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Illinois Regiment

K R O'Hair PAGE-145



  The Illinois Regiment

Michael O'Hair participated in several battles of the Revolutionary War over a period of five years, including service with the Illinois Regiment in John Rogers' Company, under the command of George Rogers Clark, from December 1, 1779 to February 14, 1782. The following is condensed from the introductory pages of the "George Rogers Clark Papers," by James Alton James, to acquaint the reader more fully with this part of the war.

October 19, 1781 saw the surrender of Cornwallis and the final triumph of the Revolution east of the Alleghanies. During the last months of 1781 and for upwards of a year thereafter the control of the West was still in the balance. British and American leaders in this region continued to exercise their greatest military and diplomatic abilities. Clark continued to hold Fort Nelson, recently constructed at the Falls of the Ohio [near Louisville, Kentucky], as his base of operations. From it he could exercise control of the Illinois posts, rally militiamen for the protection of the Kentucky settlements, and keep the British on the defensive at Detroit. British leaders, while striving to hold the friendship of the northwestern tribes, sought to regain control over the Illinois country and the Mississippi River, to drive the Americans from Fort Nelson, and recapture Fort Pitt. During the Summer of 1779, following the capture of Kaskaskia and Vincennes, Clark was forced to forego the march against Detroit, as he expressed it, "Detroit lost for want of a few Men..." So great was the disaffection among the Indians that according to British testimony the Sioux was the only tribe still true to

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While establishing his headquarters in the newly erected fort at the Falls of the Ohio, Clark's plans seem to have comprehended two main objects - to raise a force in Kentucky, and to make a bold push and reduce Detroit and Mackinac. Full powers were granted him by Governor Jefferson to engage in either of these enterprises or to establish a post near the mouth of the Ohio.

While preparing for the capture of Detroit, without which there could be no permanent peace, Clark, in the Spring of 1780, began the erection of Fort Jefferson on the Mississippi, five miles below the mouth of the Ohio, although a location north of that river had been formerly contemplated. Clark argued that this post should be made the center for the other western garrisons, that it would at once become the key to the trade of the western country and furnish a good location for the Indian department as well as give the means of controlling the Chickasaw Indians and the Illinois posts. By March of 1780 he was aware that the British were again winning control over the northwestern tribes and that they contemplated some such plan of action as that attempted by Governor Hamilton in 1779. Not alone had this expedition which threatened the total loss of the West to be checked, but the advance of the Spaniards east of the Mississippi also had to be met. The continuance of American control in the Illinois country seemed, as Clark believed, to depend on the concentration of his available force at the new fort. By this striking move the Indians would be so mystified that they would refuse to join the British on the aforesaid expedition. At no time was there a suggestion of abandoning any territory beyond the Ohio, Governor Jefferson having adopted the views of Clark on the practicability of concentration in the fort at the mouth of the Ohio which would, as he said, facilitate trade with the Illinois and be near enough to furnish aid to that territory, protect the trade with New Orleans, and together with other posts to be established constitute a chain of defense for the western frontier. In pursuance of this project, the troops were withdrawn from Vincennes, leaving only a company of French militia to guard that post. But before the retirement of the troops from the Illinois villages had taken place a formidable advance by the British was begun.

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This plan for gaining control over the Mississippi - for Spain, joint tenant with Great Britain since 1763, was now also at war with her - for the recapture of the Illinois country, the Falls of the Ohio, and finally Forts Pitt and Cumberland, was one of the most striking military conceptions of the entire Revolution. If successful, the whole region west of the Alleghanies doubtless would have remained British territory, for all communication between Clark and the East would have been modified, for British rangers and their hordes of Indian allies would have been free to join the ranks of the British generals in Virginia and the South.

The British planned to advance in five sections and to make three major assults at widely separated points. A force of fifteen hundred men was to proceed from Pensacola and capture St. Louis, then New Orleans. A third force assembled at Detroit was to attack Clark at the Falls of the Ohio.

