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Part 6

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Conquest of The Illinois

George Rogers Clark

in the reprint
of the 1920 edition by Milo Quaife,
Southern Illinois University Press, 2001

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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 p151  (Part 7)

Notwithstanding our success thus far our position was still one of great difficulty. The number of prisoners we had taken, added to those of the surrendered garrison, was so considerable in comparison with our own numbers that I was at a loss so to dispose of them as not to interfere with our future operations. Detroit lay open to our attack with not more than eighty men in the fort, and a great part of these invalids. Moreover, we learned that a considerable number of the principal inhabitants were disaffected to the British cause, while the distance of the fort from any succor except at the hands of the Indians was very great. Those Indians on our route we knew would now be cooler than ever towards the  p152 English. This matter was never rightly understood by the Government at home, or if it was, the execution of it was attempted but faintly. With Detroit in our possession and a post of communication at Cuyahoga supplies might always have been easily sent from Pittsburgh by this route and we could easily have taken possession of Lake Erie. This would have put an end to all our troubles in this quarter, and perhaps have opened the door to further advantageous operations.

Such were the ideas that influenced me at this time. We could now increase our forces in this quarter to about four hundred men since almost half of the inhabitants of Vincennes were ready to join us. Kentucky, we knew, could immediately furnish some two hundred men since it was certain that section would receive a large number of settlers in the spring. Our own stores, which we had learned were being forwarded in safety, taken in conjunction with those of the British, would leave not a single article wanting for such an attempt and supplies of provisions might be had for some time at Detroit. I privately resolved to embrace without delay the object that seemed to court my acceptance, giving the enemy no time to recover from the blows he had already received. But before saying anything about this I wished it to become an object of desire to the soldiers and townsmen. It became at once the common topic of conversation among them, and  p153 within a few days matters were so arranged that in imagination they were almost ready to march. The employment of such conversation was discountenanced by me and steps were taken to make it appear that such an attempt was foreign to my plans, while at the same time every step was taken to bring about the result I desired. The quantity of public goods brought from Detroit by Governor Hamilton, added to what had belonged to the traders of Vincennes whom we had captured, was very great. The entire amount was immediately divided among the soldiers with the exception of some Indian medals, which were retained to be of some public use. The officers received nothing except a few articles of clothing of which they stood in need. The soldiers were laden with wealth and the townsmen envied their good fortune and wished some enterprise might be undertaken which would enable them to do something.

Detroit was their goal and the clamor now rose to a great height. To silence it, and at the same time to answer other purposes, I told them that an army was to march the coming summer from Pittsburgh against Detroit, although from last autumn's proceedings I knew nothing of the sort was to be apprehended. An entire company of Captain La Mothe's volunteers from Detroit, mostly composed of young men, was drawn up. While they were anticipating being sent into a strange country  p154 with the probability of never returning to their homes, I told them we were happy to learn that many of them had been torn from their fathers and mothers and forced to go on this expedition; while others, ignorant of the true issue at stake, had engaged in the conflict in obedience to a principle which actuates many men, that of being fond of adventure. They had now enjoyed a good opportunity, however, of acquainting themselves fully with the character of the war, which they were now in a position to explain to their friends. Since we knew that to send them to the States, where they would be confined in jail, probably for the duration of the war, would make a large number of our friends at Detroit unhappy we had thought proper for their sakes to permit them to return home.

Much was said to them along this line; after which they were discharged in a body upon taking an oath not to bear arms against America until exchanged, and I issued an order for their arms and boats to be returned to them, together with provisions for the return journey. Upon their arrival at home the boats were to be sold and the proceeds divided among them. Within a few days they set out and from our spies who went among them as traders we learned that they played havoc with the British interests on their return, stating publicly that while they had taken an oath not to fight against America they had taken none to refrain for fighting  p155 for us. Things were carried with such a high hand by them that the commanding officer thought it prudent to take no notice of anything that was said or done. Mrs. McComb, who kept a noted boarding house, had the assurance, I was told, to show the commander the stores she had provided for the Americans. Thus was realized the design I had had in view in permitting this company to return. Many others whom we could trust were permitted to enlist in the corps, so that our burden of prisoners was much reduced.

