Chronicles of Border Warfare
by Alexander Scott Withers
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

After the murder of John Thomas and his family in 1781, the settlement on Booth's creek was forsaken, and its inhabitants went to Simpson's creek, for greater security. In the Spring John Owens procured the assistance of some young men about Simpson's creek, and proceeded to Booth's creek for the purpose of threshing some wheat at his farm there.—While on a stack throwing down sheaves, several guns were fired at him by a party of twelve Indians, concealed not far off. Owens leapt from the stack, and the men caught up their guns. They could not, however, discover any one of the savages in their covert and thought it best to retreat to Simpson's creek and strengthen their force before they ventured in pursuit of their enemy. They accordingly did so, and when they came again to Booth's creek, the Indians had decamped, taking with them the horses left at Owens'. The men however found their trail and followed it until night.—Early next morning, crossing the West Fork at Shinnston, they went on in pursuit and came within sight of the Indian camp, and seeing some of the savages lying near their fires, fired at them, but, as was believed without effect. The Indians again took to flight; and as they were hastening on, one of them suddenly wheeled and fired upon his pursuers. The ball passed through the hunting-shirt of one of the men, & Benjamin Coplin (then an active, enterprising young man) returning the shot, an Indian was seen suddenly to spring into a laurel thicket. Not supposing that Coplin's ball had taken effect, they followed the other savages some distance farther, and as they returned got the horses and plunder left at the camp. Some time afterwards a gun was found in the thicket, into which the Indian sprang, and it was then believed that Coplin's shot had done execution.

In the same spring the Indians made their appearance on Crooked run, in Monongalia county. Mr. Thomas Pindall, having been one day at Harrison's fort, at a time when a greater part of the neighbourhood had gone thither for safety, prevailed on three young men, (Harrison, Crawford and Wright, to return and spend the night with him.) Some time after they had been abed, the females waked Mr. Pindall, and telling him that they had heard several times a noise very much [254] resembling the whistling on a charger, insisted on going directly to the fort. The men heard nothing, and being inclined to believe that the fears of the females had given to the blowing of the wind, that peculiar sound, insisted that there was no danger and that it would be unpleasant to turn out then, as the night was very dark. Hearing nothing after this, for which they could not readily account, the men rose in the morning unapprehensive of interruption; and the females, relieved of their fears of being molested by savages during the night, continued in bed. Mr. Pindall walked forth to the woods to catch a horse, and the young men went to the spring hard by, for the purpose of washing. While thus engaged three guns were fired at them, and Crawford and Wright were killed. Harrison fled and got safely to the fort.

The females alarmed at the report of the guns, sprang out of bed and hastened towards the fort, pursued by the Indians. Mrs. Pindall was overtaken and killed, but Rachael Pindall, her sister-in-law, escaped safely to the fort.

In June some Indians came into the neighborhood of Clarksburg, and not meeting with an opportunity of killing or making prisoners any of the inhabitants without the town, one of them, more venturous than the rest, came so near as to shoot Charles Washburn as he was chopping a log of wood in the lot, and then running up, with the axe, severed his skull, scalped him, and fled safely away. Three of Washburn's brothers had been previously murdered by the savages.

In August as Arnold and Paul Richards were returning to Richard's fort, they were shot at by some Indians, lying hid in a cornfield adjoining the fort, and both fell from their horses. The Indians leaped over the fence immediately and tomahawked and scalped them.

These two men were murdered in full view of the fort, and the firing drew its inmates to the gate to ascertain its cause. When they saw that the two Richards' were down, they rightly judged that Indians had done the deed; and Elias Hughes, ever bold and daring, taking down his gun, went out alone at the back gate, and entered the cornfield, into which the savages had again retired, to see if he could not avenge on one of them the murder of his friends. Creeping softly along, he came in view of them standing near the fence, reloading their guns, and looking intently at the people at the fort gate. Taking [255] a deliberate aim at one of them, he touched the trigger. His gun flashed, and the Indians alarmed ran speedily away.

A most shocking scene was exhibited some time before this, on Muddy creek in Pennsylvania. On the 10th of May as the Reverend John Corbly, his wife and five children were going to meeting, (Mr. Corbly being a short distance behind) they were attacked by a party of savages waylaying the road. The shrieks of Mrs. Corbly and the children, drew the husband and father to the fatal spot. As he was approaching, his wife called to him, "to fly," He knew that it was impossible for him to contend successfully against the fearful odds opposed to him, and supposing that his family would be carried away as prisoners, and that he would be enabled either to recover them by raising a company and pursuing the savages, or to ransom them, if conducted to the Indian towns, he complied with her wish, and got safely off, though pursued by one of the savages. But it was not their intention to carry them into captivity. They delighted too much, to look upon the lifeblood flowing from the heart; and accordingly shed it most profusely. The infant in its mother's arms was the first on whom their savage fury fell,—it was tomahawked and scalped. The mother then received several severe blows, but not falling, was shot through the body, by the savage who chased her husband; and then scalped. Into the brains of a little son, six years old, their hatchets were sunk to the heft. Two little girls, of two and four years of age, were tomahawked and scalped. The eldest child, also a daughter, had attempted to escape by concealing herself in a hollow log, a few rods from the scene of action. From her hiding place, she beheld all that was done, and when the bleeding scalp was torn from the head of her last little sister, & she beheld the savages retiring from the desolation which they had wrought, she crawled forth from concealment. It was too soon. One of the savages yet lingered near, to feast to satiety on the horrid spectacle. His eyes caught a glimpse of her as she crept from the log, and his tomahawk and scalping knife became red with her blood.

When Mr. Corbly returned, all his hopes vanished. Which ever way he turned, the mangled body of some one of his family was presented to his view. His soul sickened at the contemplation of the scene, and he fainted and fell. When he had revived, he was cheered with the hope that some of [256] them might yet survive. Two of his daughters had manifested symptoms of returning life, and with care and attention were restored to him.

Thus far in the year 1782, the settlements only suffered from the accustomed desultory warfare of the savages. No numerous collection of Indians had crossed their border,—no powerful army of warriors, threatening destruction to the forts, those asylums of their safety, had appeared among them.—But the scene was soon to change.

In August, there was a grand council convened at Chilicothe, in which the Wyandots, the Shawanees, the Mingoes, the Tawas, Pottowatomies, and various other tribes were represented.[2] Girty and McKee—disgraces to human nature—aided in their deliberations. The surrender of Cornwallis, which had been studiously kept secret from the Indians, was now known to them, and the war between Great Britain and the United States, seemed to them to be verging to a close.—Should a peace ensue, they feared that the concentrated strength of Virginia, would bear down upon them and crush them at once. In anticipation of this state of things, they had met to deliberate, what course it best became them to pursue. Girty addressed the council. He reminded them of the gradual encroachments of the whites;—of the beauty of Kentucky and its value to them as a hunting ground.—He pointed out to them the necessity of greater efforts to regain possession of that country, and warned them that if they did not combine their strength to change the present state of things, the whites would soon leave them no hunting grounds; and they would consequently, have no means of procuring rum to cheer their hearts, or blankets to warm their bodies. His advice was well received and they determined to continue the war.[3]

When the council was adjourned, the warriors proceeded to execute its determinations. Two armies, the one of six hundred, and the other three hundred and fifty men, prepared to march, each to it assigned station—The larger was destined to operate against Kentucky, while the smaller, was to press upon North Western Virginia; and each was abundantly supplied with the munitions of war.[4] Towards the last of August the warriors who were to act in Kentucky, appeared before Bryant's station, south of Licking river, and placed themselves under covert during night,[5] and in advantageous [257] situations for firing upon the station, so soon as its doors should be thrown open.

There were at that time but few inhabitants occupying that station. William Bryant, its founder, and one in whose judgment, skill and courage, many confidently reposed for security from savage enormity, had been unfortunately discovered by some Indians near the mouth of Cane run, and killed.—His death caused most of those who had come to that place from North Carolina, to forsake the station, and return to their own country. Emigrants from Virginia, arriving some short time before, and among whom was Robert Johnson, (the father of Richard M. Johnson) to a certain extent supplied this desertion; yet it was in respect to numbers so far inferior to the savage forces, that the most resolute shuddered in apprehension of the result.

The station too, was at that time, careless and inattentive to its own defence; not anticipating the appearance of a savage army before its gates. Indeed had the Indians delayed their attack a few hours, it would have been in almost an entirely defenceless condition; as the men were on that morning to have left it, for the purpose of aiding in the defence of another station, which was then understood to be assailed by an army of Indians. Fortunately however, for the inhabitants, as soon as the doors of some of the cabins were opened in the morning, the savages commenced the fire, and thus admonished them of danger, while it was not yet too late to provide against it.

The Indians in the attack on Bryant's station practised their usual stratagem, to ensure their success. It was begun on the south-east angle of the station, by one hundred warriors, while the remaining five hundred were concealed in the woods on the opposite side, ready to take advantage of its unprotected situation when, as they anticipated, the garrison would concentrate its strength, to resist the assault on the south-east. But their purpose was fully comprehended by the garrison, and instead of returning the fire of the one hundred, they secretly sent an express to Lexington for assistance, and commenced repairing the pallisades, and putting themselves in the best possible condition to withstand the fury of the assailants. Aware that the Indians were posted near the spring, and believing that they would not fire unless some of the men should be seen going thither, the women [258] were sent to bring in water for the use of the garrison. The event justified their expectations—The concealed Indians, still farther to strengthen the belief, that their whole force were engaged in the attack on the south-east, forbore to fire, or otherwise contradict the impression which they had studiously sought to make on the minds of its inmates.

When a sufficiency of water had been provided, and the station placed in a condition of defence, thirteen men were sent out in the direction from which the assault was made. They were fired upon by the assailing party of one hundred, but without receiving any injury; and retired again within the pallisades. Instantly the savages rushed to the assault of, what they deemed, the unprotected side of the station, little doubting their success. A steady, well directed fire, put them quickly to flight. Some of the more desperate and daring however, approached near enough to fire the houses, some of which were consumed; but a favorable wind drove the flames from the mass of the buildings and the station escaped conflagration.

Disappointed of the expected success of their first stratagem, the assailants withdrew a short distance, and concealed themselves under the bank of the creek, to await the arrival of the assistance, which was generally sent to a besieged fort or station, arranging themselves in ambushment to intercept its approach.

