General John Adair

GENERAL JOHN ADAIR, in honor of this county -
Adair, Kentucky, received its name, was born in South
Carolina, in the year 1757. His character was
formed in the trying times and amidst the
thrilling incidents of the Revolution. At an
early age, he entered the army as a volunteer,
was made prisoner by the British, and as usual,
treated with savage cruelty, having been thrown
into prison and subjected to every species of
insult and hardship that the ingenuity of his captors could devise.

In 1786 he emigrated to Kentucky, and settled in
Mercer county. In the border war which raged with
so much fury on the north-western frontier,
General (then Major), Adair was an active and
efficient officer, and frequently engaged with
the Indians. One incident of this nature merits a
relation. On the sixth of November 1792, Major
Adair, at the head of a detachment of mounted
volunteers, from Kentucky, while encamped in the
immediate vicinity of Ft. St. Clair, twenty-six
miles south of Greenville, near where Eaton, the
county seat of Preble county Ohio, now stands,
was suddenly and violently attacked by a large
party of Indians, who rushed on the encampment
with great fury. A bloody conflict ensued, during
which Major Adair ordered Lieutenant Madison,
with a small party to gain the right flank of the
enemy, if possible, and at the same time gave an
order for Lieutenant Hall to attack to their
left, but learning that that officer had been
slain, the Major with about twenty-five of his
men made the attack in person, with a view of sustaining
Lieutenant Madison.

The pressure of this movement caused the enemy to
retire. They were driven about six hundred yards,
through and beyond the American camp, where they
made a stand, and again fought desperately. At
this junction about sixty of the Indians made an
effort to turn the right flank of the whites.
Major Adair foreseeing the consequences of this
maneuver, found it necessary to order a retreat.
That movement was effected with regularity, and
as was expected, the Indians pursued them to
their camp, where a halt was made, and another
severe battle was fought, in which the Indians
suffered severely, and were driven from the
ground. In this affair six of the whites were
killed, five wounded and four missing. Among the
wounded were Lieutenant (afterwards Governor)
George Madison and Colonel Richard Taylor, the
father of the present Major General Zachary
Taylor, the hero of Palo Alto, Monterey, Buena Vista &c.

The Indians on this occasion, were commanded by
the celebrated Little Turtle. Some years
afterwards, in 1805-6, when General Adair was
Registrar of the land office in Frankfort, Captain
William Wells, Indian agent, passed through that
place, on his way to Washington city, attended by
some Indians, among whom was the chief, Little
Turtle. General Adair called on his old
antagonist, and in the course of the
conversation, the incident above related, being
alluded to, Gen. Adair attributed his defeat to
his having been taken by surprise. The little
Turtle immediately remarked with great
pleasantness, ďa good general is never taken by surprise.Ē

In 1807, Major Adairís popularity underwent a
temporary obscuration from his supposed
connection with the treasonable enterprise of
Burr. His conduct and opinions became the subject
of much speculation, and the public got to regard
him with an eye of some suspicion. But it is now
generally believed that General Adairís course in
that affair was predicated upon an opinion that
Colonel Burís plans were approved by the
government, which at that time contemplated a war
with Spain. General Adairís opinions and
associations at that day, placed him with the
federal party, among whom he stood deservedly high.

In the campaign of 1813 he accompanied Governor
Shelby into Canada, as an aid, and was present in
that capacity at the battle of the Thames. His
conduct during this campaign was such as to draw
from his superior officers an expression of their
approbation, and his name was honorably mentioned
in the report to the war department. Governor
Shelby afterwards conferred upon him the
appointment of adjutant general of the Kentucky
troops, with the brevet rank of brigadier
general, in which character he commanded the
Kentuckians in the glorious battle of New
Orleans.  The acrimonious controversy between him
and General Jackson, growing out of the
imputations cast by the latter on the conduct of
the Kentucky troops on that eventful day, is fresh in the recollection of all.

In 1820, he was elected governor of Kentucky, in
opposition to Judge Logan, Governor Desha, and
Colonel Butler. He was often a member of the
State legislature, and on several occasions was
speaker of that body. In 1805 he was elected to
the senate of the United States, from Kentucky,
for the term of one year. In 1831 he was elected
to congress, and served in the house of
representatives from 1831 to 1833, inclusive.

General Adair, in all the situations, military
and civil, to which he was elevated by his
countrymen, discharged his duties in such a
manner as to command the respect and confidence
of his fellow citizens. He was a brave soldier,
an active, vigilant and efficient officer Ė a
politician of sound principles and enlarged
views, and an ardent patriot. Among the early
pioneers of Kentucky, he deservedly occupies a
prominent place and a high rank. He died on the
19th of May, 1849, at the advanced age of 83 years.


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