"Your regiment is broken all to pieces by promotion.
You are now second captain, and if the God of War were
not unfriendly to you, you should soon be a major. The
organization and discipline of the army is to undergo a
great reform. The particulars have not yet been
transmitted to me, but I am told it is to be styled the
American Legion, commanded by a major-general, and divided
into four sub-legions , to be commanded by brigadiers.
I infer that the interior corps will be battalions,
commanded by majors, and that regiments are to be done
away, as we are to have no more lieutenant-colonels.
ZEIGLER’s resignation was accepted, and he struck off the
rolls, the fifth of March, long before he had ordered his
commission to me. Subordination and sobriety are
circumstances which the President is determined to enforce
at all hazards. I wish you to congratulate Gaines for
me on his promotion, and tell him that it will depend
upon himself, in a great degree, when he may be a
captain. My friendship will depend entirely upon his
continuing the sober man I knew him to be. I
feel some anxiety for ELLIOTT’s last convoy by the river.
Should it arrive safe, you will return the escort, under
cover of the night, to this place. The season approaches
when we must not trifle with the enemy. Adieu.
On the first of the next month Captain Armstrong wrote to General Wilkinson:
"Fort Hamilton, 1st May, 1792.
"Dear General,- I was honored with your letter of yesterday by the express, which gave me great relief, as my apprehension with respect to his safety had given me painful sensations. MCDONALD, whom I sent to head- quarters on the 23rd of April, carrying the dispatches of Jefferson and ST.CLAIR, is either killed or taken. I am anxious for the safety of this, but conceive it my duty, until you order it otherwise, to send forward those letters from the outposts, be the danger ever so great. I have as yet lost no men, although the enemy have been frequently seen around us.
"The building I have already begun will, when finished, contain all the flour now here. Shall I proceed to erect one of the other bastions? Those buildings add much to the strength of the garrison, but getting up the timber will be attended with some danger. Captain CUSHING's men arrived yesterday, and, with those sent forward on the 20th, will return this evening. When they left St. Clair those from Jefferson had not arrived, although expected the day before.
"If this communication is kept up by soldiers who, being unacquainted with the woods, must keep the roads, I am fearful we shall lose many of our men. I wish it might occur to you as proper to have woodsmen at each post for that purpose. The proceedings of the court- martial, whereof Captain FORD was president, were forwarded by McDonald, and from the presumption that the president did not take a copy I have directed the judge-advocate to forward one to Captain Ford by this express. Please inform me if Major Zeigler’s resignation is accepted."
The reply of Colonel Wilkinson was as follows:
"Fort Washington, May 4, 1792.
"Sir,- A disappointment on the part of the contractor
prevents my dispatching the heavy escort, so soon as my
last letter mentioned, and the party which now goes on
is to endeavor to join Fort St. Clair under cover of night.
They are to halt with you the day the day they may arrive, and
you are to cross thence over the river, on the evening of
that day after sunset, taking the necessary precaution to
prevent the enemy from discovering their numbers. You
will give the corporal orders to reach St. Clair in the course
of the night on which you dispatch him. His safety and
the safety of the little convoy depend on the strict
observance of this order. Captain Peters, with an efficient
escort, waits the arrival of a drove of bullocks which have
been judiciously halted at Craig’s, and will not reach this
place until the 8th inst. By him you will receive a volume
The expeditions sent from one post to the other were invariably accompanied with danger. Ambuscades were always to be dreaded. Captain Armstrong writes:
"Fort Hamilton, May 7, 1792.
"Lieutenant-colonel James Wilkinson:
"Dear Sir,- On the evening of the 5th inst., your
letter was handed me by the corporal conducting the
escort. As Indians had shown themselves on the opposite
shore for three succeeding days, I detained the escort
until the evening of the 6th, and in the interim detached
Lieutenant GAINES, with twenty men, five miles on the
road leading to St. Clair, with directions to recross
Joseph’s Creek, and to form in ambuscade until the same
party pass him, which promises an ample reward. If
there was nothing improper in the request I would solicit
their continuance here until the opening campaign.
"Captain First Regiment, United States Army."
