Abbildungen der Seite

circumstance occasioned much surprise in the American party; that although a great deal of bustle could be perceived in all the streets of the town, not a drum was heard, nor a gun was fired from the fort; in fact, as was afterwards learned, even the friends of the British were afraid to give the garrison notice of Clark's presence. About sunset on the 23d of February, the American detachment set off to take possession of the town, marching and countermarching round some elevations in the plains; and displaying several sets of colors, which had been brought by the French volunteers, so as to enhance the appearance of their numbers; then taking their course through some ponds that were breast high, they encamped on the heights back of the town. Still there was no hostile demonstration on the part of the British, and there was the utmost impatience with the Americans to unriddle the mystery. For this purpose, Lieut. Bayley was sent with fourteen men to commence the attack upon the fort; but the fire of this party was attributed to some drunken Indians, who frequently saluted the fort in this manner, until a man was shot down through a port hole; when the engagement began in good earnest on both sides.* During the fire, when the American ammunition had become very low, owing to a reliance upon the stores in the galley; a very fortunate disclosure of powder and balls, which had been buried to keep it out of the hands of the British was made by the owners, Colonel Legrass, Major Busseron, and others. The Tobacco's son formerly mentioned, now made his appearance, and offered his services with a hundred warriors; the offer was, however, declined, though his presence and counsel was de

"There is an amusing anecdote connected with the siege, illustrative of the frank and fearless spirit of the times; that while Helm was a prisoner, and playing at piquet with Governor Hamilton in the fort, one of Clark's men requested leave of his commander to shoot at Helm's quarters, so soon as they were discovered, to knock down the clay or the mortar into his apple toddy; which he was sure the Captain, from his well known fondness for that fine liquor, would have on his hearth. It is added, that when the Captain heard the bullets rattling about the chimney, he jumped up and swore it was Clark, and he would make them all prisoners; though the dd rascals had no business to spoil his toddy." Louisville Directory, page 97. It is added, that when Helm made this exclamation about Clark, Governor Hamilton asked, "Is he a merciful man?" It seems an intelligence was kept up between Helm and Clark, through the medium of Henry's wife, who lived in the town; and who had free access to her husband in the fort. Helm cautioned the British soldiers against looking out at the port holes; "for" said he, "Clark's men will shoot your eyes out;" it accordingly happened, that one was shot through the eye, on attempting to look out, when Helm exclaimed: "I told you so."-Letter of Edmund Rogers, Esq., to the author.

sired. The fire continued without intermission, except for about fifteen minutes before day, until nine o'clock the next morning. Our men would lie within thirty yards of the fort, and untouched, from the awkward elevation of the platforms of the garrison guns; the balls would do no damage but to the buildings of the town: while, on the other hand, no sooner was a port hole opened, or even darkened, than a dozen rifles would be directed at it, cutting down every thing in the way. By this terribly concentrated fire, the garrison became discouraged, and could not stand to their guns; in the course of the morning a fierce demand of capitulation was made by Clark, but firmly rejected by Governor Hamilton; who declared, "he would not be awed into any thing unbecoming British subjects." Our men were urgent for a storm of the fort, but Clark sternly repressed such rashness. In the evening, the British officer finding his cannon useless, and apprehensive for the result of being taken at discretion, sent a flag desiring a truce of three days. This, Colonel Clark thought too imprudent to grant; although he himself expected a reinforcement with artillery on the arrival of his galley: he proposed in return, that the British garrison should be surrendered at discretion, and that Governor Hamilton should, with Captain Helm, then a British prisoner, meet him at the church. In consequence of this offer the parties, with a Major Hay, on the British side, met each other as desired; when Clark having rejected the terms offered by Governor Hamilton, the latter insisted on some offers from the former; Clark peremptorily adhered to the first that had been mentioned. Captain Helm attempting to moderate the excited feelings between the two officers, was reminded by Clark, that he was a British prisoner, and he doubted whether he could with propriety speak on the subject. The British commander then said, that Captain Helm was liberated from that moment; but Clark refused to accept his release on such terms, and said, he must return and abide by his fate. The British officer was then informed, that the firing should begin in fifteen minutes after the beating of the drums; and the gentlemen were taking their course to their respective quarters; Governor Hamilton H

