This Day in Indiana History - August 24, 1781 Lochry's Massacre - Near Aurora, Indiana

Lochry Massacre Site - Riverview Cemetery - Aurora Indiana
Lochry Massacre Site - Riverview Cemetery - Aurora Indiana

Archibald Lochry (April 15, 1733— August 24, 1781)
The son of Irish immigrants Jeremiah Loughery and Mary Murphy, Archibald was native to Octorarro Settlement, Ireland. The family migrated to York County, Pennsylvania sometime in the late 1730's. At maturity, Archibald became a powerful man, acquiring land and holding several political posts. He gained his first military experience during the latter stages of the French and Indian War when he enlisted on July 18, 1763.
A Visit to Aurora and Lawrenceburg, Indiana
A Visit to Aurora and Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Revolutionary War
In 1781, Lochry received an appointment to serve as colonel in the militia and given authority to recruit 200 men to launch attacks against the native tribes that were attacking the Pennsylvania frontier as part of the hostilities of the Revolutionary War. Since many were reluctant to leave their homes defenseless during a time of conflict, Lochry was only able to recruit 107 men. The company was ready to move by July 1781. Lochry had agreed to join an expedition led by General George Rogers Clark of Virginia on an expedition that was to move down the Ohio River and recruit men in Kentucky. From there they would either move against Fort Detroit or attack Delaware and Shawnee tribes deep in the heart of Indian country in current Indiana and Ohio. These tribes were harassing the Pennsylvania frontier.
The Campaign
Clark departed down the Ohio first from Wheeling. Initially, the two groups were to leave Wheeling together. However, Clark had a bad problem with desertion. His soldiers were reluctant to leave their homes for extended periods, leaving their families undefended, deserted in large numbers. This drove Clark to try to move further west faster than anticipated in the hopes of cutting down on desertions. Lochry arrived at Wheeling on August 8, only to find that Clark had already left. Lochry's men built boats and departed Wheeling after spending a few days building the boats they needed. While there, Lochry sent a canoe downstream with a message to Clark relating that they were low on supplies for both men, horses, and would follow Clark as soon as they could. This message did not reach General Clark. Forces led by George Girty and Chief Joseph Brandt intercepted the messages and began immediately to assemble a force to attack Lochry.
Lochry's Massacre
After departing Wheeling, Lochry kept his boats to the middle of the Ohio River to prevent attack from the shore. Girty and Brandt shadowed the force onshore as it made its way downriver. After several days of travel, Lochry had to go ashore to allow the horses to graze and obtain food for his men. They landed near the mouth of present day Laughery Creek. They killed a buffalo and prepared to cook it while the horses grazed. Meanwhile, danger gathered in the woodland surrounding them. The numbers Brandt and Girty had to attack are not certain, somewhere between 150 and 500 warriors attacked Lochry's force, catching them by surprise. In the short battle that followed, the natives forced Lochry to surrender. About thirty-seven died in the attack, including Lochry, who was reportedly tomahawked as he sat on a log after the surrender. The remainder of the prisoners were marched up trails by the Miami River. The natives ransomed some, killed some and adopted others. Only around twenty-five survived the attack.

Clark's proposed attack against Detroit died with Lochry's Massacre. Lacking the manpower to carry it out, he abandoned the plan. His capture of Vincennes in 1779 would not be repeated at Detroit.

A government clerk on the first documents misspelled the name ‘Laughery’, and the name has remained unchanged. Riverview Cemetery, the approximate location of the battle near Aurora, contains a monument to Lochry and his men, and a list of the soldiers who took part in the battle.