When the express from Bryant's station reached Lexington, the male inhabitants had left there to aid in the defence of Holder's station, which was reported to be attacked. Following on their route, they overtook them at Boonesborough, and sixteen mounted, and thirty footmen were immediately detached to aid the inhabitants of Bryant's station. When this reinforcement came near, the firing had entirely ceased, no enemy was visible, and they approached in the confidence that all was well. A sudden discharge of shot from the savages in ambush, dispelled that hope. The horsemen however, passed safely by. The cloud of dust produced by the galloping of their horses, obscured the view and hindered the otherwise deadly aim of the Indians. The footmen were less fortunate. Two of them were killed, and four wounded; and but for the luxuriant growth of corn in the field through which they passed, nearly all must have fallen, before the overwhelming force of the enemy.

[259] Thus reinforced, the garrison did not for an instant doubt of safety; while the savages became hopeless of success by force of arms, and resorted to another expedient to gain possession of the station. In the twilight of evening, Simon Girty covertly drew near, and mounting on a stump from which he could be distinctly heard, demanded the surrender of the place. He told the garrison, that a reinforcement, with cannon, would arrive that night, and that this demand was suggested by his humanity, as the station must ultimately fall, and he could assure them of protection if they surrendered, but could not if the Indians succeeded by storm; and then demanded, if "they knew who was addressing them." A young man by the name of Reynolds, (fearing the effect which the threat of cannon might have upon the garrison, as the fate of Ruddle's and Martin's stations was yet fresh in their recollections,) replied, that he "knew him well, and held him in such contempt, that he had named a worthless dog which he had SIMON GIRTY; that his reinforcements and threats, were not heeded by the garrison, who expected to receive before morning such an auxiliary force as would enable them to give a good account of the cowardly wretches that followed him, whom he held in such contempt that he had prepared a number of switches with which to drive them out of the country if they remained there 'till day."[6]

Affecting to deplore their obstinacy, Girty retired, and during the night, the main body of the Indian army marched off, leaving a few warriors to keep up an occasional firing and the semblance of a siege.[7]

Shortly after the retreat of the savages, one hundred and sixty men, from Lexington, Harrodsburg and Boonesborough, assembled at Bryant's station, and determined to pursue them.[8] Prudence should have prevailed with them to await the arrival of Colonel Logan, who was known to be collecting additional forces from the other station; but brave and fearless, well equipped, and burning with ardent desire to chastise their savage invaders, they rather indiscreetly chose to march on, unaided, sooner than risk suffering the enemy to retire, by delaying for other troops. But the Indians had no wish to retire, to avoid the whites. The trail left by them, to the experienced eye of Daniel Boone, furnished convincing evidence, that they were only solicitous to conceal their numbers, in reality to tempt pursuit.

[260] When the troops arrived at the Lower Blue Licks, they saw the only Indians, which had met their eye on the route. These were slowly ascending the ridge on the opposite side of the river. The party was halted, and Boone consulted as to what course it would be best to pursue. He was of opinion that the savage force was much greater, than most had been led to believe by the appearance of the trail, and anticipating pursuit, were then in ambush in the ravines; and he advised that the force be divided into two equal parts, the one, marching up the river, to cross it at the mouth of Elk creek, above the upper ravine, while the other party should take a position below for the purpose of co-operating whenever occasion might require; but that neither party should by any means cross the river, until spies were sent out to learn the position and strength of the enemy.[9] The officers generally were inclined to follow the counsel of Boone, but Major McGary, remarkable for impetuosity, exclaiming, "Let all who are not cowards, follow me," spurred his horse into the river. The whole party caught the contagious rashness,—all rushed across the river. There was no order,—no arrangement—no unity or concert. None "paused in their march of terror," lest "we should hover o'er the path," but each, following his own counsel, moved madly towards the sheltered ravines and wooded ground, where Boone had predicted the savages lay hid. The event justified the prediction, and showed the wisdom of his counsel.

At the head of a chosen band of warriors, Girty[10] advanced with fierceness upon the whites, from the advantageous position which he covertly occupied, and "madness, despair and death succeed, the conflict's gathering wrath." The Indians had greatly the advantage in numbers, as well as position, and the disorderly front of the whites, gave them still greater superiority. The bravery of the troops for a while withstood the onset, and the contest was fierce and sanguinary 'till their right wing being turned, a retreat became inevitable. All pressed towards the ford, but a division of the savage army, foreseeing this, had been placed so as to interpose between them and it; and they were driven to a point on the river, where it could only be crossed by swimming. Here was indeed a scene of blood and carnage. Many were killed on the bank; others in swimming over, and some were tomahawked in the edge of the water. Some of those who had been foremost in getting across the river, wheeled and opened a steady fire upon the pursuers. Others, animated by the example, as soon as they reached the bank discharged their guns upon the savages, and checking them for a while enabled many to escape death. But for this stand, the footmen would have been much harrassed, and very many of them entirely cut off. As it was, the loss in slain was great. Of one hundred and seventy-six (the number of whites,) sixty-one were killed, and eight taken prisoners. Cols. Todd and Trigg,—Majors Harland and Bulger,—Capts. Gordon, McBride, and a son of Daniel Boone, were among those who fell. The loss of the savages was never known;—they [261] were left in possession of the battle ground, and at leisure to conceal or carry off their dead, and when it was next visited by the whites, none were found.[11]