Learning that ten boat loads of goods and provisions were daily expected to descend the Wabash and fearing they would gain intelligence of the situation at Vincennes and turn back, on the twenty-sixth of the month I sent Captain Helm, Major Bosseron​48 and Major Le Gras​49 with fifty volunteers in three armed  p156 boats in pursuit of them. On the twenty-seventh our galley arrived safely with the crew much mortified over their failure to be in time, although they were deserving of great credit for their diligence. On their passage they had overtaken William Myers with an express from the Government at home. The dispatches he brought gave us great encouragement, representing that our own battalion was to be completed and an additional one was to come out in the spring. On first reading this gave us both pleasure and pain but in the end resulted to our disadvantage. I had but a day or two in which to consider the situation and fix on a plan of operations. Should we make the attempt on Detroit without delay we were almost certain of success, since we knew our own strength and supplies and lacked no information concerning that post. On the other hand, we were now flattered with the prospect of an immediate reinforcement.

A council was convened on the subject. I laid before the officers my plans for the immediate reduction of Detroit and explained the practical certainty of success and the probability of our retaining possession of the place until they could secure succor from the States. This we might reasonably expect they would bend every effort to send us on receiving the news of the capture, which we could easily convey to them in a few weeks. On the other hand, if we awaited the arrival of the troops  p157 mentioned in the dispatch the enemy might meanwhile be reinforced, and we might not be as well prepared to carry the place with the addition of the expected reinforcement as we should be with our present force in case we were to make the attempt now; while in the event of being disappointed in receiving the promised reinforcements we might not be able to effect it at all.

Various arguments were employed over this delicate question. Every one appeared anxious to embrace the present opportunity while prudence seemed to forbid our proceeding without awaiting the reinforcement. The argument which appeared to have the greatest weight was that with such a force we might march boldly through Indian country, and that this would produce a greater effect on the natives as well as on the inhabitants of Detroit than if we should slip off with our present small force and take the place which was certainly in our power. It was urged that the British would not care to weaken Niagara by sending any considerable reinforcement to Detroit; that it was more difficult for them to receive aid from Canada than it was for us to obtain it from the States; and that they would be unable to obtain reinforcements in time to prevent the execution of our design, since we might reasonably expect our help to arrive within a few weeks. In short, the enterprise was postponed until the ––––– of June when we  p158 were to rendezvous at this post. In the meantime provisions were to be procured and all possible preparations made for the enterprise; while to conceal our design our whole force at Vincennes, with the exception of a small garrison, should immediately return to the Illinois while orders were sent to the Kentuckians to hold themselves in readiness to meet with us at the appointed time. This was now our plan, in accordance with which our operations the ensuing spring should be conducted.

On the fifth of March Captain Helm and Majors Bosseron and Le Gras returned from their tour up river, having met with great success. They had come upon the enemy in the night and, observing their fires at a distance, had waited until all was quiet, when the camp was surrounded and the entire force captured without firing a gun. These men had felt so secure and entertained so little apprehension of an enemy being in that part of the world they could hardly persuade themselves that what they heard and saw was real. It proved a valuable capture, comprising seven boats loaded with a considerable quantity of provisions and goods. The provisions were taken for public use, while the goods were divided among our men, with the exception of about eight hundred pounds worth which I reserved to clothe the troops we expected shortly to receive. This was quite agreeable to the soldiers since I told them the state would pay them their share in money and  p159 they had an ample supply of goods. The reservation I made proved useful, for the few troops that came to us were on their arrival almost naked.

On March 7 Captains Williams and Rogers with a party of twenty-five men set out by water to conduct the British officers to Kentucky; while eighteen privates were sent along to reduce further the number of prisoners in our hands. Captain Rogers was instructed upon their arrival at the Falls to superintend their journey to Williamsburg, take care that ample supplies should be furnished them enroute, and on arrival to await the orders of the Governor. Poor Myers was killed on the return journey and his dispatches fell into the hands of the enemy; but I had been so much on my guard that there was no sentence in them which could harm us for the enemy to know, while the private letters from the soldiers to their friends at home were designed rather with a view to deception in the event of such an accident. This was customary with us as our expresses were frequently surprised. I sent a second dispatch to the Governor, giving him a short but full account of what had transpired and my views concerning the situation. My copy of this message has long been lost, along with many other papers, but I suppose the original can be found among the public papers of this period. I sent letters, also, to the commandant of Kentucky, directing  p160 him to give me a correct but secret account of the number of men he could furnish in June.

The weather being now very disagreeable, and having some leisure, our time was spent in consultation and in arranging matters to the best advantage. A number of our men now became sick. Their intrepidity and our success had kept up their spirits hitherto; but our activities now falling off to little more than garrison duty, they became more sensible of the pains and other complaints which had been contracted during the severity of our uncommon march. To these many of those valuable men succumbed while but few of the remainder ever entirely recovered.