now called to Colonel Clark, and politely inquired of him, what his reasons were, for rejecting the garrison on the liberal terms which had been proposed to him. The American officer then told him with affected severity, "I know the principal Indian partisans from Detroit are in the fort, and I only want an honorable opportunity of putting such instigators of Indian barbarities to death. The cries of the widows and orphans made by their butcheries require such blood at my hands. So sacred," said Clark, "do I consider this claim upon me for punishment, that I think it next to divine, and I would rather lose fifty men, than not execute a vengeance, demanded by so much innocent blood. If Governor Hamilton chooses to risk the destruction of his garrison for the sake of such miscreants, it was at his pleasure." Upon this, Major Hay exclaimed, "Pray, sir, whom do you mean by Indian partisans?" Clark keenly and promptly replied, "I consider Major Hay one of the principal ones." The change in Hay's countenance was instantaneous, like one on the point of execution; he turned pale and trembled to such a degree, that he could scarcely stand. Governor Hamilton blushed for his behavior in the presence of these officers; and Captain Bowman's countenance expressed as much contempt for the one, as respect and sorrow for the other. From that moment Clark's resolution relented, and he determined in his own mind, to show Governor Hamilton every lenity in his power: he told him, that "they would return to their respective posts, and he would reconsider the matter, and let him know the result by a flag." Upon the British offer being submitted to the American officers, it was agreed that our terms should be moderated; they were accordingly communicated to Governor Hamilton, and immediately acceded to by him. This capitulation on the 24th of February, 1779, surrendered Fort Sackville to the Americans; the garrison was to be considered as prisoners of war. On the 25th, it was taken possession of by Colonel Clark, at the head of the companies of Captains Williams and Witherington, while Captains Bowman and McCarty received the prisoners; the stars and stripes were again hoisted, and thirteen cannon fired to celebrate the reco

very of this most important strong hold upon the Indian frontier. At this surrender there were seventy-nine prisoners received, and considerable stores: on viewing the strength of the fort, Colonel Clark was astonished at its easy surrender; but on reflection was convinced, that it could have been undermined, as the fort was within thirty feet of the river bank. If even that attempt had failed, his information was so exact that on the arrival of his artillery, the first hot shot could have blown up the magazine. A few days afterwards, Captain Helm was dispatched up the Wabash after a quantity of stores, upon their way from Detroit; all of which were surprised; and stores to the amount of ten thousand pounds sterling, with forty prisoners, were captured. On the return of this successful expedition, with the British flags still flying, our galley hove in sight, and was preparing for an attack upon the little river fleet, supposing it to be the enemy; but soon the beloved ensign of American freedom was hoisted at the mast head, to the joy and triumph of our countrymen. They were only mortified to find their services had not been lent in the reduction of the post. After this brilliant achievement, over obstacles which might well have deterred the most energetic of commanders, it was not for a moment looked upon as a sufficient effort, but on the contrary, it was only regarded as a stepping stone to other and richer triumphs. Detroit now presented itself in full view, to our bold and indefatigable officer. "Twice has this town been in my power," he writes to Governor Jeffer"had I been able to have raised only five hundred men when I first arrived in the country, or when I was at St. Vincents, could I have secured my prisoners, and only have had three hundred good men, I should have attempted it." Recent intelligence had informed Clark, that the British force at Detroit consisted of but eighty men, many of them invalids, and the inhabitants exceedingly well disposed towards the American interest. Indeed Colonel Clark had determined on completing his bold enterprises, by an attack upon this point, with his present forces; when receiving dispatches from Governor Henry, promising a reinforcement of another battalion, to


complete the regiment, it was deemed most prudent to postpone the expedition, until such an imposing force should arrive. In the meantime Colonel Clark embarked on his galley for Kaskaskia, leaving Captain Helm once more in the command of the town, and the superintendence of Indian affairs. By these gallant expeditions, Colonel Clark most richly merited the high encomiums of Chief Justice Marshall, "that these bold and decisive measures, which, whether formed on a great or small scale, mark the military and enterprising genius of the man, who plans and executes them." The circumstantial relation of these exploits now, for the first time, submitted to the American public, may appear to some, as too wide a digression from the plan of this history. The author thinks not; for they form an integral and almost important part of Kentucky history; achieved under the auspices of our parent State, by a portion of troops drawn from this Commonwealth, when it, as well as the eastern Illinois,* formed a portion of the wide domain of Virginia. Nor does the author think a more cruel mutilation of Kentucky history could be committed, than to omit these brilliant Illinois campaigns, which contributed so materially to support the settlement of Kentucky, by distracting and overawing her savage foes. To the mind of the author, they present some of the most beautiful flowers of western history, worthy of the most assiduous care.


First Court of Kentucky-Its officers-First Colonel-Siege of St. Asaphs, or Logan's Station-British Proclamations-Capture of Boone-Siege of Booncsborough-Land Law-Its Commissioners.

It is now time to turn our attention to the more immediate affairs of Kentucky, the narration of which has been suspended, in order to present in one unbroken story, the achievements of the great western hero. It has been seen that it was owing to

*The west side of the Upper Mississippi was called Western Illinois, under the Spanish government, and that portion on the eastern side, was called Eastern Illinois.-Ancient Inhabitants.

« ZurückWeiter »