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OF TWO CAMPAIGNS OF THE FOURTH REGIMENT OF
MICHIGAN AND INDIANA TERRITORIES,
UNDER THE COMMAND OF
COL. JOHN P. BOYD, AND LT. COL. JAMES MILLER
DURING THE YEARS 1811, & 12.
BY ADAM WALKER,
LATE A SOLDIER OF THE 4TH REGIMENT.
PRINTED AT THE SENTINEL PRESS,
By the Author.
Transcriber’s Note: Printer’s inconsistencies in punctuation and hyphenation have been retained. Variant and alternative spellings have been preserved, except for obvious misspellings.
When the Author of the succeeding pages had determined on recording the events and operations of the Regiment to which he belonged, it was far from his intention to give them publicity.—They were noted down for the amusement of his leisure hours and the perusal of his Friends, when he should return from the toils of the Camp and the fatigues of war;—to portray to the view of those Friends the various vicissitudes of fate attendant on the life of a Soldier.—But since his return, many who have perused the manuscript, have expressed their ardent desire to see it published, and to gratify their wishes, he has been induced to submit it to the press.—He indulges the hope that his simple narrative will fall into the hands of none but the candid and liberal, who affect not to despise the humble and unvarnished tale of the Private Soldier.
The 4th Regiment of U.S. Infantry was raised principally in the year 1808—from the five N. England States, viz. Vermont, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode-Island and Connecticut, and consisted of between 8 & 900 men—under the command of Colonel John P. Boyd.—The regiment was not embodied until—
Ap. 29, 1811—When we received orders from Government to rendezvous at the Lazaretto Barracks on the Schuylkill, 5 miles below Philadelphia—Capt. Whitney’s Company of U.S. Riflemen, then stationed at Newport, R.I. was also ordered to join the 4th regiment at this place.
May 24th—The whole regiment (except one Company under Capt. Rannie, which were detained at Marblehead) had arrived, and were immediately formed, consisting of about 600 of as noble fellows as ever trod the tented field; all in good health and fine spirits, and their discipline unrivaled;—nothing worthy of note took place while we remained here, which was but a few days, except the degrading situation in which Capt. Whitney of the Riflemen, had placed himself, while Commanding Officer, by descending to the level of a Musician, and with his own hands bestowing corporeal punishment upon the bare posteriors of two privates of his Company, in the face of the whole regiment on parade. Such conduct in a commander, merited and received the pointed scorn of every officer of the regiment.—The two men, who had heretofore been good soldiers, deserted within two hours after receiving their punishment—and a few days afterwards Capt. Whitney resigned a command he was totally unworthy of, and returned home.—Lieut. A. Hawkins, a fine officer, was afterwards appointed to the command of this Company.—We received our tents, camp, equipage, &c. and Col. Boyd and Lieut. Col. Miller, having arrived to take the command.—On the
3d. June—1811, we commenced our march for Pittsburgh;—Crowds of spectators from the city of Philadelphia came to witness our departure;—the day was extremely warm, and we were almost suffocated with heat and dust.—We marched five miles from the city, and encamped about 4 o’clock,—Many respectable citizens from Philadelphia accompanied us to our encampment.
I omit the particulars of our march through the State of Pennsylvania, as no event transpired, except what falls to the lot of all soldiers on long marches.—The country being extremely rough and mountainous, our shoulders pressed beneath the weight of our cumbrous knapsacks, our feet swollen and blistered, and performing toilsome marches beneath a burning sun, amid clouds of dust, in the warmest season of the year, rendered our situation painful in the extreme, and at times almost insupportable.—A number of desertions took place on this march, in consequence of its having been whispered among the troops, that they were to be sent to New-Orleans,—and it is believed, had not Col. Miller given them to understand that no such thing was intended, one third at least, of the regiment would never have reached Pittsburgh;—however, placing unbounded confidence in the word and honor of Col. Miller, order was restored, and the fears of the men were calmed.
On the 10th June, we arrived at Carlisle, a handsome little town about 120 miles from Philadelphia, where we halted one day, to refresh and rest our wearied limbs.
June 12, we again proceeded on our march, and arrived at the beautiful town of Pittsburgh on the 28th June, 1811.—At Pittsburgh we found excellent quarters, necessaries of all kinds, cheap and plenty;—the inhabitants were kind, generous and hospitable,—they knew how to commiserate, and were happy in relieving the sufferings of the soldier;—while we on our part were grateful for their favors, which we endeavored to merit by treating them with the respect due to good citizens. Our time here passed very agreeably for two or three weeks, at the expiration of which, we received orders to descend the Ohio river to Newport, (Ken.)
July 29th. The regiment embarked on board ten long keel boats; each boat being sufficiently large to contain one Company of men.—With our colors flying and drums beating, we left the shore in regular order, and commenced our passage while the band, attached to the regiment, were chaunting our favorite ditty of Yankee Doodle, amidst the cheers and acclamations of the generous citizens of Pittsburgh, assembled at the place of our embarkation.—After a passage of 4 days, without accident, we arrived at the little town of Marietta, where we had the pleasure of meeting with many of our hardy yankee brethren from N. England.—We tarried here over night, and early next morning we continued on our passage, and on the 8th of August we all safely arrived at Newport, a small village, situated at the mouth of the Licking, which empties into the Ohio, and directly opposite to the town of Cincinnati in the state of Ohio. Here we were to remain until further orders; while Lieut. Hawkins was dispatched to Indiana to inform Governor Harrison of our arrival at Newport and to receive his commands.
