George Rogers Clark – Soldier

A brief history of the career of General George Rogers Clark, Revolutionary War Soldier.

George Rogers Clark

George Rogers Clark

 

George Rogers Clark
Born: November 09 or 19, 1752 at Albemarle County, Virginia
Died: February 13, 1818 (aged 65) at Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Buried: Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Service/branch: Virginia Militia
Rank: General
Years of service 1776–1790

 

 

The following is from documents of the War Department, The Adjutant General’s Office, dated February 24, 1930:

George Rogers Clarke

But little official information is found in the War Department relating to George Rogers Clarke, the captor of Kaskaskia, Cahokia and Vincennes in the period of the Revolutionary War in the regiion of the present States of Indiana and Illinois. The collection of records of that war in this Department is far from complete. At the time when he went upon a military expedition in that region, about 1778-1783, he was colonel of Clarkes’ Illinois regiment of the Virginia State Troops and a brigadier general under commissions from the Governor of Virginia, Governor patrick Henry, by who, it appears, he was sent into that region.

Heitman’s Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, an unofficial publication compiled from trustworth sources and entitled to credit, shows that George Rogers Clarke, of Virginia, colonel and brigadier general of Virginia Militia, served from 1779 to 1783, mainly on the western frontier, and that he died, a civilian, February 18, 1818. Evidently he died in Kentucky.

Lossing’s Field-Book of the Revolution, regarded as trustworthy, contains considerable information relating to Clarke (name often found as Clark) in Volume 11, pages 283, 285, 287-291, 295 and 339. It appears from Lossing that Clarke was born in Albemarle County, near Charlottsville, Virginia, November 19, 1752; that he became a land surveyor, thus acquiring a love for forest life (p. 287); that he first went to Kentucky in 1772 (p. 287); commanded a company of Virginia troops in Lord Dunmore’s war in Western Virginia in 1774, when he acquired a better knowledge of the country west of the Alleghany Mountains (p.288); that in that year he was also the leader of a party of pioneers on their way to Kentucky to make a settlement (p. 283); that in 1775 and 1776 he traversed vast regions south of the Ohio River and studied the character of the Indians (p. 288); that in Kentucky in 1775 he was at the head of a temprary command of armed settlers (p. 288); that following his explorations in Kentucky he laid before the Virginia Assembly, probably in 1777, a plan for reducing the hostile British posts in the Ohio country, which plan was highly approved by Governor Patrick Henry (p. 288); that in 1778 Clarke was ordered by Governor Henry to proceed to the defense of Kentucky and capture Kaskaskia from the British (p. 288); that early in the spring of 1778 Clarke’s force rendezvoused at Corn Island at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville), where the force was joined by the famous figher Simon Kenton; that the expedition went by boats from the Falls to the mouth of the Tennessee River and landed at the site of the present Paducah (p. 289); captured Kaskaskia before midnight of July 4, 1778 (p. 289); that Clarke was promoted from major to colonel about August, 1778 (p. 290); that he captured Cahokia July 9, 1778 (p. 290); captured Vincennes February 20, 1779, taking among other prisoners Governor Hamilton, who had lately brought a garrison there from Detroit to protect the place; that Clarke visited Richmond, Virginia, in December 1780, and urged the Assembly to supply means to further chastise the enemy (p. 294); that while in Virginia Clarke took a temporary command under Baron Steuben operating near the James River (p. 295); that early in 1781 he raised a considerable force in Virginia for an expedition against Detroit, which was ordered March 15 to rendezvous at Louisville, whereupon he was promoted from colonel to brigadier general; but owing to Cornwallis’s menace of Eastern Virginia and financial difficulties the projected expedition to Detroit was given up and the military activities on the western frontier were confined to defensive acts; that in September, 1782, Clarke was in Kentucky in the section opposite the present Cincinnati and at that time with a force fo about 1000 men crossed the Ohio River and marched against Indian towns on the Sciota River, the expedition returning to Kentucky in November of that year (p. 295).

Marching to Vincennes

Marching to Vincennes

According to Lossing, Volume 11, p. 286, General Clarke resided in Kentucky after the Revolutionary War; in 1786 commanded an unsuccessful expedition against Indians on the Wabash River, and later on entered the French service to command a projected military expedition agains the Spanish on the Mississippi River, to be raised in Kentucky, for which purpose he accepted a commission as major general from the French (p. 288).

Some historians attribute to Clarke’s conquests in the region of the present Indiana and Illinois the success of the Americans in securing from Great Britain at the conclusion of the Revolution the region north of the Ohio River between the Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi River.

References. It is said that George Bancroft’s History of the United States, Volume X, chapter 8, gives an account of Clarke’s Expedition of 1778-1779 and of its influence on the subsequent control of that region. Clarke’s own account dated November 19, 1779, edited by H. Pirtle, said to have been published in 1869. For other references see Reader’s Handbook of the American Revolution, by Justin Winsor, pp. 198-199.

War Department
The Adjutant General’s Office
February 24, 1930.

George Rogers Clark headstone

George Rogers Clark headstone