Captain Armstrong’s apprehensions seem to be well founded in this case. He wrote to Colonel Wilkinson, May 9, 1792:
"The express from St. Clair arrived this morning about seven o’clock. Sergeant BROOKS, who brought the dis- patches, says he saw, and was within two rods of, an Indian about half a mile from this post. The savage was endeavoring to shoot a deer with an arrow, and, on discovering the party, he gave a yell, which was answered at no great distance by three r four others. A raft on which three or four might have crossed the river floated past the fort about two o’clock. The horse upon which MCDONALD was sent express on the 23d of April has returned to the garrison; the rider must, therefore, have been killed."
On the 11th of May, Colonel Wilkinson writes to Captain Armstrong:
"Fort Washington, May 11, 1792.
"Dear Sir,- Your letter of the 8th came to hand in due season. I thank you or the precautions taken for the security of the convoy to St. Clair. I love a man who thinks; too few do so, and none else should command. All the tools which can be procured here will be delivered you by Captain PETERS- I mean of those you have requested. The balance of KERSEY’s company, one sergeant and three privates, will join you with this escort. You may make the exchange proposed for a man at Dunlap’s Station, but must send an orderly good soldier to take the place of the sawyer.
"Your monthly rations are in future to be regulated by the inclosed form, and they must be delivered at this post (as practicable) on the 4th of each successive month. The couriers will, in future, leave Jefferson on the first day of the month, and every twelve or fifteen days after. You may rest satisfied that the command of Fort Hamilton shall not be charged whilst I have influence, in any instance, until some general movement takes place. ‘Let him who wins wear, he who woos enjoy,’ will, I believe, be the motto of my colors. Mr. HARTSHORN must be here by the 25th, to take command of the horse. Hamilton will be up by the same day, I expect. I rest much upon the enterprise and perseverance of these young men; I hope they may distinguish themselves. I will furnish you another officer the moment the state of this garrison permits.
"For the safety of our communications, to save the troops, to assist in guarding cattle, and for the purpose of scouting and reconnoitering, I have determined to annex to each of the outposts two confidential woodsmen, to be subject to the orders of the respective commandants, agreeably to the inclosed articles. The whole party are to accompany the convoy out, and on Captain PETER’s return, Resin BAILY and Joseph SHEPPERD are in the first instance to be stationed with you; but, to proportion the duty of these men fairly, there must be a rotation. The party, then, which leaves Fort Jefferson, will deliver the dispatches from that post and St. Clair to you; your men are to run with them, and, on their return, are to go forward to St. Clair, where they will continue, and the party at St. Clair will carry forward the dispatches to Jefferson, where they take post until remanded by Major STRONG, and will proceed in this manner until other regulations may be deemed expedient. Nevertheless, on extraordinary occasions extraordinary messengers are to be dispatched.
"You will receive by this escort ten fat bullocks, which are to be killed and issued before you touch a ration of the bacon other than what may be necessary to your own mess. The grazing of these cattle and saving the guard harmless will, I know, be extremely hazardous, but rely on your genius and resources.
"The cattle must be penned inside of the walls of the
garrison every night. Should any men desert you,
the scouts are to take the track, pursue, overtake, and make
prisoners of them, and for every one so apprehended and
brought back you may engage twenty dollars. If
the deserter is discovered making for the enemy it will
be well for the scout to shoot him and bring his head to
you, for which allow forty dollars. One head lopped off
in this way and set upon a pole on parade might do
lasting good in the way of deterring others.
Captain Armstrong, on the 15th of May, wrote to General Wilkinson:
"My Dear Friend,- Your letters of the 29th of April and 11th of May came duly to hand. Captain PETERS, with is convoy, marched this morning, and I am extremely happy you mentioned the circumstance of the troops returning from St. Clair being detained on the opposite shore all night, as it gives me an opportunity of communicating to you the cause why they were so detained, and trust my motives will justify the measure, and convince you that in doing so I did my duty. Those troops arrived at sunset, the large flat being rendered useless by a neglect in the men of Lieutenant Shaumburgh’s command. The river was high. Having the small flat only to effect the crossing, it would have taken the greater part of the night, and from the height of the water and darkness of the weather, I conceived would be attended with much danger, and perhaps the loss of several lives.
"I sincerely thank you for your friendly advise respecting the exercise of the law martial against citizens, and shall adhere strictly thereto.
