Crawford’s Defeat

A continuation of the McQueen and Brown involvement in Indian wars.

After the massacre at Gnadenhutten the thirst for blood on both sides was high. All of this conflict was occurring towards the end of the revolutionary war largely because the American’s wanted to put a lid on any Indians helping out the enemy or causing trouble on the western frontier. So an expedition was organized, to be led by Crawford, to destroy any enemy Indian towns along the Sandusky River in Ohio Country.

The expedition was a disaster from the start, partly because the Indians and British knew they were coming, and were quite prepared for the coming battles, and partly because of the poorly trained miliamen, bad leadership and poor planning on the part of those in Crawford’s organization.

Crawford Route (Image from Wikipedia page).
Significant battles (Image from Wikipedia page).

The McQueen brothers and George Brown were all part of this campaign. George was married to Elizabeth McQueen (their sister; and my 5xgreat grandparents). George had his own company of which he was a captain, brother-in-laws James and Benjamin McQueen were part of this company.

Between May 20th and 24th of 1782 the frontiersmen all met at Mingo Bottom and on the 25th the expedition left and begin their 150 mile trek to the enemy, the enemy that watched their every move. It wasn’t until June 6th that anything of importance happened. They had run across the deserted villages along the Sandusky where they expected to find villages full of people to exterminate. The miliamen upon seeing this, became very impatient to return to their homes as there was nothing of interest to continue pursuing. It was decided by the officers in charge to march one more day and if they didn’t find anything, to abandon their course and return home.

No sooner had they made this decision than a scout showed up to inform them of an advancing party of Indians about 3 miles away. The army eagerly moved to meet the enemy and proceeded to attack. The melee went on all day with heavy fire on both sides. But the Indians didn’t outright attack during the day, although they appeared to be increasing in numbers at an alarming rate, becoming so noticeable that the American officers decided they would have to begin a night retreat in an effort to save the army. The Indians who were aware of their plans, attacked at sundown. The frontiersmen (comprising about 1/3 of the army) retreated into different directions in small groups hoping that the Indians would follow the main body of the army. But they didn’t.

George Brown’s company was one of those that split off. Another McQueen brother, Thomas, who was with a different company, also left. The Indians had no intention of letting the enemy go so easily and spent several days pursuing and killing any straggling parties they found.

George was shot in the arm or thigh (depending on which telling you read) and the bone broke, he managed to escape on horse, but had to hide quite often before he could make it home. He had spent time trying to find others in his company before he was shot and gave up to head home. Two weeks later he showed up at his door much to the joy of his wife Elizabeth. His brother-in-law Thomas McQueen was not so lucky, he was caught when a fellow traveler decided it was a good idea to shoot a raccoon for dinner and the shots were heard.

“My brother Tom was taken in Crawford’s campaign…and [they] made Tom run the gauntlet. There was not a sound place in [his] head when he got through. But a squaw gave, I forget how many buckskins for him. The 3 had been separated from the rest of the army. Got way down on the Ohio, and being nearly starved, the lieutenant would shoot at a raccoon in the tree, & the indians heard them and took them. The British had him in irons a great while for saying something about Simon Girty…”2, 3

Thomas did eventually make it home, although in later years he was nearly blind due to the trauma to his head during the gauntlet.

So this particular campaign on the part of the Americans to annihilate the Indians was a bust. And, because of the Gnadenhütten massacre, the Ohio Indians had resolved to kill all American prisoners who fell into their hands. The number of Americans executed is unknown. Crawford’s execution was especially gruesome and I don’t have the stomach to tell it, you can read all about it at the wiki site.

The burning of Crawford.

2. “Metes and Bounds I: Dugal McQueen and Some Descendants”, by Donna Hechler. Wyandotte, OK, The Gregath Publishing Company: 1999.
3. The story of Simon Girty

Incarceration, transportation, slavery, freedom…

Debtors prison in the 1700s.

Thomas McQueen, son of Dugal McQueen, married a woman by the name of Elizabeth ______ Berry. She is said to have been born in France sometime in the 1700s. Somehow she ended up in England. In 1739 at the Lent term of court in the Oxford Circuit, an Elizabeth Berry, wife of Ambrose Berry, was sentenced to transportation to America for seven years for theft at St. Aldate[’s street]1 in Oxford. It is believed that this is, quite possibly, our ancestress. We don’t know what she stole or why she did and I am sure the court didn’t much care either. We also do not know if her husband was alive or around when she was arrested or transported.

Transportation of convicts to America by the British started as early as 1610 and continued until the American Revolution. It was about 10 or so years later that England started sending their convicts to Australia. (In the meantime, male convicts were confined to hard labour on prison hulks2 on the Thames, and the women were imprisoned.)

When England started transporting its convicts, the reason touted about was the belief that the sentence would reform the criminals. But most everyone knew it was merely a ruse to just get rid of them. The first transportation act was passed in 1718 and allowed the courts to sentence felons to seven years transportation to America.

While Elizabeth waited for her court date she sat in prison.

Prisons in England in the 1700s were mostly unregulated institutions. In fact they were usually privately owned by: franchises, individuals, or municipal corporations. The location of the prison could be the cellar of a business, an old castle, or a courthouse dungeon. However, while the locations might differ, the things they all had in common were the appalling conditions and complete lack of care for the prisoners. In fact, everyone was locked up together without regard to sex, age, type of crime, or sanity. These places were overcrowded pits of disease, death, and despair.

Because a large majority of these ‘prisons’ had not been built for holding prisoners, there was a universal use of irons, straight-jackets and chains by jailers to keep the prisoners confined. At one prison the jailor secured his prisoners by chaining them on their backs to the floor, putting an iron collar about their necks that contained spikes, then placing an iron bar over their legs.

Jailers were not paid for their employment. Instead they relied on bribes, tips, and fees to make their livelihood. They profited from the sale of gin, acted as pimps, and charged inmates fees if they wanted to be released from their chained confinement, for a short amount of time. These conditions, of course, attracted the most vile of people to the job. This also meant that imprisonment could be a life sentence. If your sentence was up but your fee wasn’t paid ‘for services rendered’ you weren’t released until it was. Life in prison could happen to those who were merely waiting on their day in court, and then were pronounced innocent.

The merchants who shipped these convicts off to America made a fortune for themselves, and the plantation owners who bought them made a fortune on cheap labor. Many convicts died on the trip over and more died from the treatment they received from their ‘owners’. Many of the women who were transported to the colonies were used as prostitutes/mistresses to meet the demands of the men, whether they were willing or not. Those who were able to escape being prostituted worked for the managerial class.

Happily, for us, Elizabeth survived the horrors of her incarceration, her dreadful transportation to America, and her 7 years of slavery indentured servitude (unless she ran away! You go girl!).

By about 1755 Elizabeth was married to Thomas McQueen3, (both were of Baltimore), son of Dugal, who had been transported to America as a Scottish prisoner of war in 1716.

1 A search of the internet shows that St. Aldate is actually St. Aldate’s Street in Oxford, England.
2 These hulks were old navy ships anchored along the banks of the Thames.
3 Researchers have been unsuccessful in finding a marriage record for them, but their first known child was born in 1756.