George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
IN THE EAST, PEACE: IN THE WEST, WAR

IN view of the straits of Virginia's western people and troops, it may seem strange that the British did not recover the country north of the Ohio; but Great Britain also was financially unable to carry on offensive operations. Like winded gamecocks, the enemies faced each other without strength to renew the struggle; and so they remained until at last the British abandoned the disputed field forever.

It is important here to understand that Clark and his men rendered a most important service in the general war for independence by aiding to force Great Britain to financial exhaustion. Her whole western war was mainly waged by her Indian allies, and the burden upon the British treasury was very heavy. General Haldemand was constantly complaining of the enormous outlays of Hamilton and his successors to supply the Indians with arms, powder, lead, food, blankets, and liquor. When the Americans suddenly appeared in their midst, these outlays were of necessity greatly increased. The urgent demands for more troops, more supplies, and, on the other hand, the reluctant but unavoidable acquiescence of the commander-in-chief, told one of the most significant stories of the Revolution. The diplomatic correspondence leading to the treaty of peace shows plainly that Great Britain lost the war by sheer lack of money; and that was in large measure due to her expensive Indian warfare in the west. The carriage of every pound of supplies from Quebec or Montreal to the distant British posts and scattered Indian towns multiplied many times its original cost; for transportation up the rivers and lakes and over land was laborious and dangerous, and had to be paid for accordingly. The British official reports show a great number of lake transports -- pirogues, batteaux, and larger vessels -- carrying not only supplies for the British garrisons, but astonishing amounts for the savages. Throughout the war Indian bands -- sometimes numbering only a score or less, at others many hundreds -- were fitted out and sent in rapid succession against Clark's men on the Mississippi,

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