|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.
Hills article details that Captain Henry Birds 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. Marys River; then crossed the portage to Loramies 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 Loramiers (Peter Loramies 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
Loramies 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 Britains 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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