Sandusky Expedition Remembered – Crawford
Standing in a rural township cemetery near Tymochtee Creek in Wyandot County, just north of Upper Sandusky, is a six foot stone monument remembering Colonel William Crawford who died in June 1782 during the Sandusky Expedition. Just three miles off of U.S. 23 the monument, often forgotten, memorializes a dark episode on the western front of the American Revolution.
The Crawford expedition, also known as the Sandusky expedition and Crawford’s Defeat, was a 1782 campaign on the western front of the American Revolutionary War, and one of the final operations of the conflict. Led by Colonel William Crawford, the campaign’s goal was to destroy enemy American Indian towns along the Sandusky River in the Ohio Country, with the hope of ending Indian attacks on American settlers. The expedition was one in a long series of raids against enemy settlements which both sides had conducted throughout the war.
Crawford led about 500 volunteer militiamen, mostly from Pennsylvania, deep into American Indian territory, with the intention of surprising the Indians. The Indians and their British allies from Detroit had already learned of the expedition, however, and gathered a force to oppose the Americans. After a day of indecisive fighting near the Sandusky towns, the Americans found themselves surrounded and attempted to retreat. The retreat turned into a rout, but most of the Americans managed to find their way back to Pennsylvania. About 70 Americans were killed; Indian and British losses were minimal.
During the retreat, Crawford and an unknown number of his men were captured. The Indians executed many of these captives in retaliation for the Gnadenhutten massacre that occurred earlier in the year. On June 11, Delaware Warrior, “Captain Pipe'” painted the faces of the prisoners black, the traditional sign they were to be executed. The prisoners were marched to the Delaware town on Tymochtee Creek, near the present-day village of Crawford, Ohio. Crawford’s execution was particularly brutal: he was tortured for at least two hours before being burned at the stake. His execution was widely publicized in the United States, worsening the already-strained relationship between Native Americans and European Americans.
Crawford’s death was widely publicized in the United States. It was further promoted, as Crawford was a well-known friend and business partner of General George Washington. A ballad about the expedition, titled “Crawford’s Defeat by the Indians”, became popular and was long remembered and sung in taverns all along the Ohio River.
Tony Robinson and Steve Kelley visited the monument and remembered Col. Crawford on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 as they returned from Buckeye Boys State.