The attack on St. Louis and the Illinois villages was made up of nine hundred and fifty British regulars and Indians. Conspicuous among the Menominee, Sauk, Fox, Winnebago, and Ottawa warriors was a body of two hundred Sioux braves under the leadership of Wabasha, their illustrious chief. The Sioux were addicted to war, and jealously attached to His Majesty' s interests. After a battle at Cahokia the British retreated up the Mississippi to Michilimackinac. The British blamed the retreat on the treachery of some of their Indian leaders and to the lack of spirit on the part of the Canadians. The British made no effort to leave Pensacola.

The third expedition was also a failure. With a well-equipped force of eleven hundred, a thousand of them being Indians, Captain Henry Bird, one of the best type of British leaders, descended from the Miami to the Ohio. He determined not to hazard an attack on the fort at the Falls. Learning that reinforcements had arrived from Virginia and that the other expeditions had failed, he turned toward Detroit after destroying Ruddle's and Martin's stations, two small Kentucky stockaded posts. [Part of the reinforcements referred to above was a company of unmounted cavalry from Virginia under the command of Captain John Rogers. Michael O'Hair was a private in this company.] So rapidly did Bird retreat that he abandoned his cannon at one of the Miami villages. Learning of the designs of Captain Bird, Clark set out from Cahokia with a few men for Fort Jefferson, and after barely

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escaping capture by the Indians, struck off through the wilderness with only two companions for Harrodsburg, Kentucky. In August, 1780, Clark had gathered together one thousand volunteers. After a forced march they reached Old Chillicothe but the Indians had fled. At Piqua, a few miles beyond, a well-built town with a blockhouse, the Americans overtook and attacked several hundred Indians, and after a fierce engagement forced them to retreat. After burning the towns, Clark led his troops to the mouth of the Licking, where they disbanded. So successful was the effort that during the remainder of the year the Kentucky settlements were free from molestation.

By Christmas time, Clark was in Richmond consulting with the authorities over plans for taking Detroit; however, such plans had ultimately to be abandoned. Drafting troops, under Virginia military laws, was a failure and Governor Jefferson was forced to resort to the call for volunteers. Detroit was put into condition for withstanding this attack and Indian demands at that post were frequent and amazing.

Clark's arrival at Louisville, late in 1781, was opportune. While Fort Nelson was completed, as he had directed, Fort Jefferson had been evacuated and there was a prospect that the Americans would be compelled to abandon Vincennes , where there was still a garrison of sixty men.

Early in December, 1781, the numerous recommendations from the western officials were considered by the Virginia legislature. While the members were fully aware of the critical situation, they were powerless to assume the burdens of an offensive warfare with an empty treasury and paper money depreciated to the ratio of 1,000 to 1. "Our paper money is at an End," wrote Governor Harrison, "and the Credit of the State is at a very low Ebb." Legislative regulation and the imposition of heavy taxes were resorted to with the hope of restoring their lost credit. But contributions to the support of the army under General Nathanael Greene and the campaign against Lord Cornwallis had drained the state of its resources. The extended territory from which collections were to be made rendered relief through taxation impossible. Governor Harrison was forced to answer the appeal of General Greene for relief as follows: "The credit of the State is lost and we have not a Shilling in the Treasury. The powers formerly given to embody and march the Militia

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out of the State are no longer continued to us, and the late invasion has nearly drained us of our Stock of Provisions of all Kinds necessary for an Army."

The troops under Clark were poorly prepared for the service they were expected to render. For two years many of them had served without receiving any pay. During that time they had been given neither shoes nor stockings nor hats. Forced to live on half rations, they conceived themselves totally neglected. 1

Michael O'Hair enlisted in the Illinois Regiment on December 1, 1779 in Captain John Rogers' Company, under the command of General George Rogers Clark, for the duration of the war. This information is recorded at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia. Captain Rogers and General Clark were first cousins.

Governor Hamilton, the British governor of the territory, had surrendered the Fort of Vincennes to General Clark on February 25, 1779. Clark immediately ordered Hamilton and his garrison of twenty-seven men deported to prison in Virginia. This group started from Vincennes on March 8, 1779 and arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia around the middle of May, 1779. The following petition tells of the forming of the Illinois country and of the raising of the cavalry troop of which Michael O'Hair was a member.

