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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Shop > Books Listed by Topic > The Indiana Historian > The Fall of Fort Sackville > The Fall of Fort Sackville - Focus > Memoir of Campaigns Against the British Posts Northwest of the River Ohio Memoir of Campaigns Against the British Posts Northwest of the River Ohio

The introduction to the memoir and text of the memoir, which follows in nine parts, are quoted from Conquest of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio 1778-1783 and Life of Gen. George Rogers Clark by William Hayden English. The two volumes were published by The Bowen-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Kansas City, Missouri, in 1897.

The memoir which will now be given was the last and longest account written by General Clark of his campaigns against the British posts northwest of the river Ohio, and the events in Kentucky and Virginia connected therewith.

Attention was first called to the memoir by Mr. John B. Dillon, who published lengthy extracts from it in his history of Indiana about the year 1842. These printed extracts have generally been used by subsequent writers, and the memoir is now published in full for the first time.

The author of this work is in possession of the manuscript copy of the memoir from which Mr. Dillon made his extracts, and has carefully compared it with the copy in possession of Colonel Reuben T. Durrett, of Louisville, Kentucky, and partially with the one in the Draper collection in the Wisconsin Historical Society; these being the only copies of the memoir known to be in existence. The last mentioned is claimed to be the original, but, unfortunately, a number of the leaves have been lost. The manuscript copy in possession of the author is headed with a statement that it is "from a MS. memoir of General George Rogers Clark, composed by himself at the united desire of Presidents Jefferson and Madison, in the possession of Professor Bliss, of Louisville, Kentucky." Professor Bliss, about that time, had undertaken to write a history of General Clark, and the memoir had probably come into his possession for that purpose. But he was shot on the street in Louisville, September 26, 1842, by a rival editor of a newspaper, and died from the wound, having written but a few pages of his contemplated history.

It is said that the original manuscript of the memoir was loaned, from time to time, by the Clark family, to several parties for historical purposes. Mann Butler had it in 1833, and either it, or a copy, was at one time in the Kentucky Historical Society, and at another in the possession of Professor Bliss, but it finally drifted into the hands of Lyman C. Draper, who also contemplated writing a history of George Rogers Clark, but died without doing it, and upon his death the memoir passed into the hands of the Wisconsin Historical Society with other historic papers.

The memoir seems to have been in the form of a letter, and the word "Sir" at the beginning indicates that it was, at least, not addressed to Jefferson and Madison jointly, or to more than one person.

From the letter of Mr. Jefferson, already quoted in the introduction to the Mason letter, it would seem reasonable to infer that Clark was writing the memoir in 1791, the date of Mr. Jefferson's letter. That is not conclusive, however, and there is no date on any of the manuscript copies. Neither does the author remember to have seen any statement as to the exact time it was written.