Journal-News, Sunday, July 7, 1991
Haymakers at Fort Hamilton wary of Indians
(This is the second of four columns on the career of Gen. Anthony Wayne in this region.)
By Jim Blount
Only a small force occupied Fort Hamilton in 1792 when Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne took command of the U. S. Army in the Northwest Territory.
Captain John Armstrong — a veteran of the American Revolution and frontier fighting — directed the timber garrison, which was about half the size of a football field.
There was always the threat of Indian action against the isolated wilderness outpost on the east bank of the Great Miami River. But most of the duty at Fort Hamilton was routine — and boring.
Making hay was the major task of soldiers and civilians at Fort Hamilton during the uncertain lull between Gen. Arthur St. Clair's defeat in November 1791 and the start of campaigning by Gen. Wayne, who had been named commander-in-chief of the frontier army March 5, 1792, by President George Washington.
For an army dependent on horses, hay was akin to gasoline and jet fuel for the modern military.
The hay project was part of Wayne's insistence on adequate supply and preparation of his army — elements neglected by generals Josiah Harmar in 1790 and St. Clair in 1791 because of pressure on them to hurry offensives against the Indians.
The haymaking had to be done outside the walls of Fort Hamilton, which increased the risk of Indian attack. Soldiers toiled with one eye on their tools and the crop and the other looking for Indians, who recognized the importance of the hay.
According to an early Hamilton historian, the crop was taken from "a beautiful natural prairie, covered with a luxuriant growth of grass." The 500- to 600-acre prairie was a mile south of the fort.
June 21, 1792, Captain Armstrong notified Brig. Gen. James Wilkinson, his superior in Cincinnati, that he had received six scythes and his men "have already cured five cocks (piles) of hay."
"It is so warm on the prairie that it is cut, cured and cocked the same day, and consequently can lose none of its juices. An additional number of scythes will be necessary," Armstrong said, and "I can find no sand as a substitute for whetstones."
"I have allowed the mowers one and a half rations per day, and both them and the haymakers half a pint of whisky each. I have also promised to use my endeavors to procure them extra wages," he explained.
He asked Wilkinson to send more whiskey and more scythes. Later in the summer he requested more horses, shoes for his men, and cartridge and bayonet belts that "would enable me to parade my company in uniform."
In a July 10 reply, Wilkinson indicated that shoes, belts and other supplies had been forwarded to Fort Hamilton. He also dispatched 10 gallons of port wine and five gallons of brandy, apparently to reward the haymakers.
But Armstrong complained about the quality and durability of supplies previously sent from Fort Washington to Fort Hamilton.
"The whip-saw I have received is not calculated for my wants," he said, and "the scythes are subject to be broken."
Meanwhile, Wilkinson implored Armstrong to get the most out of his men and horses.
"The wagons are hired at 20 shillings per day," he said. "You know how to get the pennyworth out of them. Drive late and early, and make short halts; at the same time, keep your scythes steadily at work."
Armstrong reported he expected to harvest 300 tons of hay. "In two days more I shall have all my hay home," he said July 14, estimating it at 150 tons. "The remaining 150 can easily be procured, and as much more, if wanted, and workmen, guards, etc., can be furnished."
The operation continued for several weeks, and in November 1792, Armstrong told Wilkinson that "the meadow has been cut and the hay in stack."
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Journal-News, Sunday, July 14, 1991
Desertion carried stiff penalty for soldiers at fort
(This is the third of four columns on the career of Gen. Anthony Wayne in this region.)
By Jim Blount
Service at Fort Hamilton was not a prize assignment for new soldiers fresh from the civilized eastern United States in 1793. Hostile Indians posed constant danger and the crude, isolated frontier outpost lacked conveniences and glamor.
Some men preferred to take their chances on desertion rather than continue to endure the harsh military duty at the fort on the east bank of the Great Miami River.
Desertion had been a problem in 1791, when the fort was built. Twenty-one soldiers left Oct. 3, 1791, three days after completion of Fort Hamilton.
In the spring of 1793, Major Michael Rudolph was commandant, and he was intent on stopping desertion in the ranks, a factor that had contributed to the lopsided defeat of Gen. Arthur St. Clair's army in November 1791. St. Clair's troops had marched out of Fort Hamilton a month before their annihilation.
Also, discipline was emphasized by St. Clair's successor, Gen. Anthony Wayne, Rudolph's commanding officer.