"To the Honorable the Speaker and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled

John Rogers in behalf of himself, James Meriwether and John Thruston of the State of Va., humbly represents:

That in consequence of an Act of Assembly of the said State, passed in Oct., 1777, a corps of volunteers were raised therein under the command of Col., now Gen., Clark, who made a successful expedition against the enemy on the river Miss. and on the northwest side of the Ohio, taking possession of several posts and reducing the inhabitants of an extensive country to become citizens and subjects of these states, so the said General Assembly in Oct., 1778, formed the said territory into a County called Ill. and provided for the temporary government of the inhabitants; that your petitioner acted as a


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Lieut. under Col. Clark and continued therein until Mar., 1779, when on the capture of Governor Hamilton at Ft. St. Vincent your petitioner was sent with those prisoners to the city of Williamsburg where he safely delivered them to government.

That the said Assembly in May, 1779, directed a Troop of Horse to be raised in the Co. of Ill., promising that the officers thereof should be entitled to the same pay, rations and forage as was allowed to the Cavalry in the Continental service, of which troop your petitioner being appointed Capt., Wm. Meriwether, Lieut. and Wm. Thruston, Cornet, they enlisted the troopers for the war, marched them into Ill. country, and continued in that very disagreeable service to the end of the war." 2


The following letter tells something of the raising of the troop of which Michael was a member:

                                John Rogers to Clark, October 17, 1779

                               (Draper MSS., 49J83. - A.L.S.)

                                Williamsburg October 17th ten Oclock

                                                           Evng (1779)


Dr Sir

I have just Sit of an opertunity to Write to you to Inform you that I am here Waiting on the Governor and Councel for an Order to receive the Men Raised by the Last Act of Assembly which are Intended to Join you but how many of them I shall Get I cannot say as the Counties have been but slow in raising them beside them I shall bring out Men for A Troop of horse which are to be furnished with horses in the Illenois, . . .

The Land Offs was Opend yesterday when there was A Number of people ready to Purchase Kentuckkey Lands which are held in great esteem. one would think from the Discoarse that is Generally heard among the People that half Virgina Intend'd to


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Kentuk. I am in hopes to set Off this Month to Join you which will give me great satisfaction...

                       Yours & his Ever wellwisher and Humble Sirvt

                       John Rogers


To Col. Clark

(Addressed:) Col. George Rogers Clark Comandr

Illenois P'Favour of Mr Henry

(Endorsed:) Captn Rogers Dated Williamsburgh

Capt Rogers Octobr 17th 1779

Riceived Decr 14th 1779 John Rogers to Col Clark 3


The following Affidavit of William Meriwether, taken January 11, 1833, in behalf of the heirs of two men under his command, tells of the journey from Virginia to Kentucky during the Winter of 1779 - 1780.

"William Meriwether stated that he joined Capt. John Rogers' Troop of Light Dragoons,...which was to be sent to the Western Country to join Gen. George Rogers Clark's Regt. John Rogers was comm. Capt. of the Co., and marched to the Ill. Country to join Gen. Clark's Regt. Shortly after Christmas, 1779 or 1780, [1779] the Troop of Dragoons landed at Fort Pitt, then called by that name, where Pittsburgh now stands. The river Ohio then froze up so that the troops were detained there until the Spring of 1780. When the ice broke up, the troop went down the river to the Falls of the Ohio, and from there to Fort Jefferson, a few miles below the mouth of the Ohio on the Mississippi river, where Rogers' Troop of Horse joined for the first time Gen George Rogers Clark's Regt. When the troops got there Clark's Regt. was on the ground. The Troop together with Clark's Regt. built the fort called Fort Jefferson. Sometime before this, that is in the winter of 1779, Clark had taken Vincennes and Kaskaskia, and many other places of the British forts in the Ill. Country...The country around Fort Jefferson was a wilderness for 400 miles distant...In the fall of