A most noble and generous act, performed by one of the whites, deserves to be forever remembered. While they were flying before the closely pursuing savages, Reynolds (who at Bryant's station had so cavalierly replied to Girty's demand of its surrender) seeing Col. Robert Patterson, unhorsed and considerably disabled by his wounds, painfully struggling to reach the river, sprang from his saddle, and assisting him to occupy the relinquished seat, enabled that veteran officer to escape, and fell himself into the hands of the savages. He was not long however, detained a prisoner by them. He was taken by a party of only three Indians; and two whites passing hurriedly on towards the river, just after, two of his captors hastened in pursuit of them, and he was left guarded by only one. Reynolds was cool and collected, and only awaited the semblance of an opportunity, to attempt an escape. Presently the savage in whose custody he was, stooped to tie his moccason. Suddenly he sprang to one side, and being fleet of foot, got safely off.

The battle of the Blue Licks was fought on the 19th of August. On the next day Col. Logan, with three hundred men, met the remnant of the troops retreating to Bryant's station; and learning the fatal result of the contest, hurried on to the scene of action to bury the dead, and avenge their fall—if the enemy should be found yet hovering near. On his arrival not a savage was to be seen. Flushed with victory, and exulting in their revenge, they had retired to their towns, to feast the eyes of their brethren, with the scalps of the slain. The field of battle presented a miserable spectacle. All was stillness, where so lately had arisen the shout of the impetuous, but intrepid whites, and the whoop and yell of the savages, as they closed in deadly conflict; not a sound was to be heard but the hoarse cry of the vulture, flapping her wings and mounting into the air, alarmed at the intrusion of man. Those countenances, which had so lately beamed with daring and defiance, were unmeaning and inexpressive; and what with the effect produced on the dead bodies, by the excessive heat and the mangling and disfiguration of the tomahawk and scalping knife, scarcely one could be distinguished from another. Friends tortured themselves in vain, to find friends, in the huge mass of slain,—fathers to recognize their sons. The mournful gratification of bending over the lifeless bodies of dear relations and gazing with intense anxiety on their pallid features, was denied them. Undistinguished, though not unmarked, all were alike consigned to the silent grave, amid sighs of sorrow and denunciations of revenge.

An expedition against the Indian towns was immediately resolved upon, and in September, Gen. Clarke marched towards them, at the head of nearly one thousand men. Being discovered on their route and the intelligence soon spreading that an army from [262] Kentucky was penetrating the country, the savages deserted their villages and fled; and the expedition was thus hindered of its purpose of chastising them. The towns however were burned, and in a skirmish with a party of Indians, five of them were killed, and seven made prisoners, with the loss of only one man.[12]

The Indian forces which were to operate against North Western Virginia, for some time delayed their purpose, and did not set out on their march, until awhile before the return of those who had been sent into Kentucky. On their way, a question arose among them—against what part of the country they should direct their movements—and their division on this subject, rising by degrees 'till it assumed a serious aspect, led many of the chiefs to determine on abandoning the expedition; but a runner arriving with intelligence of the great success which had crowned the exertion of the army in Kentucky, they changed that determination, and proceeded hastily towards Wheeling.

In the first of September, John Lynn (a celebrated spy and the same who had been with Capt. Foreman at the time of the fatal ambuscade at Grave creek) being engaged in watching the warriors paths, northwest of the Ohio, discovered the Indians marching with great expedition for Wheeling, and hastening to warn the inhabitants of the danger which was threatening them, swam the river, and reached the village, but a little while before the savage army made its appearance. The fort was at this time without any regular garrison, and depended for defence exclusively, on the exertions of those who sought security within its walls. The brief space of time which elapsed between the alarm by Lynn, and the arrival of the Indians, permitted only those who were immediately present to retire into it, and when the attack was begun to be made, there were not within its pallisades, twenty effective men to oppose the assault. The dwelling house of Col. Ebenezer Zane, standing about forty yards from the fort, contained the military stores which had been furnished by the government of Virginia; and as it was admirably situated as an out post from which to annoy the savages in their onsets, he resolved on maintaining possession of it, as well to aid in the defence of the fort, as for the preservation of the ammunition. Andrew Scott, George Green, Mrs. Zane, Molly Scott and Miss McCullough, were all who remained with him. The kitchen (adjoining) was occupied by Sam (a negro belonging to Col, Zane) and Kate, his wife.—Col. Silas Zane commanded in the fort.

When the savage army approached, the British colors were waving over them; and before a shot was discharged at the fort, they demanded the surrender of the garrison. No answer was deigned to this demand, but the firing of several shot (by order of Silas Zane) at the standard which they bore; and the savages rushed to the assault. A well directed and brisk fire opened upon them from Col. Zane's house and the fort, soon drove them back. Again they rushed forward; and again were they repulsed. The number of [263] arms in the house and fort, and the great exertions of the women in moulding bullets, loading guns and handing them to the men, enabled them to fire so briskly, yet so effectively, as to cause the savages to recoil from every charge. The darkness of night soon suspended their attacks, and afforded a temporary repose to the besieged. Yet were the assailants not wholly inactive. Having suffered severely by the galling fire poured upon them from the house, they determined on reducing it to ashes. For this purpose, when all was quietness and silence, a savage, with a firebrand in his hand crawled to the kitchen, and raising himself from the ground, waving the torch to and fro to rekindle its flame, and about to apply it to the building, received a shot which forced him to let fall the engine of destruction and hobble howling away. The vigilance of Sam had detected him, in time to thwart his purpose.

