Henry Hamilton’s Journal

Henry Hamilton’s Journal
Hamilton’s Journal is taken from Henry Hamilton and George Rogers
Clark in the American Revolution with The Unpublished Journal of
Lieut. Gov. Henry Hamilton, edited by John D. Barnhart and published
by R. E. Banta, Crawfordsville, Indiana, 1951.
Clark Recaptures Vincennes, February 22, to March 5, 1779
A Prisoner of War, March 8 to June 16, 1779.

8tn. The Oak Boat in which we had brought a Brass six with ammunition
&c. was allotted to us, we had rowed her with 14 Oars, but they
concluded such stout fellows as we, could row her against the current
of the Ohio with 7– so at length on the 8th March we took leave of
our poor fellow Soldiers who had tears in their eyes some of the
wounded got to the water side to bid us farewell, and Colonel Clarke
who generosity should not pass unnoticed when he had seen our Pork and
flour embarked, and we were ready to push off asked us aloud if we
wanted anything– We fell down the stream and encamped three leagues
below white River, the current very swift–
9th. continued our route & encamped at l’hyvernement de Bonepart, at
this place the little attention of our guard was such as to give some
among us an idea of seizing their arms in the night and getting down
to the Natchez, but we were checked by thinking what would be the fate
of those we left behind–
10th. As we approached the Ohio we conceived that river to be
amazingly raised as the waters of the Ouabache were backed for at
least three miles before we reached the mouth– At half past three in
the afternoon we got into the Ohio, & rowed up the stream 9 miles– By
the driftwood lodged in the trees we perceived the waters had been 12
feet higher than at present, tho’ now 18 feet above the steep banks of
Ohio–There was no sight of land, and as far as the sight could extend
a violent current swept thro’ the wood, so night coming on we made our
boat fast to a tree, and lay as well as we could contrive which was
not very conveniently as it rained most part of the night, and our
Tarpaulin was rather scanty– our bodies were miserably cramped being
so crowded, & one of our party in a blankett tyed in form of a
harmmaque one end to a bough of a tree, the other to the boats mast–
11, 12, 13th. rowed up against stream & encamped, tho ill at our ease
everything being wet and the ground little better than a swamp
14th we set off and not having got terre firma we lay again in our
boat a little above green river– (258)
15th. fair wind, got about 30 miles against stream & encamped
16th The current exceeding strong, we worked hard & could make but 9
miles all day–encamped–
17th Our work had made us so keen, & the weather being still very cold
it will not appear surprizing that this day our provision was entirely
expended– Our Guardians sent out some hunters to procure us Buffaloe,
in which they succeeded–
18, 19, 20th. nothing remarkable happend– we were a good deal impeded
by the large rafts of driftwood, brought down by this extraordinary
flood which was occasiond by a general thaw of the Snow in the upper
country accompanyed with a heavy rain– We are told that the banks of
the Ohio are subject to inundations from its conflux with the
Mississipi to the distance of 300 miles upwards, so that the settling
of tnat country is not likely to take place in many centuries–
21st. Rain– 22d. no. ex– (259) 23d Snow, lay by– 24th. passed the
25th. contrary wind we could advance but 7 miles– 26th. nothing
27th. I landed with Major Hay and Mr. Bellefeuille on the east side of
the river to get a view of the ravages occasioned by a Whirlwind or
Hurricane– We had some difficuty in scrambling to the top of the
cliff, great craggs and large trees tumbled together in confusion
obliging us sometimes to creep and sometirnes to climb– when we got
to the top we saw the progress of this vein of wind which was in a
straight line across the River, and thro the wood which was mowed down
at about 20 or 25 feet from the ground, the vista open’d being as
regular as if laid down by a line–
28th. rain–
29th. Captain Harrod the officer commanding the fort and settlement at
the falls came down in a boat of 18 oars, shortly after which we
encamped a little above salt River– (260)
30th. We proceeded with our new guide to the falls– the River at the
falls may be about 800 yards across and divided in the middle by an
Island on which there had been a fort, which was at that time deserted
from the uncommon rise of the waters, which the people here told us
had been above 40 feet higher than the usual level–
We were put into a log house, and received the compliments of the
people on our arrival, expressed by discharging their pieces almost
all day long, this joy of theirs at our capture made us recollect what
C.C. (261) had told us, that we should run the risq. of our lives in
passing the Frontier–
31st. We procured some bread for our ensuing march, for the baking of
which I was obliged to give the lady baker my quilt– as to provision,
our hunters were to find it on the route if they could–
Two horses were all that we could get to hire so we prepared to set
off the next day, not in the best humor imaginable–
The people here had not got intelligence of our having taken Fort
Sackville, till the day before we were brought Prisoners to the falls,
so well had the Indian parties scoured the country–
April 1st. We set off from the falls about 11 a m. without a single
days provision furnished by our captors, two horses were with
difficulty procured for hire, so that we were obliged to carry our
packs, which indeed were not very heavy, A Bearskin and blankett being
the common burthen, I the Chief, had a small portmanteau and a box of
folio size (that is this folio) in which I carried a few papers–
Those of any moment (thinking I might be searched unexpectedly) I had
kept copies of, and carried in an inner pockett of my waistcoat– we
got some bread baked & purchased a small quantity of Indian corn of
the settlers at the falls–
set off about 11 o’Clock a m. marched 10 miles–
2d. 12 miles– 3d. 15 miles rain– a hilly road– 4th. hilly road rain
20 miles.