As yet I had sent no message to the Indian tribes, preferring to wait to see what effect all that had happened would have on them. The Piankashaw, being of the tribe of the Tobacco's son, had all along been friendly with us. Some of the behavior of this grandee, as he regarded himself, was diverting enough. He had conceived such a violent attachment to Colonel Helm that on finding the latter a prisoner and we not being able as yet to release him, he declared himself a prisoner also and joined his brother as he called him, remaining continually with him and condoling over their condition as prisoners in great distress, although at the same time nothing was wanting to them which it was within the power of the garrison to supply. Governor Hamilton, knowing  p161 his influence, was extremely jealous of his behavior and employed every pains, by the giving of presents, etc., to win him over. When anything was presented him, however, he would reply that it would serve him and his brother to live on and would refuse to enter into council, saying that he was a prisoner and had nothing to say, but that he was in hopes that when the grass grew again his brothers, the Big Knives, would release him and then he would be free to talk. Being presented with an elegant sword, he drew it, and bending the point on the floor, said very seriously that it would serve himself and his brother to amuse themselves sticking frogs while they were in captivity. In short, they could do nothing with him and the moment he heard of our arrival he paraded all the warriors he had in his village (which adjoined Vincennes) and was eager to join us in the attack on the fort, but for the reasons already noted I desired him to refrain.

On the fifteenth a party of Chippewa, of upper Piankashaw, Potawatomi, and Miami, made their appearance, making great protestations of their attachment to the Americans. They begged to be taken under the cover of our wings, and that the roads through their land might be made straight and all the stumbling blocks removed; and they asked that their friends, the neighboring nations, might also be regarded in the same light. I well knew from what principle all this sprang, and as my  p162 eye was now fixed on Detroit it was my concern to make a clear road for myself to walk in without giving much thought to their interest or anything else but the opening of this road, whether by flattery, deception, or any other means. I told them I was glad to see them and was happy to learn that most of the tribes on the Wabash and Miami Rivers had proved themselves to be men last fall by adhering strictly to the treaties they had with the Big Knives, with the exception of a few weak minds who had been deluded by the English into waging war against us. I said I did not know exactly who they were nor did I much care, but that I understood they were a band composed of the off-scouring of almost all the tribes; that such people, mean enough to sell their country for a shirt, were to be found among all nations but since they were not worthy the attention of warriors we would say no more about them, but turn to subjects more becoming to us. I told them I would let the great Council of the Americans know of their behavior and that I knew they would be counted as friends of the Big Knives, who would always keep them under their protection and safeguard their country for them since the Big Knives had land enough and did not want any more; but if they should ever break their faith the Big Knives would never trust them again since they never retain friendship with a people whom they find to have two hearts. I said  p163 they were witnesses to the calamities the British had brought upon them by their false assertions and their presents, which were a sufficient proof of their weakness. They had seen all the boasted valor of the British fall to the ground and that they did not come out of their fort the other day to save the Indians they had flattered to war and now suffered to be killed in their sight. As the nature of the war had been fully explained to them last fall they might clearly see that the Great Spirit did not suffer it otherwise. Not only was this the case on the Wabash but everywhere else as well. They might rest assured that the tribes which continued obstinately to listen to the English would be driven out of the country and their land given to those who were steadfast friends of the Americans. I said I expected for the future that if any of my people should be going to war through their country they would be protected, which would always be the case with their people when among us, and that mutual confidence should continue to exist between us.

They replied that they were convinced from what they had seen and heard that the Master of Life had a hand in all things. They said that they would take pains to diffuse what they had heard throughout all the tribes and they had no doubt of the good it would produce. After a long speech in the Indian fashion, calling  p164 all the spirits as witnesses, they concluded by renewing the chain of friendship, smoking the sacred pipe, and exchanging belts with us; and I believe they went off really well pleased, although unable to fathom all they had heard, the greater part of which was merely political lies. During the ensuing summer Captain J. Shelby with his single company lay for a considerable time in the Wea town in the heart of their country. He was treated in the most friendly mention by all the natives he saw, being frequently invited by them to join in plundering what they called the King's pasture in Detroit. By this they meant to go and steal horses from that settlement. About this time an express arrived from the Illinois with letters from Captain Robert George.50

Matters being now pretty well arranged, I  p165 appointed Lieutenant Richard Brashers​51 to the command of the garrison, consisting of Lieutenants Bailey​52 and Chapline​53 and forty picked  p166 men. I made Captain Helm commandant of the town and Superintendent of Indian Affairs and having given the necessary instructions to all those whom I left in office, on the 20th of March, with seventy men, I set sail on board our galley, which had now been made perfectly complete, attended by five armed boats. The water being very high, we soon reached the Missouri, and with favoring winds we arrived in a few days at Kaskaskia to the great joy of our new friends, Captain George and company, who were waiting to receive us.

