Pages 93 - 98


Next page | Butler County Ohio | Cyclopeadia index page | Previous page

The second war with Great Britain was a very important one to us. Without saying, as do some historians, that England had never given up her hopes of forcing us to come back until after 1815, it is clear that there were many questions upon which, if successful, she could have ordered matters to suit herself.  Her fleets could have filled the Northern lakes; Oregon would have been hers, as well as a strip of more than one hundred miles wide running out to the Rocky Mountains ; Maine would have lost her northern frontier, and the Indians would have threatened us for the next quarter of a century.  Here, in Butler County, a success to Great Britain meant an army marching down to Cincinnati, and devastation by the Indians all through the western part of Ohio.  Happily, we were victorious. 

The declaration of war was immediately followed by the raising of troops in Cincinnati, Dayton, Franklin, Middletown, and Hamilton.  There were at least eight companies from this county, or chiefly from this county, but it is impossible to give a list of them.  Their muster-rolls are decaying in some garret, or have before this been used as kindling.  The customary term of enlistment was for six months, and several of the later companies embraced men who had been out before.  The disastrous experience of the American army at the beginning of the Revolutionary War had not taught our authorities its rightful lesson, and we had again, at the opening of the Rebellion, to be shown that troops enlisted for short periods are of very little value. When some slight experience is gained, their term is up, and it is time to go home again.

The best known of those who went out from this county was Joel COLLINS, who had been a soldier in the Indian wars, and was then settled in the township of Oxford.

In organizing the militia of the county, previous to the commencement of hostilities with England, two rifle companies were ordered to be made up by voluntary enrollment, one out of the militia residing on the east, the other out of the militia residing on the west side of the Miami River.  COLLINS himself enrolled as a private soldier under Captain William ROBESON, who had been elected to command the company on the west side of the river.  Captain ROBESON was, however, shortly after promoted to a brigade-major, and the company then chose his lieutenant, John TAYLOR, to be their commander.  He died in 1811, and Joel COLLINS was elected his successor.  His commission bore date the16th of May, 1812, giving him the rank of captain of a rifle regiment; he was attached to the first battalion, second regiment, third brigade, and first division of Ohio militia.  In the Spring of the year 1812, General James FINDLAY, who had command of the third brigade, in preparing to join HULL’S army, sent an order for the two rifle companies in Butler County to parade in the town of Hamilton on a given day, and the company which should have the largest number of volunteers on the ground would have the honor of being taken into the service and attached to FINDLAY’S regiment. General FINDLAY acted in the capacity of a colonel in the expedition, under General HULL.  Unfortunately for Captain COLLINS, as he thought at the time, many of his men were prevented from appearing, being unable to cross the streams of water, that day flooded by the torrents of rain which had fallen the night previous, and Captain John ROBINSON, who resided on Dick’s Creek, Lemon Township, who commanded the other rifle company, received the appointment.  Thus a kind providence {though much against his own will} permitted Captain COLLINS and his men to escape the disaster by which the first army of the North was overtaken.  They, however, held themselves in readiness for the next call.  It was determined, in the course of the Summer, to furnish the army on the northern frontier with an additional number of troops from Ohio.  The counties of Hamilton, Clermont, Warren, and Butler were to make up one battalion, the counties farther north to make up another, the two to compose one regiment.  Early in August he received orders to march with his company to the town of Lebanon, in the county of Warren, the place appointed for the rendezvous of the troops from the counties first named.  Accordingly he gave notice to the men composing the rifle company to parade in Hamilton on the tenth day of August, 1812, and a company ninety-two strong, including officers, was on the ground that day, a muster-roll of which was then made out, and was in his possession for many years.  It is as follows :


Captain  -----------  Joel COLLINS.
Lieutenant  -------   Ephraim GARD.
Ensign  ------------  John HALL.
Sergeants  --------   Jeremiah GARD, David SUTTON, Joseph HAINES, John PRICE.
Corporals  --------   Zachariah PARRISH, Joseph DOUGLAS, George SUTTON, Jacob GARD.
Musicians  --------   Hays TAYLOR, Henry THOMPSON.


