The Project Gutenberg eBook of A Soldier's Life on the Western Frontier in 1813, by Anonymous
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: A Soldier's Life on the Western Frontier in 1813

Author: Anonymous
Release Date: July 28, 2021 [eBook #65943]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: Stephen Hutcheson and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
A Soldier’s Life on the Western Frontier in 1813


Prepared by the staff of the
Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County


One of a historical series, this pamphlet is published under the direction of the governing Boards of the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County.


B. F. Geyer, President
Joseph E. Kramer, Secretary
W. Page Yarnelle, Treasurer
Willard Shambaugh
Mrs. Sadie Fulk Roehrs


The members of this Board include the members of the Board of Trustees of the School City of Fort Wayne (with the same officers), together with the following citizens chosen from Allen County outside the corporate city of Fort Wayne:

James E. Graham
Arthur Niemeier
Mrs. Glenn Henderson
Mrs. Charles Reynolds


The following letter, written by an anonymous author to an unknown correspondent, vividly depicts the life of an American soldier on the western frontier during the War of 1812. Reprinted from the WEEKLY REGISTER, this letter might have been written by a twentieth-century soldier, for the experiences, hopes, and fears of this enlisted man in the early nineteenth century are similar to those of an American serviceman of our own day. Hardships, sufferings, and dangers are illustrated; but good will, respect for authority, and companionship are present in no lesser degree. The letter is reprinted as published except that grammar, spelling, and punctuation have been changed to conform to current usage.


Zanesville, Ohio

March 28, 1813

When I last wrote you from Upper Sandusky, I confidently expected that something of considerable importance would have transpired within a very short time; but, unfortunately, the war in this quarter is protracted to a much longer period than I contemplated at that time. Indeed, the best-informed people in the army think that nothing decisive can be done before next winter. Invasions of a country with militia will never be successful. Some militiamen will not cross the lines; others will not submit to any kind of authority; and, in fact, they would all prefer being at home rather than courting fame on the battlefield.

The Kentucky and Ohio militia have been discharged for some time; the Pennsylvania and Virginia militia are to be discharged on April 1; and, unless other troops arrive, the camp will, in a great measure, be unprotected. No men will be left except our battalion, consisting of the Petersburg Volunteers and two companies from Pittsburgh (fifty men in one and fifteen in the other), together with about three hundred and fifty regulars. Ensign James G. Chalmers, who is appointed paymaster for all the twelve-month volunteers, and I left the rapids on the eighth. We have to remain here until the arrival of the district paymaster.


The next day after the date of my letter from Upper Sandusky, we left that place for the rapids, together with three hundred militia under the command of Major Orr. We had with us twenty pieces of heavy artillery and a quantity of military stores of every description. At this time we knew nothing of the unfortunate events at the Raisin River. On the second day of our march, a courier arrived from General Harrison; the artillery was ordered to advance with all possible speed. This was rendered totally impossible by the falling snow; it was a complete swamp nearly all the way. On the evening of the same day, news arrived that General Harrison had retreated to the Portage River, eighteen miles in the rear of the encampment at the rapids. It was determined that as many men as could be spared should proceed immediately to reinforce him. It is unnecessary to state that we were among the first who wished to advance.

At two o’clock the next morning, our tents were struck; and in half an hour we were on the road. I will candidly confess that on that day I regretted being a soldier. We marched thirty miles in incessant rain; and I am afraid you will doubt my veracity when I tell you that in eight miles of the best road, we sank into mud over the knees and often to the middle. The Black Swamp (four miles from the Portage River and four miles in extent) would have been considered impassable by all except men who were determined to surmount every difficulty to accomplish the object of their march. In this swamp one loses sight of terra firma altogether. The water was about six inches deep on the ice, which was very rotten and often broke through to a depth of four or five feet.

That same night we encamped on very wet ground, but the driest that we could find; the rain still continued. It was with difficulty that we built fires; our clothes were wet. We had no tents, no axes, nothing to cook in, 4 and very little to eat. Since a brigade of pack horses was near us, we procured some flour from them; we killed a hog as there were plenty of them along the road. Our bread was baked in the ashes, and the pork we broiled on the coals. A sweeter meal I have never eaten. When we went to sleep, it was on two logs laid close together to keep our bodies from the damp ground. Good God! What a pliant being is man in adversity. The loftiest spirit that ever inhabited the human breast would have been tamed amid the difficulties that surrounded us.

