George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
FOUR BRITISH OFFENSIVES TO RECOVER THE WEST

EARLY in 1780 the British planned four formidable expeditions to reconquer the entire western country. One, consisting of about a thousand men, mainly traders and Indians, was organized by Major Sinclair, commandant at Mackinac.1 It was to descend the Mississippi and sweep the Americans and Spaniards from both sides as far down as Natchez; for in 1779 Spain also had declared war on Great Britain. Sinclair was so confident of success that he made various dispositions of the country in advance of its reconquest, and promised the traders the exclusive fur trade of the Missouri Valley. He wrote General Haldemand: 'Sergt Phillips. . .will garrison the fort at the entrance of the Mississippi; Captain Hesse will remain at [St. Louis]; Wabasha (a great Sioux chief) will attack. . . the Rebels at Kaskaskia. . . .The two lower villages of the Illinois are to be laid under contribution for the support of their different garrisons, and the two upper villages are to send cattle to LeBaye [Green Bay] to be forwarded to this place to feed the Indians on their return.'2 Wabasha and his Sioux were to descend the Mississippi 'with all dispatch, as low down as the Natchez, and as many intermediate attacks as possible shall be made.'3 In support, Sinclair said, another expedition under ' Captain Langlede, with a chosen band of Indians and Canadians, will join a party assembled at Chicago, to make his attack by the Illinois River, and another party sent to watch the Plains between the Wabash and the Mississippi.'4 A third British and Indian expedition under Captain Bird -- an able and active leader -- was to go from Detroit through the Shawnee country, gather savages on the way, capture Clark's fort at the Falls of Ohio, and then fall upon the settlements of central Kentucky.5 From the south, a fourth and even more powerful

____________________
1
Sinclair succeeded De Peyster, who had succeeded Hamilton at Detroit.
2
Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 549.
3
Sinclair wrote that on May 2d, 'Seven hundred and fifty men, including traders, servants, and Indians, proceeded, [with another party sent out from Mackinac] down the Mississippi for an attack on the Spanish and Illinois country.' (Id., 548.)
4
Id.
5
On June 1, 1780, De Peyster at Detroit wrote Haldemand: 'There are now about 2000 warriors fitted out from this place to reconnoitre the Ohio and Wabash.' (Id., 398.)

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