Samuel GRAY, Silas OWENS,John HARPER,
William SMITH,Samuel STEPHENS,William SUTTON,
Isaac WATSON,George BOYERS,Andrew WOODS,
Andrew SMITH,Samuel STEEL,Archibald STARKS,
Benjamin PINES,Samuel SIMPSON,Eber WATSON,
William RAINY, Samuel MALONE, John DENEEN,
Andrew LINTNER,Richard SCOTT,Jacob KERR,
Robert TAYLOR, David SMITH,Joseph WICKARD,
Alexander STEELE, John BROWN,Joseph WELLIVER,
Paymaster TORRENCE wrote to Major-general John S. GANO, concerning them, as follows:

FORT HAMILTON, August 17, 1812
SIR : ---- Captain COLLINS has agreed to meet the detachment at Lebanon, as you wished.  I promised to them payment of his company about ten o'clock.  He has really one of the finest companies I ever saw ;  somewhere about one hundred strong.  They are as fine, cheerful a set of fellows as can be well placed in exercise. Whatever is offered to them, they are ready and willing to march when and where they are wanted.  I expect to be in Cincinnati to-morrow.  They have some tents, and are preparing more.  They expect orders from you for marching.
                  I am, sir, respectfully,
                     "Your obedient servant,
                        "George P. TORRENCE".

They then marched to Lebanon, where they were joined by three other rifle companies, under Captains, McMEANS, LEONARD, and HINKLE, a company of artillery, under Captain Joseph JENKINSON and a company of light infantry, under Captain Matthias CORWIN.  The commissioned officers met in the evening, and elected Captain Joseph JENKINSON major.  The command of his company devolved on Lieutenant GIBSON.  Thus organized, the next day took up their line of march for Urbana, making quite a formidable appearance.  But before reaching the town of Dayton, they received the news that HULL and the whole of his army were made prisoners by the enemy, and that British, with their Indian allies,were rapidly advancing upon the frontier settlement of the State.

At Urbana they were joined by the second battalion, under the command of Major James GALLOWAY, of Xenia.  The commissioned officers of these battalions elected David SUTTON, of Warren County, to command the regiment.  Colonel SUTTON had raised a company, and gone out with the first army as a captain, had been sent into the interior by General HULL, for the purpose of transacting some business connected with the army, and was with JENKINSON’s battalion on his return, when they received the intelligence of HULL’s surrender.

General HULL who was an old and esteemed officer of the Revolutionary army, was in command of the forces on our frontier.  Being without proper support, and without provisions, he surrendered his troops to the British, on the 16th of August, 1812.  A storm was immediately raised about his head, he was court-martialed, and his countrymen mentioned his name, for years, with only less detestation than that of Benedict ARNOLD.  So strong was the feeling of patriotism which pervaded the country at that time, that it appeared as if every able-bodied man, whether old or young, who could possibly raise a horse and gun, was on the move for the frontier, and in a few days a large and promiscuous multitude were collected in and about Urbana.  But they were without leaders, and knew not what to do.  At length Governor MEIGS and General TUPPER, with other leading characters, appeared on the ground with the agreeable news that General HARRISON was coming on to take command.  HARRISON was then governor of Indiana Territory, and had been invited to Frankfort, Kentucky, by Charles SCOTT, governor of Kentucky, to consult on the subject of defending the northwestern frontier.  Governor SCOTT, on the 25th of August, 1812, appointed William Henry HARRISON major-general of the Kentucky militia, which appointment he accepted.  This measure, although complained of by some at the time, appears to have answered a good purpose.  The supposed defection of General HULL had implanted a spirit of suspicion and distrust in the minds of both officers and men, and some of them were not slow to express themselves unwilling to enter the service under the command of any but a man of acknowledged patriotism, and who possessed at least some experience in the art of war.  The year before he had gained a brilliant victory over the Indians at the battle of Tippecanoe.  The appointment of General HARRISON, therefore, seemed to be a measure called for by the public feeling at the time.  On the seventeenth day of September following the President of the United States appointed General HARRISON commander-in-chief of all the troops inthe Northwestern Territory.

Governor MEIGS gave orders for the troops to spread out for the protection of the frontier.  It was deemed proper, in making arrangements, to divide Colonel SUTTON’S regiment ; and Major JENKINSON,with his battalion, was ordered to file to the left, by way of Troy and Piqua, in the direction of Fort Wayne, while the colonel, with GALLOWAY’s battalion, joined the troops destined to form the center line, and took up his line of march in the direction of Fort McArthur.  Soon after JENKINSON’s arrival at Piqua, General HARRISON, with two or three regiments from Kentucky, appeared on the left wing, and assumed the command.

