Gambar halaman

his command, to join other troops from the South, to give battle to the Chickasaw Nation, he was slain there, and the fort at the Indian village was, in memory of him, christened Fort St. Vincent, and was known by that name until changed by the next commander, Louis St. Ange, to his own name, by which it was known until this part of the country was ceded by France to England.

Colonel Ramsey, on taking possession of the fort in the name of Great Britain, renamed it Fort Sackville, in honor of an English soldier and statesman, then in the zenith of his glory and popular favor in 1764.*

There has been some difference of opinion as to the exact location of the fort on account of the tendency of some to multiply the old defenses of the town. Beyon/ doubt it was located on the ground in front of the old Catholic church, as it looked northwest, and included lots numbers 34, 35, 24 and 25, near the river bank, and lots numbers 23 and 26 on the north, reaching to Vigo street, according to the plat of the city by Emison & Johnson, made in 1821. The town was not before laid off, and the streets made by the aforesaid survey and lots numbered, I think, give the exact location, and a good idea may be formed of it by the following boundaries: Taking the river as one side, Barnett street as another; a line parallel with the church property looking north as another, and Vigo street as the last. The fort and the church faced each other, the former looking southeast, the latter northwest, the two being, it is recorded, about eighty yards apart. The ground occupied by the fort, as represented in Goodspeed's History, was an irregular inclosure, being about sixty feet at the narrowest part, and two hundred in width, containing between two and three acres. As to the character of the defenses of the fort, discrepancies exist. The historian above alluded to says: “Upon the river's side, and within forty feet of the water's edge, two lines of palisades, reaching twenty feet above the surface of the earth, constructed of large timbers from the forest, planted firmly in the ground, were backed by a line of earthworks thrown up about eight feet high, behind which were mounted four six-pounders, en barbette. Along the line of Vigo street, at right angles with the river, and crossing First street, was the principal entrance, a gateway; and opening upon the latter highway, protected by this, were similar lines of defense, protected by guns of the same caliber at each angle, mounted upon platforms of heavy timbers. At the elevation of twenty-five feet at each side of the gateway were swivels, trained to command the approach along the street. The entire walls were pierced at convenient heights by a row of port holes, from which musketry could be fired. A similar palisade, defended by two guns of ten-pound caliber, protected the flank next to the church in the rear of the works, south of Barnett street, where there were two towers, or bastions, pierced for musketry, made exceptionally strong against an assault by a line of heavy timbers joined tightly together and covered with earth. Within the fortifications were barracks for one thousand men, a magazine and officers' quarters."

* George G. Sackville was an English Viscount, and served with distinction in the British army in 1743-69; was Secretary of State, for the colonies, during the Revolution, and especially distinguished for his bitterness toward them. Born, 1716: died, 1785. Supposed to be the author of the Letters of Junius.-- Peoples' Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 1533.

Other pictures of the fort do not show that it was a formidable one at the time it was delivered to Captain Helm, on August 6, 1778, or when Hamilton recaptured it from Helm, in December following, for he described it as a very poor affair, and gave immediate attention to strengthening the defenses, and said: “I built a guard house, barracks for four companies, sunk a well and constructed two large block houses of oak with embrazures above for five pieces of cannon each ; altered and lined the stockades, and laid the fort with gravel.” And, in speaking of his surrender, and giving a reason for it, he said: “The officers, who had continued in tents all winter, were exposed to the fire of the enemies' riflemen, as the picketing of the fort was so poorly set up that one night pass the clenched hand between the timbers of the stockades.” Count Volney, who visited Vincennes in 1796, in speaking of the defenses, says: “Adjoining the village is a space inclosed by a ditch eight feet wide and sharpened stakes six feet high. This is called the fort, and is a sufficient protection against the Indians."*

It will be seen by the foregoing description that the fort must have been as it was when “added to and remodeled” by Hamilton, and at its best; and that by Count Volney, seventeen years later, when it had become deteriorated, and when forts in this region were becoming more ornamental than useful.

As to the number of forts said to have been erected in Vincennes, the writer addressed an inquiry to an official of the War Department, Washington, D. C., asking if there

evidence on file there showing that there was ever more than one fort erected here, and if so, had it ever been moved out of the town. The following reply was received: “The following writers, who have said more or less on the history of Fort Sackville (otherwise known as Fort St. Vincent, Fort Patrick Henry and possibly identical with Fort Knox), make no mention of it ever having been removed from its original location: Butler's History of Kentucky, Dunn's History of Indiana, Brown's Old Northwest, Albuck's Annals of the West, Brice's History of Ft. Wayne, Davidson & Stevenson’s History of Illinois, Law's History of Vincennes and Dr. Hass' Indian Wars of West Virginia."

was any

* Goodspeed, Hist. Knox County, p. 235.

Dunn, in his history (p. 265) says: “A fort was built in 1787 and named Fort Knox by General Harmar.” . This is evidently a mistake, but one that might have been easily fallen into. At the time specified Major Hamtranck was in command of this post, when some correspondence occurred between General Harmar, then at his post in Cincinnati, and Major Hamtranck, located at “Post Vincennes,” which in part is as follows:

"Fort Harmar, October 13, 1788.

Let your fort be named

“Dear MajorFort Knox, etc.”

One need not conclude, from this expression of General Harmar, that a new fort had been built. There was precedent and reason why the name of the old fort should be changed. First, For many years the name of the fort at Vincennes had been changed by each successive commander; second, General Knox was then Secretary of War and it would be paying him a compliment to give the fort his name. On the accession of Virginia to the ownership of the country the fori's name was changed from the name, of Sackville, to that of Fort Patrick Henry (the then Governor and Commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces), by General Clark. Third, Why would Hamtranek desire to build the fort when there was one already constructed ? In 1788 the rights of Virginia had passed to the l'nited States Government, when a l'nited States army officer was placed in charge of the post; then the pretty compliment to the Secretary of War, General Knox, was suggested by General Harmar to Major Hamtranek: “Let your fort be named Fort Knox.”

A further extract from the official of the War Department above mentioned says: “As there seems to be no mention of the construction of this fert (Fort Knox), it is quite correct to suppose that it was identical with Post Vincennes, and that the change of name was merely one of honor (to General Knox) and was made in connection with the revival of the military at that post, under the direction of Major Hamtranck.” And thus it was that Fort Knox, by the stroke of the pen, which is sometimes mightier than the sword, without the aid of axe, pick or shovel, sprang into existence, and by its metamorphosis Major Hamtranck has given historians a world of trouble in regard to this alleged new fort. From the same War Department official I will further quote, as follows: “Dunn, in addition to this, states immediately after the surrender of Fort Sackville, the name was changed to Fort Patrick Henry, by which name it was known for about ten years.

Let it be remembered that the life of Fort Patrick Henry was just about the lapse of time needed to inaugurate another name—Fort Knox—by Major Hamtranck.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »