Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Attack On Fort Recovery 1794.

Copy of’ a letter from Major General Wayne to the Secretary of War, dated, HEADQUARTERS, Greenville, 7th July, 1794.


At seven o’clock in the morning of the 30th ultimo, one of our escorts, consisting of ninety riflemen and fifty dragoons, commanded by Major McMahon, was attacked, by. a very numerous body of Indians, under the walls of fort Recovery, followed by a general assault upon that post and garrison, in every direction.

The enemy were soon repulsed, with great slaughter, but immediately-rallied and reiterated the attack, keeping up a. very heavy and constant fire, at a more respectable distance, for the remainder of the day, which was answered with spirit and effect; by the garrison; and that part of Major McMahon’s command that had regained the post. The savages were employed, during the night, (which was dark and foggy) in carrying off their dead by torch light, which occasionally drew a fire from the garrison; They, nevertheless succeeded so well, that there were but eight or ten bodies left upon the field, and those close under the influence of the fire from the fort. The enemy again renewed the attack, on the morning of the 1st instant; but were ultimately compelled to retreat, with loss and disgrace, from that very field where they had, upon a former occasion, been proudly victorious.

Enclosed is a particular general return of the killed, wounded, and missing. Among the killed, we have to lament the loss of four good and gallant officers, viz: Major McMahon, Captain Hartshorne, and Lieutenant Craig, of the rifle corps, and Cornet Torry, of the cavalry, who all fell in the first charge. Among the wounded are the intrepid Captain Taylor, of the dragoons and Lieutenant Drake, of the infantry.

It would appear that the real object of the enemy was to have carried that post by a coup de main for they could not possibly have received intelligence of the escort under Major McMahon, which only marched from this place on the morning of the 29th ultimo, and deposited the supplies the same evening, at fort Recovery, from whence the escort was to have returned at reveille the next morning; therefore their being found at that post was an accidental, perhaps a fortunate, event. By every information, as well as from the extent of their encampments, ( which were perfectly square and regular) and their line of march in seventeen columns, forming a wide and extended front, their numbers could not have been less than from fifteen hundred to two thousand warriors.

It would also appear that they were rather in want of provisions, as they killed and ate a number of pack horses, in their encampment the evening after the assault; also, at their next encampment, on their retreat, which was but seven miles front fort Recovery, where they remained two nights, probably from being much incumbered with their dead and wounded. A considerable number of the pack horses were actually loaded with the dead.

Permit me now, sir, to express my highest approbation of the bravery and conduct of every officer and soldier of the garrison and escort, upon this trying occasion; and, as it would be difficult to discriminate between officers equally meritorious and emulous for glory, .1 have directed the adjutant General to annex the names of every officer of the garrison and escort, who were fortunate enough to remain uninjured, being equally exposed to danger with those who were less fortunate. But 1 should be wanting in gratitude were I to omit mentioning, in particular, Captain Alexander Gibson, of the 4th sub-legion, the gallant defender of fort Recovery.

Here, it may be proper to relate certain facts and circumstances2 which almost amount to positive proof, that there were a considerable number of the British and the militia of Detroit mixed with the savages, in the assault upon fort Recovery, on the 3oth ultimo and 1st instant.

1 had detached three small parties of Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, a few days previous to that affair, towards Grand Glaize in order to take or obtain provisions, for the purpose of gaining intelligence. One of these parties fell in with a large body of Indians, at the place marked Girty’s town, (in Harmar’s route) on the evening of the 27th ultimo, apparently bending their course towards Chillicothe on the Great Miami. This party returned to Greenville, on. the 28th, with this further information, “ that there were a great number of white men with the Indians.”

The other two parties cot much scattered, in following the trails of the hostile Indians, at some distance in their rear; and were also in wik them when the assault - commenced on fort Recovery. These Indians all insist That there were a considerable number of armed white men in the rear, who they frequently heard talking in our language and encouraging the savages to persevere in the assault; that their faces were generally blacked, except three British officers, who were dressed in scarlet, and appeared to be men of great distinction, from. being surrounded by a large body of white men and Indians, who were very attentive to them. These kept a distance in the rear of those that were engaged.

Another strong corroborating fact that there were British, or British militia, in the assault, is, that a number of ounce balls and buck shot were lodged in the block houses and stockades of the fort. Some were delivered at so great a distance as not to penetrate, and were picked up at the foot of the stockades. It would also appear that the British and savages expected to find the artillery that were lost on the 4th of November, 1791, and hid by the Indians in the beds of old fallen timber, or logs, which they turned over and laid the cannon in, and then turned the logs back into their former birth. It was in this artful manner that we generally found them. deposited. ‘The hostile Indians turned over a great number of logs, during the assault, in search of those cannon, and other plunder, which they had probably hid in this manner, after the action of the 4th November, 1791

I therefore have reason to believe that the British and Indians depended much upon this artillery to assist in the reduction of that post; fortunately, they served in its defense.
The enclosed copies of the examination of the Pattawatamy and Shawanee prisoners, will demonstrate this fact, that the British have used every possible exertion to collect the savages from the most distant nations, with the most solemn promises of advancing and cooperating with them against the legion, nor have the Spaniards been idle upon this occasion.

It is therefore more than probable, that the day is not fr distant, when we shall meet this hydra in the vicinity of Grand Glaize and Riche de Bout, without being able to discriminate between the white and red savages. In the interim, I am in hourly expectation of receiving more full and certain intelligence of the number and intention of the enemy.

I have no further or other information respecting the mounted volunteers of Kentucky than what you will observe in the enclosed copies of the correspondence between Major General Scott and myself. I hope they may be completed to their full number, because it would appear that we shall have business enough for the whole of them. You will herewith receive the general d field return of the legion, the quarterly return of ordnance and ordnance stores, at this place, the Quartermaster General’s return, and the return of the hospital department.

The horses that were killed, wounded, and missing, in the assault against fort Recovery, will not, in the least, retard the advance of the legion, after the arrival of the mounted volunteers, because 1 had made provision for those kind of losses and contingencies, which, from the nature of the service, must be expected, and will unavoidably
happen. I have the honor to be, &c.

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