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CLARK AND HIS MEN
AT the time of the Revolution there were but few people living on the
north side of the
Ohio River. But there were many Indians there.
These Indians killed a great many white people in
The Indians were sent by British officers to do this killing. There
was a British fort at Vincennes in what is now
Indiana. There was
another British fort or post at
Kaskaskia in what is now the State
George Rogers Clark was an American colonel. He wanted to stop the
murder of the settlers by the Indians. He thought that he could do it
by taking the British posts.
He had three hundred men. They went down the
 Ohio River in boats.
They landed near the mouth of the
Ohio River. Then they marched a
hundred and thirty miles to
Kaskaskia was far away from the Americans. The people there did not
think that the Americans would come so far to attack them. When Clark
got there, they were all asleep. He marched in and took the town
before they waked up.
The people living in Kaskaskia were French. By treating them well,
Clark made them all friendly to the Americans.
When the British at
Vincennes heard that Clark had taken Kaskaskia,
they thought that they would take it back again. But it was winter.
All the streams were full of water. They could not march till spring.
Then they would gather the Indians to help them, and take Clark
and his men.
But Clark thought that he would not wait to be taken. He thought that
he would just go and take the British. If he could manage to get to
Vincennes in the winter, he would not be expected.
Clark started with a hundred and seventy men. The country was nearly
all covered with water. The men were in the wet almost all the time.
Clark had hard work to keep his men cheerful. He did everything he
could to amuse them.
They had to wade through deep rivers. The
 water was icy cold. But
Clark made a joke of it. He kept them laughing whenever he could.
At one place the men refused to go through the freezing water. Clark
could not persuade them to cross the river. He called to him a tall
soldier. He was the very tallest man in Clark's little army. Clark
said to him, "Take the little drummer boy on your shoulders."
The little drummer was soon seated high on the shoulders of the tall
man. "Now go ahead!" said Clark.
The soldier marched into the water. The little drummer beat a march on
his drum. Clark cried out, "Forward!" Then he plunged into the water
after the tall soldier. All the men went in after him. They were soon
safe on the other side.
At another river the little drummer was floated over on the top of his
 At last the men drew near to
Vincennes. They could hear the
morning and evening gun in the British fort. But the worst of the way
was yet to pass. The
Wabash River had risen over its banks. The water
was five miles wide. The men marched from one high ground to another
through the cold water. They caught an Indian with a canoe. In this
they got across the main river. But there was more water to cross. The
men were so hungry that some of them fell down in the water. They had
to be carried out.
Clark's men got frightened at last, and then they had no heart to go
any farther. But Clark remembered what the Indians did when they went
to war. He took a little
gunpowder in his hand. He poured water on
it. Then he rubbed it on his face. It made his face black.
With his face blackened like an Indian's, he gave an Indian war-whoop.
The men followed him again.
The men were tired and hungry. But they soon reached dry ground. They
were now in sight of the fort. Clark marched his little army round and
round in such a way as to make it seem that he had many men with him.
He wrote a fierce letter to the British
commander. He behaved like a
general with a large army.
After some fighting, the British
 up. Clark's little
army took the British fort. This brave action saved to our country the
land that lies between the Ohio River and the Lakes. It stopped the
sending of Indians to kill the settlers in the West.