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blankets looked as if they had a more intimate association with mud than water. One of our men declared that our commander was “General Poverty" instead of Winchester.
The next entry in this journal is of January 10: We arrived at Hull's road at the Rapids fifty miles from Fort Defiance and encamped upon a high and suitable piece of ground, the weather very cold after a thaw, caused much suffering. The snow which has been falling constantly for two days and nights is from twenty to thirty inches deep. We had to stop early in afternoon to prepare our encampment; to shovel the snow away, make fires, and pitch our tents was no trifling task; afterwards gathering bark, bushes and twigs to make our beds. Many of the horses gave out and sleds broke down, so that the loads had to be carried or hauled by the men. I have seen six Kentuckians substituted for one horse, trudging along through the deep snow, and keeping pace with the foremost!
Wolftown, January 15, 1813: In marching to this place we came through Roche de Baut, (pronounced Rush de bow) which had formerly been a French settlement, and also an Indian town. Early next morning (as cold a morning as our Kentuckians ever experienced) a detached party of 676 men marched in front of the baggage, and went on four miles below the Rapids, to ascertain if it were true, as reported, that there were six hundred Indians encamped and picketed in, six miles below the rapids. This proved to be simply rumor.
January 11, 1813: Some fresh signs of Indians were seen near camp. A detachment of twenty-four men was sent out immediately, under the command of Captain Williams. They had not got far before they discovered the Indians. The firing commenced on both sides nearly at the same time. The Indians stood but a little time before they ran, but not until they had lost some of their savage blood. They were put to flight entirely, leaving much of their plunder behind them.
January 13, 1813: Two Frenchmen came into camp last night from the River Raisin, who received information of the army being here from those Indians that Captain Williams pursued, who got there the night after the skirmish, stopped only a few minutes, then went on to Malden. These Frenchmen asked protection and assistance stating the abuse they had received from the Indians and the danger they were in of losing their lives and property.
NEWS OF BRITISH AND INDIANS
January 15: This morning we received much needed clothing from our homes in Kentucky, the ladies have certainly sent the means of sav. ing lives and suffering.
Another Frenchman came into camp confirming the statements of the others. We now began to recruit our strength, after our laborious march and after being deprived of adequate supply of provisions. Although we have been without flour for days, yet we have been better supplied with other provisions than at any time during our march. We have here large fields of corn standing in the shock, which is easily prepared for a most substantial ration. We have erected several pounding machines with hickory "pounders," for mashing the corn. This is done by making a hole about two feet, or less in diameter in a hard wood stump, some ten or twelve inches deep; after the corn has been parched in big pans, or other suitable dishes over the big camp fires, it is placed in those hollowed stumps and pounded with heavy pounders, until it is reduced to a consistency of coarse corn meal, it is then taken out and
stored in large quantities for future use. It is eaten with a little salt, with pork fat or tallow, and is a very sustaining food.
January 17, 1813: A Frenchman came in from the River Raisin : stated that two companies of British had just arrived from Canada and that the Indians were collecting and intending to burn Frenchtown in a few days. By the repeated urging of the French, and being counselled by some of the Field Officers the General has been induced to order out a detachment of 570 men for an expedition to the River Raisin; contrary, it was said, to the explicit instructions of General Harrison.
The detachment started early, with three days rations. Frenchmen, who came from River Raisin, looking on when they started were heard to remark “not enough men. Injuns and red coats eat 'em up.
Proceeding twenty miles northward to the vicinity of Presque Isle a French village on the south side of the Maumee river. The sight of this village filled each heart with cheerfulness, and relief, for we had been nearly five months in the wilderness, exposed to every inconvenience and excluded from every thing that had the remotest resemblance to a civilized country. When the inhabitants of the village discovered us they met us with a white flag, and expressed the greatest friendship for us. They told us that the British and Indians quitted Frenchtown several days ago and had gone to Brownstown. About three hours after dark, a reinforcement of one hundred and ten men overtook us, commanded by Colonel Allen. Some time in the night, an express came from the River Raisin, informing Colonel Lewis that there were four hundred Indians and two companies of British there and that Colonel Elliott was to start the next morning from Malden, with a reinforcement.