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1780, Clark's Regt. came from Fort Jefferson to the Falls of the Ohio, while the troop of Rogers, under the command of John Montgomery was taking or destroying other posts of the enemy in the summer of 1780." 4


Because of the severe winter weather conditions, Captain Rogers must have remained at Fort Pitt until the early part of April, 1780 before taking his men on to Fort Jefferson. He carried letters with him, dated April 4th and 7th, for Clark from people at Fort Pitt. One letter stated that Capt. Rogers "has between sixty and seventy men enough to make up two troops of horse, which I think the law limits to 30 or thereabouts." 5 Another letter directed to Clark from the commanding colonel at Fort Pitt told of the method of travel of the unmounted Troop of Horse from Fort Pitt to Fort Jefferson. "I have given Capt. Rogers an order to take into his possession all Water Craft belonging to the United States below Wheeling which may perhaps prove serviceable to you, but I must entreat You to have the best care taken of them that circumstances will admit..." 6

George Rogers Clark and Thomas Jefferson had been friends and neighbors back in Virginia. They also had the common bond of both being redheaded and from wealthy families. Clark had acquired large land holdings and was still a young man of less than thirty years of age at the time of the Revolutionary War. His old friend, Jefferson, became Governor of Virginia on September 4, 1779, succeeding Patrick Henry. Clark was delighted to have his old friend become Virginia's governor. The two men had a mutual understanding of the problems of the new western country and high hopes for its' settlement.

Virginia's paper money became worthless in the East. The bad news of the depreciated Virginia currency was slow in reaching the western country, but the Illinois Regiment was finally denied credit north of the Ohio when news of the worthless currency reached that area. Mr. Jefferson was forced to order Clark to move nearly all of his troops to the south of the Ohio River, where the Virginia currency was still being accepted. Only a scattering of troops were left for the protection of the settlements north of the Ohio. Although

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Clark was forced to move his men south of the Ohio, the move was considered only a temporary move, for there was no thought of giving up any of those rich lands.

It was necessary to hold the Ohio River line at any cost, especially the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi. In order to hold the line, it would be imperative to build forts at the mouths of the many rivers flowing into the Ohio. Indians frequented the waterways and the presence of new forts would help to discourage raiding parties of Indians incited by the British. Less than a month after Jefferson took office, Clark started looking for the most likely spot on the Mississippi for the new fort. He finally decided on a spot a short distance below the mouth of the Ohio on the Mississippi River. The location was a cliff known as the Iron Banks. It was a small island close to the east side of the river. The territory had never been surveyed and was claimed by the Chickasaws. Jefferson gave instructions to the Virginia Indian agent to negotiate with the Indians for enough land to accomodate a small fort and a few families. Clark left his headquarters at Louisville around mid-April, 1780 with a few workmen and settlers to start building the new fort called Fort Jefferson. The fort stood high enough on the island to deliver a strong fire on invaders and encompassed about a quarter of an acre. Captain John Rogers and his unmounted cavalry troop arrived by boat at Fort Jefferson shortly after Clark's arrival. Michael O'Hair was a part of Roger's troop. As Meriwether had stated in his affidavit, the fort was "still on the ground" and Rogers' troop was put to work building Fort Jefferson.

Virginia was very much occupied with the battles of the Southern states during the years of 1780 and 1781. She had no troops, money, or supplies to send to her frontiers which included Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and part of Pennsylvania. The British headquarters at Quebec took advantage of her preoccupation and determined to recapture lost ground in the frontier country. Elaborate plans were made. A thousand men were to go down the Mississippi from Michilimackinac (the northern tip of lower Michigan) and engage the Spaniards, driving them further westward. They also hoped to take New Orleans in this push by being joined by a force marching from Pensacola, Florida to Louisiana. The Florida commander had his hands full fighting Spaniards in Florida,

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and didn't rally to the plan. Kaskaskia (about 80 miles south of St. Louis) was to be taken by the Sioux, led by their chief, Wabasha. The British Captain Bird was to go south from Detroit, picking up Shawnee along the way, and eventually take Fort Nelson at the Falls. The Wabash Indians were to instigate enough trouble to keep Clark pinned down so tightly he would be unable to send assistance to St. Louis.

