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Title: Diary of Captain John Cooke, 1794

Author: active 1792-1794 John Cooke

Creator: Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County

Release date: June 4, 2021 [eBook #65499]

Language: English

Credits: Stephen Hutcheson and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

Diary of Captain John Cooke, 1794

Diary of Captain John Cooke, 1794

Prepared by the Staff of the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County


One of a historical series, this pamphlet is published under the direction of the governing Boards of the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County.


B. F. Geyer, President
Joseph E. Kramer, Secretary
W. Page Yarnelle, Treasurer
Willard Shambaugh
Mrs. Sadie Fulk Roehrs


The members of this Board include the members of the Board of Trustees of the School City of Fort Wayne (with the same officers), together with the following citizens chosen from Allen County outside the corporate city of Fort Wayne:

James E. Graham
Arthur Niemeier
Mrs. Glenn Henderson
Mrs. Charles Reynolds


Primary source materials relating to General Wayne’s sojourn at Fort Wayne are scarce. Extracts from the diary of one of his captains were published in the FORT WAYNE GAZETTE eighty years ago.

The Boards and the Staff of the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County reprint these extracts in the hope that they will be interesting and informative to students of local history. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have been changed to conform to current usage.


Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
June, 1873

To the Editors of the GAZETTE:

The following extracts from the journal of Captain John Cooke of the Fourth Sublegion of General Wayne’s army will be of interest to your antiquary (if Fort Wayne is old enough to boast of antiquities), since it contains the earliest market quotations of your city, notices of the first sermons preached there, etc.

Captain Cooke was a son of Colonel William Cooke, Twelfth Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Establishment; he entered the legal profession, which he later abandoned for that of arms. He afterward lived and died at Northumberland Town, Pennsylvania.

His son, Jacob Cooke, Esq., is the possessor of this journal, which is written in a very scholarly hand and with great observance of details, most of which I have omitted as of no interest to the general reader. In the summer of 1792, Captain Cooke returned with General Wayne; with a party of officers on furlough to Philadelphia, he was personally introduced by General Wayne to General Washington. His fellow-officers accompanied him to a fashionable boarding school in Philadelphia. There, in his battle-stained clothes, he married his cousin, Jennie Cooke of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

John B. Linn


September 17, 1794

At 6:00 a.m. the army marched thirteen or fourteen miles to the Miami villages. We halted more than two hours near the ground where a part of Harmar’s army was defeated and directly opposite the point formed by the St. Joseph and the St. Mary’s rivers, until the ground was reconnoitered. It was late when the army crossed and encamped; our tents were not all pitched before dark.

September 18, 1794

Strong breastworks were ordered thrown up; since timber was very scarce, we were obliged to make them of earth. Four deserters came into camp from the British garrison.

September 19, 1794

Heavy rains and violent windstorms lasted throughout the night. The men still continued to work at the breastworks until 10:00 a.m.; then they were obliged to quit because of heavy rain. An express arrived from General Barbie informing us of his approach and stating that he would be here tomorrow. We began to build a fish dam across the Miami [Maumee].

September 20, 1794

The night was stormy with frequent, hard claps of thunder. General Barbie arrived with his command and brought provisions for the army; several private stores were brought to camp with this command. Current prices are as follows: mutton and beef, 25 cents; bacon, 75 cents; sugar, coffee, and chocolate, $1 per pound; butter, 75 cents; whisky, $8 per gallon; cheese, $1 per pound.


“The sermon was delivered by Rev. David Jones”


September 21, 1794 (Sunday)

General Todd’s brigade of volunteers started for Greenville this morning. Under his command and direction were all the quartermaster’s and contractor’s horses, for the purpose of conducting our supplies. We attended divine service; the sermon was delivered by Rev. David Jones, chaplain. Mr. Jones chose for his text, Romans 8:31: “But what shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” This was the first time the army had been called together for the purpose of attending divine service since I joined it. [Rev. David Jones was Wayne’s chaplain during the Revolution. He served also as chaplain during the War of 1812. A copy of the sermon, preached from the same text at Ticonderoga, will be found in Lossing’s PICTORIAL FIELD-BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION, volume 2; a biographical sketch is also included. Horatio Gates Jones, Esq., the distinguished lawyer of Philadelphia, is a grandson of this chaplain.]

