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that whatever may pass between them two and another person mutually agreed upon to be present shall remain secret till matters be finished, as he wishes that, whatever the result of the conference may be, it may tend to the honor and credit of each party. If Colonel Clark makes a difficulty of coming into the fort, Lieutenant-governor Hamilton will speak to him by the gate.
“(Signed) HENRY HAMILTON. “24th February, 1779.”
I was at a great loss to conceive what reason Lieutenant-governor Hamilton could have for wishing a truce of three days on such terms as he proposed. Numbers said it was a scheme to get me into their possession. I had a different opinion and no idea of his possessing such sentiments, as an act of that kind would infallibly ruin him. Although we had the greatest reason to expect a reënforcement in less than three days, that would at once put an end to the siege, I yet did not think it prudent to agree to the proposals, and sent the following answer:
“Colonel Clark's compliments to Lieutenant-governor Hamilton, and begs leave to inform him that he will not agree to any terms other than Mr. Hamilton's surrendering himself and garrison prisoners at discretion. If Mr. Hamilton is desirous of a conference with Colonel Clark, he will meet him at the church with Captain Helm.
“(Signed) G. R. C. “February 24th, 1779.”
We met at the church, about eighty yards from the fort, Lieutenant-governor Hamilton, Major Hay, superintendent of Indian affairs, Captain Helm, their prisoner, Major Bowman, and myself. The conference began. Hamilton produced terms of capitulation, signed, that contained various articles, one of which was that the garrison should be surrendered on their being permitted to go to Pensacola on parole. After deliberating on every article, I rejected the whole.
He then wished that I would make some proposition. I told him that I had no other to make than what I had already made,—that of his surrendering as prisoners at discretion. I said that his troops had behaved with spirit; that they could not suppose that they would be worse treated in consequence of it; that, if he chose to comply with the demand, though hard, perhaps the sooner the better; that it was in vain to make any proposition to me; that he, by this time, must be sensible that the garrison would fall; that both of us must [view?] all blood spilt for the future by the garrison as murder; that my troops were already impatient, and called aloud for permission to tear down and storm the fort. If such a step was taken, many, of course, would be cut down; and the result of an enraged body of woodsmen breaking in must be obvious to him. It would be out of the power of an American officer to save a single man.
Various altercation took place for a considerable time. Captain Helm attempted to moderate our fixed determination. I told him he was a British prisoner; and it was doubtful whether or not he could, with propriety, speak on the subject. Hamilton then said that Captain Helm was from that moment liberated, and might use his pleasure. I informed the Captain that I would not receive him on such terms; that he must return to the garrison, and await his fate. I then told Lieutenant-governor
Hamilton that hostilities should not commence until five minutes after the drums gave the alarm.
We took our leave, and parted but a few steps, when Hamilton stopped, and politely asked me if
I would be so kind as to give him my reasons for refusing the garrison any other terms than those I had offered. I told him I had no objections in giving him my real reasons, which were simply these: that I knew the greater part of the principal Indian partisans of Detroit were with him; that I wanted an excuse to put them to death or otherwise treat them as I thought proper; that the cries of the widows and the fatherless on the frontiers, which they had occasioned, now required their blood from my hand; and that I did not choose to be so timorous as to disobey the absolute commands of their authority, which I looked upon to be next to divine; that I would rather lose fifty men than not to empower myself to execute this piece of business with propriety; that, if he chose to risk the massacre of his garrison for their sakes, it was his own pleasure; and that I might, perhaps, take it into my head to send for some of those widows to see it executed.
Major Hay paying great attention, I had observed a kind of distrust in his countenance, which in a great measure influenced my conversation during this time. On my concluding, “Pray, sir,” said he, “who is it that you call Indian partisans ?” “Sir,” I replied, “I take Major Hay to be one of the principal.” I never saw a man in the moment of execution so struck as he appeared to be,-pale and trembling, scarcely able to stand. Hamilton blushed, and, I observed, was much affected at his behavior. Major Bowman's countenance sufficiently explained his disdain for the one and his sorrow for the other.
Some moments elapsed without a word passing on either side. From that moment my resolutions changed respecting Hamilton's situation. I told him that we would return to our respective posts; that I would reconsider the matter, and let him know the result. No offensive measures should be taken in the meantime. Agreed to; and we parted. What had passed being made known to our officers, it was agreed that we should moderate our resolutions.
That afternoon the following articles were signed and the garrison surrendered:
I. Lieutenant-governor Hamilton engages to deliver up to Colonel Clark, Fort Sackville, as it is at present, with all the stores, etc.
II. The garrison are to deliver themselves as prisoners of war, and march out with their arms and accoutrements, etc.
III. The garrison to be delivered up at ten o'clock tomorrow.
IV. Three days time to be allowed the garrison to settle their accounts with the inhabitants and traders of this place.
V. The officers of the garrison to be allowed their necessary baggage, etc.
Signed at Post St. Vincent (Vincennes), 24th of February, 1779.
Agreed for the following reasons: the remoteness from succor; the state and quantity of provisions, etc.; unanimity of officers and men in its expediency; the honorable terms allowed; and, lastly, the confidence in a generous enemy.
(Signed) HENRY HAMILTON,
Lieut.-Gov. and Superintendent,
* * * The business being now nearly at an end, troops were posted in several strong houses around the garrison and patroled during the night to prevent any