The War of 1812 - The Story of Johnny Logan
A very smart man named Gandhi once said, “You must BE the change you wish to see in the world.” I have lived all of my life in the mighty arms of a democracy that is the United States of America. It is my home and I understand its culture, speak its language, even comprehend its quirky justice system and mind numbing bureaucracy. What would it be like to see the world that I grew up in, begin to change, and change so fast that I was forced to make a decision about what I would believe in and who I would follow into the future? I never gave it much thought until a cold day in October when I took a walk across the rolling terrain of the fort grounds in Defiance, near the public library. In my hand, I held a small American flag and I was on a mission. I was going to place that flag on the grave of a brave American veteran who gave his life for his country. A white marble headstone had recently been placed at the fortgrounds to mark the grave of a Native American military scout. His name was Captain Johnny Logan and he was killed in action while serving the American government in the War of 1812. He was also a full blooded Shawnee Indian who was named Spemica Lawba. Captain Logan had been raised in the same Indian nation of the powerful War Chief, Tecumseh. It was Tecumseh who had been determined to unite the Indian tribes so that they could repel the white settlers who were laying claim to the native hunting grounds; bringing with them new languages, religions, and belief systems. The old ways were under attack. During the War of 1812, Tecumseh sided with America’s enemy, the British. Johnny Logan had great respect for the War Chief of his people but he also respected the opinion of the Chief of his village, Black Hoof. Black Hoof believed that the Shawnee could work with America so that all the peoples could live together. The young warrior was torn between the world he had always known and the changes that were occurring in his homeland. A historic marker has been installed beside the grave stone and it tells Logan’s story. In September, 1786, Captian Benjamen Logan of Kentucky captured a young Indian boy during a raid across the Ohio River on the Machachac tribe towns of the Shawnee nation. Upon returning to Kentucky, Captain Logan made the 14 year old boy part of his family until he was forced by treaty to return him to his native people. The boy was called Johnny by his adoptive American family. As an adult, Logan joined the American army to fight against the British.
General Harrison directed Logan to take a party and scout the area near the Rapids of the Maumee River. Encountering a large enemy force, Logan’s party retreated and he was accused of disloyalty by an American Officer.
Indignant, Logan took two friends and attempted to prove his innocence. During the scouting of the enemy he was captured and had to fight his way to freedom. During the escape, he was seriously wounded. An article in a Defiance newspaper, dated June 7, 1937, talks of an engraved stone that was installed on the Fort Defiance earthworks. Lettering on the native stone says, “Grave of Capt. John Logan, Indian Chief and Scout, 1788-1812”. The article reports that the after the scouting party returned to the Defiance area with the wounded Logan; “the ball was removed from Logan’s body but shortly he died. The soldiers fixed up a rude sled and laying Logan’s body upon it, six officers dragged it over the snow to Fort Defiance, where they buried his remains to prevent his being dug up and scalped by hostile Indians.” The old 1937 marker is still in place on the hillside of the fort grounds. I read a quote a few years ago that attempted to define the meaning of the word “veteran”. “….A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount of ‘up to, and including his life.” My fingers were so cold that I could hardly grip the American flag that I held in my hand, as I walked to the gravestone. The fort grounds were deserted expect for the wind. I placed the flag on the headstone and I stepped back. Slowly, with great meaning, I saluted Captain Johnny Logan, Shawnee Scout. American soldier. Veteran.
Tanya S. Brunner
Defiance County Veterans Office
Written December, 2008
Spemica LawBa - The High/Big Horn
Captain Johnny Logan: The Indian who was killed and is buried in Defiance at the Defiance public library yard or fort grounds.
In September 1786, Captain Benjamin Logan of Kentucky captured a young Indian boy about the age of 14 during a raid across the Ohio River on the Machachac Tribe towns of the Shawnee Nation. He made him a part of his family, where he stayed several years until he was permitted to return to his native land. He was ever afterwards known by the name of Logan. Logan was elevated to a civil Chief on account of his many estimable qualities, both intellectual and moral. Logan was married and had two children. From the period of his residence in Kentucky to the time of his death, Logan was the unwavering friend of the United States. Immediately after the declaration of the war against England in 1812, he joined the American service, acting as a guide for General Hull’s march to Detroit. After Hull’s surrender, he was employed by the Indian Agent John Johnston to help evacuate the women and children from Fort Wayne when it was under threat. They were removed to within the inhabited portions of Ohio. The siege of Fort Wayne was lifted by the combined force of Kentucky and Ohio troops under the command of General William Henry Harrison.
In November, after his small party retreated from a larger force, Logan joined the left wing of the army. At this time, an officer of the Kentucky troops, General Price, second- in- command to General Winchester, accused Logan of infidelity against his country. Indignant, Logan resolved to leave.. On the morning of November 22 in the company of his two faithful companions, Captain Johnny and Bright horn, he started down the Maumee River. While resting, they were surprised near Turkeyfoot Creek by a group of seven led by the Potawatamie Chief Winnemac and Matthew Elliot son of the British Indian Agent. That evening Logan and his group made good their escape. In the ensuing battle, four of the enemy, including Winnemac and Elliot were killed. During the exchange of gunfire, Bright horn was shot in the thigh and Logan was shot nearly through the body. Both were able to mount horses and return to Winchester’s Camp #3. It soon became apparent that Logan was mortally wounded. The son of Col. Hardin tended to him. He was the son-in-law of Logan’s adopted father. Logan died November 26, 1812. Army Officers carried his body the six miles back to Fort Defiance, where he was buried with full military honors of war; the only Indian honored in that fashion in the State of Ohio.