5th. Had a very fatiguing march, our guides lost themselves and misled
us. One of our hunters killed a she bear about 3 years old, very fat,
which was a great resource as we had not a morse1 of flesh among us
all at setting out– This Creature must have just quitted her winter
habitation for tho so fat, she had nothing in her Stomach, or
intestines– We got 30 miles this day–
6th. We fell into the path of the Shawanese warriors, which they use
to go against the Cherokees– The country pleasant, the verdure very
luxuriant, passed some log houses which appeard to have been lately
deserted, the enclosures being in good repair– A great relief to us
was the frequency of plentiful springs of fine water breaking through a
limestone– Two horses were sent from Harrodsburgh to assist in
carrying the baggage– We reached that place about dusk having marched
25 miles– It is called a fort and consists of about 20 houses,
forming an irregular square with a very copious spring within its
enclosure– (262)
At the time of our arrival, they were in hourly apprehension of attacks
from the Savages, and no doubt these poor inhabitants are worthy of
Their cattle were brought into the fort every night Horses as well as
Cows– They dared not go for firewood or to plow without their arms,
yet in spight of this state of constant alarm a considerable quantity
of land had been cleared, and as their numbers are increasing fast,
they will soon set the Savages at defiance, being good marksmen and
well practiced in the Woods– A Water mill had been built on a branch
of Salt river which runs by the fort, but the frequent inroads of the
Indians had rendered it useless, and they subsisted by the use of 2
On my taking a survey of this place, I recollected perfectly the plan,
of it given me by a Savage who had been there with a party and had
been on the point of being taken by a well laid plan of the Officer at
this post who knowing where the Savages were, sent out two or three
men with Scythes as if to mow, who drew the attention of the Savages,
while a Party sent by a circuit into their rear through the woods,
unexpectedly fired on them killed some on the Spot & put the rest to
shifting for themselves–
Our diet here was indian corn and milk for breakfast & supper, Indian
bread and Bears flesh for dinner, yet we were healthy & strong
We were delayed here much against our will thinking we held our lives
by a very precarious tenure, for the people on our first coming looked
upon us as little better than savages, which was very excusable
considering how we had been represented, and besides that they had
suffered very severely from the inroads of those people– One Man in
particular had last year lost his son, and had had four score of his
horses & mares carried off, yet this man was reconciled upon hearing a
true state of facts, and Colonel Bowman acted as a person above
prejudice, by rendering us every service in his power–
11th. William Moyres, Colonel Clarke’s messenger with letters to the
Govr. of Virginia, was killed on the road from the falls to this place
the letters and prisoners as we supposed carried off to Detroit–
17th. Col. Bowman having sent to Logan’s fort for horses, they
arrived this day. He was so obliging as to let me have one of his own–
19th. We set out for Logan’s fort 20 miles distant, where we arrived
at 7 p m. tis an oblong square formed by the houses making a double
street, at the angles were stockaded bastions– the situation is
romantic, among wooded hills, a stream of fine water passes at the
foot of these hills which turns a small grist mill– They had been
frequently alarmed & harrassed by the Indians, Captain Logan the
person commanding here had had his arm broken by a buckshot in a
skirmish with them, & was not yet recoverd– the people here were not
exceedingly well disposed to us, & we were accosted by the females
especially in pretty coarse terms– but the Captain and his wife, who
had a brother carryed off by the Indians were very civil and
hospitable– (265)
20th. We marched to Whitley’s fort 7 miles distant where we made a
halt and where a small ox was purchased for our subsistence, which
with 3 bags of Indian corn, one of Indian meal and some dryed meat was
to serve 50 of us for 14 days, in which time we expected to reach some
habitations– (266)
This little post is often visited and much infested by the Savages–
21st. Set forward on an Indian path, & forded Craggs creek forty
times– (267) the difficulty of marching thro’ such a country as this
is not readily imagined by a European– The Canes grow very close