Toward the end of May, 1780, the Spanish governor at St. Louis, a personal friend of Clark (Clark was enamoured with the governor's sister) was warned of a pending attack on St. Louis. Colonel John Montgomery and the governor both sent couriers to Clark, located a hundred miles south of St. Louis, at Fort Jefferson. Clark immediately took his men in river boats to check the invasion. Although the men had to row against the current, they arrived a day ahead of the enemy. They encountered Indians a few miles south of St. Louis, at Cahokia, and had a successful skirmish there. With the element of surprise taken away from them, the enemy gave up their attack on St. Louis and returned to their villages.

Bird and his Indians, coming from Detroit, believed Clark was at Fort Jefferson, and he actually was there. Bird thought there was only a small garrison at Fort Nelson left to protect the settlers. A false rumor reached Bird that Clark was not at Fort Jefferson, but at Fort Nelson. The Indians had no desire to engage in a battle with "Big Knife" (Clark's Indian name) at Fort Nelson and refused to attack. Bird and his Indians then went into the interior of Kentucky and captured Ruddle's and Martin 's stations within less than two weeks. They then withdrew their forces and departed. Wabasha and his Sioux also failed on their part of the over-all plan.

After a battle did not materialize at St. Louis, Clark ordered Montgomery to pursue the enemy. According to the affidavit of Merriwether, Roger's troop was under the command of Montgomery during the Summer of 1780, taking or destroying posts of the enemy. Michael O'Hair, as a member of Rogers' troop, undoubtedly participated in such action. The records incidate that Montgomery pursued the enemy by boat to Peoria, Illinois. He then marched inland and burned Indian villages. When their rations ran short they butchered their horses for food supply.

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Life was grim in all the frontier that Summer. Food was scarce and the Indian attacks on the settlements discouraged the settlers to the point of leaving. The campaign in the Southern States did not fare well either. Charleston fell in May, 1780 to the British General Clinton. General Gates was defeated August 16, 1780 by Cornwallis at Camden, South Carolina.

An engagement against the Shawnee to take place sometime during the Summer of 1780, had been planned by Jefferson and Clark since the first of the year. Clark was now at the height of his popularity. During the Spring, Clark received many petitions from the settlements urging him to lead the settlers on a campaign against the Indian towns. A few sentences from those petitions will draw a very clear picture of the way the settlers felt about conditions. "Nothing less than the preservation of these settlements and to insure from utter ruin the many Families in this Country could have induces us to trouble you with an address of this kind...Distressed and defenceless Families settled through our woods are becoming a daily sacrifice to the savage brutality of our inhuman enemies...The Indians either killed or took prisoners...the Indians carried off all the horses belonging to the station and killed almost all their cattle...We are sure that we cannot Live in any tolerable degree of satisfaction, unless we Endeavour to carry on an Expedition against them. our Countrymen of every Station will give all the Assistance in their power, we believe; and we shall not be Backward to assist in so necessary an enterprise...Beg you will head our men and assist us with your great guns, with which we think we shall be able to Expel them from our Country. We need not Exagerate on the Cruelty and Devastation with which their foot steps are marked, as you are perfectly acquainted with their savage nature, and Every day almost produces to us fresh instances of their Rapine, and our unhappy Countrymen by them slain, are Irrefrageable proofs of their malicious intentions. Therefore we Entreat you by all the ties of humanity to give us a helping hand. To take the Command of our men and your great guns, and march to the Towns of the Enemy, and Destroy them from the face of the Earth, if possible. We from this station will send as many men as we can possibly spare, who will find themselves provision &c; and we believe the men of every station

