On This Day in History -
General George Rogers Clark
As the Revolution progressed, some of the Indians who had lost their territory in Kentucky allied with England. British Governor Henry Hamilton in Detroit began sponsoring Indian raids south of the Ohio. Clark secured Henry's support for capturing the British outposts that were supporting the raids and in 1778, he and 175 men marched north of the Ohio and took several British posts and Indian villages, including Vincennes, within a matter of days. Hamilton personally led a march that retook Vincennes shortly after.
Click to enlarge
Wabash: Through Wilderness and Flood
by Ezra Winter
This is one of 7 murals inside the George Rogers Clark Memorial
in Vincennes, Indiana. This painting depicts Clark's trek to capture
Vincennes in 1779.
In February, 1779, Clark made an epic winter trek through the wilderness to recapture Vincennes, which he did. Hamilton was captured, Clark was viewed as a hero throughout the colonies and the Indians feared even the mention of Clark's name. Virginia claimed the territory and called it Illinois County. Clark was promoted to Brigadier General by new Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson and would go on to plan several attacks on Detroit, which never came to pass. He then led an expedition into Ohio against several Indian towns that proved to be the last expedition of the American Revolution.
After the war, Clark led one of the first expeditions of the Northwest Indian War in 1785, but it failed due to a mutiny. Clark was accused of being drunk on the job and was forced to resign. He would never serve in the military again. He spent most of his remaining years in Louisville, Kentucky, which he founded, and Clarksville, Indiana, which was named after him, serving as an advisor to governors and city councils and acting as a negotiator with Indians.
Clark fell into deep debt and, in 1793, to remedy his financial woes, made a deal with French Ambassador Edmond-Charles Genet to raise an army to drive Spain out of the Mississippi River valley. President George Washington put a stop to this, however, by issuing a warrant for Clark's arrest. Kentucky Governor Isaac Shelby refused to arrest Clark, but Genet was recalled to France and the plan dissolved.
Clark lived his last years with his brother-in-law near Louisville after a severe accident caused a leg amputation. He died February 13, 1818. Virginia did finally vote to reimburse some of his war expenses to his estate, but not until several years after his death.
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