together to the heighth of 25 feet and from the thickness of a quill
to that of ones wrist, as they are very strong and supple the rider
must be constantly on the watch to guard his face from them as they
fly back with great force, the leaves and the young shoots are a
fodder horses are exceedingly fond of and are eternally turning to the
right & left to take a bite– The soil where they grow is rich and
deep, so you plod thro in a narrow track like a Cowpath, while ehe
musketoes are not idle– the steep ascents & descents with rugged
stony ways varied with Swamps and clayey grounds completely jaded
horses and riders– we began to cross the blue Mountains this day–
22d. Very bad swampy road or way rather– at 10 am. passed a small
river called rock Castle branch which falls into Cumberland river–
(268) The scene is very beautiful! the trees being in high beauty, the
water bright, the weather clear, so that tho in no pleasant
circumstances otherways I could not but enjoy this romantic prospect
of which I took a hasty sketch while our poor fatigued packhorses were
towed thro’ the rapid stream by their wearyed hungry leaders– we
encamped about 7 p.m. when we were joined by a Colonel Callaway (269)
who took upon him the charge of the prisoners and their escort
hitherto commanded by Captn’ Harrod– The Colol. made new
arrangements, new dispositions, talked of Grand division manoevres,
and made a great display of military abilities, posting a number of
sentries, & fatiguing our poor Devils of frontiers [men] who would
willingly have trusted their prisoners in this desert, not one of whom
could have made use of his liberty, without Guides, provision and
shoes being found them– It rained all night, which did not set our
disciplinarian in a favorable light–
23d. St. Georges– We were very hearty in our wishes for the honor and
success of the Patrons countrymen, and tho the water was very good,
did not exceed the bounds of moderation in our potations–
The road was exceedingly difficult, lying over very steep hills which
from last nights rain were so slippery, our wretched cattle had much
ado to scramble up and slide down–
24th. forded stinking creek, and some others– at 4 p.m. passed the
great War path of the Shawanese, (270) which at this place crosses a
remarkable Buffaloe salt lick– several of the trees here bear the
marks of the exploits of the Savages, who have certain figures and
Characters by which thq can express their numbers, their route, what
prisoners they have made, how many killed &ca—- they commonly raise
the bark & with their Tomahawks & knives carve first and then with
vermillion color their design–
25 Forded Cumberland or Shawanese river, which is about 200 yards
26th. passed Cumberland Mountain, enterd Powel’s valley– (271)
Provision being expended we killed a Cow from a herd probably left
here by some Sellers, who were probably intercepted on their March, &
killed by the Indian—-
27th. Came to a very pretty halting place called the Spring cave,
otherways rocky bridge a curious romantic work of Nature–
A very copious Stream of fine water breaks out of the Ground in a
beauty full valley well cloathed with clover, skirted with rising
grounds ornamented with variety of timber trees, evergreens & Shrubs–
at about 150 yards from its source it passes under a rocky ledge which
serves for a bridge being about 60 feet wide at top and coverd with
trees– The road passes over the natural Bridge, which is hollowed
into several arched cavities, some of a considerable dimension. This
pretty stream and cheerfull scene would have engaged me a considerable
time but I had no allowance and just took two slight sketches on
In the Evening we arrived fatigued & wet thro’, and encamped near
Chrisman Creek– it pourd rain so hard that we could scarce make a
fire– I went to see the cave from which the Creek (as ’tis improperly
called) issues, it is arched over naturally and the coving is really
very smooth and even, a tall man may stand upright in it and walk
about 70 yards, a breach in the top letting in light sufficient, I
thought it singular enough to take a view of it– (272)
28th. Our horses straggled to a great distance among tbe canes, and
tho they were hoppled, and had Bells, we could not collect them before
12 o’Clock– crossed Powell’s Mountain– (273) halted at Scots
29th. Crossed the north bran.ch of Clinch river, forded stock creek 6
times, forded Clinch river with great difficulty, some of the men were
near being drownd, it fell sleet and hail with an exceeding sharp
wind– a very small canoe took over some of us, after making a fire &
getting well warmed we proceeded on our march thro’ cane brakes, the
