Review: Russell Mahan, The Kentucky Kidnappings and Death March: The Revolutionary War at Ruddell’s Fort and Martin’s Station, Kindle ed. (West Haven, UT: Historical Enterprises, 2020).

In the summer of 1780, Captain Henry Bird crossed the Ohio River with some 800 Native Americans from various British-allied tribes and two companies of soldiers from Detroit (roughly 50 Canadians and Tories and a mixed group of regulars from the 8th and 47th regiments) to invade Kentucky.  More importantly, he brought two pieces of artillery, a three pounder and a six pounder.  It was one of the largest and most substantial attacks into Kentucky during the American Revolution.  

Bird’s goal was the Falls of the Ohio (today’s Louisville), which was critical to the American war effort on the frontier due to its critical position on the Ohio River.  Bird rendezvoused with the great bulk of the Native Americans at the confluence of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers, (west of today’s Cincinnati) to discover that they had other plans.  Attacking fortified areas was less appealing than raiding small settlements and isolated farms, where the Indians might secure booty and terrorize the locals into abandoning Kentucky.  Constituting the vast majority of the army, the Native Americans won out. 

Continue reading “Review: Russell Mahan, The Kentucky Kidnappings and Death March: The Revolutionary War at Ruddell’s Fort and Martin’s Station, Kindle ed. (West Haven, UT: Historical Enterprises, 2020).”

Norman MacLeod’s Campaign Journal, October 31, 1778

(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.)

This year marked the 240th anniversary of George Rogers Clark’s “conquest of the Illinois country” in modern-day Illinois and Indiana.  During the summer, he led a small force of Virginia militia down the Ohio River and eventually captured the towns of Vincennes in modern-day Indiana as well as Cahokia and Kaskaskia in modern-day Illinois.  The British Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Henry Hamilton, could not abide such American audacity and set out to recapture the town of Vincennes and the British fort that had ostensibly protected it, Fort Sackville.  On his march south from Detroit, he prodded, pleaded, and encouraged Native American tribes to join his force, significantly swelling his numbers for the late-fall offensive.  By October, Hamilton’s army was regularly struggling with low water and ice on the rivers it needed to move supplies while freezing rain, snow, and falling temperatures plagued men on the march.

Continue reading “Norman MacLeod’s Campaign Journal, October 31, 1778”