On our passage up the Mississippi we observed several Indian camps which appeared to us to be recent and to have been abandoned in great confusion. We had been unable to account for this but we were now informed that a few days since a party of Delaware warriors had gone to town and acted very impudently. In the evening, having indulged in drink, they swore they had come for scalps and meant to have them, and flashed a gun at the breast of an American woman who was present. A sergeant and party passing the house at the moment saw the confusion and entered. The Indians immediately fled. The sergeant pursued and killed ––––– of them. A party was instantly sent to route them from their camps on the river. This had been done the day before we came up, which was the occasion of the sign we had seen. A portion of the Delaware nation had settled a town at  p167 the forks of White River and they hunted over the region adjacent to the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers. On our first arrival in the country they had hatched up a sort of peace with us. I knew all along, however, that they desired open war, but never before this could I gain a proper excuse for exterminating them from the country. This I knew they would be loath to leave, and also that the other Indians wished them driven off as they were great hunters and killed off their game.

A few days after this Captain Helm informed me by express that a party of traders going by land to the falls of the Ohio had been plundered and killed by the Delawares of White River; and that their designs appeared altogether hostile as they had received a belt from the great council of their tribe. I was sorry for the loss of our men but for the rest pleased over what had happened, since it would afford me an opportunity of showing the other Indians the horrible fate of those who dared to make war on the Big Knives; and I knew that to excel them in barbarity was and is the only way to make war upon Indians and gain a name among them. I immediately sent orders to Vincennes to make war on the Delawares and to use every means in our power to destroy them, showing no mercy to the men, but sparing the women and children. This order was executed without delay. Their camps were attacked wherever they could be found. Many were slain,  p168 while others were brought to Vincennes and there put to death and the women and children taken captive. They immediately begged for peace but were told that I had ordered the war for reasons which were explained to them and that our men dare not lay down the tomahawk without my permission; but if the Indians should agree to it, no more blood would be spilled until an express could be sent to me at Kaskaskia. I refused to make peace with the Delawares, telling them that we never trusted those who had once violated their faith; but if they were disposed to be quiet and if they could induce any of the neighboring Indians to be responsible for their good behavior I would let them alone, although I cared little what they might do.

A council was called by Captain Helm (whom I had privately instructed how to manage the matter) of all the Indians in the neighborhood, at which my answer was made public. The Piankashaw undertook to answer for the future good conduct of the Delawares, and the son of Tobacco in a long speech told them how base their conduct had been, and how richly they had deserved the severe blow which had fallen upon them. He reminded them that he had given them permission to settle in this country but not to kill his friends. They now saw that the Big Knives had refused to make peace with them and that he had become surety for their good conduct. They might go now and attend to  p169 their hunting but if they should ever do any more mischief — he concluded with a significant gesture to the sacred bow​54 he held in his left hand; this was as much as to say that for the future he himself would chastise them. Thus the war with the Delawares in this country ended greatly to our advantage, with the neighboring tribes saying we were as brave as Indians and not afraid to put our enemy to death.

A rendezvous at this post having been set for the month of June, we exerted ourselves diligently procuring provisions of all kinds and making other preparations. Meanwhile I received an express from Colonel Bowman in Kentucky, informing me that he could furnish three hundred good men. We were now going on in high spirits and daily expecting the troops down the Ohio when on the ––––– we were surprised at the arrival of Colonel Montgomery with only one hundred and fifty men. He brought the information that we could expect no men from that quarter in the near future, if indeed at all, as the recruiting business proceeded but slowly, and I now learned for the  p170 first time of the depreciation of our paper money. Our affairs at once assumed a different aspect. We now regretted that we had not marched from Vincennes upon Detroit at once, but as we still had the prospect of receiving considerable reinforcements from Kentucky we flattered ourselves that something might yet be accomplished; that at the least we might maneuver in such fashion as to keep the enemy in hot water and to prevent his doing our frontier much damage.