Rudolph, from Maryland, has been depicted as a tyrannical and arbitrary officer, a reputation probably based on his service during the American Revolution. He was a member of one of the most prestigious units of the colonial army — Lee's Legion, led by Light Horse Harry Lee.
The legion, which combined cavalry and infantry, was called "the most thoroughly disciplined and best-equipped scouts and raiders in the revolution."
The unit was formed in November 1780 with its officers and men carefully culled from other units. Lee's Legion fought with success in the Carolinas.
The untrained, inexperienced men sent to Rudolph 13 years later at Fort Hamilton were not soldiers of the same caliber.
In the spring of 1793, seven men deserted from Fort Hamilton, obtained a canoe and headed down the Ohio River with plans to continue to New Orleans via the Mississippi.
But they were stopped at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville, Ky.) and sent back to Rudolph at Fort Hamilton, where a court martial was ordered. It was the major's intent to make examples of the seven to discourage others thinking of desertion.
Three were sentenced to be hanged, and four suffered various punishments, but their lives were spared. The unlucky trio included John Brown and Seth Blinn, both New Yorkers, and John Gallaher or Gallagher, whose home state was not reported.
After the sentencing, according to an early historian, one soldier risked riding to Cincinnati to ask Gen. James Wilkinson to pardon the condemned men.
Meanwhile, a gallows was built south of Fort Hamilton in the vicinity of the present South Monument Avenue and Ludlow Street, and soldiers were ordered to witness the executions.
About 15 minutes after the hangings, the soldier returned from Cincinnati with the pardons.
Wayne reportedly forced Rudolph to resign because of the executions. According to legend, the ousted major suffered an ironic fate on the ocean. He was captured by Algerian pirates, who ordered Rudolph hanged at the yardarm of his own ship.
But desertion remained a problem at Fort Hamilton. While General Wilkinson commanded the fort, three soldiers were tried, found guilty and sentenced to be shot.
The 1882 county history says Mrs. Wilkinson, then residing at the fort, convinced her husband to pardon the doomed men.
Before the pardons were disclosed, General Wayne ordered preparations for the executions and the deserters were paraded before the troops.
"But, while the sentence of the court martial was being read by the adjutant, General Wayne rode up and stopped the proceedings," the 1882 history reports.
Then Wayne added a stem warning. "But the first man, and every man, who shall hereafter be found guilty of the crime of desertion shall surely die, so help me God."
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Journal News, Sunday, July 21, 1991
Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers led to treaty with Indians in area
(This is the last of four columns on the career of Gen. Anthony Wayne in this region.)
By Jim Blount
Fort Hamilton was enlarged in the summer of 1793 on orders from Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne as he prepared to lead a third U. S. offensive against the Indians in the region.
In March 1792, President George Washington had appointed the 47-year-old Pennsylvania native a major-general and commander of the Army in the Northwest Territory.
Wayne succeeded Gen. Arthur St. Clair, whose 1791 campaign ended in disaster. St. Clair's defeat followed Gen. Josiah Harmar's failed 1790 march.
Wayne, a veteran of the American Revolution, was afforded time to build a new army because the federal government was trying to resolve its problems with the Indians and British through extended negotiations.
With support from Congress and Washington's administration, Wayne began transforming the frontier army from a loose collection of unwilling, poorly equipped men and boys to trained and disciplined soldiers.
He re-organized his command into the Legion of the United States, which included four sub-legions of 1,280 men each led by a brigadier general. Each sub-legion included a blend of infantry, cavalry and artillery, a move aimed at increasing the tactical flexibility of the army.
Wayne also re-introduced Baron von Steuben's military manual, which had been used effectively by Washington's army during the American Revolution.
Another Wayne innovation was the establishment of a $40 reward for the return of deserters, a problem which had crippled St. Clair's army. The $40 was a respectable incentive for soldiers earning a meager $3 a month.
The new commander began assembling and drilling his army in 1792 at Pittsburgh and Legionville (now Ambridge, Pa.). He didn't start moving his men to Fort Washington at Cincinnati until April 30, 1793.
While training continued near Cincinnati, Wayne also attended to details of supply, including the enlargement of Fort Hamilton, built by St. Clair's army in September 1791. Fort Hamilton and other outposts north of here were stocked with supplies and food for men and horses.
The 1793 expansion at Fort Hamilton included building shops, stables and additional barracks, enlarging it to about the size of a football field.
Major Jonathan Cass commanded Fort Hamilton as Wayne's army of about 2,600 regulars, 360 militia and several scouts started moving north Oct. 6, 1793, from its base at Cincinnati through Fort Hamilton.
