(An occasional series highlighting British Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton’s march south from Detroit to recapture Vincennes (Indiana) on its 240th anniversary through the entries in Captain Norman MacLeod’s diary.)
Lieutenant Governor Hamilton’s army continued its progress towards Vincennes, but it was slow and backbreaking work. Building dams to raise river levels did not work everywhere and his army often had to resort to the simple and monotonous task of unloading its vessels, dragging them through the shallows, carrying supplies forward, and then reloading boats to continue making progress the next day. MacLeod’s diary entries for November 7th and 14th highlight the sheer fatigue involved in moving supplies on the frontier.
November 7, 1778
“This morning embarked at Seven and arrived at Twelve o’Clock, made little halt then Proceeded and enterd the Shallow Country where the water was Very Shallow and the River full of large Stons and Rocks. Every man was in the water draging till Seven in the evening whene we was obligd to Encamp, hardly two Boats together and the men so fatigued that they were Scarce able to mount guard–“
November 8, 1778
“This morning we began to drag the Boats after taking half the loading out and with difficulty arrived at the Petite Roche at ten tho not above a mile from us in the Morning whene we Sett off. Captain Lamothe with about Twelve Boats Could not get forward till every ounce of the loading was taken out.”
November 14, 1778
“The Rifts having Very little water in them we was obligd to drag and the Gun Boat being much heaveyer than any of the other Boats Ocationd the men belonging to it, to be almost continually in the water which was Very cold acompanied with a hard northwestwind obliged the men to make many halts in order to warme them.”
William A. Evans and Elizabeth S. Sklar, eds., Detroit to Fort Sackville, 1778-1779: The Journal of Norman MacLeod, (Detroit: Friends of the Detroit Public Library/Wayne State University Press, 1978), 76-78.