On the return of light, the savages were seen yet environing the fort, and although for some time they delayed to renew their suspended assault, yet it was evident they had not given over its contemplated reduction. They were engaged in making such preparations, as they were confident would ensure success to their exertions.

Soon after the firing of the preceding day had subsided, a small boat, proceeding from Fort Pitt to the Falls of Ohio with cannon balls for the use of the troops there, put to shore at Wheeling; and the man who had charge of her, although discovered and slightly wounded by the savages, reached the postern and was admitted to the fort. The boat of course fell into the hands of the enemy, and they resolved on using the balls aboard, for the demolition of the fortress. To this end they procured a log, with a cavity as nearly corresponding with the size of the ball, as they could; and binding it closely with some chains taken from a shop hard by, charged it heavily, and pointing it towards the fort, in imagination beheld its walls tumbling into ruin, and the garrison bleeding under the strokes and gashes of their tomahawks and scalping knives. All things being ready, the match was applied.—A dreadful explosion ensued. Their cannon burst;—its slivers flew in every direction; and instead of being the cause of ruin to the fort, was the source of injury only to themselves. Several were killed, many wounded, and all, dismayed by the event. Recovering from the shock, they presently returned with redoubled animation to the charge. Furious from disappointment, exasperated with the unforseen yet fatal result, they pressed to the assault with the blindness of phrensy. Still they were received with a fire so constant and deadly, that they were again forced to retire; and most opportunely for the garrison.

When Lynn gave the alarm that an Indian army was approaching, the fort having been for some time unoccupied by a garrison, and Col. Zane's house being used as a magazine, those who retired into the fortress had to take with them a supply of ammunition for its defence. The supply of powder, deemed ample at the time, by reason of the long continuance of the savages, and the repeated [264] endeavors made by them, to storm the fort was now almost entirely exhausted, a few loads only, remaining. In this emergency, it became necessary to replenish their stock, from the abundance of that article in Col. Zane's house. During the continuance of the last assault, apprized of its security, and aware of the danger which would inevitably ensue, should the savages after being again driven back, return to the assault before a fresh supply could be obtained, it was proposed that one of their fleetest men should endeavor to reach the house, obtain a keg and return with it to the fort. It was an enterprise full of danger; but many of the chivalric spirits, then pent up within the fortress, were willing to encounter them all.

Among those who volunteered to go on this emprise, was Elizabeth, the younger sister of Colonel Zane. She was then young active and athletic;—with precipitancy to dare danger, and fortitude to sustain her in the midst of it. Disdaining to weigh the hazard of her own life, against the risk of that of others, when told that a man would encounter less danger by reason of his greater fleetness, she replied—"and should he fall, his loss will be more severely felt. You have not one man to spare;—a woman will not be missed in the defence of the fort." Her services were accepted. Divesting herself of some of her garments, as tending to impede her progress, she stood prepared for the hazzardous adventure; and when the gate was opened, she bounded forth with the buoyancy of hope, and in the confidence of success. Wrapt in amazement, the Indians beheld her spring forward; and only exclaiming, "a squaw, a squaw," no attempt was made to interrupt her progress. Arrived at the door, she proclaimed her embassy. Col. Zane fastened a table cloth around her waist, and emptying into it a keg of powder, again she ventured forth. The Indians were no longer passive. Ball after ball passed whizzing and innocuous by. She reached the gate and entered the fort in safety.[13]

Another instance of heroic daring, deserves to be recorded [265] here. When intelligence of the investiture of Wheeling by the savages, reached Shepherd's fort, a party was immediately detached from it, to try and gain admission into the besieged fortress, and aid in its defence. Upon arriving in view, it was found that the attempt would be hopeless and unavailing, and the detachment consequently prepared to return. Francis Duke, (son-in-law to Colonel Shepherd) was unwilling to turn his back on a people, straitened as he knew the besieged must be, and declared his intention of endeavoring to reach the fort, that he might contribute to its defence. It was useless to disuade him from the attempt;—he knew its danger, but he also knew their weakness, and putting spurs to his horse, rode briskly forward, calling aloud, "open the gate,—open the gate." He was seen from the fort, and the gate was loosed for his admission; but he did not live to reach it.—Pierced by the bullets of the savages, he fell, to the regret of all. Such noble daring, deserved a better fate.

During that night and the next day, the Indians still maintained the seige, and made frequent attempts to take the fort by storm; but they were invareiably repulsed by the deadly fire of the garrison and the few brave men in Colonel Zane's house. On the third night, despairing of success, they resolved on raising the siege; and leaving one hundred chosen warriors to scour and lay waste the country, the remainder of their army retreated across the Ohio, and encamped at the Indian Spring,—five miles from the river. Their loss in the various assaults upon the fort, could not be ascertained; but was doubtless very considerable. Of the garrison, none were killed and only two wounded,—the heroic Francis Duke was the only white who fell during the siege. The gallantry displayed by all, both men and women, in the defence of the fort, can not be too highly commended; but to the caution and good conduct of those few brave individuals who occupied Colonel Zane's house, its preservation has been mainly attributed.

