[HARMAR, Joseph (1753-1813)]. The Proceedings of a Court of Enquiry, Held at the Special Request of Brigadier General Josiah Harmar, to Investigate his Conduct, as Commanding Officer of the Expedition against the Miami Indians, 1790: The same having been transmitted to Major General St. Clair, to the Secretary of the United States, for the Department of War. Published by Authority. Philadelphia: John Fenno, 1791.
2o (340 x 208 mm). Three typographic plans in text: "Order of March," "Order of Encampment" and "Order of Battle." (Title and final leaf with a few small spots and with two small losses in upper margin.) Stabbed and sewn as issued; blue cloth slipcase. Provenance: Harmsworth Trust Library (sale Sotheby's London, 20 November 1950, lot 7554); Frank T. Siebert (his sale Sotheby's New York, 21 May 1999, lot 305).
FIRST EDITION. After several years in the Ohio lands, pursuing illegal squatters and Indian raiding parties, Harmar was promoted to brevet brigadier general in 1787. In 1790 he was ordered to lead an offensive against Indian "banditti" located near Miami Town (Kekongia--modern Fort Wayne, Ind.). He left from Fort Washington (Cincinatti) in late September 1790 with a force of 1,500 regulars and militia, all but about 400 of which were Kentucky and Pennsylvania militiamen.
They were able to occupy Miami Town with little resistance on 15 October. Just four days later, Harmar ordered a detachment to plunder a nearby Eel River village. Very poor leadership resulted in their brutal defeat by a war party under the Miami chieftain Little Turtle. With more than 100 men killed, Harmar retreated towards Fort Washington. On 21 October he made a hasty decision to send a detachment commanded by Major John P. Wyllys back to Miami Town to attack any returning Indians. Under Little Tuttle the Miamis and Shawnees ambushed the 400 men.
Harmar's defeat hastened his return to Fort Washington, and when they arrived there on 3 November it was on the verge of collapse. The government sharply criticized Harmar, as outlined in The Proceedings. He was cleared by the military court, but was replaced by Arthur St. Clair in March 1791. St. Clair himself was defeated less than a month after the court reached its decision in an expedition against the Indian Confederacy in the Old Northwest. Sabin calls the work EXTREMELY RARE, and the Siebert copy was the first to appear at auction since the Herschel V. Jones copy was sold in London in 1957. Evans 23905; Howes H-204 ("b"); Jones Adventures 188; Sabin 30401; Thomson Ohio 506. A VERY FINE COPY.