ways crooked steep & miry– I felt the gout flying about me and as it
would have been dreadfull to have him fix while in such a country, I
dismounted & walked the whole day in Moccassins which dissipated the
humor and enabled me to keep up–
30th. Forded Moccassin and leather creeks several times also the north
branch of Holston river, (274) which being very rapid, I did not chose
to trust my horse and rather than attempt it had a raft made & was
ferryed over by two who could swim the raft being only large enough
for one–
May 1st. Pass Mocassin gap, a pass thro’ the Mountains, which afford
some very bold and magnificent viewss– a little fort called Andross,
built in 1753 but now in ruins is situated on the left hand as you
come out of the Mountain near which we fell into a Waggon road, &
shortly after were accosted by Mr: Maddison, A Gentleman of a liberal
way of thinking, who received us with genuine hospitality and gave us
such a wellcome as we could not have expected from one whose life and
property were in continual danger from the Indians who had made
inroads much farther into the country than his habitation–
The sight of a pretty cultivated farm, well cropped, with a large
garden orchard, & convenient buildings, set off by the lofty & rugged
Mountains we had just passed, formed a pleasing contrast to our late
situation– the cheerfull conversation of a very agreeable old man,
with a plentyfull meal, (what we had long been strangers to) rest
after our fatigues, and a very clean bed to conclude were real
luxuries, to people who had not lain in sheets for 7 months–
2d– Our kind host accompanyed us to General Lewis’s, where Major Hay
and I were accommodated with beds– we had stoppd at Major McBeans–
3d. We lay at a Major Bletsoe’s farm, where we were told the country
people had designed to assemble & knock us on the head– (275) Tho we
considered this as only meant to prevent our having any conversation
with them, we thought it adviseable to stay within– we breakfasted at
Colonel Shelby’s plantation, where we were very frankly entertained–
The Farm in extraordinary good order and condition, we were shown a
black Stallion one of the first creatures of his sort I ever saw– at
night we slept at a Captain Thompsons, where riches could not keep
penury out of doors. we did not get our dinner till eleven at night,
and this made us see economy in no faverable light–
4th. Arrived at Washington court house–
5th. & 6th. Halted at Colonel Arthur Campbell’s where we repaired
ourselves with sleep– Our Host was very civil to us, but from the
difficulty of procuring Provisions in this part of the Country, some
of the prisoners who were pressed with hunger and fatigue broke out
into very injurious language, and even threatned to be revenged at a
future day for the little attention payd to their necessities– //
some time after my arrival in Virginia, I received a letter from C.C
in which he lamented my having engaged in the Indian war, & mentioned
his father having been in my grandfathers family as Steward, and
having saved my father from drowning in the Boyne at the age of 13
7th Set out from Colonel Campbells where Mr: Dejean stayed, and lay at
the plantation of Mr: Sayer–
8th. Passed Rail’s fort, where the poor people saw us with some
horror, as being of kindred manners with the Savages– A remarkable
sized Stallion– forded Peeks creek and some others, and in the
Evening crossed over in a ferry the new river or great Canhawa, and
were kindly and hospitably received at the house of Colonel Ingles–
here we rested for an entire day– a beautyfull Girl his daughter sat
at the head of the table, and did the honors with such an easy and
graceful! simplicity as quite charmed us– the Scenery about this
house was romantic to a degree the river very beautyfull, the hills
well wooded, the low grounds well improved & well stocked, I thought
his tecum toto consumerer &ca– Mrs: Ingles had in her early years
been carryed off with another young Woman by the Savages, and tho
carryed away into the Shawanes country had made her escape with her
female friend, & wonderful to relate tho exposed to unspeakable
hardships, & having nothing to subsist on but wild fruits, found her
way back in safety, from a distance (if I remember right) of 200
miles– however terror and distress had left so deep an impression on
her mind that she appeard absorbed in a deep melancholy, and left the
management of household concerns, & the reception of Strangers to her
lovely daughter.
10th. We entered into Botetourt County
11th. Crossed the Roanoak seven times.