The next morning we arrived at the headquarters of the northwestern army on the Portage River. During our stay here, we were in constant expectation of an attack. For several nights we went to sleep with our muskets in our arms and all our accoutrements fixed for action. On the arrival of the brigades of General Leftwich and General Crook [sic] from Sandusky, we marched for the rapids. The Kentucky and the Ohio troops had then only six days to serve. In a speech to them, the General pledged to take them to Malden in twenty days, which pledge would have been fulfilled if the cannon and military stores could have been got on. When we arrived at the rapids, the advance guard discovered that one of the three persons, who had been sent to Malden with a flag two days previously, had been killed and scalped by the Indians. The other two (we have since heard) are prisoners at Malden. So little does our enemy respect the laws of nations.

The encampment, protected by nature in three quarters by a steep, high bank, is opposite the Michigan Territory in a fine situation; the whole is picketed. The stores are deposited in eight blockhouses, built around 5 the picketing. All of the encampment is nearly in a complete state of defense. The handsomest country along this river is in the vicinity of the camp, but all is a scene of desolation. After Hull’s surrender, the whole country was laid waste by the Indians. Every half mile there had been a house; the only remaining indication of habitation is the ruins that cover the ground where houses once stood!

A few days after our arrival, a detachment, of which our company was a part, was sent out to attack a considerable party of Indians fifteen miles down the river. We started as night set in and marched all the way on the ice. About two o’clock we came near the place where we expected to surprise the enemy. We were put in order of battle and instructed to proceed in silence.

“Still was the pipe and drum—

Save heavy tread, and armor’s clang,

The sullen march was dumb.”

In a few minutes enemy forces were in sight; they were nearly a mile off in a bend of the river. When we were within gunshot (I could hear the men cocking their pieces), our company, to a man, was even at that moment cheerful and gay! Fear was far distant from our ranks; and I do sincerely believe that, had the enemy not flown previous to our arrival, we would all have realized the expectations of our friends. Some of their spies (as we have since heard from prisoners from Malden) saw us on our march, and as a consequence they made a precipitate retreat. We followed them to within five miles of the Raisin River and returned to camp without any rest, except for two hours. We were absent twenty-one hours, during which time we marched more than sixty miles. You are already acquainted with the particulars of the last unfortunate account at the Raisin River, likewise the failure of the expedition to destroy the “Queen Charlotte.” Our company marched as far as the mouth of Lake Erie to reinforce the men of the first party, but we met them on their return. We have all built small houses, which make us very comfortable, in front of the tents.


The camp duty is very severe; there are no tents or houses for the guard when the men are off their posts, so that it is equally as pleasant for them to be at their posts as off. They are forbidden to leave the rendezvous of the guard. Every other day a man mounts guard; on the day that intervenes, he is at work within the camp. Major Alexander, who commands the battalion, is as fine a fellow as I ever knew. The most perfect harmony exists between the Pittsburgh company and ours; they are the only two companies of twelve-month volunteers in camp, and the only companies that wear uniforms. A generous emulation exists between them, which is of infinite service to both. Officers and men all mingle together. We visit each other’s tents of an evening, sing, tell stories, play music, and drink grog when we can get it (which, by the bye, is not often the case; sutlers are not permitted to sell spirits in the camp).

Poor Edmund S. Gee is no more! I saw him breathe his last. We consigned him to his mother earth with all the decency our circumstances would permit. We had it not in our power to dress his corpse in all the pomp and pageantry of sorrow. The tears of his companions, more eloquent than all the parade that sable weeds could bestow, were his due; and 8 those he had! All the battalion attended the funeral, as did General Leftwich, who requested the chaplain to perform a funeral service, a thing not done on any similar occasion.

Chalmers and I will return to the camp in a few days. It is dangerous to travel the roads in small parties, as the Indians are all around the camp. We will be obliged to remain in the settlement until some troops are going on. The day before we left the camp, a lieutenant was shot and scalped within sight of the camp. Another man was shot at, but fortunately in his side pocket he had a Bible, which arrested the course of the ball and saved his life. There are one hundred miles of road between here and the rapids without a single inhabitant—all a wilderness.


