairs, I: 320.

[decorative delimiter]

34 "It has done considerable damage in this place by demolishing chimnies, and cracking cellar walls. — Some have been driven from their houses, and a number are yet in tents." Dispatch from Cape Girardeau cited in Kentucky Gazette, Mar. 17, 1812. On Feb. 11, 1812, Lieutenant Price wrote from Fort Massac stating that "the earthquake has injured the buildings at the fort." This evidently refers to the great shock of Feb. 7, which was more violent than the one of Dec. 15. Price to Secretary of War, Feb. 11, 1812, War Office, Letters Received, VI: 369.

[decorative delimiter]

35 Allen to Secretary of War, Apr. 12, 1812, War Office, Letters Received, VI: 10; same to same, Sept. 8, 1812, ibid., 17. In the latter case he asked for "$200 to complete the Repairs at that fort." In May, 1812, Allen was granted $200 for "repairs" and $200 for enlistment bounties. It is not clear whether the money for repairs was to make good the damage due to the earthquakes or to pay for the repairs on guns and arms which Price had undertaken earlier. Secretary of War to Lieutenant Allen, May 15, 1812, Military Book, V: 389.

[decorative delimiter]

36 Phillips to Secretary of War, Dec. 22, 1812, War Office, Letters Received, VII: 330; same to same, Dec. 6, 1812, ibid., 329. Phillips commanded the fifth company of this regiment.

[decorative delimiter]

37 Anderson to Gaines, Dec. 1, 1812, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1812‑1813, Box 15. Gaines became a hero in the War of 1812 and one of the nation's great soldiers. See James W. Silver, Edmund Pendleton Gaines, Frontier General (Baton Rouge, 1949).

[decorative delimiter]

38 Phillips to Secretary of War, Dec. 6, 22, 1812, War Office, Letters Received, VII: 329‑30.

[decorative delimiter]

39 The artillerymen at Massac were also said to be suffering from lack of adequate clothing. Colonel Anderson to Adjutant General, Mar. 12, 1813, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Received, Aug. 4, 1812-June 30, 1813, unnumbered pages.

[decorative delimiter]

40 Gaines expected to reach Fort Massac by Jan. 15, 1813. His troops were moved by boat via the Tennessee River from Knoxville. Gaines to Anderson, Dec. 28, 1812, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1812‑1813, Box 15.

[decorative delimiter]

41 Anderson to Secretary of War, Feb. 10, 1813, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1812‑1813, Box 15. In February Colonel Anderson visited Fort Massac to superintend the construction of huts. Order of Colonel Anderson, Feb. 8, 1813, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1814‑1820, Box 16.

[decorative delimiter]

42 Lieutenant Allen to Secretary of War, Feb. 11, 19, 1813, War Office, Letters Received, VII: 4. These two letters mention expenditures of $770 for "Camp Equipage." Allen was evidently acting as military agent at the post.

[decorative delimiter]

43 Secretary of War to Colonel Anderson, Jan. 9, 1813, Military Book, VI: 265; Anderson to Gaines, Mar. 13, 18, 1813, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1812‑1813, Box 15. In his letter of Mar. 13, Anderson mentioned sending 600 gallons of vinegar down to Massac along with butter and vegetables for the officers.

[decorative delimiter]

44 Many of the men had been enlisted for only eighteen months. Anderson to Adjutant General, Feb. 9, 1813, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Received, Aug. 4, 1812-June 30, 1813, unnumbered pages.

[decorative delimiter]

45 Gaines to Anthony, Mar. 19, 23, Apr. 2, 1813, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1812‑1813, Box 15.

[decorative delimiter]

46 Adjutant General to Anderson, Mar. 10, 1813, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Sent, Nov. 2, 1812-May 30, 1814, p130.

[decorative delimiter]

47 Gaines to Anderson, Apr. 3, 1813, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1812‑1813, Box 15.

[decorative delimiter]

48 There was a company of the Twenty-fourth Regiment at each of these posts. There was also a third company elsewhere, though its location is not clear. Gaines to Commanding Officers at Bellefontaine and Ste Geneviève, Apr. 2, 4, 1813, ibid.

[decorative delimiter]

49 Gaines to Adjutant General, May 4, 1813, War Office, Letters Sent and Received, 1812‑1813, Box 15.

[decorative delimiter]

50 Adjutant General to Captain Phillips, Dec. 24, 1813, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Sent, Nov. 2, 1812-May 30, 1814, p304.

[decorative delimiter]

51 Adjutant General to Captain Joseph Phillips, Apr. 15, 1814, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Sent, Nov. 2, 1812-May 30, 1814, p470.

[decorative delimiter]

52 Adjutant General to Commanding Officer, Fort Pickering, June 21, 1814, Adjutant General's Office, Letters Sent, May 30, 1814-Feb. 29, 1816, p46.

[decorative delimiter]

53 Distribution of the army of the United States, showing the strength of posts and garrisons Dec. 1, 1817, ASP, Military Affairs, I: 671‑72; Report of Oct., 1818, ibid., 789‑90.

[decorative delimiter]

54 Samuel R. Brown, The Western Gazetteer or Emigrant's Directory (Auburn, N. Y., 1817), as quoted in Trans. Ill. State Hist. Soc., 1908, p307.

[decorative delimiter]

55 Thomas Nuttall, A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819 (Philadelphia, 1821), reprint in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, XIII: 71.

[decorative delimiter]

56 Bond to General Henry Atkinson, Oct. 26, 1820, Illinois Historical Collections, IV, Springfield, 1909, p30.

[decorative delimiter]

57 Maximilian of Wied, Travels in the Interior of North America (London, 1843), in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, XXII: 203‑4.

[decorative delimiter]

58 George Conclin, Conclin's New River Guide or a Gazetteer of All the Towns on the Western Waters (Cincinnati, 1850), 64.


Thayer's Note:

a The fort's webpage (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) gives the date as 1908, but itself accounts for the discrepancy, as follows: "In 1903, through the efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 24 acres surrounding the site were purchased by the state. On Nov. 5, 1908, Fort Massac was officially dedicated as Illinois' first state park."


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 29 Mar 14