Illinois War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission
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Fort Russell was a large fort located at the edge of Edwardsville (Illinois) and was headquarters for the rangers in Illinois. Small bands of rangers would leave Fort Russell and ride a circuit of forts and blockhouses. Their route would take them south to southern Illinois, then east to near Indiana, then north to near Decatur, then west back to Fort Russell. If any Indian trouble had happened, the rangers would track them down and take care of the problem.
These hardy rangers, accustomed to the life of the frontier, were a most valuable aid in repelling the attacks of the Indians.
During this period there was incessant war between the red man and the white, each watching for every opportunity to overcome the other. It happened that as Captain Short and his rangers were encamped near the present site of Covington, they discovered Indian signs, and immediately started in pursuit of the savages, who were driving off a number of stolen horses. Captain Short knew from the signs that the band was large, and dispatched a trusty scout for reinforcements. The rangers overtook the savages and a battle ensued in which the white men were worsted and beat a hasty retreat. Moses Short escaped being killed because of a thick twist of tobacco in his pouch, which received the bullet that otherwise would have entered his body. The next day reinforcements arrived, and the rangers again took up the trail of the Indians, who, flushed with victory, had grown careless. When approaching the forks of the Little Wabash River, the report of a rifle warned the rangers that they were near the foe, and, by a cautious advance, the savages were surrounded before they were aware of the white men's presence. When the Indians discovered that there was no hope of escape, they chanted their death song and fought desperately until the last warrior was killed. By such bloody conflicts was the soil of Illinois wrestled from the red man.
When I was in school, I did not like history, and now I cannot get enough of it. If they would teach history the way I learned it on my own, the students would enjoy it. In school about all you had to do was remember a lot of dates. After your test, you would force yourself to forget those dates and start to remember new ones. If they would have shown me a flintlock rifle and how it worked, or shown me how to start a fire with flint and steel, cook without pots and pans over an open wood fire, how to make paper out of linen or old paper, etc., they would have had to force me to leave after class! I LOVE history.
A number of years back I became very interested in Lewis and Clark. The more I read, the more I wanted to do a part of their trip. So I saved up some money, found another guy to go with me. We took my 17 foot Fury canoe out to Norris, Montana, and put in on the Madison River. The first night we camped at Three Rivers, Montana, where the Missouri River starts and canoed back to St. Louis. Our wives drove my truck home so we had only two ways to get home: 1) paddle the canoe or 2) drag it. We learned more on that trip than we could ever learn in school. I now know that we travelled 1,240 miles. It can be done in 2 1/2 months and that you do a lot of praying. This was in 1988. I was at a Rendezvous at Old Town, St. Charles, Missouri. There was a guy there that had spent fourteen years of his life building a 55 foot keelboat. He had it in the river and after the Rendezvous he and a few men were going to take it by river to St. Joseph and back. What a trip! I had to go on this trip. After Glen Bishop knew that I was into the Lewis and Clark trip, he told me I could. We camped out, some guys slept on the boat. We were gone three months. That was in 1976. In the early spring of 1967, we were getting the keelboat ready to feature in the boat show in St. Louis. We worked all day Friday. About 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning, I got a call from Glen's wife and she told me that the keelboat had burned up, a total loss. Glen told me "we will build another one, a better one, and we will build all three of the boats that they took on the trip."
The next three years we build the three boats and had them on the water.
1st year the white parague - 29 feet.
2nd year the red parogue - 31 feet.
3rd year the keelboat - 55 feet.
Glen and I were both getting older and we both wondered it we would live long enough to make a part of the Lewis and Clark trip in 2002. Glen told me that his dream was to get to see all three boats on the river at one time. Some wishes never come true. Glen died of cancer. He used to tell me when I would ask how much he was paying me, he would just grin and say, "The same as I earn, the first day you don't get paid, but every day after that you get a 100% increase every day."
Next came the Lewis and Clark camp in Wood River, Illinois. This was the only camp that had never been rebuilt. Charles James called me and asked if I would build Camp DuBois. I told him I would give him two years. I didn't know that he wanted a large log double comfort station, so it turned into three years. When the Corps of Discovery arrived the camp was finished except for the fort walls.
I have learned that there are lots of jobs if a man wants to work. You just don't get paid the first day, but an 100% increase each day thereafter.