September 22, 1794

Two hundred men were ordered to cut timber and to prepare to raise a garrison. The ground laid out for the garrison is on the south side of the Maumee River, nearly opposite the confluence of the St. Mary’s and St. Joseph rivers. Three men deserted from the First Sublegion. Today the men began to draw full rations of flour, which had been stopped for some time.

September 26, 1794

No salt is available. I received a letter from Lieutenant Lee at Fort Defiance. 5 He informs me that eleven men have actually deserted; and eight more are missing—either killed, deserted, or taken; the total rises to twenty-one, all since the thirteenth of this month. Miller, one of our spies, brought word that he had discovered an Indian and the trail of fourteen or fifteen more. A party of Kentucky volunteers was immediately dispatched after them and overtook them at sundown; but before they could complete their preparations for attack, the Indians had discovered them and had escaped unharmed. The fish basket is nearly completed.

September 27, 1794

Large hailstones fell during a heavy hailstorm, which lasted ten minutes.

September 28, 1794 (Sunday)

A man deserted from Captain Thompson’s company, now commanded by Captain Bines. This desertion seems somewhat extraordinary after McClellan’s [Robert McClellan, or McClelland, afterwards a famous trapper of the Rocky Mountains and immortalized in Washington Irving’s ASTORIA] report to the commander that he had, in accordance with orders, killed one of the deserters he was sent after and had seen two more who were killed and scalped. The contractors are out of beef and bread, and not a grain of salt is to be had. Major Price arrived bringing with him one hundred fifty bullocks. He informed me that four or five waiters, who had been sent for stores for officers, and who had preceded the escort, were killed about five miles from Greenville. Nelly Bundy was taken at the same time.


September 29, 1794

A heavy rain began at 4:00 p.m. The storm, accompanied with thunder and a whirlwind, blew down the top of a very large tree within a few steps of General Wayne’s marquee.

October 2, 1794

General Barbie, with his brigade of volunteers, was ordered to Greenville to escort our provisions. This raised great confusion among the volunteers, who had expected a discharge in accordance with the promise made to them some time before.

October 6, 1794

One hundred militiamen turned out voluntarily to work on the garrison.

October 7, 1794

A boat was built by the artificers and was launched. Mr. Tharp, the principal artificer, told me it would carry twenty-five barrels of flour.

October 9, 1794

A blockhouse on the bank of the river was begun today. The boat which was launched yesterday was loaded with salt and whisky for Fort Defiance but had not gone one mile before she was run upon a rock and sunk. The stores were all saved. McClellan, with six or seven spies, started up the St. Joseph River, intending to be gone for five days. The volunteers worked one half-day at the blockhouse.


“... a French trader ... brought with him three prisoners....”


An express arrived this evening with the intelligence that Mr. Elliot, the contractor, was fired upon and was killed while traveling between Fort Washington [now Cincinnati] and Fort Hamilton.

October 13, 1794

A French trader, whose brother we took in the action of August 21, arrived in camp and brought with him three prisoners to exchange for his brother. One of them was a young girl of about thirteen years, who was taken near the Muskingum River about three years ago. Her brother-in-law, who is now among the Kentucky volunteers, called upon the commander and got her.

The trader said that there had been fourteen hundred Indians in action on August 20; thirty-three were killed and seventy-six were wounded; the chiefs were then all in Detroit in council; Captains Brandt, Elliott, and G. Simcoe were with them; McKee’s son was killed in the action as well as five other white men; all the nations except the Shawnee are for peace.

The other two prisoners were soldiers who were taken at the time Lowry was defeated. Four hundred Chippewa, awaiting the arrival of our army, accompanied the fourteen hundred mentioned above; but they got impatient and went home. The letter, written by White Eyes [sic] to General Wayne demanding ten days, was an endeavor to gain time to get the four hundred Chippewa back. Fifteen of the warriors—five chiefs and ten warriors—were Ottawa. The Indians, stationed between us and the British garrison [Fort Campbell], watch for our deserters, whom they carry into the garrison and sell to the British for twenty-five pounds. Those who will not enlist when they are purchased are put to hard labor with the wheelbarrow. One of our men who deserted from Defiance was pursued, brought back, immediately tried by court-martial, and executed.