KENTUCKIANS SCARE BIG INJUN
January 18, 1813: We started early in order to get there before Colonel Elliott; after traveling fifteen miles, mostly on the ice, we received information that the enemy were at the River Raisin waiting
We were then three miles of Frenchtown; marching rapidly and with the firm determination to conquer or die. Arriving in sight of the village, about a quarter of a mile distant, the British saluted us by firing upon us with a cannon three times, but no injury was done. During this time we formed the line of battle, and advanced on them with a shout. A Frenchman who lived in the town said that when the word came that the Americans were in sight, there was an old Indian smoking in his wigwam; he jumped up with the exclamation “Ho, de Mericans come! Spose Ohio men come, we give them nudder chase!" (Alluding to the time they chased General Tupper from the Rapids.) He walked to the door smoking very unconcerned, and looked at us as we formed our line and rushed on the town with a mighty shout. Recognizing the oncoming force he suddenly threw down his pipe, grabbed his gun, and in great excitement yelled, “Kentuck, by God!” and ran for the woods like a wild beast. The enemy soon commenced firing small arms in addition to the cannon, but we kept up our advance at the double quick, when they soon gave way, and we were in possession of the town, without the loss of a man, and only three slightly wounded. Twelve of their Indian warriors were slain and scalped and a few prisoners taken before they escaped to the woods. While retreating they kept up some firing. We pursued them half a mile to the woods which were filled with underbrush, and well suited to the Indian method of fighting, and they at once took refuge behind trees and brushes and fallen logs, to the best advantage. Our Kentucky riflemen were somewhat used to this mode of warfare and rushed into the woods, taking shelter behind trees, bushes, etc., and gave them a dose of their own medicine, keeping them on the retreat. During this time a heavy fire was kept up on both sides; at length, after a battle of three hours and five minutes, we were prevented to continue the pursuit by the approach of night, and retired to the village, collecting our wounded, and leaving temporarily our dead where they fell.
AFTER THE FIRST BATTLE OF FRENCHTOWN
In this action the Kentuckians displayed great bravery, after the fatiguing march over the ice from Presque Isle in the Maumee bay. Each man was anxious to excel his fellow in avenging the wrongs and injuries of his country. Our loss in this action was eleven killed and fifty-one wounded. Although the enemy had the advantage of the village in the first attack, and of the woods in the second, their loss, by the most reliable information, exceeded ours by a considerable number. One Frenchman stated that they had fifty-four killed, and one hundred and forty wounded, part of whom were carried to his house, on Sand Creek, a few miles from the village. An express, the Indian prisoner and two Frenchmen were sent immediately to the Rapids, to report the result of our engagement with the enemy. Some disagreement arose between the Indians and the French at Sand Creek; the Indians had killed an old man and his wife, which aroused a revengeful spirit in the French. They applied to us for help in the matter, but it was thought improper to leave the village, though some of them had assisted us and fought in the battle.
January 19, 1813: A party was sent out to the battlefield to bring in and bury the dead, all of which, except one, were found scalped and stripped.
The appearance of the snow-covered battlefield showed that a very considerable loss must have been sustained by the enemy, where the bodies had been dragged through the snow. The British left a quantity of provisions and some store goods which answered a valuable purpose to us.
The wounded were as well cared for and accommodated here, as they could have been in any part of Kentucky. Apples, cider, sugar, flour, butter, and whiskey appeared to be abundant. The River Raisin here runs through a level country, easterly, interspersed with good farms well improved, and is seventy or eighty yards wide; the banks are low and grape vines and fruit trees grow luxuriantly. Frenchtown is situated on the north side of this river not more than three miles from the place where it empties into Lake Erie. There is a row of dwelling houses, , about twenty or thirty in number, some of logs and some frame, surrounded by a fence made in the form of picketing, with small saplings or split timber, from four and five feet high, this is not designed as a fortification but to secure their yards and gardens from depredations.
CAUSE OF LATER DEFEAT
January 21, 1813, a reinforcement of 230 men arrived in the afternoon; also Gen. Winchester, Colonel Wells, Major McClanahan, Surgeons Irvin and Montgomery and some others, not soldiers, who came to eat apples and drink cider. The officers having viewed and laid off a piece of ground for a camp and breastworks, resolved that it was too late to erect fortifications that evening; further, they resolved that it was not worth while, though all materials were at hand, to fortify the right wing, inasmuch as they were not to move there until the next morning. This plain want of precaution and dilatoriness, was one great cause of the
mournful defeat which followed the next day. It is quite unexplainable, on any grounds, in view of the dangers which threatened us from the approach of the British and Indians from Malden, only twenty miles distant. (They were already on the march over the ice we had learned a little later with artillery to attack us.) The number of the approaching enemy was stated by the man who brought the news, at three ousand. This was not believed by our leading men, who were enjoying themselves with hot whisky and loaf sugar. The generality of our force, however, put confidence in the report, and were at least willing, to give us the benefit of the doubt, and work all night, if necessary, to perfect our defence. General Winchester had taken up his headquarters at a house of one of the leading Frenchmen of the town (Mr. Navarre) more than half a mile from the nearest part of the encampment, the largest and best house in the settlement. The right wing was wholly unprotected and exposed to the attack of the enemy.
