George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
CLARK PLANS TO TAKE HAMILTON

[SAYS Clark's Mason Letter:] 'I found my ideas respecting the movement of the English just, having certain accounts by our spies that Governor Hamilton was on his march from Detroit with a considerable party, taking his route up the [Maumee] river. In a few days, receiving certain intelligence that General McIntosh [the Continental commander] had left Pittsburg for Detroit with a considerable army, and knowing the weakness of the fortification of that post at that time, their numbers, &c. I made no doubt of its being shortly in our possession, and that Governor Hamilton, sensible that there was no probability of his defending the fort, had marched with his whole force to encourage the Indians to harass the general on his march, as the only probable plan to stop him, little thinking, that he [ McIntosh] had returned [to Pittsburg] and Mr. Hamilton had the same design on me.' [He had good reason for believing Detroit must have fallen, for he knew Congress had ordered McIntosh to march against it with three thousand men, but he did not know that the design had been dropped.]

'It being near Christmas, we feasted ourselves with the hope of immediately hearing from Detroit, and began to think we had been neglected in an express not being sent with the important news of its being ours. But a circumstance soon happened that convinced us that our hope was vain. A young man at the town of Cahokia, holding a correspondence and sending intelligence to Governor Hamilton's party ['giving dangerous information'] was detected and punished accordingly. By [his letter] we learned the return of General McIntosh and Governor Hamilton's intentions on the Illinois, but not so fully expressed in the letter as to reduce it to a certainty. Supposing. . .they would make their first descent on Kaskaskia, it being the strongest garrison and headquarters, I kept spies on all the roads, but to no purpose. Mr. Hamilton, having the advantage of descending the Wabash, with eight hundred men, -- French, Indians and regulars,1 -- took possession of Vincennes on the 17th day of December. He had parties on the road that took some of our spies. Hard weather immediately setting in, I was at a loss to know what to do. Many supposed that he had quit his design and come no further than Ouia, but no intelligence [coming] from Vincennes, I was still under some doubt of his being there, [unless] the commandant [ Captain Helm] had kept back the express on account of the high waters.

'In this situation we remained for many days. I intend[ed] to

____________________
1
Major Joseph Bowman, writing some time afterward to his uncle, gave the same number. (Author's MSS.)

-101-

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