John Armstrong was destined to be a humble farmer on the Pennsylvania frontier until the American Revolution changed his life. Rising from private soldier to an officer in the Continental Army, he later served in the First American Regiment, foreruner of the U.S. Army, that was tasked to facilitate the settlement of the Northwest Territory. He endured the fledgling army’s growing pains, was selected for a covert operation in Spanish territory to explore the Missouri River, and fought Native Americans in two disastrous military campaigns. The army subsequently evolved into a successful fighting force despite its second-in-command’s quest to destroy the career of its commander, Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne. Armstrong became an unwitting pawn in a treacherous game crafted by Brig. Gen. James Wilkinson, of whom Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, “He had no conscience and no scruples . . . In all our history there is no more despicable character.” Rebuilding his life in Ohio and Indiana, Armstrong became a noted government official, militia officer, land speculator, and pioneer.
Ellen Denning Smith began researching the life of John Armstrong to seek confirmation of the many tales she had heard as a child regarding her Revolutionary War ancestor, After locating his papers at the Indiana Historical Society and noting references to facts previously unknown to her, she determined that his life as soldier, explorer, magistrate, land speculator, and treasurer of the Northwest Territory was a story that needed to be told.
This program will also be presented on a Zoom Webinar Platform.
Copies of The Court-Martial of Captain John Armstrong will be available for purchase.