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will do the like." 7

Clark sent word throughout the settlements for the men to rendezvous at the mouth of the Licking River August 1, 1780 for the campaign against the Indians. Clark moved his troops and cannon up the Ohio by boat to the meeting place. The men built a small cabin on the first day to use as a storehouse for reserve supplies. The City of Cincinnati was later built where the small cabin stood. Several men were left at the cabin to guard the boats. The men assembled, including Clark's troops, numbered a thousand. For the most part, the men were dressed in buckskin and hunting shirts. They nearly all wore either beaver or raccoon caps with the tail hanging behind. Each man furnished his own provisions. The small supply of food consisted mostly of jerk meat and cornmeal. The men were not allowed to hunt along the way and supplement their meager food supply for fear of giving away their position to the enemy. The mission depended upon secrecy. The march started on August 2, 1780. Travel was slow because a seventy mile path had to be cut thru the wilderness to accomodate the artillery. They arrived at the first Indian town, Chillicothe (Ohio) on the 6th. The town had been hastily deserted. Pots of green beans and corn had been left cooking on the fires. The troops looted and burned the town, then turned their attention toward destroying the surrounding fields of corn. They marched northwest toward the Indian town of Piqua. From evidence along the way, Clark knew they were being deliberately led to the place determined by the Indians for battle. The troops were within sight of Piqua early in the afternoon of the 8th. The Indians at Piqua lived in log cabins and even had a stockade. Shawnee, Mingo, Wyandott and Delawares had collected there to make a stand. The women and children had been hidden a safe distance away from the town. The troops paused half a mile from Piqua. Clark scarcely had time to issue his commands before the action started. Some were sent to circle the town and approach from the upper end to prevent an escape route in that direction. Clark and his men approached from the lower end of the town. Fighting through the woods and cornfields, the Indians eventually were forced to retreat to their stockade. The cannon was brought into action and the stockade soon demolished, but not before many Indians escaped into the woods. Dusk had now fallen making pursuit useless.

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Clark reported to Jefferson that his losses had been about fourteen killed and thirteen wounded. He stated that the Indian losses were at least triple that number. The army camped that night at the scene of their battle with half the troops standing guard. The next morning they discovered a French man who had been held captive by the Indians. The Frenchman reported that the Indians expected reenforcements shortly. Piqua was looted and burned. Clark estimated that over eight hundred acres of corn were destroyed, in addition to great quantities of vegetables. The loot from the Indian towns was divided when the men reached the mouth of the Licking River where the men from the settlements disbanded and returned to their homes. Clark wrote to Jefferson upon his return to Louisville, August 22nd, that the march had covered 480 miles. Clark also stated that he wanted to push on further into Indian country towards Pittsburg, but their depleted supplies and excessive August heat made further combat impracticable. Clark wrote, "Nothing could excell the few regulars and Kentuckans, that composed this little army, in bravery, and implicit obedience to orders; each company vying with the other who should be the most subordinate." 8

The following letter written by Montgomery describes the grave conditions at the frontier forts during the Fall of 1780:

                                    John Montgomery to Clark

                                    Fort Clark

                                    Sept 22th 1780

Dear Colol

Sir - I had the pleasure of Receiving your Letter by Mr. Glen & Exceeding hapey to hear of your Sucses & Espeshiley of your safe Arivel and now by Express send you Capt Georges Letter Which will Give the nues as Nothing Elce has hapened Elce Where in this part of the Cuntrey But at his Post. [Capt. Robert George was in charge at Fort Jefferson.] The second nite after the atack Begun, he sent Me an Express by Jack Ash & an indian Came To Me in four dayes at Kaskaskia Where I had Just arived from kohos. I had no Trupes With Me But three officers that Came to ascort Me down. I aplied to the Militia to Goin Me to Go to the Assis-