In the evening preceding the departure of the savages from before Wheeling, two white men, who had been among them for several years, and then held commands in the army, deserted from them, and on the next morning early were taken prisoners by Colonel Swearingen, who, with ninety-five men, was on his way to aid in the defence of Wheeling fort, and the chastisement of its assailants. Learning from them [266] the determination of the savages to withdraw from Wheeling, and detach a portion of their force to operate in the country, he despatched runners in every direction to alarm the country and apprize the inhabitants of danger.[14] The intelligence was received by Jacob Miller when some distance from home, but apprehensive that the meditated blow would be aimed at the fort where he resided, he hastened thither, and arrived in time to aid in preparing for its defence.

The place against which the savages directed their operations, was situated on Buffaloe creek, twelve or fifteen miles from its entrance into the Ohio, and was known as Rice's fort. Until Miller's return there were in it only five men; the others having gone to Hagerstown to exchange their peltries, for salt, iron and ammunition. They immediately set about making preparations to withstand an assault; and in a little while, seeing the savages approaching from every direction, forsook the cabins and repaired to the blockhouse. The Indians perceived that they were discovered, and thinking to take the station by storm, shouted forth the war whoop and rushed to the assault. They were answered by the fire of the six brave and skilful riflemen in the house, and forced to take refuge behind trees and fallen timber. Still they continued the firing; occasionally calling on the whites to "give up, give up. Indian too many. Indian too big. Give up. Indian no kill." The men had more faith in the efficacy of their guns to purchase their safety, than in the preferred mercy of the savages; and instead of complying with their demand, called on them, "as cowards skulking behind logs to leave their coverts, and shew but their yellow hides, and they would make holes in them."

The firing was kept up by the savages from their protected situation, until night, and whenever even a remote prospect of galling them was presented to the whites, they did not fail to avail themselves of it. The Indian shots in the evening, were directed principally against the stock as it came up as usual to the station, and the field was strewed with its dead carcases. About ten o'clock of the night they fired a large barn (thirty or forty yards from the blockhouse) filled with grain and hay, and the flames from which seemed for awhile to endanger the fort; but being situated on higher ground, and the current of air flowing in a contrary direction, it escaped conflagration. Collecting on the side of the fort opposite [267] to the fire, the Indians took advantage of the light it afforded them to renew the attack; and kept it up until about two o'clock, when they departed. Their ascertained loss was four warriors,—three of whom were killed by the first firing of the whites,—the other about sundown. George Folebaum was the only white who suffered. Early in the attack, he was shot in the forehead, through a port-hole, and instantly expired; leaving Jacob Miller, George Leffler, Peter Fullenwieder, Daniel Rice and Jacob Leffler, junior, sole defenders of the fort; and bravely and effectually did they preserve it, from the furious assaults of one hundred chosen savage warriors.

Soon after the Indians left Rice's fort, they moved across the hills in different directions and in detached parties. One of these observing four men proceeding towards the fort which they had lately left, waylaid the path and killed two of them on the first fire. The remaining two fled hastily; and one of them swift of foot, soon made his escape. The other, closely pursued by one of the savages, and in danger of being overtaken, wheeled to fire. His gun snapped, and he again took to flight. Yet more closely pressed by his pursuer, he once more attempted to shoot. Again his gun snapped, and the savage being now near enough, hurled a tomahawk at his head. It missed its object and both strained every nerve for the chase. The Indian gained rapidly upon him; and reaching forth his arm, caught hold of the end of his belt. It had been tied in a bow-knot, and came loose.—Sensible that the race must soon terminate to his disadvantage unless he could kill his pursuer, the white man once more tried his gun. It fired; and the savage fell dead at his feet.

Some time in the summer of this year, a party of Wyandots, consisting of seven warriors, (five of whom were, one of the most distinguished chiefs of that nation and his four brothers) came into one of the intermediate settlements between Fort Pitt and Wheeling, killed an old man whom they found alone, robbed his cabin, and commenced retreating with the plunder. They were soon discovered by spies; and eight men, two of whom were Adam and Andrew Poe, (brothers, remarkable for uncommon size, great activity, and undaunted bravery) went in pursuit of them. Coming on their trail not far from the Ohio, Adam Poe, fearing an ambuscade, left his companions [268] to follow it, while he moved across to the river under cover of the high weeds and bushes, with the view to attack them in the rear should he find them situated as he expected.—Presently he espied an Indian raft at the water's edge, but seeing nothing of the savages, moved cautiously down the bank; and when near the foot, discovered the large Wyandot chief and a small Indian standing near and looking intently towards the party of whites, then some distance lower down the bottom. Poe raised his gun, and aiming surely at the chief, pulled trigger. It missed fire, and the snap betrayed his presence. Too near to retreat, he sprang forward; and seizing the large Indian by the breast, and at the same instant encircling his arms around the neck of the smaller one, threw them both to the ground. Extricating himself from the grasp of Poe, the small savage raised his tomahawk; but as he aimed the blow, a vigorous and well directed kick, staggered him back, and he let fall the hatchet. Recovering quickly, he aimed several blows in defiance and exultation,—the vigilance of Poe distinguished the real from the feigned stroke, and suddenly throwing up his arm, averted it from his head, but received a wound in his wrist. By a violent effort, he freed himself from the grip of the chief, and snatching up a gun, shot his companion through the breast, as he advanced the third time with the tomahawk.

