VICTORY IN THE WEST
S everal weeks of relative inactivity had followed the repulse of General Procter at Fort Stephenson. Two factors were chiefly responsible. The most important was the naval question, the domination of Lake Erie. It would be very difficult for the Americans to reconquer and hold and Michigan without control of the lakes. Moreover, it would require much larger forces to do so as a long, vulnerable line of communications would have to be held in force. American control of the lakes, on the other hand, would make the reconquest relatively easy and would make Procter's position untenable.
A second factor was the necessity of raising adequate forces for the reconquest and the invasion of Upper Canada. Armstrong had hoped to raise an army of regulars sufficient for the task. But enlistment had been slow and the seven regiments assigned to General Harrison were far below their authorized strength. Since most of the militia under his command were reaching the end of their terms of service, it had been necessary to turn once more to Kentucky to raise a volunteer force sufficient to bring the army to its authorized strength of roughly 7,000.1
Governor Shelby responded with his usual energy and enthusiasm. He issued a statewide call for mounted volunteers as the speediest means of obtaining the necessary forces. The volunteers were to serve mounted or on foot for sixty days after joining the army. Shelby fixed 31 August as the day on which the volunteers were to assemble in Newport on the Ohio, across from Cincinnati.2 In his letter of response to Harrison, Shelby insisted on the necessity of providing adequate forage for his men both in Kentucky and Ohio. He repeated the demand again and again in subsequent letters to the general.
The volunteers came in on the appointed day, and Shelby began crossing them over the Ohio at once. He ordered them to concentrate at Springfield, about twenty- five miles northeast of Dayton. Shelby anticipated that he would have to halt there for a day or two in order to obtain necessary supplies of ammunition and hospital stores. He would also need additional arms, as the Newport arsenal was some seven hundred