Extract of a letter from a Gentleman in Muskingum to his Friend in the City of Norwich, (Connecticut,) dated Nov. 24, 1790.
“The prospect of peace from our frontiers, seems to me to be vanished for the present; the troops from this garrison have this morning returned, and the best account I can collect of the expedition is as follows: viz. the troops amounting to about 1200 militia, and about 300 regulars, after seventeen days march from Miami, reached the great Miami village, about 170 miles, without any molestation, except having a number of their pack-horse stole.–On their arrival they found the village deserted, and all the valuable builder a short tarry, they proceeded to neighings set on flames by the Indians. Afbouring villages, without molestation, and deftroyed five of them, and a quantity of corn, computed at fifteen thousand bushels, which they found buried in different places, and very large quantities of vegetables of every kind. The firstopposition that was met with, a party of about 150 Kentucky militia, and thirty regular troops, all under the command of Col. Hardin, of Kentucky, were detached from the main body, lying in the great Miami village, to pursue the track of a party of Indians which had the day before been discovered. After a pursuit of about six miles, they came up with, and were attacked by surprise, by a body of Indians, who were concealed in the thickets on every side of a large plain; and on the first onset the militia, without exchanging a single fire, made a most precipitate retreat, and left the regular troops to stand the whole charge of the Indians; the conflict was short and bloody; the troops were soon overpowered by numbers, and all fell, except the two offiers and two or three privates, after defending themselves at their bayonet points with the greatest possible obstinacy. Ensign Hartshorn, of Franklin, was one of the four that escaped, and his escape appeared to depend on a more luckly circumstance of falling over a log in his retreat, and by that means screening himself from the eye of his pursuers, that from any other circumstance. Captain Armstrong, who commanded the party, likewise made his escape, by plunging himself into a pond or swamp, up to his neck, within two hundred yards of the field of action, where he remained the whole night, as a spectator of the horrid scene of the War Dance, performed over the dead and wounded bodies of the poor soldiers that had fallen the preceding day, where their shrieks, mixed with the horrid yells of the savages, rendered his situation shocking. After this, some few skirmishes succeeded, but nothing material, until the second capital action, which happened two days after the army left the Miami village. At ten miles distance from the town, the General ordered a halt, and detached from four to five hundred militia, and about sixty regular soldiers, commanded by Major Wylls, all under the command of Col. Harden, with orders to march back to the town. On their first entrance into the town, there appeared a small body of Indians, who immediately fled at the first onset, and by that means decoyed the whole body of militia, by making their flight into different directions, and encouraging the militia to pursue; by this means the regular troops were left alone, and the Indians had effected their design; for the moment they found the small handful of regular troops detached from the main body of militia, they commenced the attack with their whole force, excepting the flying parties that had diverted the militia; and although they soon found some part of the militia returning on their back, pursued their object of routing and destroying the troops; as the only sure plan of success; which, after the bloody conflict on each side, they effect. The regular troops, all to nine, including two commissioned officers, were killed and disabled, and a total defeat ensued. Among the slain were Major Wylls, of Hartford, and Lieut. Frothingham, of Middletown. Of the militia, it is said, about an hundred were killed, among whom were a number of brave and valuable characters. The Indians, it appears, from some cause, did not think it prudent to pursue their successes from the field of action, for most of the troops that were not killed, or sorely wounded, made their escape, which they never could have done had the Indians pursued with their usual fury.
“Nothing can exceed the intrepidity of the Indians on this occasion; the militia they appeared to despise, and with all the undautedness conceivable, threw down their guns, and rushed upon the bayonets of the regular soldiers; a great number of them fell; but being so far superior in numbers soon overpowered them, for while the poor soldier had his bayonet in one Indiaman, two more would sink their tomahawks in his head. The defeat of our troops was complete, the dead and wounded were left on the field in possession of the savages.
“No damage, of any consequence, has been sustained in this part of the country from the Indians; but what effect the expedition may have on us, as relates to our frontier, it uncertain.– If the Western Indians have any idea of treating for peace, we shall be safe; if not, we are much exposed.”
Citation: Glasgow Advertiser (Glasgow, United Kingdom), 08 November 1791, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/323.