In this time the large chief had regained his feet; and seizing Poe by the shoulder and leg threw him to the ground.—Poe however, soon got up, and engaged with the savage in a close struggle, which terminated in the fall of both into the water. Now it became the object of each to drown his antagonist, and the efforts to accomplish this were continued for some time with alternate success;—first one and then the other, being under water. At length, catching hold of the long tuft of hair which had been suffered to grow on the head of the chief, Poe held him under water, until he supposed him dead; but relaxing his hold too soon, the gigantic savage was again on his feet and ready for another grapple. In this both were carried beyond their depth, and had to swim for safety. Both sought the shore, and each, with all his might, strained every nerve to reach it first that he might end the conflict with one of the guns lying on the beach. The Indian was the more expert swimmer, and Poe, outstripped by him, turned and swam farther into the river, in the hope of avoiding being [269] shot by diving. Fortunately his antagonist laid hold on the gun which had been discharged at the little Indian, and he was enabled to get some distance into the river.

At this juncture, two others of the whites came up; and one of them mistaking Poe for a wounded savage attempting to escape, shot and wounded him in the shoulder. He then turned to make for shore, and seeing his brother Andrew on the bank, called to him to "shoot the big Indian." Having done this, Andrew plunged into the river to assist Adam in getting out; and the wounded savage, to preserve his scalp, rolled himself into the water, and struggling onward, sunk and could not be found.

During the continuance of this contest, the whites had overtaken the other five Indians, and after a desperate conflict, succeeded in killing all but one; with the loss of three of their companions.—A great loss, when the number engaged is taken into consideration.

——- [1] L. V. McWhorter informs me that White, who was a prominent settler, was once with others on a hunting expedition, when they surprised a small party of Indians. They killed several, but one active young brave ran off, with White close at his heels. The Indian leaped from a precipice, alighting in a quagmire in which he sank to his waist. White, with tomahawk in hand, jumped after him. In the struggle which ensued, White buried his weapon in the red man's skull. The victim's father was among those who escaped, and for a long time—McWhorter says "several years"—he lurked about the settlements trailing White. Finally, he succeeded in shooting his man, within sight of the fort. Mrs. White was an eye-witness of the tragedy. McWhorter claims that Withers is mistaken in saying that White was "tomahawked, scalped and lacerated in the most frightful manner." The avenging Indian tried to get his scalp, but an attacking party from the fort were so close upon him that he fled before accomplishing his object. McWhorter reports another case, not mentioned in Withers. One Fink was "killed by Indians in ambush, while letting down a pair of bars one evening, just in front of where the Buckhannon court-house now stands."—R. G. T.

[2] The council was held at Wapatomica, in June. There were present representatives of the Ottawas, Chippewas, Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Munsees, and Cherokees. Simon Girty came with the Wyandots; Captain McKee was then a trader at Wapatomica.—R. G. T.

[3] See the alleged speech in Butterfield's History of the Girtys, pp. 190, 191.—R. G. T.

[4] The Kentucky party was under Capt. William Caldwell, who wrote, "I crossed the Ohio with three hundred Indians and rangers." Capts. McKee and Elliott, and the three Girtys were with the expedition. Caldwell crossed the river early in July, not far below the mouth, of Limestone creek—site of the present Maysville, Ky.—R. G. T.

[5] They arrived on the night of August 15.—R. G. T.

[6] The above incident is mentioned in none of the contemporary chronicles, and is probably fiction.—R. G. T.

[7] The attack was begun early in the morning of the 16th, and continued with more or less vigor until about 10 A. M. of the 17th. Caldwell then withdrew his force "in a leisurely manner." The attacking party lost five killed and two wounded, all Indians; the garrison lost four killed and three wounded.—R. G. T.

[8] A hundred and eighty-two, under Col. John Todd. Pursuit was commenced on the 18th.—R. G. T.

[9] The battle occurred at 8 A. M. of August 19, a short distance north of the Lower Blue Licks, on the Licking river, in what is now Nicholas County.—R. G. T.

[10] The tendency among early Western chroniclers has been greatly to magnify the importance of Simon Girty. He was merely an interpreter on this, as on most other expeditions. Caldwell was in command. The British force now consisted of 200 Indians and 30 rangers. Some of the Indians had already left for their villages.—R. G. T.

[11] The British rangers lost one of their number by death; of their Indian allies, ten were killed and fourteen wounded. Of the Kentuckians, about seventy were killed, several badly wounded, and seven made prisoners. Caldwell continued his leisurely retreat to Upper Sandusky, which he reached September 24, the Indians meanwhile dispersing to their several homes.—R. G. T.

