George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
CLARK'S LAST EFFORT AGAINST DETROIT

NOTWITHSTANDING the failure of the four British campaigns and the punishment of the Shawnees, the Indians in general were far from being pacific. They saw they could get nothing from the Americans, almost as poor as themselves, and looked to Detroit for supplies and leaders. As long as that hatchingplace of Indian war remained in British hands, the Americans might expect destructive inroads. Knowing this, Clark determined to try again to get an adequate force to take it, and with that view journeyed to the Virginia capital. There he laid his plan before his friend Jefferson, now governor. Jefferson was convinced of its feasibility and gave his ever-willing coöperation; for he fully understood the importance to all the states of winning that British key to the western country.1 He had Clark made a brigadier general, promised him two thousand men, and zealously worked to supply him with every necessity. He also asked General Washington for an order on Colonel Brodhead, the continental commandant at Pittsburg, for cannon and the loan to Clark of Colonel John Gibson's regiment at that place. Washington readily agreed, saying:

'I have ever been of opinion that the reduction of the post of Detroit would be the only certain means of giving peace and security to the whole western frontier, and I have constantly kept my eye upon that subject; but, such has been the reduced state of our Continental force, and the low ebb of our funds, especially of late, that I have never had it in my power to make the attempt. I shall think it a most happy circumstance should your state, with the aid of the continental stores which you require, be able to accomplish it. I am so well convinced of the general public utility with which the expedition, if successful, will be attended, that I do not hesitate a moment in giving directions to the commandant at Fort Pitt to deliver to Colonel Clark the articles which you request.'2

____________________
1
Moreover, although he knew his state was about to give up the whole country north of the Ohio, and had even advised her giving up Kentucky to save the Confederation, he was willing for her to bear the burden of the attempt. Perhaps no act of his life better illustrates his breadth of view and patriotism. Jefferson to Madison, Feb. 20, 1784. Ford Writings of Jefferson, IV, 244; Dunn Indiana, 182.
2
Sparks' Writings of Washington ( Boston, 1837), VII, 341-45. Jefferson to Washington, Ford Writings of Jefferson, III, 57-59.

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