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The Fall of Fort Sackville - Focus

Indiana celebrates February 25 annually as George Rogers Clark Day. The day commemorates the defeat of British troops at Fort Sackville, Vincennes by Clark and his men in February 1779.

Material below and on page 3 provides information about the people involved, documents used, and historical events that led up to and set the stage for Clark's achievements.

The heart of the issue is excerpts from Clark's Memoir, written around 1791. Clark apparently was requested to write the account by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It is printed here on the inside column of each page, starting on page 5. Portions of the Memoir have been selected to convey events and Clark's leadership, ending with the capture of Fort Sackville in February 1779. Clark and his men were part of the Virginia militia.

In the outside column starting on page 5, there are additional textual items and accounts, which expand on Clark's Memoir. Three sources quoted throughout are coded with color bars for easier reference. Other documents are set off with a background color.

Clark's letter (November 19, 1779) to his friend George Mason was written closer to the events and contains more of Clark's personal feelings than his Memoir.

The Journal of Clark's officer Captain (later Major) Joseph Bowman is the best day-to-day account of the march to Vincennes. His brief, immediate comments about the hardships and triumphs often provide a compelling picture of events for the reader.

The Journal of Henry Hamilton, lieutenant governor of Detroit and commander of the British force at Fort Sackville, is very briefly excerpted. It provides a British point of view, with the Americans often called rebels.

Throughout, ellipses-several spaced dots-are used to indicate when Bureau editors eliminated text. Square brackets-[ ]-have been used to indicate material added by Bureau editors. In the Clark Memoir, italic type in parentheses indicates prior editorial additions.

All illustrative material is from later time periods. Several images demonstrate what these artists thought about Clark's march and victory. Some captions suggest ways of looking at the images.

Maps and diagrams have been provided to clarify the geographical location, context, and events of the march. The 1770 map on the back cover provides a description of the North American British Empire. The map on page 4 demonstrates relevant information around the time of Clark's march.