pictured here is George Rogers Clark on the March to Vincennes

George Rogers Clark 1752-1818

Pictured here is George Rogers Clark memorial plaque upon a rock near the Kenmore
Lakelyn Wiley, “George Rogers Clark Memorial in Fredericksburg Virginia,” 2018.


In grateful acknowledgment of the valor and the strategic victories of General George Rogers Clark, Son of Old Virginia, the Paul Revere Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Muncie, Indiana, devote this tablet. No hero of the American Revolution served with more sacrifice, fortitude and dauntless courage, and no hero has accomplished greater victories against greater odds. The old North-West owes its freedom from the British tyranny to this distinguished patriot and soldier. Dedicated at Fredericksburg, Virginia, April 1929.

George Rogers Clark
1825 Portrait by Matthew Harris Jouett


In the History of Fredericksburg, Virginia, author Alvin T. Embry writes:

“Winner of an Empire, another man of great and truly historic achievement, who without wealth or position, wrote his name in never-fading letters upon the bright pages of his country’s history, one who by his own force and genius, added an empire to his country’s domain, and whose achievements measurably affected the current history, and the march of humanity, was George Rogers Clark” (1).

While this quote is indeed a description of one side of Clark, it does not describe his whole image. He may have been considered an American hero from the surface historian’s perspective, but Clark’s background is much more complex and continues to be examined through heavy revision.

George Rogers Clark was a surveyor, soldier, and the highest-ranking American Military officer during his service in the Revolutionary War (2). Clark was born in Albemarle County in 1752 but spent his early days in Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg, Virginia. Clark’s career highs and lows are set in Kentucky and north of the Ohio River in states now known as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. As a military leader in the Revolutionary War, most of his successes would occur in his twenties.

Clark accrued a vast amount of knowledge about the terrain of widely unexplored America. His career as a surveyor in his early twenties enabled him to learn more about the uninhabited regions, which would later help him in his conquest of the Northwestern region (3).

In 1774, Clark served as a captain in the Virginia Militia leading about ninety men. As the troops ascended down the Ohio River Valley, they collided with the disgruntled Shawnee Native Americans and their persisting conflict with the new settlers of the Ohio River Valley over their settlement on Indian lands (4).

The Indians tried to push the American settlers out of the area but were unsuccessful. The government involved themselves as well as Clark in ensuring that the Shawnee cause would fail (5) These persistent wars with the Shawnee later evolved into Lord Dunmore’s war. While this particular war with the Native American’s did not last very long, Clark’s role in warfare with the Native Americans would continue until his elimination from the military.

Clark had ties to numerous states other than Virginia, but one of his largest marks as an individual is in Kentucky. As a surveyor, he scaled the terrain ofImage result for george rogers clark what is now Kentucky and pushed for it to become Kentucky County, Virginia in 1776 (6). He soon persuaded Patrick Henry to create the county and was employed to defend the settlements in the Kentucky County militia (7).

Clark’s Revolutionary War career was extensive and turbulent. His most well-known achievement during the Revolution was his capture of Fort Sackville in 1778 and the recapture of Vincennes in 1779 (8).

Following the Revolutionary War, Clark acted as the chairmen of the Board of Commissioners allocating land in Northwestern America in the Ohio Valley to settlers who fought with him for his cause (9).  He also was appointed a commissioner to make treaties with tribes north of the Ohio River who were continuiImage result for george rogers clarkng their raids into Kentucky (10).In the late 1780s, various Native American tribes were not complying with the terms of the treaties and continued to raid settlements. Clark and his troop’s treatment of the Native Americans were horrible as well as his ability to lead. He was mutinied and returned to Kentucky, bringing with him a permanent stain on his career (11).

In Kentucky, Clark tried to remedy his blemished reputation and attempted to start a colony in Louisiana. He asked for permission from the Spanish government to do so but they denied his request. Instead of listening, Clark took it upon himself to establish a colony in Natchez but was stopped by proclamation given by President George Washington (12). In 1793, Clark agreed to accept a French commission as major general and led an expedition of American frontiersmen against Spanish Louisiana. This venture also failed when Washington again issued a proclamation against American citizens invading foreign territory (13).

Gravesite of George Rogers Clark at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky (Bedford)
George Roger Clark’s Final Resting Place in Louisville, Kentucky

The remainder of Clark’s life was spent as a surveyor living in a cabin across the Louisiana River suffering from alcoholism. Clark had also been hiding from creditors and was never paid for his service in the military because of his behavior as Captain. His health eventually crippled him and forced him to live with his sister in Louisville, Kentucky (14). On February 13, 1818, Clark died after suffering from a stroke.


Featured Image:

Frederick Coffay Yohn, “Illustration of George Rogers Clark March to Vincennes in the American Revolutionary War, 1779,” 1920. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/March_to_Vincennes.jpg.

(1) Alfred T. Embry, The History of Fredericksburg, (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 1937), 116.

(2) James Fisher, “A Forgotten Hero Remembered, Revered and Revised: The Legacy and Ordeal of George Rogers Clark,” vol. 92, issue 2, (June 1996),

(3) “George Rogers Clark: National Historic Park Indiana,” National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/gero/learn/historyculture/clark.htm, (accessed March 31, 2018).

(4) “The Fall of Fort Sackville-Timeline,” Indiana Historical Bureau, http://www.in.gov/history/2421.htm(accessed March 31, 2018).

(5) Frederick Palmer, Clark of the Ohio: A Life of George Rogers Clark (Ohio: Kessinger Publishing, 1930), 74.

(6) “George Rogers Clark: National Historic Park Indiana.”

(7) Ibid.

(8) “The Fall of Fort Sackville-Timeline.”

(9)”George Rogers Clark: National Historic Park Indiana.”

(10) Ibid.

(11) Ibid.

(12) Ibid.

(13) Ibid.

(14) Ibid.


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