Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Notes on the Battle of Piqua


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 218


There are many accounts of this affair, both written and traditional. Nearly every writer who has treated the early history of the West has something to say about George Rogers Clark and his achievements, among which this one is mentioned, yet there is an unsatisfactory want of such details and particulars as would be found in the official reports of a modern engagement.

There are two accounts in Howe's "Historical Collections of Ohio," one of which is reproduced from another work, while the other was from an article (fresh and new when Howe wrote) written, or dictated, by the late Abraham Thomas, of Miami County who was a soldier in Clark's army. Thomas calls it a "bloodless victory," yet he says they "took possession of all the squaws and papooses, and killed a great many warriors," which would hardly have been accomplished without some white men getting hurt. The most common statement is that the Indians lost seventeen warriors, and Clark a like number. There are some proofs that the whites suffered the loss of quite a number, and these scraps of evidence are now within reach of the present generation; for instance: The venerable Ezra Baker, of Mad River Township, who is now eighty-four years of age, remembers having seen the trench where Clark's men were buried, opened, and the remains of two or three men exposed. The spot where the Indians were buried was also determined by the same party of men. This was done onaa sort of wager, or as proof that a certain stranger (who had made his appearance in that settlement a few days before, claiming to have been one of Clark's men) was not an impostor, but knew whereof he spoke in a blistering manner. Mr. Baker was about ten years of age at the time, and, boy-fashion, he followed the party and witnessed the result.

The writer was one of a party of citizens, composed of Ezra and Leander Baker, Thomas Kizer (the veteran surveyor of Southwestern Ohio), William Whitely, Esq., and others of the representatives of the early settlers, which party spent several days in examining the battle-ground of Old Piqua, with the view of more definitely ascertaining the site of the ancient stockade, council house, and other points of interest connected with the locality.

This was in July and August, 1880, just before the Clark-Shawnee Centennial, and, while no material evidence was found to indicate the burial-place of the whites, there is little doubt that the flag-staff at present standing in Mr. Baker's orchard, is within fifty feet of the spot.

The reader must remember that the whole ground is now in a high state of improvement, and digging pits and trenches can only be done to a limited extent. There were some remains of the stockade found in several places, the relative positions of which indicated its boundary lines; these were measured and examined by Col. Kizer, and duly noted in his field-book; other measurements and observations were also made.

Various notions have from time to time been entertained, by different people, in regard to the movements of Logan's command (Clark's right wing) during the fight. Without going into tedious details, it may not be amiss to call attention to some items which present themselves to any one at all familiar with the topography of the field of Piqua: First, the rocky cañon of Mad River, known as "Tecumseh's Rifle Range," would hardly be entered by any commander, under the uncertain circumstances which surrounded Col. Logan, without first knowing that "the defile" was clear; second, to have marched eastward across the highland, which rises within the bend of the river, would have been going away from the scene of action, and away from the Indian rear. Both of the above suppositions are averse to his having "gone up the river three miles," or "to the confluence of Buck Creek" with Mad River.

The little valley of the stream known as Abberfelda Creek (which runs near the Sintz property), in its natural, unobstructed condition, would afford a tolerably safe route, and one leading in the direction of the rear ground of the enemy; besides, this, circuit would extend about three miles in distance, which would be in accordance with the distance named in the early accounts of the battle.

The narrow defile through the cliffs is to be seen to-day, just as it was when the Indians filed through it on their way out of Clark's environment, except that the "floor," or rocky surface at the bottom, was leveled off, and in some places the passage was widened by the early settlers, who used it as a roadway from the valley to the uplands.

This defile is worthy of a visit by any one at all interested in natural scenery with historic associations. The entrance is so hidden by the configuration of the cliffs, and by foliage, as to be unobservable by the passer-by, unless by an especial effort.

There is a wide, bowl-shaped valley or park just behind the old Indian town, which is so situated as to be entirely out of sight from any point or direction from which an enemy would be likely to approach; this valley is watered by half a dozen large springs, and penetrated by two or three narrow ravines, which open by small pathways to the upalnds in the rear. This was the assembly-ground, where Clark-Shawnee Centennial was held. For that occasion it was named Mingo Park. From its location and natural fitness, it is not unlikely that thispark was used as a cover for the non-combatant portion of the Indian inhabitants.

During the early settlement of "New Boston" and vicinity, many relics and marks of the Indian occupations and Clark's engagement were found, and even now a rusty bayonet, or some other warlike article, is occasionally plowed up. Aside from these, nothing remains but the historic topography and the traditions of the day.

"The scene around is peaceful now,
and broken is the battle spear,
But nations have been made to bow
Beneath the yoke of conquest here."














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