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|Combs &c. - Narrative of the life of|
General Leslie Combs
GENERAL LESLIE COMBS
of Raisin, on the following 22d day of Jan- uary. General James Winchester had command of this force, and marched on the 17th by way of Cincinnati, (then a small town on the Ohio river, opposite to Newport,) towards the north-western fron- tier; and it was not until they had passed the Kentucky border that the news of Hull’s surrender reached them.
Governor Harrison had acquired very considerable fame by his glorious victory at Tippecanoe the preceeding November, and was in Kentucky at that time on a visit. So soon as the events just above related were communicated to the Government at Washington, three or four additional regi- ments of volunteers were ordered from Kentucky, and the Governor of Kentucky prevailed on Governor Harrison to accept the office of Major-General, and to hasten with the forces then in the field, and a large body of mounted Kentucky militia, to the relief of Fort Wayne.
This, it will be remembered, he accom- plished, and forced the Indians and their British auxiliaries to retreat precipitately towards Canada, without daring to engage him in battle.
By selling a small piece of land (all he had on earth) devised to him by a deceased elder brother, young Combs soon complet- ed his outfit as a volunteer, and, armed with holsters and broadsword, with only fifteen dollars in his pocket, he started for the north-western army, which was then marching with all possible speed towards the frontiers of Ohio, in order to reinforce General Hull. Never having been forty miles from home before this time, young and inexperienced as he was, nothing but his burning zeal for the cause to which he had devoted himself could have sustained him against all the perils and hardships of his long journey. WHen he arrived at Piqua, beyond Dayton, he found crowds of Indians, men, women, and children, principally from the neighboring Shawnee villages, who were besieging the commis- sary’s and quartermaster’s apartments for food, blankets, and ammunition. He had never before seen such an array of yellow- skins, and was gratified to End at the same place several companies of mounted thirty- day volunteers, hastening to the frontiers after the news of Hull’s surrender reached Ohio and Kentucky; in company with
whom he proceeded through the wilder- ness to St. Mary’s, distant twenty or thirty miles. At that place he met General Har- rison on his return from the relief of Fort Wayne, after turning over his command to General Winchester, of the regular army. The next day and night, in company with three or four friends, he made the journey to Fort Wayne, distant about sixty miles, through an unbroken wilderness, infested with hostile savages; and there found the troops in motion towards Old Fort Defiance, at the junction of the Maumee and Auglaise rivers, and was attached by general orders as a cadet to the first regiment of Kentucky Volunteers, under Colonel Scott. In this capacity he continued to do duty the rc- mainder of the campaign, going out on all scouting-parties, and thus becoming well acquainted with the whole surrounding country. Some of them were attended with great hazard, and all of them with extra fatigue and hardship, even when com- pared with the starved and naked condition of all that wing of the army.
As these events have no doubt long since passed from the memories of those not im- mediately connected with them, and the principal history of them, written by Col- onel McAfee, is nearly out of print, we take leave to quote from his authentic work, “The History of the late War in the Western Country,” printed in 1816, the following passages, first remarking that the left wing of the north-western army, under General Winchester, (General Harrison having some weeks before received the ap- pointment of Major-General from the Pre- sident of the United States, and assumed the chief command,) was encamped six miles below Old Fort Defiance, on the Maumee:
“About the first of November they became
extremely sickly. The typhus fever raged with
violence, so that sometimes three or four would
die in a day. Upwards of three hundred were
daily on the sick-list; and so discouraging was
the prospect of advancing, that about the first
of December they were ordered to build huts
for their accommodation. Many were so entirely
destitute of shoes and other clothing, that they
must have frozen if they had been obliged to
march any distance; and sometimes the whole
army would be for many days entirely without
flour.” (pp. 183-1.)
“From the 10th to the 22d of this month, (December,) the camp was without flour, and for some time before they had only half rations; poor beef and hickory roots were their only sub-
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