Aug. 31, 1818 Greensburg Westmoreland County Pennsylvania, USA
Revolutionary War General. Born in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, St. Clair attended the University of Edinburgh and studied medicine before purchasing a commission as an ensign in the 60th Regiment of Foot. He saw service in the French and Indian War and served under General Jeffrey Amherst at the capture of Louisburg in 1758. He was promoted to lieutenant the following year and was assigned to the command of General James Wolfe and was present at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham when Wolfe was killed. St. Clair resigned his commission in April 1762 and settled in the Ligonier Valley of Pennsylvania. He became the surveyor of the district of Cumberland in 1770; justice of the court of quarter sessions and of common pleas; member of the proprietary council, justice, recorder, and clerk of the orphans' court. He also became the largest land owners in Pennsylvania west of the Appalachians. With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, St. Clair supported the patriot cause and served on his county's Committee of Safety. In 1775, Congress appointed St. Clair a colonel in the Continental Army and he participated in the ill fated attack on Canada. During the winter of 1776-1777, he fought at the battles of Trenton and Princeton. In 1777 he rose to brigadier-general and was appointed commander of Fort Ticonderoga. His small garrison was forced to withdraw in July 1777 in the face of overwhelming opposition and made a tactical retreat. In 1778 he was court martialed for the loss of Ticonderoga but was exonerated of any wrong doing and returned to duty. After the war, St. Clair represented Pennsylvania in the Confederation Congress, including a term as president of the Congress from 1787 to 1789. Congress then appointed St. Clair to the governorship of the Northwest Territory. St. Clair negotiated the Treaty of Fort Harmar for which he had been authorized to return some lands claimed for American settlement in exchange for disputed lands of the Western Reserve. St. Clair, however, simply reiterated the terms of previous treaties and excluded the powerful Shawnee from the negotiations provoking Little Turtle's War. After the defeat of Josiah Harmar's troops, St. Clair led a punative expedition against Little Turtle in 1791. On the banks of the Wabash River, Little Turtle's warriors attacked St. Clairs army. Untrained militiamen broke and ran. In combat, St. Clair had two horses shot out from under him. He led surviving Americans to fight their way through enemy lines. St. Clair had suffered the worst defeat of American troops at the hands of Indian warriors in history, ending St. Clair's military career. In 1802, his opposition to Ohio statehood led President Jefferson to remove him as territorial governor. St. Clair then retired to his home in western Pennsylvania. He proceeded to lose his fortune largely due to business reverses and he died in poverty. After his death a portion of The Hermitage, St. Clair's home, was moved to Ligonier where it is now a museum. Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, St. Clair County, Illinois, St. Clair County, Missouri, and St. Clair Township in Columbiana County, Ohio, are all named in his honor. (bio by: Iola)
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To my 4th Great Grandfather, I strive to be as honorable person as you. Thank you for your service to our country. -
Maryellen Yamamoto Added: May. 4, 2016
The end of your life was not the best of times I'm sure, but you left a legacy or honor, patriotism and bravery that few will ever achieve. Those of us who have studied your life, thank you not only for your bravery on the battlefield, but for the contri...(Read more) -
David Added: Jun. 7, 2015