12th. reached Mr: Howard’s, where notwithstanding the wretched estate
of the Country the Mistress of the family in the absence of her
husband showed all the dispositions imaginable to make her house
agreeable to us–
13th. forded great Otter Creek– crossed otter creek six times, and
Otter river once– The Peeks of Otter make their appearance in various
points of view, and terminated many of our prospects very agreably–
(276) A Gruff Landlord–
14th. Arrived at Bedford in the County of the same name– a tolerably
well built but now nearly a deserted Village, the situation well
chosen and healthy– We halted here the 15th but could scarcely keep
our selves warm within doors, so ranged about to keep ourselves warm–
to get a plentyfull meal was now a rarity, and what we were not to
expect– Heard a coarse German girl play on an instrument of one
string, which she managed tolerably–
16th We arrived at Lynche’s ferry on the head of James’s river, and
set forward the day following on a raft composed of two canoes lashed
together, and lay at the plantation of a Colonel Bosville on the North
side of the river in Amherst County– 18rh 19th proceeded–
20th Made a halt about breakfast time, to get some water that of the
river being very hot and distastefull, to our great surprize found
Brigadier General Hamilton and Major Kirkman of the convention army
who received us with all imaginable cordiality and politeness– In the
Evening reached the plantation of a rich old Chuff a Colonel Lewis,
who demanded or rather exacted fourscore dollars for our scant
supper– While I was walking in the garden I saw three Officers in
British uniforms ride by, and saluted them tho’ little imagining I
could know or be known, but Captain Freeman aid de Camp to General
Riedesel knew me thro’ the disguise of a slouched hat & very shabby
cloathing—— After some conversation he took his leave promising to
see us in the morning before our departure– he was so good, and very
obligingly took charge of a letter for Genl. Haldimand, and one for
Major General Philips, enclosing a copy of the capitulation, and
giving him an account of our situation–
21st reached Goochland Court house– a brutal Landlord, exchanged for
a civil one–
22d The Officers were orderd to Beaver Dam, the men remained– We had
been left without any guard excepting Lieutenant Rogers from the time
of our getting into Washington County– At the house of Mr: Thos.
Pleasants we were hospitable entertained, with all the humanity,
candor and simplicity of a sensible Quaker free from the ostentation
of sanctity but possessed of a liberal and generous spirit– Tho a
number of his family were crowded under one roof, there appeard as
much neatness in their persons and as much good humor in their manner
as if they had been perfectly at ease in their circumstances, and not
subjected to the odious tyranny of their new Masters, who obliged them
(at that time) to pay treble taxes– We expected to have remained at
the house allotted for us about one mile from Mr: Pleasants, and as
the time of our exchange was uncertain we had some thoughts of
employing ourselves in the Garden, but on the
26th A Captah Upshaw, a curious Original, arrived with an order for
our removal to Chesterfield, and on the 28th having taken a reluctant
leave of our kind and sensible Quaker, we set out for Richmond–
As I have a great propensity to strike out of the common road, and
dont always take the necessary precautions for getting into it again,
I this day followed my inclination and having the Surgeon with me we
got into a bye road which we followed, and not getting sight of people
or dwellings for a long time, added 13 miles to our days march, & did
not reach Richmond till one o’Clock the next Mornhg– The out Sentries
would not suffer us to go into town, nor would they call to the guard
so we lay on the ground till the relief came–
31st Having passed our time disagreably at Richmond from the
prepossession of people against us, and the curiosity to see how such
a set of Infernals carryed themselves who had each been more
bloodthirsty than Herod the Tetrarch, we were marched to Chesterfield,
where we were kept under a jealous guard–
June 15th An Officer arrived who had a written order signed by Govr.
Jefferson for William La Mothe Captain of the Volunteers of Detroit,
and myself to be taken in irons and layd in Goal [sic] at
Williamsburgh– The Officer acquitted himself of this commission with
reluctance and behaved very civilly–
Howeva we were mounted with some difficulty being handcuffd, and I
found a days journey of only 30 Miles tired my patience and wearyed my
body exceedingly not having as yet repaired the uncommon fatigues of a
March Route of 1200 miles from Fort Sackville, most part of the time
but half fed, iill cloathed, menaced and reviled, but as Sancho says,
This was spice cake and gilt gingerbread to what was to come– We lay
I cannot say rested at James City Court house that night, we had
stopped at a Village on the way to have the rivetts of my handcuffs
taken out, and newly set, for riding had so swelled my wrists that the
rings chafed the skin too much and my conductor kindly attended to my
The next day it raind, the road was bad, and my legs were sore with
several boils produced by heated blood at this hot season– I was
permitted to walk– at Chickahomoney ferry met the Quarter Master of
the 46th Regiment–
16th About Sunset reached Williamsburgh,

George Rogers Clark