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tance of That distresed post But there answer Was they thot it thier dutey to Stay and Take Care of their Wives and Children: I then had No Other Shift But to Aply to the Kaskaskie indians to Go With Me as I thot it imprudent to Wate until the Trupes Could Come from kahoe I then amediately imberked with som provision ten White Men & Sixtey five indians With a determination to fite our way into the fort But Expected to lose our provision as the thorrowfair is Dried up and not adraup of Mesepie With in half Amile of the fort But When We Got there the Enemye had Quite their Atact The inhabitunts semed Much discurraged and Were all prepering their Botes to start of But I preveled on them to Wate untill next Morning When I Assembleld them to Gether telling them the Bad Consequence of Going to a strange please Without aney Thing to purchase provision & Living under a despotick Government as Liberty wos What they had Contended For Telling them that Evey promis you had Mead them That I then wos Redey to Proform in your Absence the Answer they Maide Me Wos, how Cold I expect them or Request them to stay When their Stockes Wos intirely Lost Theire Cropes destroyed and worst of all A great part of there Fameleys Gone To the Grave of all Silance With Sickleyness; & Sir knowing that to be a truth as Everey day I Remeaned there one or two or three Wos Buried Which threw Humanity I could not Compell them To stay But prevelled on som of the principal inhabitents to Remean & som others to take the Rout up to this post and the Remender went Down. as soone as I Got Matters alittle Setled I Came up to purchase a Quantity of provision as I had the Oppertunity of purchasing a Quantitey of a most Exorbetent prise...As We Could not git one Mouthful on the Credit of the state...I Expect to start in a few Dayes with the Ballance of the trupes From Kaho to Campt Gefferson Except Capt Rogers Companey ho I have order to Remean until furder orders. . . (second page missing)



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                        Robert George to John Rogers

                        Fort Jefferson

                        27th Octr 1780



Lieut Clark goes up in order to bring us down some provision, I hope you will be of as much Assistance to him as possible; our Craft lies on Dry Ground, and we are not able to put any in the River. I have wrote to Capt. Dodge to hire a Boat (if he can do no better) which if he does, you will send down as many Men as will take her back again - & hope you will see that Good and hold some provision is sent You may be Assured that we are in great Distress, you will therefore Assist us all you can. Mr. Clark will give You all the News that we have. Hope therefore you will Excuse the shortness of my letter.


                                                   & am Sir Your Obdt Servt

                  Robt George

NB. Mr. W. Clark presents his Compliment to Capt. Rogers & hopes, that the want of paper will appoligize for not sending a letter

(addressed) Capt John Rogers at Kaskaskias

                    favd by Lt Clark

(endorsed:) Capt. Robert George to Rogers

                    27th Octo. 80 9



Capt. John Rogers wrote to Mr. Jefferson April 29, 1781 from Harrodsburg, Kentucky. In the letter he wrote of having been in command at the "Illinoys" last winter. Michael O'Hair was under the command of Rogers; therefore, we can also locate Michael in this vicinity during the Winter of 1780 - 81.

Clark's long dreamed of expedition against Detroit had failed each year and again failed in 1780. Kentucky had become extinct as a county November 1, 1780 by the act of the Virginia Assembly which divided it into three counties. The Kentucky River was the dividing line. West of the river was Jefferson County, north of the Kentucky River became Fayette County, and the remainder became Lincoln County. Clark spent most of the Winter of 1780 - 81 in Virginia conferring

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with Jefferson. They both had hopes of an expedition against Detroit for 1781. Patrick Henry, the former governor of Virginia and now a member of the legislature, pushed a resolution through the Virginia Assembly which put a stop to the expedition against Detroit. The resolution also called for the disposing of, or applying to other uses, the stores and provisions laid in for the Detroit expedition. By such action the plan to attack Detroit had to be abandoned.

The surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown on October 19, 1781 ended the American revolution. The colonies had won their independence. However, it took two long years to write a final peace treaty that recognized the fact.

Clark had been obliged to sign many personal notes and sell much of his land holdings to support his forces in Kentucky. He had received no pay since January, 1778. A commission reviewed his vouchers in November, 1782 and approved payment. The vouchers were sent to Richmond, Virginia, where they were lost. Virginia declined to approve payment without the vouchers. Clark was granted a $400 yearly pension in 1812. At that time he was partially paralized and had turned to drink. He died in poverty in 1818.