Ensign Harrow was sent with a party of men some time in the night, by the orders of Colonel Lewis, to bring in all men, either officers or privates that might be found out of their quarters. After executing this order, he went to a brick house, about a mile up the river, and entered a room; finding it occupied, he went up stairs and saw two men, whom he took to be British officers, talking with the landlord. The landlord joined Ensign Harrow, asked him to walk down stairs to a warm room, and handing him a bottle of whisky, informed him that “there was no danger, for the British had not a force sufficient to whip us.” So Harrow returned about 1 o'clock and reported to Colonel Lewis the result of his observations. The Colonel treated this report with indifference, thinking the gentlemen named, were only persons from the village: just at daybreak the reveille sounded and gave joy to the troops, who had passed a very uncomfortable night, under the apprehension of an attack at any moment.
ATTACKED BY THE ENEMY
The reveille had not been beating more than two minutes before the sentinels fired three guns in quick succession; this alarmed our troops, who quickly formed and were ready for the enemy before they were near enough to do any execution. The British immediately discharged their artillery, loaded with balls, bombs, and grape shot, which did but slight injury; they then attempted to make a charge upon those behind the pickets, but were repulsed with great loss. Those on the right being entirely exposed, without fortifications of any kind, were overpowered by superior numbers and ordered to retreat to a more advantageous piece of ground. They fell into disorder and could not be again formed.
When the right wing began to retreat, it is said, orders were given by certain officers, to the men in the eastern end of the picketing, to march out to their assistance—a most unwise order, as the men were doing great execution as riflemen behind the pickets upon the ranks of the enemy. Captain Peirce, however, and a number of his men, sallied out into the open and were shot to pieces instantly. The Indians pursued the scattering troops, from every quarter, surrounded, killed, tomahawked and scalped, with awful ferocity, unchecked by the British officers, who commanded them. The enemy again charged on our left, with redoubled fury, but were again forced to retire. Our men lay close behind the picketing, through which they had made port holes, and everyone having a rest took deliberate and certain aim, that his ammunition might not be spent in vain and every shot fired by those skilled Ken. tucky riflemen brought down a red-coat or an Indian. After a long and bloody contest, the enemy finding that they could not either by force or strategem drive us from our position in our fortification, retired to the woods, leaving their dead on the field; a sleigh was seen about three hundred or four hundred yards from our lines going towards our right, supposed to be loaded with ammunition to supply the cannon. They received prompt attention from our Kentucky sharpshooters, who killed the men in charge and wounded the horses. Some Indians who were concealed behind the log houses, continued to annoy us with scattering balls.
KENTUCKLANS CHAGRINED AT SURRENDER
At this time bread from the commissary's house was handed around among our troops who sat very composedly eating and watching the movements of the enemy as if on parade. We had finished our meagre lunch, when a white flag was seen approaching. It was thought to be for a cessation of hostilities that our enemies might carry off their dead, which numerously lay scattered around over the late battlefield, although they had been continually busy during the action, bearing their dead and wounded away to their rear. But what was our surprise and mortification, when we heard that General Winchester with Colonel Lewis had been taken prisoners by the Indians, in an attempt to rally the right wing, and that General Winchester had surrendered us prisoners of war to Colonel Proctor the next highest in command. Major Madison, did not agree to this, until Colonel Proctor had promised that the prisoners should be protected from the Indians, the wounded cared for, the dead collected and buried and private property respected.
Colonel Proctor had informed General Winchester that he would afford him an opportunity to surrender his troops and if not accepted he would let loose the Indian savages upon us who would burn the town, and he would not be accountable for their conduct. General Winchester not knowing how we had successfully resisted the enemy's efforts, nor acquainting himself with the opinion of his officers nor the feeling of his men, probably thought the worst would happen if surrender was declined.
But why did not Proctor make this proposition before he had exerted all his skill in trying to burn the town, and setting his savage allies to do as their bloodthirsty appetites led them. Proctor knew very well that he was at "the end of his tether”—and convinced that the brave Americans were “too much for him.” It was subsequently learned that Proctor had actually ordered a retreat to Malden at the very time that Winchester, losing his nerve, was arranging to surrender. Simply a successful bluff!
It was even then that our troops, feeling perfect confidence in their ability to cope with the enemy and win the victory, most reluctantly accepted this crushing proposition; there was scarcely a man but was ready to shed tears! Many pleaded with the officers not to surrender, pledging themselves willing to die in the effort to avoid such a disgrace. We had only five killed and twenty-five wounded inside the pickets!
The British asked when they came in what we had done with our dead and wounded, as they saw but few on the ground. A barn having been set on fire to drive the Indians from its shelter, they concluded that to conceal our dead we had thrown them into these flames! One of the houses that the wounded were in was much shattered by the cannon balls of the enemy, though only a very few struck so low as a man's head. The bombs flew over. Some burst fifty feet above the ice on the river and some fell on the south side. In this battle their six cannon, three