We continued the work of procuring supplies and did not as yet lose sight of our object. The feel the pulse of the enemy I sent a company of volunteers under Linctot,​55 who had recently joined us, up the Illinois River under the pretense of visiting our friends, to cross the country and fall upon the Wea towns, returning thence  p171 to Vincennes to report upon the observations he had made. This maneuver, I anticipated, would suffice to cover our own designs and if we should think it prudent upon his return, we might proceed against Detroit early in June.

Colonel Montgomery was sent on by water with the whole of our stores. Major Bowman marched the remainder of our troops by land, while I, with a party of horsemen, reached Vincennes in four days' time, and the whole force arrived safely a short time afterwards. But instead of three hundred men from Kentucky there now appeared about thirty volunteers commanded by Captain McGary.​56 The loss of the expedition was too obvious to hesitate over. Colonel Bowman​57 had turned his attention against the Shawnee town and had  p172 been repulsed and his men had become discouraged.

From the first the affair I had in hand had been so conducted as to produce no disadvantageous impression upon the enemy in case of a disappointment, since they could never know whether we ever really entertained a design upon Detroit or were only making a feint to amuse them. To arrange matters to the best possible advantage was now my principal study. Part of the troops were sent to the Falls of the Ohio and the remainder divided among the posts of Vincennes, Cahokia, and Kaskaskia. I appointed Colonel Montgomery to the command of the Illinois. I authorized Major Bowman to superintend the recruiting business and appointed a number of officers to this service. Major Linctot and Captain Helm were given the superintendence of Indian Affairs, while I myself took station at the Falls as the most convenient spot from which to supervise the whole field. Having departed for their several posts in August I set off by land, proceeding in a few days as far as White River.58

 p173  Our movement during the summer had confused the enemy. The officer in command at Michilimackinac had therefore sent an expedition into the Illinois country by way of St. Joseph to drive out the American traders. Arriving at St. Joseph while Major Linctot was on his way up the Illinois River, it was reported that an American army was approaching and the Indians immediately deserted the English. On being asked the reason for this action they replied that they had been invited to see the English and the Big Knives fight and since the fight was now in prospect they had withdrawn to a height in order to enjoy a full view of it. The English, realizing that no dependence could be placed on the Indians, withdrew to the mouth of the St. Joseph River and there established a strong camp. On first receiving the intelligence of Linctot's advance they had sent off an express to Mackinac. A sloop dispatched from that place with provisions for the troops came within full view of their camp at the mouth of the river; but supposing it to be the Americans who had captured their friends at St. Joseph and taken post there, the vessel ignored all the signs they made and returned to Mackinac with the disagreeable news, leaving the poor fellows to starve until they could get an answer to a second express. In the  p174 meantime Mr. Linctot, knowing nothing of all this, had changed his route to the Wea town, which caused the English to conjecture that our whole force was being directed against Detroit, producing great confusion among them.

The summer was spent profitably, as we were careful to spread abroad such reports as suited our interests. I remained at Louisville until the following spring, discharging the multiplicity of business that was continually brought to me from every quarter. I represented to the Governor of Virginia that as the new settlers now peopling Kentucky were quite numerous, I hoped they were fully able to withstand any force the enemy could send against her and perhaps to act on the offensive. We now began to feel the effects of the depreciated state of the paper currency. Everything was two or three times the normal price, and scarcely to be had upon any terms. We engaged this fall upon the plan of laying up great quantities of jerked meat for the following season; but as the English at Detroit had pretty well recovered themselves the Shawnee, Delaware, and other Indian tribes were so troublesome that our hunters met with no success. Many of them were cut off and small skirmishes became so common throughout the region as to excite but slight attention. Captain Rogers, who had been sent to the Mississippi for a considerable quantity of goods and had obtained a reinforcement at the Falls, was totally defeated  p175 a little above Licking Creek on his return to Pittsburgh, and almost all of his party of seventy men were killed or made prisoners. Among the latter the more important were Colonel John Campbell and Captain Abraham Chapline. Of all the expedition, but one small boat made its escape.

Milo Quaife's Notes:

48 François Bosseron was one of the most prominent citizens of Vincennes. He was enrolled in the British militia forces, but on the advent of the Americans gave them his hearty support. He served with Captain Helms in the Wabash expedition of 1779, and furnished ammunition for the invading army. He was later district commandant and territorial judge, dying at Vincennes in 1791. A street in Vincennes still bears his name.

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49 J. M. P. Le Gras was a prominent merchant of Vincennes who had served as captain of militia under the British regime. He sided with the Americans upon the advent of Clark in Illinois and by Clark was made major and later colonel of militia. In June, 1779, he was appointed president of the local court at Vincennes.