Major JENKINSON called a meeting of his captains, soon after, and informed them that he had orders to send one company as an escort of a train of wagons on their way to Fort Wayne ; one company to act as road-cutters, to open a wagon-way along Wayne’s old trace from Fort Loramies to St. Mary’s ; and another company to relieve a company of militia from Ohio, stationed at Loramies ; the remainder of the battalion to remain at Piqua for further orders.  Major JENKINSON permitted the captains to decide the matter by lot, as to what company should be assigned to each particular duty.  Tickets were accordingly prepared, and placed in a hat.  On drawing them out, it fell to the lot of Captain COLLINS and his company to open the road.  They performed that duty in about eight days, and were directed to remain in their last encampment.  One night, about ten o'clock, while they were lying at that place, Lieutenant Nathaniel MCCLAIN came to them, as an express, to inform them that Captain CORWIN’S company, which was acting as an escort to twenty wagons loaded with valuable supplies for the army, was encamped about three miles in their rear ; that there was good reason to apprehend that a party of Indians intended to make an attack on the escort before morning ; and that Captain CORWIN wished Captain COLLINS to re-enforce him with as many men as he could spare.  Captain COLLINS soon had his company on parade, and was obliged to make a detail of men to remain and keep their own camp, for every man wanted to go to the relief of his comrades.  Captain COLLINS, with more than half   his company, moved off in quick time.  Lieutenant McCLAIN led the way, he being mounted on a horse furnished him by the wagoners.  When Captain COLLINS arrived at the camp, Captain CORWIN was himself going the rounds, relieving his guards, at that part of the line of sentinels which they first reached.  He informed Captain COLLINS that a considerable number of the Wabash Indians {who pretended friendship for the whites} had visited the settlements in the neighborhood of Piqua, with the expectation that the inhabitants would afford them maintenance through the Winter.  But our army needed all the spare provisions, and the people, after these Indians had been among them a few weeks, became tired of them, and insisted on their returning to their own homes.  They had left in rather an angry mood, two or three days before the departure of the wagons for Fort Wayne.  It was also reported to him, by some of his men, that Indians had been seen in the dusk of the evening near his encampment, apparently in the act of spying out his position.  Besides, it seemed reasonable to suppose that the contents of the wagons afforded a strong temptation to a band of starving savages, who, they had every reason to believe, were within striking distance, and who knew that they were loaded with the provisions they so much needed.  He had thrown out a guard sufficiently strong to form a close chain of sentinels entirely around his encampment, at least one hundred and fifty paces in advance of the wagons, It was decided that out of the re-enforcements now arrived, a second chain of sentinels should be made fifty paces in advance of the first line.  Accordingly, Captain COLLINS proceeded to place at that distance one of his men opposite to each space between the sentinels of the first chain.  While in the performance of that duty, COLLINS heard the snap of a musket, nearly in the direction he was going.

"Hail, sentinel !"
"Who comes there?"
"Captain COLLINS, on his way placing out another line of sentinels."
"Good Lord ! If my musket had not missed fire, you would have been a dead man."
"Call the sergeant to go round and let the guards know of this arrangement."

Here was an error committed for want of thought.  A notice of the plan adopted should have been given to the sentinels before its execution commenced.  Mr COLLINS, however, said he could not well censure Captain CORWIN for not performing that duty or making the suggestion, as he claimed to outrank him because of his age and experience, though it was a military blunder that had nearly cost him his life. 

The encampment was not disturbed by the Indians during the night, but in the opinion of those experienced in Indian warfare, it was believed that the care and vigilance of the escort in guarding against a surprise prevented them from making the attempt.  It will be recollected that these same Indians shortly afterward became so hostile and took such a decided part against the whites that a regiment of six hundred men, composed of a few regulars, a volunteer company from Pennsylvania, and some militia from Kentucky and Ohio, were sent out under the command of Colonel CAMPBELL of the regular army, to drive them from their towns and destroy their habitations.  But before the colonel could finish, the Indians collected in great numbers, and gave him battle.  Colonel CAMPBELL and his men, however, being on their guard and well prepared, succeeded in repulsing the enemy, with the loss, on his part, of some fifty men in killed and wounded.