Transcriber’s Notes

Updated editions will replace the previous one—the old editions will be renamed.
Creating the works from print editions not protected by U.S. copyright law means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyright royalties. Special rules, set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg™ electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG™ concept and trademark. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you charge for an eBook, except by following the terms of the trademark license, including paying royalties for use of the Project Gutenberg trademark. If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the trademark license is very easy. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and research. Project Gutenberg eBooks may be modified and printed and given away--you may do practically ANYTHING in the United States with eBooks not protected by U.S. copyright law. Redistribution is subject to the trademark license, especially commercial redistribution.
To protect the Project Gutenberg™ mission of promoting the free distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work (or any other work associated in any way with the phrase “Project Gutenberg”), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project Gutenberg™ License available with this file or online at
Section 1. General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg™ electronic works
1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg™ electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property (trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy all copies of Project Gutenberg™ electronic works in your possession. If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project Gutenberg™ electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.
1.B. “Project Gutenberg” is a registered trademark. It may only be used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a few things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg™ electronic works even without complying with the full terms of this agreement. See paragraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with Project Gutenberg™ electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg™ electronic works. See paragraph 1.E below.
1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation (“the Foundation” or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project Gutenberg™ electronic works. Nearly all the individual works in the collection are in the public domain in the United States. If an individual work is unprotected by copyright law in the United States and you are located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg are removed. Of course, we hope that you will support the Project Gutenberg™ mission of promoting free access to electronic works by freely sharing Project Gutenberg™ works in compliance with the terms of this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg™ name associated with the work. You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project Gutenberg™ License when you share it without charge with others.
1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern what you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are in a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States, check the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project Gutenberg™ work. The Foundation makes no representations concerning the copyright status of any work in any country other than the United States.
1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:
1.E.1. The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate access to, the full Project Gutenberg™ License must appear prominently whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg™ work (any work on which the phrase “Project Gutenberg” appears, or with which the phrase “Project Gutenberg” is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed, copied or distributed:
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.
1.E.2. If an individual Project Gutenberg™ electronic work is derived from texts not protected by U.S. copyright law (does not contain a notice indicating that it is posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees or charges. If you are redistributing or providing access to a work with the phrase “Project Gutenberg” associated with or appearing on the work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the Project Gutenberg™ trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.
1.E.3. If an individual Project Gutenberg™ electronic work is posted with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional terms imposed by the copyright holder. Additional terms will be linked to the Project Gutenberg™ License for all works posted with the permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.
1.E.4. Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg™ License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg™.
1.E.5. Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project Gutenberg™ License.
1.E.6. You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary, compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any word processing or hypertext form. However, if you provide access to or distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg™ work in a format other than “Plain Vanilla ASCII” or other format used in the official version posted on the official Project Gutenberg™ website (, you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon request, of the work in its original “Plain Vanilla ASCII” or other form. Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg™ License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.
1.E.7. Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying, performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg™ works unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.
1.E.8. You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing access to or distributing Project Gutenberg™ electronic works provided that:
• You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from the use of Project Gutenberg™ works calculated using the method you already use to calculate your applicable taxes. The fee is owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg™ trademark, but he has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Royalty payments must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax returns. Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the address specified in Section 4, “Information about donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.”
• You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg™ License. You must require such a user to return or destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of Project Gutenberg™ works.
• You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days of receipt of the work.
• You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free distribution of Project Gutenberg™ works.
1.E.9. If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg™ electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the manager of the Project Gutenberg™ trademark. Contact the Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.
1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread works not protected by U.S. copyright law in creating the Project Gutenberg™ collection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg™ electronic works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain “Defects,” such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.
1.F.2. LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the “Right of Replacement or Refund” described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project Gutenberg™ trademark, and any other party distributing a Project Gutenberg™ electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal fees. YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 1.F.3. YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
1.F.3. LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a written explanation to the person you received the work from. If you received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with your written explanation. The person or entity that provided you with the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a refund. If you received the work electronically, the person or entity providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If the second copy is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further opportunities to fix the problem.
1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you ‘AS-IS’, WITH NO OTHER WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.
1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages. If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by the applicable state law. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.
1.F.6. INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone providing copies of Project Gutenberg™ electronic works in accordance with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production, promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg™ electronic works, harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg™ work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any Project Gutenberg™ work, and (c) any Defect you cause.
Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg™
Project Gutenberg™ is synonymous with the free distribution of electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It exists because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from people in all walks of life.
Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the assistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg™’s goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg™ collection will remain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure and permanent future for Project Gutenberg™ and future generations. To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4 and the Foundation information page at
Section 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. The Foundation’s EIN or federal tax identification number is 64-6221541. Contributions to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state’s laws.
The Foundation’s business office is located at 809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887. Email contact links and up to date contact information can be found at the Foundation’s website and official page at
Section 4. Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
Project Gutenberg™ depends upon and cannot survive without widespread public support and donations to carry out its mission of increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed in machine-readable form accessible by the widest array of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations ($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt status with the IRS.
The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United States. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up with these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locations where we have not received written confirmation of compliance. To SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any particular state visit
While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who approach us with offers to donate.
International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from outside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.
Please check the Project Gutenberg web pages for current donation methods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of other ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations. To donate, please visit:
Section 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg™ electronic works
Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project Gutenberg™ concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared with anyone. For forty years, he produced and distributed Project Gutenberg™ eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.
Project Gutenberg™ eBooks are often created from several printed editions, all of which are confirmed as not protected by copyright in the U.S. unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not necessarily keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.
Most people start at our website which has the main PG search facility:
This website includes information about Project Gutenberg™, including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.