George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
RECRIMINATION AND TRADUCTION

ALTHOUGH many and bitter were the complaints of one another amongst the Fayette and Lincoln survivors of the Blue Licks battle, they soon united in finding a scapegoat to saddle with responsibility for their defeat. This was General Clark, although the affair was solely their own, and he had nothing to do with it. He had no authority over them or their militiamen, except to call upon them to aid in fort building, and he was not within a hundred miles of the battle; but some one suggested that he had caused the disaster by not building the new forts! This charge -- conveniently acquitting themselves -- was circulated by some of the surviving officers of Fayette and Lincoln, and a hue-and-cry raised in those counties against Clark as the responsible cause of the disaster. It was taken up by many other people there, already unfriendly to him. It is often but a step from enmity to slander, and from one slander to another, and a surprising number of preposterous falsehoods were circulated about him, first in Lincoln and Fayette, and soon afterward at the state capital -- all within a few weeks after the Blue Licks defeat. In writings which may still be read, he was charged with tyranny, ambition, vanity, cowardice, peculation, drunkenness, idleness, and even collusion with horse thieves! None of these writings -- some of them anonymous -- were intended ever to come to his knowledge, and few probably did. So far as known, only two of them did, and he promptly disproved the charges in them and discredited their authors.1

As General Clark knew nothing of the Blue Licks affair, except from hearsay, he could of course make no proper report of it to the governor. That was the duty of the senior commanding officer, Colonel Logan, who twelve days after the

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1
The only one worth mentioning here is in Virginia Calendar State Papers, III, 358, about intermingling certain flour belonging to one Elliott with flour belonging to the state. As to this, see deposition of Commissary Major Walls before Colonel Fleming explaining the intermingling as due to an accident during a storm, and that the state got Elliott's fine flour for an equal number of kegs of less weight of coarse flour and Elliott was the loser. Clark had nothing to do with it. (Author's transcript, R 684.)

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