"Sure I am, the circumstance of having confined one of the contractor’s men must have been improperly and partially represented to you. Contempt of an order of the commanding officer of a post would be unjustifiable in a citizen, much more so in one that is, in some measure, connected with the army, and, agreeable to the customs established in the last war, subject to be punished by martial law (see section 13, article 23, of the articles of war). Men employed by the contractor as an aid to the quartermaster are indulged with an idea that they were not subject to the martial law. Figure to yourself what would be the situation of an officer commanding one of our recruits! That they are subject thereto I have never heard disputed. Should those characters be impressed with a different idea, and supported therein, fatal would be the consequences produced in the army. I shall at all times give a negative to the establishment of so bad a precedent. In the return you inclosed from the quartermaster he has committed an error. The company book mentioned therein, it seems, was intended for, and is appropriated, with the wafers, quills, and greater part of the paper, to the use of his department. The oil-stone is also missing. My surveyors remain idle for want of files. On further inquiry I find the surveyor mentioned in my last is at Covault's Station, instead of Dunlap's. I wish you could, for a time, spare me the cooper belonging to Captain KERSEYs company, and now at Fort Washington, to be employed in making canteens. I have a quantity of cedar collected for that purpose. A part of each of the unfinished buildings in the bastions is raised two stories high, and may hereafter be converted into soldier's barracks and officers' quarters. I intend finishing the upper story in each, so that when you honor us with a visit, a cool, comfortable room will be at your service. The articles mentioned in the inclosed returns are actually wanted, and I hope you will think proper to order them furnished.
"Captain PETERS's detachment marched yesterday morning, and in the evening the savages tomahawked a man employed by the quartermaster to drive the public team, about four hundred yards from the fort, where he had strolled without arms and contrary to the order of 5th April. It appears that the fellow was sitting down at the root of a tree, and perhaps asleep.
"I employ as a guard to the cattle a non-commissioned officer and eight men, who have orders to confine themselves to some thicket near the drove, and be seen as seldom as possible. Permit me here to observe, the contractor ought to have one or two men to drive the bullocks, covered by the guard.
"Your orders respecting the bacon, etc., shall be strictly attended to. I have signed the abstracts up to the first of May, and I confess to you I can't see any way of executing them agreeable to the copy from the War Office. You will please to observe there is no column for artificers, wagoners, pack-horsemen, or for any extra rations whatever. I would thank you to point out the mode of bringing those in, with a strict uniformity to the returns sent forward, referred to in your orders. I kept no copy of my letter by McDonald, as it contained nothing material. Our regiment is broken, indeed, and not benefited much by the commanding officer's being at so great a distance, who, I presume, would reduce some companies to fill others, and send the supernumerary officers on the recruiting service.
"Those woodsmen you have been pleased to direct for
each post will be the means of saving many of our best
men, who are generally employed on the service under-
taken by them. Your partisan corps will have much in
their power, and I trust, do honor to themselves; it is
the handsomest command in the army. I am sorry the
God of War had formed any unjust prejudices against me.
I will not suffer him to do me injustice, and ask no favors.
The person who made the representation to you
must be young in service, and possessed of more passion
than judgement. To have crossed the troop and left near a
hundred horses without a guard would, in my opinion,
have been very improper.
Colonel Wilkinson was appointed brigadier-general in May, 1792, and on the twenty-sixth of that month he writes to Captain Armstrong, from Fort Washington:
"I applaud the plan and progress of your buildings, and wish you to extend and complete them, because I shall spend much of my idle time with you after our chief arrives. You should contrive some place for cooling wine and preserving fresh meat and butter, milk, etc. The contractor must find men to drive his cattle, in my opinion, and that point is now before the executive for their decision."
He also adds, in the same letter: "HARDIN and FREEMAN left us day before yesterday, the former for Sandusky, the latter for Maumee. I think it equivocal what may be the event, but do expect they will return."
In his next letter Captain Armstrong says:
"Fort Hamilton, June 1, 1792.
"Dear Sir,- Your letter of the 24th of May came duly to hand. I am pleased with the idea of having much of your company this Summer. I have happily anticipated your wishes. I have a cellar adjoining the well, and in part of it a cistern that contains about four hundred gallons, which I will fill with water once every day, which serves to keep the cellar cool, and answers the purpose of a fish pond. The pleasing idea of being received into the arms of friendship in Philadelphia must, in some measure, lessen the fatigues of the long journey your lady is about to undertake. I sincerely wish her a pleasant and safe passage.
