Lochry's Defeat, Ohio River

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Lochry's Defeat, Ohio River

LOCHRY'S DEFEAT, OHIO RIVER. 24 August 1781. In 1781 Virginia state Brigadier General George Rogers Clark assembled four hundred of his men at Wheeling and started down the Ohio River, hoping to capture Detroit. Most Pennsylvanians were reluctant to participate in the operation and suspected that it was merely an effort by Virginia to extend its claims on disputed lands. Colonel Archibald Lochry, who commanded the Westmoreland County militia, was an exception, and on 23 June he set about collecting a detachment to join Clark. Clark headed for Kaskaskia on 8 August and the next day sent instructions back to Lochry to join him there. Meanwhile Joseph Brant, who earlier had been fighting Colonel Marinus Willett in the Mohawk Valley, was now sent from Detroit with a mixed force of Indians and Loyalists to intercept Clark. Lochry sent a small party ahead of his 107-man force to ask Clark to wait until he could catch up.

Brant reached the Ohio River near the mouth of the Big Miami with his thirty-man vanguard just as the last of Clark's boats were passing out of sight, but in time to capture Lochry's messengers. Another sixty Indians arrived to join Brant before Lochry approached on 24 August. Using the information and one of the captives as a decoy, Brant set up an ambush. Although numbers were about equal, the Pennsylvanians were caught completely by surprise. The Americans had five officers and thirty-six privates killed, twelve officers and forty-eight privates captured. Some of the prisoners, including Lochry, were killed, but at least half eventually returned to Pennsylvania.

SEE ALSO Brant, Joseph; Clark, George Rogers; Western Operations.


Kellogg, Louise Phelps, ed. Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1917.

Van Every, Dale. A Company of Heroes: The American Frontier 1775–1783. New York: Morrow, 1962.

                         revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.