The 18th Century Deuce and a Half.
By Josef Kleffman
When George Rogers Clark started his campaign to Vincennes in February 1779 he took pack animals with him to lighten the load that his men had to carry on the campaign.
One packhorse or mule was issued to each tent squad of 6 men. This animal would carry the squad’s tent, poles, cookpot, ax or shovel, blankets, and extra rations. Clark would have needed to have at least 30 pack animals to carry supplies for his 170 men.
He would have also had extra horses on the campaign because he mentions that he
On the 2nd of February Paul Reome was appointed as the pack horse master for the expedition and 8 other drivers were enlisted with him. The same day the pack saddles were prepared. On these saddles would have been carried rations of Flour, dried beef or buffalo, salt pork, peas, Indian meal (corn) salt and 22 quarts of taffia were distributed through the pack train.
The reason that we know Clark’s men had tents and axes and they were carried on the pack animals was because Joseph Bowman on the 10th of February noted in his journal that the column crossed the Petit river on trees that had been cut down by the men for the purpose of crossing the river. He later wrote that it was still raining and the men didn’t have any tents when they camped near the river Stormy. The men didn’t have any tents because they were on the animals that were in the rear of the column. Bowman wrote later on the 12th of February that it wasn’t until late in the night when the men and the pack train got together.
Another reason the men suffered on the last 9 miles to Vincennes was because Clark left the pack animals behind when the column crossed the flooded Wabash river. The men had no tents or other luxuries.
George Rogers Clarks Papers Virginia State Library Richmond, Virginia 0066-May 1779 0064-May 27, 1779 0486-June 30, 1779 0670-not dated 0676-June 28, 1779 1092- March 1779
Joseph Bowman Journal of the Vincennes Campaign.