History & Tourism

It Happened In Richland County: The Great Cattle Stampede Of 1812

3 Nov , 2022  

By 1812Blockhouse

In this series on 1812Blockhouse, which we call “It Happened in Richland County,” we share stories about the county’s past that might bring a tear to your eye or a smile to your face. Each happened right here.

We begin with a tale from the fall of 1812, when Richland County was brand new and a rather dangerous place. Skirmishes between British, Native American, and American troops were commonplace.

Ohio Governor Meigs issued a call for able bodied men to come to the aid of settlers in the frontier regions of the state. Enter a band of Ohio Volunteer Militia led by General Reasin Beall who gathered together at Wooster. Soon alarmed by news that two Richland County families had been killed by members of the Delaware tribe, Beall’s army soon headed west.

The History of Richland County by A.J. Baughman shares the following:

“The first halt of Beall’s army within the present limits of Richland County was on the Whetstone where Olivesburg is now located, and the camp was called “Camp Whetstone.”  For the purpose of getting better spring water and of being nearer the Huron trail the army broke camp on the Whetstone and went about five miles west and founded “Camp Council.”  The location of this camp is a mile west of Shenandoah and Rome. 

Here is the famed Ferguson spring, the water of which is healthful and the output sufficient for a much larger army than the one commanded by General Beall.  Here too, is Camp Council run whose volume of water was then sufficient for, and afterwards used as power to operate mills.  A half mile south is the Blackfork of the Mohican, thus affording the troops all the water facilities needed even by an army of occupation. 

Winter set in early in the fall of 1812 and the soldiers at Camp Council, not being properly clothed suffered severely with the cold.”

Baughman’s history of the county, published in 1908, tells a humorous story about Beall’s army at this location. One “dark and stormy” night, the sleeping army was awakened by gunfire. The roused soldiers quickly fell in thinking that Native Americans were poised to attack.

Pickets reported that the attackers were in columns and the ground trembled. Few of the soldiers had experienced a skirmish and all were terrified. The sound of the guns and thundering were unthinkable. The troops opened fire. A few minutes later, however, what really was “afoot” became obvious. The stock had broken out of the corral and the sound of stampeding cattle was mistaken for human attackers.

Dead cattle lay strewn about the camp.

Embarrassed? On the contrary. One narrative shares, “The incident, however, showed the vigilance of the sentinels and the bravery of the troops, and that the army was ever ready to meet surprises, midnight attacks and other emergencies.”

Photo: Creative Commons License

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