There are many well known instances where the Indians have abandoned a meditated attack because they could not find the white people off their guard, and therefore could not take them by surprise.  Now, if Colonel CAMPBELL of the standing army has justly received the applause of his countrymen for saving himself with the loss of fifty men killed and wounded, there can be no impropriety in thinking well of a young militia captain who, by his own care and the vigilance of his men, saved all without losing any thing. 

The hostile Indians on the Wabash and Illinois having thrown themselves under the protection of the British, General WINCHESTER left a small garrison for the protection of Fort Wayne, and moved with his army down the Maumee.  In the mean time, General HARRISON had received his commission of major-general in the regular army of the United States.  He had ordered Colonel William JENNINGS to join General WINCHESTER at old Fort Defiance, at the mouth of the Auglaize River, with a large drove of beef cattle and other army supplies.  Colonel JENNINGS was advised of the probable time at which General WINCHESTER would arrive at Defiance, and was ordered not to advance nearer than ten or fifteen miles without having certain intelligence that the army had arrived there.  Our spies, however, discovered that old Fort Defiance, at which they were to form this junction, was occupied by the British and Indians, at least three days after the time set for General WINCHESTER’S arrival there.  This intelligence was immediately communicated by express to the commanding general at St. Mary’s who ordered that the troops at that place should forth with be supplied with three days rations, and an additional supply of gun-flints and ammunition ; and by three o'clock in the afternoon of the same day, Colonels POAGE’S and BARBEE’S regiments of Kentucky volunteers, Colonel SIMRALL’S regiment of dragoons, GARRARD’S troop of horse {also from Kentucky},and Captain COLLINS’s company of riflemen, from Butler County, Ohio, amounting in all to upward of two thousand men, were put in motion on a forced march, to ascertain what had become a General WINCHESTER ; the light horse in front, Captain COLLINS’S company of riflemen forming the rear-guard.  The troops marched on at a quick step in this order until it became dark, when a halt was called.  General HARRISON, in riding round to form the hollow square, ordered Captain COLLINS to fill up with his company the space in the rear line, between the two Kentucky regiments of infantry, and to throw out a guard sufficiently strong to protect his own front.  At the break of day next morning, the bugles sounded, and they were again in motion.  Shortly after sunrise it commenced raining, and continued to rain hard all day.  But they pushed on, without making a single halt, until four o'clock in the afternoon, when they arrived at JENNING’s encampment, at the mouth of the Little Auglaize.  The men, being burdened with heavy packs and drenched in the rain, had a most fatiguing and disagreeable day’s travel.  Toward evening it was observed that numbers of the Kentuckians were lying by the way-side, entirely exhausted and unable to proceed.  Many of them were young gentlemen who had been delicately raised, and were unaccustomed to hardships of this kind.  Captain COLLINS, and Ensign John HALL of his company {being originally from Kentucky}, were rather disposed to sympathize with them ; Lieutenant Ephraim GARD, of the company, when he came to where any number of them had given out, would sing out at the top of his voice, “Hook up my rugged sons of Ohio, these brave Kentuckians will soon be able to relieve the rear guard.”  As further provocation, some of the riflemen would spring up and strike their heels together, as they passed.  General HARRISON was informed by an express, which met him at Fort Jennings, that the enemy had retreated, and that General WINCHESTER, with his army, now occupied the ground at Fort Defiance.  He thereupon gave orders that the regiments of Colonels BARBEE and POAGE, and Captain COLLINS’S company of riflemen, should remain at Fort Jennings until further orders, and he continued his march for Defiance.  On the next morning, Colonel JENNINGS {with whom Captain COLLINS had been acquainted in Kentucky, and to whom he had reported himself on the previous evening} came to where Captain COLLINS’S company were encamped, and inquired for some men called mounted rangers {a small company of whom had been for some time in the employ of the army as spies}, stating that General HARRISON had informed him that some of those men were in the rear, and would be up that night ; and left orders that one or two of them should be sent with two friendly Indians to ascertain whether the enemy in retreating had not taken the direction of Fort Wayne.  Captain COLLINS was unable to give him any account of the men inquired for.  Colonel JENNINGS appeared to be much disappointed, and expressed his fears that the general would not receive the needful information in time.  Captain COLLINS told him that rather than that should be the case. If the general had left no orders for the disposition of his company, he would , if furnished with a good horse, go with the Indians, make the examination, and report to the general that night.  This offer was readily accepted.

