Thursday, January 21, 2010

Attack On Fort St. Clair 1792.

A letter from John Adair to Brigadier General James Wickinson, on the arrack on Fort St. Clair. Dated November 6, 1792.


This morning, about the first appearance of day the enemy attacked my camp within sight. of this post; the attack was sudden, and the enemy came on with a degree of courage that bespoke them warriors, indeed. Some of my men were hand in hand with them before we retreated, which, however, we did, about eighty yards, to a kind of stockade intended for stables; we then made a stand.

I then ordered Lieutenant Madison to take a party and gain their right flank if possible. 1 called for Lieutenant Hail to send to the left, but found he had been. slain. I then led forward the men who stood near me, which, together with the Ensigns: Buchanan and Florin, amounted to about twenty-five, and Dressed the-left of their centre, thinking it absolutely necessary to assist Madison. We made a manly push, and the enemy retreated, taking all our horses except five or six. We drove them about six hundred yards through our camp, where they again made a stand, and we fought them some time; two of my men were here shot dead.

At that moment I received information that the enemy were about to flank us on the right, and on turning that way, 1 saw about sixty of them running to that point. I had yet heard nothing of Madison. I then ordered my men to retreat, which they did with deliberation, heartily cursing the Indians, who pursued us close to our camp, where we again fought them until they gave way; and when they retreated, our ammunition was nearly expended, although we had been supplied from the garrison in the course of the action. I did not think proper to follow them again, but ordered my men into the garrison to draw ammunition.

I returned, however in a few minutes, to a hill to which we had first driven them, where I found two of my men scalped, who were brought in. Since I began to write this, a few of the enemy appeared in sight, and I pursued them with a party about a quarter of a mile, but could not over take them, and did not think proper to go farther. Madison, who I sent to the right, was, on his first attack, wounded, and obliged to retreat into the garrison, leaving a man or two dead; to this misfortune I think the enemy are indebted for the horses they have got. Had he gained their right flank, and I once had possession of their left, I think we should have routed them at that stare of the action, as we had them on the retreat I have six killed and five wounded, four men are missing; I think they went off early in the action, on horseback, and are, I suppose, by this, at fort Hamilton.

My officers and a number of my men distinguished themselves greatly. Poor Hail died calling to his men to advance. Madison’s bravery and conduct need no comment; they are well known. Flinn and Buchanan acted with a coolness and courage which does them much honor. Buchanan, after firing his gun, knocked an Indian down with the barrel. They have killed and taken a great number of the pack horses. I intend following them this evening some distance to ascertain their route and strength, if possible. I can with propriety say, that about fifty of my men fought with a bravery equal to any men in the world, and had not the garrison been so nigh, as a place of safety for the bashful, I think many more would have fought well. The enemy have no doubt as many men killed as myself. They left two dead on the ground, and I saw two carried off. The only advantage they have gained is our horses, which is a capital one as it disables me from bringing the interview to a more certain and satisfactory decision.
I am sorry I cannot send you better news, And am, sir, yours, &c.

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