I now see that back on September 2, in an article titled “Hull’s Trace in the Mad River Valley,” I gave out some bogus information about the route that General William Hull’s army took in 1812 as it marched from Urbana, OH to Detroit. That day I rode to the east where I should have ridden to the west. In a way it’s OK, though. There is actually a road to the east, and it took me to some of the prettiest scenery of the day.
I learned about it while getting carried away with my efforts to learn how to use Google Earth.
This is a screen shot of what I was working on. It’s a scene of most of Salem Township in Champaign County, Ohio, which I’ve been posting about lately. The light green line is my route for the day. Salem Township is bordered in red. I’ve also imported a tracing of King’s Creek and Mad River into the map, to make the water bodies stand out better. (You probably have to click on the map to see what I’m really talking about.) The first settlement in Salem Township was along King’s Creek, which flows from right to lower left through Kingston. Near the lower left it empties into Mad River, which flows to the north along the left edge of the image, and past the area where the county history writers said there had been a Shawnee settlement (towards the upper left of the image).
Urbana, which in 1812 was considered the outer edge of civilization by Hull’s army, is just below the lower right of the image. There were pockets of agricultural settlement to the north, though, and the army marched through them, first at the point marked “Hull’s Trace 3″, and then at the one marked “Hull’s Trace 5.” (Later I’ll post an up-to-date link for those people who have Google Earth loaded on their computers.)
The information about Hull’s route is from Joshua Antrim’s 1872 history of Champaign and Logan Counties. He got some of the information from the farmer who had settled at the place marked “Hull’s Trace 5,” who in his old age passed on his recollections to Antrim.
I got to thinking, why not go ahead and mark all of the known spots of Hull’s Trace to the north, as far to the north as Antrim told about them. It was while re-reading and re-checking the information that I realized I didn’t have it quite right back on September 2.
North of West Liberty (barely visible at the top of the Google Earth image above) I thought Hull’s Army had continued to follow the Mad River where the river had turned to the east, towards Zanesville, and then had curled around behind the big ridge that begins here on the other side of the road. That would have been a longer route than it actually took, though. It’s too bad, because I like the country in this direction. There is a road along the edge of the valley that’s marked as a bicycle route.
While here, I looked across the valley and tried to imagine Hull’s army somewhere between this point and the river bottom in the distance, the main body pulling cannon carriages, and lines of scouts patrolling off to either side of the main body. It was low ground, but it isn’t likely that the British would have crossed Lake Erie or the Detroit River and brought cannons all the way down here to use against them. Congress hadn’t even officially declared war yet when Hull left Urbana. And I was guessing that the valley was broad enough to give plenty of room to maneuver in case of enemy attack.
Alas, today I learned that Hull departed from the the Mad River valley before he got into the area shown in this scene.