The troops at this time were perfectly ignorant of their destination, or the real object our government had in view, in sending us at such a distance to the westward. Many were still fearful that we were to be sent to New-Orleans, and knowing the fate of former troops, that had been stationed there, who had been swept off by sickness, it created much uneasiness in the minds of New-England troops; and some few desertions took place.—We experienced some very warm sultry weather, and considerable fear was entertained by Col. Boyd for the health of the troops.—Capt. Welsh, an amiable officer, died and was buried with Masonic and Military honors.
Aug. 28th. Lieut. Hawkins returned with orders from Governor Harrison for the regiment to proceed with all possible dispatch to Vincennes, in the Indiana Territory, where the conduct of the Indians on the Wabash had become very alarming. The Governor had previously been authorised to employ the 4th regiment in his service, should circumstances make it necessary.
On the 31st. August we left Newport, and proceeded down the Ohio, without difficulty, until we arrived at the falls or rapids, when we were obliged to disembark and have the baggage taken from the boats and conveyed round by land to the foot of the rapids, while skilful pilots navigated our boats through this difficult passage.
Governor Harrison was at this place, and accompanied by Col. Boyd, proceeded across the country to Vincennes, leaving the command of the regiment to Lt. Col. Miller, to continue their passage by water.
Sept. 4th. Early in the morning we left the Rapids, and on the 9th, without any occurrence worthy of note, we arrived at the mouth of the Wabash, a distance of 1022 miles from Pittsburgh; but the most disagreeable and difficult task in our navigation was yet to be performed. We had now 160 miles to ascend the Wabash, the current of which is very rapid, and at this season of the year, was quite low and much interrupted by rocks and sand-bars. We were daily obliged to wade the river, and haul the boats after us over the rapids, which occasioned many of our men, on our arrival at Vincennes, to be disordered with that painful disease, the fever and ague. Every precaution possible was taken by the humane and generous Col. Miller to preserve the health of the regiment; himself waded the river, as well as every other officer; in many instances performing the duties of the common soldier, and assisting them to haul up the boats. At the close of each day we brought the boats to a convenient landing; placed our guard for the night, while those who had obtained an evening’s respite from the toils of this tedious and laborious passage, were suffered to regale their spirits over an extra glass of whiskey, bestowed by the liberality of our Commander. The utmost harmony and good humor prevailed—no contention—no murmuring—all cheerfully performed their duty.
Sept. 19, 1811. After a fatiguing passage of ten days through an unsettled country, which presented nothing to the view but a wild and dreary wilderness, our hearts were cheered by a prospect of the town of Vincennes. It was dark before we landed, and by the noise and confusion about us, we concluded the town to be overrun with troops. A rabble soon gathered about the boats and assisted in hauling them ashore;—their whooping and yells, and their appearance caused us to doubt whether we had not actually landed among the savages themselves. Many of these militia spoke the French language;—their dress was a short frock of Deer-skin, a belt around their bodies, with a tomahawk and scalping knife attached to it, and were nearly as destitute of discipline as the savages themselves. The militia from Kentucky, and a few companies of Indiana were decent soldiers; yet the large knife and hatchet which constituted a part of their equipment, with their dress, gave them rather a savage appearance. The hatchet, however, was found to be a very useful article on the march—they had no tents; but with their hatchets would in a short time form themselves a secure shelter from the weather, on encamping at night.
The Dragoons, commanded by Major Daviess, consisting of about 120 men, were well mounted and handsomely equipped, and composed of some of the most respectable citizens from Kentucky and Indiana.
The Indians who had been lurking about the town for a number of days suddenly disappeared, and on the
27th September.—The army was embodied, consisting of between ten and twelve hundred men; and under the immediate command of Gov. Harrison, we took up our line of march from Vincennes, being well furnished with arms, ammunition and provision, advancing with but little variation in the following
In this manner we proceeded on our march by the taps of the drums at the head of each column, to prevent the lines distancing each other too far. It was customary each morning, an hour before day-break, to rouse the troops from their slumbers, with three solitary taps of the drums of each line, when they turned out and formed in front of their tents, which was the line of battle in case of an attack; in this manner they stood to their arms until the beating of the Reveille.—This precaution was deemed a very necessary one, knowing it to be the time that the Indians generally choose to make their attacks, as the troops sleep more sound, and the sentinels become wearied and sleepy, and consequently less vigilant.
Oct. 3. After a march of six days, through an uninhabited country, we arrived at a place on the banks of the Wabash, called Battelle des Illinois. Here we formed our encampment with the intention of tarrying a few weeks, to ascertain more correctly the disposition of the Prophet and his warriors. A Fort and Block-Houses were ordered to be built at this place, which gave sufficient employment to the militia.—