Notes from the Court of Inquiry of General Harmar

Notes from the Court of Inquiry of General Harmar

Fort Washington, September 24,1791


On the question of the number of men under Hardin’s command


Deposition of Major Ferguson: Page 22

“A detachment of three hundred men, under the command of Col. Trotter…was made on the 18th.”

“Col. Hardin, wishing to retrieve the character of the militia, asked the General’s permission to take out the same detachment on the 19th, which was granted.”

Number of troops under Hardin’s command: 300 men


Testimony of Lieutenant Hartshorn: Page 22-23

Question by the Court: “Was you in the first engagement of the army?”

Answer: “I was in the action of the 19th of October.”

Question by the Court: “Did the order of battle on the 19th appear to you to be a judicious one?”

Answer: “I think it was not a judicious one.”

Question by the Court: “Who was the office who commanded the troops in that action?”

Answer: “Colonel Hardin.”

Question by the Court: “In what manner did you attack the enemy—was it in columns, or did you display in any regular order?”

Answer: “We were attacked in front of columns.”

Question by the Court: “When you were attacked, were you ordered to display, or form in any regular order?”

Answer: “No.”

Question by the Court: “In what manner did you oppose the enemy when you were attacked?”

Answer: “By endeavoring to form the line to charge them.”

Question by the Court: “What troops came within your notice that attempted to form when charged?”

Answer: “Not more than thirty federal troops, and ten militia.”

Question by the Court: “What became of the rest of the militia?

Answer: “They gave way and ran.”

Question by the Court: “What was the result of the action of the 19th—were the continental troops and the militia defeated?”

Answer: “They were cut to pieces except six or seven.”

Number of Troops: 30 Federal Troops and 10 militia engaged the Indians

Casualties: All but 6 or 7 were killed.


Deposition of Captain Armstrong: Page 26-27

Captain Armstrong, being sworn, deposed:

“…on the morning of October 18th, detached Colonel Trotter, Colonel Hall, Major Ray, and Major McMullen, with thirty federal troops, the mounted infantry, part of the cavalry, and a detachment of militia, amounting in the whole to 300 men.”

“About nine o’clock he joined the remainder of the detachment under Colonel Hardin. They marched on the route Colonel Trotter had pursued the day before, and after passing a morass about five miles distant, they came to where the enemy had encamped the day before. Here they made a short halt, and the commanding officer disposed of the parties at a distance from the each other; after a halt of half an hour, they were ordered to move on, and Captain Faulkner’s company was left on the ground; the Colonel having neglected to giving him orders to move on. After they had preceded about three miles, they fell in with two Indians on foot, who threw off their packs, and the brush being thick, made their escape. He then asked Colonel Hardin where Captain Faulkner was? He said he was lost, and then sent Major Fontaine with part of the cavalry in search of him, and moved on with the remainder of the troops.”

“That some time after, he discovered the enemy’s fires at a distance, and informed the Colonel, that they would not fight, and rode in front of the advance, until fired on from behind the fires; when he, the Colonel, retreated, and with him all the militia except nine, who continued with him, and were instantly killed, with twenty-four of the federal troops.”

“…conceived their numbers did not amount to one hundred men; that some were mounted, others armed with rifles, and the advance with tomahawks only.”

Number of troops under Hardin’s command: 300 men

Casualties: 24 federal troops and all 9 of the militia.

Survivors: 6 federal troops. 1 militia (corroborates Hartshorn’s statement that all but 6 or 7 were killed)


Deposition of Captain Asheton: Page 28

Captain Asheton, being sworn, deposed:

“…detachment of 300 men was ordered out under the control of Colonel Trotter.”


“Colonel Hardin, disgusted at the conduct of Colonel Trotter, and anxious to retrieve the lost honor of his countrymen, solicited the same command, which was granted.”


Number of troops under Hardin’s command: 300 men


Affidavit of Colonel Hardin: Page 34

This deponent, being first sworn, deposeth an saith

“…and ordered the three hundred men.”

“…and ordered the same party out again that evening for this deponent to take charge of them.”:

Number of troops under Hardin’s command (in his own sworn affidavit: 300 men



From this sworn testimony by these officers we can deduce that:

  1. Colonel Hardin’s command was 300 men
  2. All but 9 or 10 of the militia deserted, leaving him with 30 federal troops and 9 or 10 militia when they engaged the Indians.
  3. All but 6 or 7 were killed.
  4. And according to Colonel Armstrong, there were no more than 100 Indians.



300 men marched

  • 260 deserted

40 engaged the Indians

  • 34 Federal troops & militia were killed

100 Indians engaged the 40 troops

  • Casualties unknown



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