A mass of papers were found in the Virginia Statehouse attic in 1913. They were the missing Clark papers consisting of 20,000 vouchers and many other records. The papers were well preserved. They have been calendared and indexed. They are now located in the Virginia State Library. From the" Clark Papers," Series F. 1 Volume 2, the following has been photocopied:

            Date                     The Commonwealth of Virginia


            Dec. 1 st               to Mich. Oharrow -


                                       To pay as a soldier of cavalry

                                       from this Day to Dec. 31 st 81

                                       @ 5.00 per month......62.10



Captain John Rogers' Company, including Michael O'Hair left Fort Nelson (near the present site of Louisville) in Kentucky, for Virginia, October 3, 1781. The company arrived in Virginia December 15, 1781 and was given two

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months furlough. They were reassembled and discharged at Fredricksburg, Virginia on February 14, 1782. The day he was discharged in 1782, ended the Revolutionary War for Michael O'Hair. He had served more than two years, from December 1, 1779 to February 14, 1782 in Captain John Rogers' Company of the Illinois Regiment under the command of General George Rogers Clark. This service is confirmed by public documents on file at Richmond, the Capital of Virginia. Certified copies of such records are on file at the office of this writer in Paris, Illinois. Included in those records are the following regarding the return to Virginia and the furlough.



William and Mary College Quarterly

Volume 8, Series A.

[Photocopies from pages 102 - 104]

A true Copy


William Clark, Judge Advocate.


In Council Dec'r 15th 1781

       The inclosed is referred to Col'o Davis

                                     BEN'J. HARRISON



Extract of Gen'l C., Dated Fort Nelson Oct'r 3d, 1781


Capt. John Rogers will march his troop of Light Dragoons to Fredericksburg to be disposed of by his Excellency the Governor

Test:                                   JOHN CRITTENDEN, V.A.


Davies         )

   to            )          ORDER

Rogers         )

Capt. Rogers will indulge his men with furlows for two months if he thinks so long a time necessary, and will collect them at Fredricksburg, and make timely application for clothing.

                                                WILLIAM DAVIS.



War Office Dec'r 15th, 1781

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Page 103 of William and Mary College Quarterly, Vol. 8, Series A.

CAPTAIN JOHN ROGERS, OF CAROLINE. The last Pay Abstract of a Troop of Light Dragoons in the service of the Commonwealth of Virginia under the command of Captain John Rogers, commencing the 1st day of October, 1781 and ending the 14th day of February, 1782












When Discharged
Dead or Disabled





John Rogers


1st Oct.




$ 50



James Meriwether









John Thurston









Henry Goodloe









Francis Spilman



Discharged 2nd Jan






Domanick Welsch



Do.   14th Jan






Casper Galer









John Campbell



Diacharged 1st Jan






James Corder









William Hooton



Diacharged 14th Feb






Michael O'Harrone



Do.        14th Feb






Michael Glass









John Jones



Discharged 14th Feb






William Kendall



Do.        1st Jan






et. al.










   SWORN to before        JNO. PENDLETON, JR.

K R O'Hair PAGE-163

William and Mary College Quarterly


(In Capt. John Rogers' Handwriting.)

It may be set forth that I have served between five and six years (nearly six), that in May, 1779, the Assembly passed a resolution by way of acknowledgment of their approbation of my Services, and that I continued in active service until all hostilities had actually ceased. I then retired subject to be called out should circumstances again require it.


NOTE----Captain John Rogers was born in 1757, was between 18 and 19 years old when he volunteered and enlisted in the Continental Army in 1776, was 21 when appointed Lieutenant by his cousin, General Geo. Rogers Clark in 1778, and 22 when commissioned Captain of Light Dragoons by Governor Thomas Jefferson in 1779. He was said to have been the youngest officer of his grade in the Revolutionary army, and first served with the Continental forces in Lower Virginia, then in the spring of 1778 he joined Clark's expedition to the West, where he participated in the capture of Kaskaskia and Vincennes, and afterward commanded the guard which conducted the British Governor Hamilton and other prisoners from Vincennes, through the wilderness nearly 1,000 miles, to Richmond, Va. He was talented, brave, good and handsome; never married and died suddenly April 16, 1784, in the prime of manhood, aged 37 years.