A week later — after a march of about 75 miles — Wayne halted to build a new stockade, Fort Greenville, which enclosed about 50 acres, making it the largest of the frontier outposts.
The bulk of Wayne's army wintered at the new fort, continuing its training for an expected showdown with the Indians and perhaps with their British allies.
Because of a renewal of diplomatic efforts, Wayne's Legion didn't resume its cautious advance from Fort Greenville until July 28, 1794. As the army moved north, three new forts were built, Fort Adams Aug. 2, Fort Defiance Aug. 8, and Fort Deposit on the Maumee River Aug. 18.
The next day, Aug. 19, Indian leaders considered and rejected Wayne's proposal for peaceful negotiations, setting the stage for a showdown battle with an Indian force of about 2,000, including Miami, Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandot, Ottawa and smaller numbers from other tribes.
That confrontation — called Fallen Timbers because it was in an area where trees had been felled by a storm — was waged Aug. 20, 1794, with only about 900 men from Wayne's army of 3,600 soldiers taking part. The victory was costly for Wayne; 33 men were killed and 104 wounded, about half the Indian losses.
The Battle of Fallen Timbers (near what is now Maumee, Ohio) climaxed a four-year U. S. military effort to end "the Indian menace" in the territory. It convinced the Indians to negotiate, resulting in the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.
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Journal News, Sunday, July 28, 1991
Mosler Safe Co. move spurred Hamilton growth
By Jim Blount
Hamilton had just celebrated its centennial nearly 100 years ago when the expanding Mosler Safe Co. began moving into its new plant in East Hamilton.
The transition from Cincinnati's riverfront to the rural area southeast of Hamilton started Sept. 21, 1891. Production in the new structure began Oct. 12 of that year.
Hamilton had won a spirited competition for the Cincinnati firm in June 1890, when local leaders agreed to provide 10 acres for the plant, plus $85,000. The money included $70,000 for construction and $15,000 for Mosler moving expenses.
The $85,000 was raised by selling 240 residential lots on 30 acres adjoining the site of the Mosler factory. That new subdivision was called East Hamilton, but was annexed to Hamilton a few year later.
In 1891, there were two crowded Mosler operations in Cincinnati — the Mosler Safe and Lock Co. at Front and Elm streets, and the Mosler Bank Safe Co. on Front between Park and Smith streets.
The new Hamilton plant was sandwiched between the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad on the east, the Miami-Erie Canal on the west and Grand Boulevard on the north.
As the factory neared completion, Moses Mosler, president of the company, chartered a 12-coach train to bring more than 200 employees and their families from Cincinnati to inspect the facility and it environs.
Mosler's arrival helped to fuel an industrial and residential boom in Hamilton in the early 1890s.
"The fame of the city of Hamilton as a manufacturing center, as a home for the busy bread-winner has gone abroad in the land," boasted the Hamilton Daily Democrat. "Old residents of this valley stand amazed at the rapid steps made by our prosperous and thriving city.
"Our success is largely due to the personal enterprise of a few men, who in their endeavors to persuade mammoth manufacturing establishments to locate here, have extensively advertised the town of Hamilton. We are growing and we must have more room," the newspaper said.
"The daily record of real estate transfers in the county recorder's office tells the story of the success of the Mosler syndicate," led by Lazard Kahn and O. V. Parrish, who "have already disposed of a large number of lots" in East Hamilton.
"Since the building of an electric railroad, the full length of East Avenue has become an established fact, the demand for property in that vicinity has greatly increased, and the best located and cheapest lots are controlled by the East Avenue Lot Association," whose agent was D. E. Sheehan, with an office at 6 N. Third St. in downtown Hamilton.
A Mosler history, compiled in 1973 by Bob Rosberg, said the early years in Hamilton were "prosperous," because "demand for the popular screw-door safe, bank vaults and insulated products were particularly good."
But it was not all business for Mosler executives.
"The founding family was acutely aware of personal need," Rosberg noted, "so a mutual aid society was formed to assist employees during periods of illness and personal distress,
"Also, a volunteer fire department was formed and continued in operation even after a city fire station was built," Rosberg explained. "In order to provide power for the plant, private homes and street lights, Mosler built a power station called the East Hamilton Power and Light Co. It then sold power to the city of Hamilton."
Mosler also subsidized the building of churches in East Hamilton, setting a pattern of community service that has continued for 100 years.
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