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Historical photo show 100 years ago header

100 Years Ago

Black History
Civil War
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Redcoats in Shelby County, Ohio

Although there are no records indicating that any Revolutionary War action occurred in Shelby County, it was reported in the "Piqua Daily Call" on January 21, 1950, in an article written by historian Leonard U. Hill, that British soldiers (redcoats) were in this area. His information came from a leaflet written by M.M. Quaife that is part of the Burton Historical Collection, in Detroit, Michigan.

Hill’s article details that Captain Henry Bird’s expedition consisted of 150 whites with 600 Indian warriors. One hundred and forty of the whites were listed by name, only thirty of whom volunteered, with the rest being ordered to go. They also had a train of several small cannons. The expedition left Detroit on May 25, 1780. They traveled by boat as much as possible and probably followed the Detroit River, Lake Erie, Maumee River and St. Mary’s River; then crossed the portage to Loramie’s Creek and down the Great Miami River.

They definitely sailed the Great Miami River, as indicated in a letter written by Captain Alexander McKee to Governor DePeyster at Detroit in which he writes, "The last letter to you was dated from the Plains of the Great Miami and that our force was to be collected upon the Ohio at the mouth of that river. We arrived on the 13th of June." By the time the expedition reached the Ohio River, the Indian warrior numbers had swelled, by the recruitment of Miami and Shawnee braves, to over 1,000.

The expedition entered Kentucky, (American territory) and in a series of attacks that left unprecedented destruction and death, they captured three to four hundred prisoners, including some slaves. After crossing the Ohio River into British territory, Captain Bird on July 1, wrote: "I procured a guide through the woods. I marched the poor women and children 20 miles in one day over high mountains, frightening them with frequent alarms to push them forward, in short, Sir, by water and land we came with all our cannon etc., 90 miles in 4 days, one day out of which we lay by entirely, rowing 50 miles the last day - we have no meat and must subsist on flour if there is nothing for us at Loramier’s (Peter Loramie’s trading post). Everything is safe so far; we are not yet out of reach of pursuit."

A later letter was written by Captain McKee from an area Shawnee village that was not documented. It is not recorded whether the expedition was able to secure food at Loramie’s trading post, but it is known that they returned to Fort Detroit on August 4, 1780. Documents in existence today indicate that some of the captured slaves were sold. (Great Britain’s Parliament voted to abolish slavery in 1807; taking affect in 1808). It is also not known what happened to the other captives, although, they may have been returned to their families in a prisoner exchange at the conclusion of the war.

'Indian' segment written in December, 1997 by David Lodge


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