Editor’s note: This article was written by organizers of the event.
The 230th anniversary commemoration of the June 4 Battle of Sandusky recently was held at Upper Sandusky Community Library.
Local historian Tom Hill said Col. Wm. Crawford was familiar with the Ohio territory because he had surveyed thousands of acres of land for George Washington. The present day Wyandot County area was a “hot bed” of Indian activity. It was far enough away from the white man’s civilization that they could raise their families and their crops and go out on raiding parties. Crawford did not want to come out of retirement to lead this expedition. He had enough concern that he made out his will before he left. He was chosen by a vote of two over Col. David Williamson, who massacred the Moravian Indians, to lead this expedition. Congress did not want to spend the money for a regular army so Crawford led the Virginia Militia.
The British didn’t want to lose this land to the Americans so they kept the Indians stirred up with guns and other things the Indians wanted. The Indians knew at all times exactly where this expedition was. They stopped at Reber’s Bottom, the Elk’s Spring and traveled what is today’s Ohio 53.
The scouts were very uneasy because all the Indian villages were abandoned. There was a heated battle on June 4, 1782. Reinforcements of Red Coats (British), a part of Butler’s Rangers, helped the Indians even though the American Revolution was supposed to be over. Since there were so many reinforcements, it was decided to retreat. The troops got separated in the unfamiliar terrain. Crawford turned back when he couldn’t find his family members. Unfortunately for Crawford, he was captured by the Delaware Indians. They knew him and he knew them. If he would been captured by the Wyandotte, he probably would have been bartered to the British. The Delaware torture was horrendous. Even though Simon Girty did many terrible things, he tried to save Crawford but was told if he asked again he’d be next to be burned at the stake. Dr. John Knight reported the next morning all that was left was a pile of bones.
The Battle of Olentangy, across from Colonel Crawford School, was the second battle after the Battle of Sandusky. After the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the Wyandot changed over to the American side. The Wyandotte were the grandfather tribe of the Ohio area. The Delaware had to ask permission before they could torture and then burn Crawford.
Hill recommends Alan Fitzpatrick’s book “Wilderness War on the Ohio.” It is based on the journals the British army in the Ohio territory kept, sent to Canada and then on to England. They still are in Canada today.
John McClelland, a descendant of Maj. John McClelland, founder of John B. McClelland Memorial Foundation and member of Northeast Ohio Chapter of Sons of the American Revolution, introduced the speakers. He has a musical background so he took a song called “Crawford’s Defeat by the Indians on the Fourth Day of June, 1782” and set it to music. It is set to a familiar Scotch Irish tune since the Scotch Irish settled the area from where the Virginia Militia came.
Patrick Fleming, artist, unveiled his contemporary rendering of Crawford and McClelland’s torture and burning at the stake. The Indian chant that would have been going on the same time was played while he explained the painting.
Stephen House, an archeologist from Hocking College, spoke on the six significant historical sites in Wyandot County. He is concerned about them being destroyed. He spoke about the archeological discovers near the battle sites. He said the Wyandotte were scavengers and picked up anything except the very smallest items like flint and musket balls. He said Crawford had three strikes against him and the expedition. One, the Indians hated the Virginia Militia; two, Williamson was in the party. The Indians did not like the Moravian Christian Indians but it was their battle cry. A Shawnee raiding party was returning from southern Ohio and came as reinforcements. The Ohio country was basically French. The British came in and offered the Indians guns and other items of better quality and at a lower price. The Indians didn’t trust the French or the British.
Ron Marvin, of the Wyandot County Historical Society, said this is the 50th anniversary and they have been doing many updates of displays. He did an overview of what the Wyandot County Museum has in relation to the Battle of Sandusky.
The John Hancock and Northeast Ohio chapters of OHSSAR and Col. William Crawford Daughters of the American Revolution put on a memorial ceremony at Col. Wm Crawford’s Monument in Ritchie Crawford Cemetery. Dan Haas, president of John Hancock SAR, did the welcome, invocation and presentation of the colors. McClelland led those assembled in the Pledge of Allegiance. Steven R. Kelly, president of the Ohio Society Sons of the American Revolution, led the SAR Pledge. Mary Reinhart, a representative of Col. Wm Crawford DAR, led those assembled in the American’s Creed. Guest speakers were Ann Goodman-Baker, a direct descendant of Crawford and past regent of Col. Wm Crawford DAR; Tom Hill, author and local historian; and Kelly.
Goodman-Baker, Kelly and Haas presented wreaths at Crawford’s monument. Haas gave the memorial. Representatives of the SAR Color Guard were Dan Haas, Bill Barbaree, Greg Jewett, Jim Haas, Kelly and Tom Putnam. Dan Haas read the names of Crawford’s and McClelland’s descendants who were present or were members of Col. Wm Crawford DAR and then closed the ceremony.