Monday, December 31, 2012

Stuck on High Street, New Years Day 1813

Here's an excerpt from Captain Daniel Cushing's diary from the War of 1812. He was in charge of an artillery company based in Franklinton, Ohio. They were ordered to move out for Upper Sandusky on New Years Day, leaving several six pounder cannon in town--they would rendevous with a larger convoy of ordnance closer to the front.

January 1, 1813-- I left Franklinton with my company for Upper Sandusky by way of Worthington and Delaware--marched with 34 non-commissioned officers and privates, myself and three lieutenants. It commenced raining early in the morning--continued all day. We moved off the old camp ground at 12 o'clock, marched four miles, our two wagons, one ammunition, the other baggage; both got stuck in the mud and could not move any farther that night. Rained very hard, became very dark, no tent pitched, no fire, nothing to make fire with, hemmed in with a very steep hill on one side and a very wet and muddy bottom on the other. I sent all the officers and men to two houses in the neighborhood, except two wagoners, my black boy Ferguson, and four soldiers that stayed with me. It continued raining until about two o'clock that night, then began to snow very fast. we made us a floor with rails from a fence, also burned rails for fire wood. In the morning the snow was about four inches deep and very cold; still snowing; got something to eat, called all hands, pried up the wagons, doubled the teams and with much difficulty got one-fourth of a mile that day.

  1st Lieutenant Joseph Larwill's diary records the same march:

...About 12 O'clock we march, all being in the high spirits. Fire the cannon 7 rounds. We cross the river below the town, had considerable of difficulty to get Need, a private, along--he being very drunk. We had with us our baggage wagons and caisson. The caisson was very heavy loaded. We passed through the seat of government, Columbus. This evening we got about 6 miles by the route we came, having great difficulty to get on, having started several times. This day was very hazy. Began to rain very hard in the evening. Capt. Cushing and myself prepared to encamp in a cornfield. Placed two or three tents over each other, the rain came through. Lts. Meek and Maddes stayed at a house about 1/4 mile.

It took another day and a half for the men to reach Worthington on foot: "the road being as bad as possible, being every step knee deep in mud and snow. Had to cut the road in places and bridge." They sent back 10 oxen to pull the wagons out.

The place where Cushing and his men got stuck was near David Beers' farm-- the Captain and his men spent the night at Beer's house and barn. The Beers farmstead lay at the corner of what is now Dodridge and High Street. There was a mill on the site as well: you can see pictures and more information about the Beers family here:  Some of the foundation stones of the 1810 mill can still be seen on the Olentangy river bank near North Street.

The wagons were stuck close enough to be stowed in the Beers barn, which means that the "steep hill on one side and a very wet and muddy bottom on the other" was probably the Glenn Echo Ravine. Modern bridges and viaducts make this once formidable obstacle to travel all but invisible to Columbus residents...

Glenn Echo Ravine looking east from Calumet Street in Columbus, Ohio.

The ravine looking west from High Street, where it is covered up by a vast concrete platform.