"Will you come and eat strawberries with us? If we had a cow you should have cream also. Green peas we have in abundance. If you should spare some radish seeds, their produce would hereafter serve to ornament your table. Four of the cattle left for the supply of this post broke from the drove some days since, took the road for Fort Washington, and could not be overtaken by the party on foot who pursued them as far as Pleasant Run. One other this morning swam across the river, and is so wild that Mr. EWING has crossed to shoot him. There is, therefore, only one bullock remaining; he will give the garrison about four days' provision.
"You will no doubt receive by this express a letter from lieutenant GAINES, inclosing two orders relative to the affairs of this garrison. Should he inclose you the orders of the 25th and 31st of May, anything that may appear ambiguous therein will be explained by the following relation: I had filled the cistern already spoken of in the evening, in order to give the water the night to settle for the use of the troops next day. Mr. Gaines drew the plug and emptied it. As the drawing of three or four hundred gallons of water is attended with much fatigue, by the way of reprimand, I observed to Lieutenant Gaines that, if directing him to attend the filling and emptying it would have any other effect than to hurt his feelings, I would direct his attention thereto for a month. His reply was that he would disobey such an order, the issue of which will be the cause of a complaint. He is young in service, and will learn better. I have read him this part of my letter, and referred him to the eighteenth chapter of the baron's instructions.
"From the list of appointments accompanying your list, I see there are but three brigadiers appointed. I think the law says four, and, I hope, means yourself.
On the 11th he narrates the escape of two scouts:
"Dear Sir,- BAILEY and CLAWSON left this on the night of the 7th, which was the evening of the day they arrived. They reported that, two miles on the other side the Seventeen Mile Creek, about half-past five o'clock P.M., they saw three Indians standing in the road, with their faces toward St. Clair, and about one hundred and fifty yards in their front. They took to the left of the road in order to make the fort for which they were bound. A foot from the road, in crossing a branch, they saw two watching at a lick; in running down the bank their belts broke, and they lost their packets, after which, at a little distance, they saw two-more Indians, who pursued them. They say they heard the savages in pursuit until yesterday ten o'clock, when they struck a creek, the center of which they took and kept until they struck the river- I suppose ten miles.
On the same date, General Wilkinson writes:
"Fort Washington, June 11, 1792.
"Dear Sir,- I this morning received your letter of last evening, and regret the accident which has befallen my last dispatches, though I think it as fifty to one the enemy have not got them, for it is probable they were not in view when the papers were dropped, and if they were, their attention would have been too much engaged to regard the packet.
"By this conveyance you will receive the iron, hemp, and two scythes, etc. I have ordered HODGSON to send out the window-glass, and every other article which has not been heretofore furnished, and to strengthen your garrison I send you the fragment of Pratt's company at this place. One-half the scythes, fairly assorted, must be sent forward to Fort Jefferson, and I must flatter myself that you will employ your utmost exertions to procure the largest quantity of hay profitable in your neighborhood. This is, indeed, an object of great magnitude. When the grass is finally secured, it is my purpose to throw a small quantity of salt among it, in order to render it palatable and nutritious. I this momentous business you shall command every requisite aid, and must duly notify me of every want.
"The lieutenants stationed with you and at St. Clair are to accompany Lieutenant Hartshorn to Fort Jefferson, where they are to continue for the security of the bullock and grass guards at the post. The regular transport of provisions which are now about to commence will furnish frequent opportunities of writing, and, as the horse will make their head-quarters with you, you can at any time employ a party to come on to this post. I expect one hundred mounted riflemen from Kentucky in six or seven days, engaged for three months to ply on the communication to Jefferson.
To which Captain Armstrong replied:
"Fort Hamilton, June 21, 1792.
"Dear General,- Agreeable to the directions contained in your letter of the 11th instant, five of the scythes were sent forward to Major ARMSTRONG, and with the remaining six I commenced work on Monday, and have already cured five cocks of hay, which, in my opinion, is little inferior to timothy. It is so warm on the prairie, that it is cut, cured, and cocked the same day, consequently can lose none of its juices. An additional number of scythes will be necessary, in order to procure the quantity you want. I can find no sand as a substitute for whetstones; perhaps some might be procured among the citizens. One, two, or three, if more can not be had, would be a great relief. The window-glass, iron, and hemp came forward, but none of the other articles wrote for.
