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|Combs &c. - Narrative of the life of|
General Leslie Combs
GENERAL LESLIE COMBS
haps, have hesitated to undertake and per- arm.”
Here properly closes what may be term- ed the first chapter of his personal history; because from this time he throw off boy- hood, and entered upon a career more be- fitting manhood.
Before proceeding with the personal nar- rative of our subject, and in order to ena- ble the reader the better to understand the scenes of danger and suffering through which he passed during the unfortunate campaigns of 1812-13, we will briefly sketch the situation of the great North- western Territory, now composing some six or seven sovereign States of this great republican confederacy. From just be- yond Urbana and Dayton, in western Ohio, to the northern lakes in one direction, and the Mississippi river in another, was one unbroken wilderness, inhabited only by In- dians and wild beast, with the exception of a few scattering settlements on some of the principal rivers, at great distances from each other. There was a small fort at De- troit, one at Mackinac, and one at Chicago, besides Forts Wayne and Harrison, each garrisoned by a few regular troops. Wil- liam Hull was Governor of the Territory of Michigan, and William Henry Harrison of Indiana. In view of the growing diffi- culties with Great Britain in the spring of 1912, Governor Hull received the appoint- ment of Brigadier General in the army of the United States, and was sent to Ohio to take command of the forces ordered to De- troit to protect that frontier in case of war. These consisted of the fourth regiment of regulars, under Colonel Miller, and three regiments of Ohio volunteers, under Col- onels Duncan McArthur, Lewis Cass, and James Findlay. War was declared on the 18th June, 1812, while General Hull was on his tardy march through the northern swamps of Ohio towards Detroit. His baggage, which had been sent by way of the lake, was captured in attempting to pass Malden, at the mouth cf the Detroit river. He himself soon afterwards reached Detroit, issued his famous proclamation, and talked largely of overrunning Upper Canada, for effecting which object he had ample forces under his command ; instead of doing which, however, he very soon re- treated back to the American shore, and on the l6th August, disgracefully surren-
dered his army and the whole of Michigan Territory to General Brock, commanding the British forces on that frontier.
Mackinaw had been forced to capitulate a month earlier, and Chicago had been abandoned on the 15th of August, and its garrison murdered or captured by a large force of Indians, who had received news of Hull’s retreat from Canada, and thereupon resolved to unite with the British against us, as they had been previously urged to do by Tecumseh, then rising into power among the northern tribes on this side of the American and British boundary line.
Thus our whole frontier from Lake Erie to the Mississippi river was left utterly unde- fended except by two small forts— Wayne and Harrison—one at the junction of tho St. Joseph and St. Mary rivets, forming the Maumee of the Lake, the other on the far-distant Wabash. Both were defended block-houses and wooden pickets, both were attacked by the Indians at about the same time, and Captain Zack Taylor, de- fending Fort Harrison, as we have before intimated, with most unflinching heroism, laid the foundation of that subsequent ca- reer of military glory and self-devotion, which finally elevated him to the Presiden- tial office.
Three regiments of Kentucky volunteers, under the command of Colonels Scott, Lewis and Allen, and one regiment of regulars, under Colonel Wells, had, in the mean time, been ordered to the north-western frontier, to re-enforce General Hull. The former rendezvoused at Georgetown on the 16th August, and after being addressed by the old veteran, General Charles Scott, then Governor of Kentucky, and by Henry Clay, were mustered into the service of the United States. The best blood of Ken- tucky, the sons of the old hunters and In- dian fighters, could be found in this little army. Two members of Congress were among the privates in the ranks. Little did they imagine, while listening to the soul-stirring appeals of the great Kentucky orator, that, instead of marching to Canada to aid in its conquest, on that very day the white flag of disgraceful surrender had been hung out by the coward or the trai- tor Hull from the battlements of Detroit; and that their own career of anticipated victories and glory would terminate in dis- aster, as it did, on the bloody battle-field
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