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distracted. These facts have not been made sufficiently prominent, by those who have commented upon the services and sufferings of the soldiers and the first settlers in the west; nor considered, with the attention they deserve, in connexion with the rapid improvement of our country, and the vigorous growth of our institutions. The pioneers first penetrated into the western forests, during the stormy period of the revolution, when our infant nation was struggling in the grasp of a powerful antagonist, and gasping for existence. At a period a little later, the government was unsettled and powerless. The patriots of the revolution, had willed that we should be free; but it required many years, and much fierce contention, to determine the precise character and extent of the freedom for which they had successfully fought. Parties, equally adverse to rational liberty, which advocated the high-toned principles of aristocracy on the one hand, and the ferocious dogmas of unlicensed democracy on the other, were engaged in controversy, and struggling for the ascendency. By one or the other, almost every national institution, and every branch of the political economy of the country, was denounced and sought to be prostrated; and the government, unwilling to expend its limited resources upon an unpopular or an evanescent institution, was uncertain what institution to foster, and which to leave to its fate.
The army was left to sustain itself - miserably paid, wretchedly clad, badly supplied, and carelessly governed; its honor was supported alone by the patriotism and gallantry of those who composed it.
At the same moment, when the navy was withering under the hostility of the government and the indifference of the people, the army was sinking under the effects of popular fury and executive coldness.
Under such circumstances, troops were raised for the defence of the western frontiers. They were not authorized by congress without opposition. There were some who objected to the prosecution of any tramontane wars, because they doubted the expediency of attempting to extend the territorial limits of the United States beyond the Alleghanies. Some affected to doubt the right of congress to acquire new territories, not embraced within the actual boundaries of the original states of the confederacy; and some, consulting a timid prudence, foresaw in any attempt to possess the broad lands of the west, by military occupancy, a series of bloody and expensive wars with the British, the Spaniards, and the countless hordes of fierce aborigines, who would be incited and supplied by both those powers; while none knew, and few imagined, even in the wildest dreams of speculation, the width, the fertility, the resources, the inexhaustible treasures of national wealth, and the boundless field for individual enterprise, which lay concealed in silent splendor, amid the shadows of the western forests. The troops, therefore, who were sent to the west, were not supported by the enthusiasm of national pride; neither the hopes of the people, nor the steady confidence of the government, stimulated their ambition, or supported them in the patient endurance of fatigue and danger. The pride of individual character, and the sense of military duty, may do much to sustain men under the pressure of danger; but brilliant results have seldom attended any military enterprise, which did not enlist the sympathies of the people, and hold out the bright rewards of fame.
It should also be recollected, that while the Indians possessed greater physical and numerical strength, more ardor and confidence than at present, with the same military knowledge and discipline which they now exhibit, the tactics of European warfare were in a state infinitely inferior to that in which we see them. They had not the advantage of any of those countless improvements in the mechanic arts, which have given such completeness and finish to the weapons and equipment of the modern soldier. Their movements were heavy, complicated, and ill adapted to partisan warfare. The simplicity, the rapidity of evolution, and the concentration of force, which the genius of Napoleon, and of the galaxy of brilliant men by whom he was surrounded, introduced into military operations, were then unknown. In the comparison, therefore, between the savage and the civilized warrior, the Indian occupied a higher ground at that period than at the present time; he has deteriorated, while we have advanced.
A mistaken opinion was long entertained of the prowess, as well as of the military capacity of the Indian warrior. A variety of circumstances had contributed to invest the red men with higher attributes than they really possessed, to give them a repute to which they were not entitled, and to throw a gratuitous terror around them, which caused the
courage of the disciplined soldier to sink into a mysterious dread as he penetrated into the wilderness, and the blood to forsake his cheek, when he heard the terrific sound of the war whoop. It was difficult to overcome this panic. The dreadful cruelties of the Indians, their butchery of the helpless, their torture of the prisoner, the cunning with which they sometimes entrapped their enemies, and the fury with which they rushed upon an unprepared or inferior enemy, all contributed to produce an awe among the
, soldiery, which was not easily removed. A few successes on the part of the savages, strengthened the belief in their superiority; and there has been more than one period in our history, when they gained advantages, from the panic created by ignorance of their force and their character.
In addition to all the other unpropitious circumstances to which we have adverted, was that of being obliged to operate in a wilderness, without magazines, without any depots of supplies, and through which it was difficult to transport the baggage and munitions which were absolutely indispensable. Entirely cut off from the settled parts of the country, an army acting in the west at that time, could look for no support in any emergency. What they
. lost in battle could not be supplied by reinforcement; if their provisions or ammunition became destroyed by accident, or diminished by capture, the deficiency was irreparable. Months must roll away, before the government could be advised of any disaster, of any change of plan, or other vicissitude which might render aid or advice desirable.
These remarks occur forcibly to our minds, when we contemplate the events of the disastrous campaign of St. Clair, and reflect upon the odium incurred by a deserving patriot, and the blight which fell upon a brilliant character, in consequence of a single military miscarriage. Neither the capacity courage
of St. Clair admit of doubt. He was a soldier of spotless reputation. His talents were commanding and his experience great. The force placed under his command, was larger than any that had previously acted against the Indians in this region, and some of the officers under him were gentlemen of high reputation. The object of the campaign, was the destruction of the Indian towns upon the Miamies; a purpose, which we have seen, had more than once been effected by small bodies of men, under less distinguished leaders. The army, consisting of about fourteen hundred effective troops, moved from Fort Washington, in September, 1791, and seems to have been conducted with abundant caution. Two forts were erected by the army, as it proceeded, about forty miles from each other, as places of deposit, and resting points for the security of convoys which might follow the troops, and for the safety of the army itself in case of disaster. The march was slow and laborious; delayed by the opening of a road, and by the adoption of measures of abundant precaution. Two months were occupied in tardy marches, enlivened only by occasional skirmishes with the enemy. The campaigns of Clarke and St. Clair, afford, by contrast, admirable illustrations of the different modes of warfare adopted against the Indians,