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50 At this point in the original manuscript a blank half page occurs, together with the marginal note, "Inquire of Captain George, J.º R. C."

Robert George is believed to have been a cousin of Clark. He was in the West as a trader as early as 1777, and in 1778 accompanied Captain James Willing'sº expedition to the lower Mississippi. Early in 1779 Willing sent him up the Mississippi with forty men to join Clark, and the party arrived at Kaskaskia while Clark was still at Vincennes. George remained in the West until the close of the Revolution. He later settled on Clark's grant in Indiana, and died there some time prior to 1800.

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51 Richard Brashers was originally one of Captain William Howard's company, who probably came from Pennsylvania.

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52 John Bailey came to Kentucky from Virginia in 1776, and in 1778 joined Clark's expedition against the Illinois towns. In August Clark sent him to the aid of Captain Helm at Vincennes. Returning to Kaskaskia, Bailey accompanied Clark on his winter march against Vincennes, and was sent in advance with a detachment of fourteen men to begin the attack on the British post. Upon Clark's leaving Vincennes Bailey was left behind as here noted in command of a post of the garrison. In 1780 he served in Montgomery's Rock River expedition, and during most of 1781 he was serving as commandant, under great difficulties, at Vincennes. At the close of the Revolution he became a Baptist preacher, and helped lay the foundations of that church in Kentucky. In 1792 and again in 1799 he served in Kentucky constitutional conventions, and voted in favor of an emancipation clause. He died in Lincoln Countyº in 1816.

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53 Abraham Chapline was a native of Virginia, who in 1774 at an early age came to Kentucky in Captain James Harrod's party. In the autumn of this year he took part in the battle of Point Pleasant, and the next year returned to Kentucky. He joined Clark's Illinois expedition and by the leader was made an ensign and later a lieutenant. Detailed to escort Colonel Rogers' party to Fort Pitt, Chapline was captured at its defeat and taken by the Indians to the head waters of the Big Miami River. Here he was forced to run the gauntlet and then adopted into an Indian family. He later escaped, served until the end of the war, and then settled in Mercer County, Kentucky. He practiced medicine and served in the Kentucky legislature. He died on his farm near Harrodsburg in January, 1824.

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54 In the original manuscript Clark has placed this marginal note: "This bow is decorated with beautiful feathers (from) an Eagle's tail and all the gaudy trinkets that can be put about it and at one end is a spear about six inches dipt in blood which he touched when he shewed (it) to the Delawares except the Pipe of Peace this is the most sacred Instrument known to the Inds. and only handled by those of the greatest dignity." — G. R. C.

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55 Major Godefroy de Linctot was one of two French officers of the same name who at the close of the French and Indian War established themselves as traders in the Northwest with headquarters at Cahokia. Whether they were brothers or father and son is not entirely clear. One of them died during the winter of 1778. The other, here mentioned, attached himself to the American cause when Clark came into Illinois, and as Clark's agent had much success in wining the various Indian tribes away from their British alliance. The appointment to the Illinois River expedition, here described, followed. That Detroit was not taken was no fault of Linctot, who had performed successfully the preliminary movement assigned him. He continued in the American interest until after his death,º which seems to have occurred in 1781.

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56 Hugh McGary was one of the first settlers of Harrodsburg. Aside from the service here noted he served in Clark's expedition into Ohio in the summer of 1780, when Old Chillicothe and Piqua were destroyed.

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57 Colonel John Bowman, whose career has been previously noted, in the spring of 1779, led 296 men in an attack upon the Shawnee town of Chillicothe. The Indians fortified themselves in some log cabins and fought so vigorously that Bowman's force was repulsed. They burned most of the town and retired with much plunder, but for want of their cooperation Clark was forced to forego attacking Detroit, according to Captain Patten, who was with Bowman. The Americans captured a negro woman who informed them that the Indians had sent a runner to Simon Girty, the notorious Tory, who was at the Pickaway town with one hundred Mingos. On hearing this Colonel Bowman ordered his force to begin the retreat. Captain Patten records that he was "a good citizen but not aquaintedº with Indian warfare." The summer following Bowman's repulse Clark burned both Chillicothe and Piqua.

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58 The manuscript is imperfect at this point. In Clark's letter to George Mason, November 19, 1779, he states, concerning this period: "After giving proper Instructions for the discretion of the Conds. of the different posts I set out for the falls where I arrived safe on the 20 day of August."

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