A horse and saddle were soon provided for Captain COLLINS.  As soon as he was mounted Colonel JENNINGS brought to him the two Indians and James CONNER, an interpreter.  The Indian guides were young men, said to be brothers, belonging to a tribe residing on the Auglaize River.  They were directed to pilot Captain COLLINS to a point on the Maunee River, six miles above old Fort Defiance.  One of the guides, through the interpreter, requested Captain COLLINS to remove a handkerchief which he had tied on his head, and by all means to keep his hat on ; for there was danger of their being taken as belonging to the enemy and fired on by the Kentuckians.  Captain COLLINS took the hint, and complied with the request.  The Colonel ordered him to satisfy himself by a careful examination whether the enemy had or had not evaded the army of General WINCHESTER, and were still on their march for Fort Wayne.  They then started on their journey, and after they were clear of the encampment the elder of the two guides gave Captain COLLINS to understand that, while they would be careful to keep the proper course, the other man and COLLINS were to keep a good lookout in every direction, intimating that there was danger of their falling in with the enemy.  By pushing their horses as fast as they were able to go, they arrived at Maumee River, above Defiance, a short time before night, and by the time they had made an examination sufficient to satisfy themselves that the enemy had not taken that direction, it commenced getting dark.  Captain COLLINS being much fatigued, and observing that the horses needed rest and time to feed, proposed that they should encamp for the night ; but the guides insisted that they could find the main army that night, and by signs gave him to understand that it was not more than four miles distant.   Accordingly, they hurried on, and about nine o'clock came in hearing of horse-bells, upon which the guides halted ; and when Captain COLLINS came up, one of them, placing his mouth close to COLLINS’S ear, said , in a low voice :
"Hallison, Hallison."
" Yes, yes," COLLINS replied, "General HARRISON is here ; come on ; " and took his position in front of the guides.  It was so dark that they were unable to see each other.  They, however, soon came to a piece of rising ground which brought them in full view of the fires of the encampment, which extended down the river as far as they could see.  When they came to where they supposed they were near the chain of sentinels, the Indians commenced hurrying their horses by a peculiar kind of language, mixed with coughing and whistling, sufficiently loud to apprise the guards of their approach.  In a short time they were hailed by a sentinel, not more than twenty paces in advance of them.

"Who comes there ? "
"Two friendly Indians and a white man who have been out spying by order of General HARRISON. Can we pass ? "
"Well, I suppose you may go along."

In the same manner they hailed at the guard-fire, and were permitted to pass into the encampment.  This want of vigilance grew out of the necessity there was for permitting the horsemen to pass out and return through the chain of sentinels, for the purpose of procuring grass for their horses.  At length they came to where they heard quite an animated and apparently warm conversation, which seemed to be going on in a marquee near the center of the encampment.  Among the voices engaged Captain COLLINS readily recognized that of the commanding general ; upon which he dismounted, leaving his horse in the care of the guides.

On General HARRISON coming out, Captain COLLINS made himself and his business known to him.  General HARRISON expressed some surprise at seeing him there, and inquired what he had done with his company.  To which Captain COLLINS gave an explanation, and was about to report the discoveries made by him as a spy, when General HARRISON interrupted him by saying that the enemy had left the neighborhood and retreated down the river some five or six days before.  At the request of General HARRISON, Captain COLLINS went with him to his marquee.

The next morning Captain COLLINS was ordered by General HARRISON to retrace his steps to Fort Jennings, take command of his company, and return to St. Mary’s, where they went into Winter quarters and remained until their term of service expired, in March, 1813, when they were discharged and returned to their homes.  While Captain COLLINS and his company remained at St. Mary’s some of the officers in command of the Kentucky troops, who were continually passing and repassing, stated to a part of his company, who were on detached duty, that they knew Captain COLLINS from a boy, and that if ever he came in contact with the enemy they would find him to be “ a  fighting man. “