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The Campaign Begins

In early 1778, Clark went from Williamsburg to Fort Pitt to recruit men and obtain supplies. He then travelled down the Ohio River to Corn Island at the Falls of the Ohio.

From Clark's Memoir:

"After my making known my [secret] instructions almost every gentleman warmly espoused the enterprise . . . .

". . . On the (24th) of June, 1778, we left our little island . . . ."

[Clark decides to bypass Fort Sackville because he believes it is too heavily fortified.]

"I resolved to begin my career in the Illinois where there were more inhabitants, but scattered in different villages, and less danger of being immediately overpowered by the Indians; in case of necessity, we could probably make our retreat to the Spanish side of the Mississippi."

Clark Occupies Corn Island

Plan of the Rapids or Falls of the Ohio

Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

From Clark's Memoir:

"In case of success, it would be absolutely necessary to have a post of communication on the river between the Illinois and Kentucky, and of course the falls [of the Ohio River] was the most eligible spot as it would . . . protect the navigation of the river . . . .

"I moved on to the falls . . . . I observed the little island of about (seventy?) acres, opposite to where the town of Louisville now stands . . . . I resolved to take possession and fortify (it), which I did . . . dividing the island among the families for gardens. These families that followed me I now found to be of real service, as they were of little expense, and, with the invalids, would keep possession of this little post until we should be able to occupy the main shore."

Corn Island is the large island (with two smaller islands) at the center bottom of the map.

Eastern North America, circa 1779

225th Anniversary Exhibit