[NORTHWEST TERRITORY -- INDIAN WARFARE]. The Columbian Tragedy: Containing a Particular and Official Account of the Brave and Unfortunate Officers who were Slain and Wounded in the Ever-Memorable and Bloody Indian Battle. Perhaps the most shocking that has happened in America since its discovery..." America: Boston; Printed by E. Russell for Thomas Bassett of Dumbarton New Hamp[shire], [November or December 1791].
Large folio broadside (22½ x 17 5/8 in.), EDGES UNTRIMMED, preserving the original deckle. Border of black printer's rules, letterpress text in various type sizes, across the type, woodcuts of 40 coffins in two rows, two large woodcuts at sides (a portrait of the slain officer, General Richard Butler, and a crude woodland battle scene), lower down a smaller woodcut of an Indian brave, bottom half of the sheet in four columns with the 41-quatrains of an anonymous verse elegy on the battle ("Ye friends to men attend the Tale, Ye brave ones all give ear..."). Discreet repairs along central vertical fold, just affecting a few letters, minor stains, otherwise an excellent copy.
A striking, oversize broadside, announcing the catastrophic defeat suffered by the American armies under General Arthur St. Clair "at Miami-Village...in the Ohio country," news of which electrified the young nation and temporarily dashed hopes for the opening of the Ohio River Valley to new settlement. As early chronicler Benson Lossing noted, "This event was the theme for oratory, the pulpit, poetry, art, and song. I have before me a dirge-like poem, printed on a broadside, and embellished with rude wood-cuts...entitled 'The Columbian Tragedy,' and professes to give, in verse, 'a particular and official account' of the affair. It was published 'by the earnest request of the friends of the deceased worthies who died in defense of their country...' A pious tone runs through the mournful ballad..." (Lossing, Field Book of the WWar of 1812, Chapter 2, fn.42).
VERY RARE: only the Streeter copy (1967, $1,300) and one other (a severely trimmed copy, Swann, 29 Nov. 2001, lot 139, $13,000) have been offered at auction since 1965. Evans 23268; Streeter III:1314; Wegelin 524 (the anonymous verses).