"I have allowed the mowers one and a half rations per day, and both them and the hay-makers half a pint of whisky each. This, I hope, will your approbation. I have also promised to use my endeavors to procure them extra wages. As the contract price of whisky is about sixteen shillings per gallon, and this extra liquor can not be considered as part of the ration, would it not be well to furnish it as the salt in the quarter- master's department? I am sure you will conceive that men laboring hard in the hot sun require an extra allowance, and it may be bought here at fifteen shillings cost and carriage. Lieutenant HARTSHORN returned last evening with his command, and will, no doubt; report to you. He is of opinion that there is a camp of Indians not far distant from this, on the west side of the river. I shall employ his company as a covering party to the haymakers, etc., which will make the duty of the infantry lighter- the many objects we have to attend to makes their duty very hard. The want of camp-kettles to cook their meat in is a great inconvenience. Inclosed you have a return for articles we can not well do without. The want of clothing for the men is also subject of complaint. I am told that there are a number of pairs of linen overalls in store head- quarters. I wish you would think proper to send them here, with some shirts, to cover our nakedness. Indeed, I should feel much relieved by a visit from you. Permit me here to suggest the necessity of furnishing grass hooks for the horse, and, indeed, the contractor's men ought to have them also.
"The officers of the Second Regiment contend with me
for rank, and, I believe, are about to make a representation
to the President on the subject. As I filled Captain
MERCER's vacancy, and was myself the bearer of his
commission, and being appointed by a different act of
Congress, I feel no uneasiness with respect to their claims.
But the want of my commission may be some inconvenience.
I addressed General KNOX on this subject in March
last; having received no answer, I fear, from the
multiplicity of business in your office at that first, he
overlooked my request, and have therefore to solicit your
influence with him for a copy of my commission, to support
The tract of land about a mile south of Fort Hamilton, between where the pond was and the Miami River, comprehending five or six hundred acres, was, at the time of which we are writing, a beautiful natural prairie, covered with a luxuriant growth of grass. It was here the grass was cut and hay made.
After Wilkinson's visit the following was sent by Armstrong:
"Dear General,- I feel myself in some measure
relieved from the visit you have paid this post. As the
important duties imposed on my command have come
within your own observation any remarks with respect to
my apprehensions from the enemy become unnecessary.
Every force you may please to put under my command
shall be employed to the utmost advantage my ability
and exertions may be adequate to. Securing the hay appears
to be an object of great attention. Perhaps one or more
public teams may be had at head-quarters. The use of
them here would effect your wish. Fifty pairs of shoes,
if more can not be spared, would be a great relief. Ten
cartridge and ten bayonet belts, also, would enable me to
parade my company in uniform. To serve me in this
instance I am sure would give you pleasure. I well know
they are in store, but perhaps claimed by some officers who
have not men to wear them. Ten men will complete my
company; perhaps you may think proper to increase my
command by sending them forward. The whip-saw I
have received is not calculated for my wants; perhaps a
better one might be procured. The scythes are subject
to be broken, and, some of them being good for naught,
more may be thought necessary. The whip-saw, file, and
whetstones, as soon as they can be had, will serve to
forward the business you have ordered. Two or more non-
commissioned officers would add to the safety of my small
Wilkinson forwarded a horse to Armstrong's care:
"Fort Washington, July 6, 1792.
"Dear Sir,- I have only time to tell you that you must forward by the convoy, if it had not reached you, the inclosed letter, or if it has, by two of your runners, it being of moment. Keep a good look out for 'Poor Jack', or Charley may burn the hay. Adieu.
General Wilkinson writes to Captain Armstrong, dated
"Fort Washington, July 7, 1792.
"I send out to apprise you that this day, about noon, a party of savages fired on a party consisting of two men, a women, and Colonel SPENCER's son, about one and a half miles above this, and on this side of the river. One man was killed, the other wounded, but not mortally, and poor little Spencer carried off a prisoner. I sent out a party, who fell in with their trail in General HARMAR's trace, about six miles from this, and followed it on the path, about two miles farther, when the men failing with fatigue, the sergeant was obliged to return. Master Spencer's trail was upon the path. This is a farther answer to the pacific overtures, and makes me tremble for your hay. I pray you, if possible, to redouble your vigilance, and on Monday morning early Captain PETERS will march with his company and six wagons to your assistance. Send me twenty horses the moment Peter reached you, and I will be with you next day; in the mean time, your cavalry should scout on both sides of the river, and your riflemen be kept constantly in motion."