The Journal of Lt. Col. John Armstrong: The March on the Delaware Indian Village of Kittanning

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Posted by Mike Slease on September 17, 2000 at 05:13:18:

Mike contacted us, with all the info, and asked us to post this for him. Our pleasure. Hope you all enjoy ... Rich

PHOTO: In order, l to r: Bryan Nye, Joe Luciano, Larry Zilch, Bill Woods, Jim Polewchak, Lane Savage, Al Fine, Rich Hebrank, Lt. Col Armstrong (Seamus), Peter Dobbs. Roger Kirwin arrived just as we were leaving and did not make the picture.

The Journal of Lt. Col. John Armstrong


The March on the Delaware Indian Village of Kittanning


August ye 31st to September ye 10th, 2000

The Kittanning Expedition 2000


Written by Seamus

Mike Slease,aka,

Lt. Col. John Armstrong


August ye 31st

I arrived at Ft. Shirley at about 4:20 PM today and met Pvt. Larry Zilch, who was to be our Pilot throughout our first day's march along the Aughwick to our first camping area at Standing Stone.

The weather was excessively hot and muggy, with light rain from time to time. We set camp in a field about 200 yards from Ft. Shirley, and awaited the arrival off more of the company. Chief Scout Lane Savage, of Hastings, PA, Ranger Pvts. Bill Woods, Karthaus, PA, Rich Hebrank, Brunswick, Ohio, Jim Polewchak, of Perry, Ohio, and Al Fine, of Pittsburgh, PA arrived at about 7:15 PM and set their camps with ours. We made supper on a fire and began to get acquainted with each other and to discuss the upcoming operation. While some men knew at least one other in the group, no one knew them all, so it was an interesting evening learning about ourselves. Pvt. Pete Dobbs arrived at about 11:45 PM joined the group. It was difficult to sleep due to the heat and humidity, and the excitement of the morrow. Men were still talking at 3:30 AM...the last time I was awake until morning.


September ye 1st

Arose at 6:00AM had breakfast and broke camp amidst a light drizzly rain. We assembled and moved the troops to the monument at the site of Ft. Shirley. Several others arrived and took their places: Pvts. Joe Luciano, of Carlisle, PA, Bryan Nye, of Hummelstown, PA, and Roger Kirwin, of Carlisle, PA.

After a few notes from Chief Scout Lane Savage regarding health and safety issues, Lt. Col. Armstrong made a speech about the upcoming Expedition, its importance in regard to eliminating the threat of Indian raids into the civilized areas, and how it had become a personal thing for him, since his brother, Lt. Edward Armstrong, had been killed at Ft. Granville quite recently, and now it was time to take the war to the Indians' village.

The company was formed up and marched from Ft. Shirley toward Standing Stone, 25 miles distant. We had gone only about 50 yards and the rain intensified. By the time we had approached our camp from the previous night, the Heavens opened up and poured down a drenching, hard rain. It was actually a blessing, as it gave some relief to the men from the oppressive heat and humidity, and helped them stay cooler, although it did nothing for the temperature. The steam arose from the pavement and provided yet another discomfort.

By noon they were in the village of Mt. Union by noon, and were made welcome at the home of Scout Zilch, where his ripening garden and cool spring greeted the company. They were given ample time to rest and partake of Scout Zilch's hospitality.

The march resumed and we moved through the town, crossed busy US Route 22 and ascended the mountain to a tram road, which runs along the side off the mountain and parallels the highway, 3/4 to the top of the hill. It was quite hot by now, as the sun had come out full. The trail was rocky and slow going, but offered some great panoramas, showing the mountains with the Juniata River snaking its way below.

It was up here that we had a near tragedy. One of the men, Pvt. Fine, went down from heat exhaustion. Even though the men had ample water along and many rest stops were provided, he still had trouble. We were able to get him off the hill, but it took quite a bit longer than originally planned. Pvt. Woods is an EMT and proved his worth at this time.

After hydrating Pvt. Fine with Gator Aid and all the water he would take, we transported him to our campsite, Riverside Park in Huntingdon (Standing Stone) awaited the others.

Camp was set and we awaited the public. Each camp was open to the public until 9:00 PM, and we provided interpretive and demonstrative programs for them. One lady and her son, who had been playing in the park, came to visit and asked me if he, meaning Pvt. Fine who was laying on the grass while we set camp, would be OK. I replied that he would, and that he'd had some trouble with the heat and humidity this day. She looked at me and said, "Heat exhaustion?" I said, "Yes." She went on that she was a nurse and she recognized the problem. I told her that we were probably going to have him sleep in a motel that night with another soldier to accompany him and to keep pumping fluids into him, and she said it was a good idea.

The lady and her son looked around awhile and left. About an hour and a half later she returned. "I have been thinking about him, and I came back because I am worried about him. I brought my blood pressure cuff and my thermometer. May I examine him?" she asked. I answered that she could and called him over. After doing so and learning some of his medical history, she insisted he be taken to the local hospital Emergency Room, to which he agreed. Chief Scout Savage's wife, who had come to this camp took him and followed "our" nurse to the hospital, where a full examination was made and the doctors said he was to go home. He was close to some very serious problems, should he continue.

The nurse, Meg Knable, and her son, Zack, stayed at the hospital the whole 3 hours and are responsible perhaps, for saving Pvt. Fine's life. He is, and we are, eternally grateful to her.

The men turned in early, and Chief Scout Savage and I sat up and awaited the return of his wife and Pvt. Fine. They returned to camp at 11:45 PM, ate some very late dinner, and headed for the Savage home. Pvt. Fine was taken the next day to retrieve his car, and went to his home.

The weather was still, at 1:30 AM, very hot and muggy...quite uncomfortable. Tomorrow is predicted to be more of the same.

I went to my bed very hot and tired, but relieved and quite thankful for people like Meg Knable.

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