“... and executed....”


October 17, 1794

A boat forty feet long by twelve feet wide, built upon the Kentucky plan, was launched today. It was built for the purpose of carrying provisions down the Miami from here to Fort Defiance. The garrison is still far from being finished. [The Maumee River is noted on maps of 1794 and previous maps as the Upper Miami River.]

October 19, 1794 (Sunday)

At ten o’clock church call was beat. The troops fell in and marched by platoons out of the square to the front of the garrison, where a discourse on Romans 13:1 was delivered by Mr. Jones, chaplain.

October 21, 1794

Fatigue duty was discontinued by a general order which detailed the companies to remain in the garrison. Lieutenant Colonel Hamtramck was to command the companies of Captains Kingsbury, Spark, Preston, Greaton, and Reed; Captain Porter, of artillery; Subalterns Strong, Bradley, Brady, Campbell, Wright, and Massey. Lieutenant Wade was assigned duty as fort major.

October 22, 1794

Colonel Hamtramck marched the troops to the garrison at 7:00 a.m. After a discharge of fifteen guns, he named the fort by a garrison order, “Fort Wayne.” He then marched his command into it.

Captain Kibby, with his company of spies, was directed to proceed up the St. Mary’s River to Fort Adams to ascertain the situation of the river with respect to navigation. He took with him the canoe and three days’ provisions.


October 25, 1794

Captain Kibby sent back an express informing the general of the impossibility of navigating the St. Mary’s River. He begged permission to return but was peremptorily ordered to continue to Fort Adams.

October 27, 1794

At 11:00 a.m. the army proceeded on the line of march on General Harmar’s trace; after four and one-half miles we came to a large swamp. At about 3:00 p.m. we heard the discharge of several cannons in our rear; the firing was generally supposed to be at a dinner given by Colonel Hamtramck for the officers of the garrison. We encamped at 4:00 p.m. after marching eight and one-half miles.

October 28, 1794

We marched sixteen miles very rapidly and halted by a small stream of water.

October 29, 1794

Marching twelve miles, we reached the St. Mary’s River at 3:00 p.m. We crossed the river and encamped at one of General Harmar’s camps. Formerly a Frenchman by the name of La Source [sic] lived here. The woods on the north side of the St. Mary’s River is very thick.


“... and after three cheers ...”


October 30, 1794

We marched at sunrise; after thick woods for a mile and a half, we entered an open, extensive prairie through which we marched four miles and struck General Wayne’s trace from Recovery, Ohio, to the St. Mary’s River. The prairie is, I judge, five miles long and four miles wide. We continued our march up the St. Mary’s River for Girty’s Town, ten miles away. Captain Kibby reported very unfavorably with regard to the navigation of the river; he said it may do for canoes or pirogues in high water.

October 31, 1794

The army fortified a camp and remained in it all day.

November 1, 1794

Starting before sunrise, we marched through some old Indian towns until we struck Hartshorne’s road; we then cut from Greenville to Girty’s Town. By rapid marching to the sixteen-mile tree, we made twenty-one miles today.

November 2, 1794 (Sunday)

After an early start and seven miles of rapid marching, we came to a bridge built by Major Hughes. The whole legion crossed and traveled three miles, halted, and were refreshed. In two hours we marched six miles to Greenville; after the discharge of several guns and after three cheers, the men were assigned to their respective huts, which we found very much out of repair.


November 3, 1794

Lieutenant Brady arrived at Greenville with a command from Fort Wayne. [This was General Hugh Brady, who died at Detroit some years ago.]

November 5, 1794

General Wilkinson, Colonel Strong, Doctor General Allison [sic], Captain Fort, and others, escorted by Lieutenant Brady and his command, started for Fort Washington. [These were all old Revolutionary War Hawks. Doctor Allison was surgeon of General Potter’s brigade during the Revolution; General Wilkinson and General Gates were adjutant generals at Saratoga.]


Transcriber’s Notes