April 1792 Marietta, Ohio (Mouth of the Muskingum River)
Following St. Clair’s defeat at the hand of Little Turtle, the general ordered a retreat to Fort Jefferson, some twenty-nine miles south of the battlefield. As the uniformed regulars and militiamen all ran for their lives, having already lost over one-half of their men, the warriors of the Indian Confederation combed the battlefield, dispatching any wounded still alive and removing their scalps.
Arriving at Fort Jefferson, St. Clair found there was a lack of supplies so he ordered his men to continue, if they were able, to return to Fort Washington. in doing so, he left numbers of wounded behind to fend for themselves. When a relief column under Charles Scott arrived on November 11, 1791, they found these men starving and eating horse flesh and green hides. Upon hearing of St. Clair’s defeat and the horrific losses, General Washington was furious. He blamed St. Clair directly for this folly. The Native American tribes lost a total of 61 warriors killed or wounded, compared to the Americans loss of almost 600 men killed, with countless more wounded. General Washington was overheard to say “We are in an actual war.” A Special Committee was put together by Congress, a first of it’s kind, to investigate St. Clair’s mission. It was ultimately determined that the true cause of the disaster was more a lack of proper supplies and equipment, combined with untrained militia. However, St. Clair was never fully vindicated.
By the year 1792, Congress was feeling the pressure from both settlers, and particularly the land speculators to include the Ohio Company of Associates, the major investor, to do something about the Indian incursions into lands they are selling, as it is affecting their profits.
“I am standing here on the bank of the Muskingum River where it joins with the Ohio. There are so many flatboats and keel-boats passing down the river on their way to Kentucky country, and some heading into our Ohio territory. wonder how many of them will die under the tomahawk before they ever see their destination. It’s been five months now since that horrible disaster in the northwest brought on by that inept general, our Territorial Governor, Arthur St. Clair. The fool should have never agreed to lead a military campaign. All those men dead, killed by warriors of the Northern Confederation. My God, he even took hundreds of women, and even some children, with him. What was he thinking? He surely must have believed that one he met the Indians, they would immediately arrive at conditions of making peace. Now many of those women are dead and the children made captives. Oh well, at least Congress is beginning to understand that we have investments out here in this country, and that something must be done to protect us and our money. I hear that they plan to donate- yes, give away free, over one hundred thousand acres in small lots to be settled on, just north of our Associates Company holdings here in the Southeast. I’m happy to hear that, because their intent is to set up a barrier against incursions from the savages against our Ohio Company settlements. True that some of these settlers in the buffer zone will be killed, but that’s a small price to pay to protect our holdings and investments. Even better is the fact they they are giving these lands to men who hold warrants for lands as payment for fighting in the late war. It just so happens that some of them were indebted to me, and paid me with these warrants. So i will be able to turn them in and get some of these free lands for myself. And i, in turn will sell them, of course. No, I would never give them away. One would never make profits by giving things away. Even God does not expect that of me, I’m sure.”
Robert K. Seymour, Citizen and speculator