George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
DETROIT CLARK'S MAIN OBJECTIVE

'WE yet found ourselves uneasy, [said Clark.] The number of prisoners we had taken, added to those of the garrison, when compared to our own numbers, [was so large] that we were at a loss how to dispose of them so as not to interfere with our future operations.

' Detroit opened full to our view, -- not more than 80 men in the fort, great part of them invalids; and we found that a considerable number of the principal inhabitants were disaffected to the British cause. . . . The Indians on our route, we knew, would be more than ever cool towards the English. . . . [With] possession of Detroit, and a post of communication at Cuyahoga, supplies might always be easily sent. . .from Pittsburg, and Lake Erie we might easily have in our possession; which would completely put an end to all our troubles in this western quarter, and perhaps open a door to further advantageous operations. Those were the ideas that influenced us at present. . . .

'A complete company of volunteers from Detroit,. . .mostly young men, was drawn up and, when expecting to be sent into a strange country and probably never return to their connexions,. . . told that we were happy to learn that many of them were torn from their fathers and mothers and forced on this expedition; that others, ignorant of the true cause in contest, had engaged from. . . being fond of enterprise, but that they now had had a good opportunity to make themselves fully acquainted with the nature of the war, which they might explain to their friends; and that as we knew that sending them to the States, where they would be confined in jail, probably for the course of the war, would make a great number of our friends at Detroit unhappy, we thought proper, for their sakes, to suffer them to return home, &c. A great deal was said to them on the subject. On the whole they were discharged on taking an oath not to bear arms against America, until exchanged, and received an order for their arms, boats, and provisions to return with. The boats were to be sold and [proceeds] divided among them when they got home.

'In a few days they set out, and as we had spies that went among them as traders, we learned that they made great havoc to the British interest on their return, publicly saying that they had taken an oath not to fight against America, but they had not sworn not to fight [for America] &c; and things were carried to such a height [at Detroit] that the commanding officer thought it prudent not to take notice of anything that was said or done. (Mrs. McComb, that kept a boarding house, I understood had the assurance to show him

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