[12] Gen. George Rogers Clark gave this official report of his expedition against the Shawnees, in a letter dated Lincoln, November 27, 1782: "We left the Ohio the 4th instant, with 1050 men, surprised the principal Shawanese Town in the evening of the 10th, and immediately detached strong parties to different quarters; and in a few hours afterwards two thirds of the towns were laid in ashes, and every thing they were possessed of destroyed, except such as were most useful to the troops, the enemy not having time to secrete any part of their property. The British trading post at the head of the Miami and Carrying Place to the waters of the Lakes, shared the same by a party of 150 horse, commanded by Col. Logan, and property to a great amount was also destroyed: the quantity of provisions burnt far surpassed any idea we had of their stores. The loss of the enemy was ten scalps, seven prisoners, and two whites retaken; ours, one killed and one wounded.

"After laying part of four days in their towns, and finding all attempts to bring them to a general action fruitless, we retired, as the season was far advanced and the weather threatening. I could not learn by the prisoners that they had the least idea of General Irvin's design of penetrating into their country. Should he have given them another stroke at Sandusky, it will more than double the advantages already gained.

"We might probably have got many more scalps and prisoners—could we have known in time whether or not we were discovered, which we took for granted until getting within three miles when some circumstances occurred that gave us reason to think otherwise, though uncertain.—Col. Floyd, with 300 men, was ordered to advance and bring on an action or attack the town, Major Wells with a party of horse being previously detached by a different route as a party of observation: although Col. Floyd's motion was so quick as to get to the town but a few minutes later than those who discovered his approach, the inhabitants had sufficient notice to effect their escape to the woods by the alarm cry being given, and which was repeated by all that heard it; of course our party only fell in with the rear of the enemy.

"I must beg leave to recommend the militia of Kentucky whose behaviour on the occasion does them honour, particularly their desire of saving prisoners."

The document is here given as found in Almon's Remembrancer, xvi., pp. 93, 94; but it has of course been edited, after the fashion of that day, for Clark's original letters abound in misspellings.—R. G. T.

[13] [264] This heroine had but recently returned from Philadelphia, where she had received her education, and was totally unused to such scenes as were daily exhibiting on the frontier. She afterwards became the wife of Mr. McGlanlin; and he dying, she married a Mr. Clarke, and is yet living in Ohio.

[14] See p. 224, note 1, for reference to confusion between the two sieges of Wheeling, and the over-statement of early border historians.—R. G. T.


The treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, which terminated so gloriously the war of the revolution, did not put a period to Indian hostilities.[1] The aid which had been extended to the savages, and which enabled them so successfully to gratify their implacable resentment against the border country, being withdrawn, they were less able to cope with the whites than they had been, and were less a hindrance to the population and improvement of those sections of country which had been the theatre of their many outrages. In North Western Virginia, indeed, although the war continued to be waged against its inhabitants, yet it assumed a different aspect. It became a war rather of plunder, than of blood; and although in the predatory incursions of the Indians, individuals some times fell a sacrifice to savage passion; yet this was of such rare occurrence, that the chronicles of those days are divested of much of the interest, which attaches to a detail of Indian hostilities. For several years, scarce an incident occurred worthy of being rescued from oblivion.

In Kentucky it was far otherwise. The war continued to be prosecuted there, with the wonted vigor of the savages.—The General Assembly of Virginia having, at the close of the revolution, passed an act for surveying the land set apart for her officers and soldiers, south of Green river, the surveyors descended to the Ohio, to explore the country and perform the duties assigned them. On their arrival they found it occupied by the savages, and acts of hostilities immediately [271] ensued. In December, 1783, the Legislature likewise passed an act, appropriating the country between the Scioto and Miami rivers, for the purpose of satisfying the claims of the officers and soldiers, if the land previously allotted, in Kentucky, should prove insufficient for that object. This led to a confederacy of the many tribes of Indians, interested in those sections of country, and produced such feelings and gave rise to such acts of hostility on their part, as induced Benjamin Harrison the Governor of Virginia, in November, 1784, to recommend the postponement of the surveys; and in January, 1785, a proclamation was issued, by Patrick Henry, (successor of Gov. Harrison) commanding the surveyors to desist and leave the country. A treaty was soon after concluded, by which the country on the Scioto, Miami, and Muskingum, was ceded to the United States.[2] In this interval of time, North Western Virginia enjoyed almost uninterrupted repose. There was indeed an alarm of Indians, on Simpson's creek in 1783, but it soon subsided; and the circumstance which gave rise to it (the discharge of a gun at Major Power) was generally attributed to a white man.

In 1784, the settlement towards the head of West Fork, suffered somewhat from savage invasion. A party of Indians came to the house of Henry Flesher, (where the town of Weston now is) and fired at the old gentleman, as he was returning from the labors of the field. The gun discharged at him, had been loaded with two balls, and both taking effect, crippled his arm a good deal. Two savages immediately ran towards him; and he, towards the door; and just as he was in the act of entering it, one of them had approached so closely as to strike at him with the butt end of his gun. The breech came first in contact with the facing of the door, and descending on his head, seemed to throw him forward into the house, and his wife closing the door, no attempt was made by the savages to force it open. Still, however, they did not feel secure; and as soon as they became assured that the savages were withdrawn, they left the house and sought security elsewhere. Most of the family lay in the woods during the night,—one young woman succeeded in finding the way to Hacker's creek, from whence Thomas Hughes immediately departed to find the others. This was effected early next morning, and all were safely escorted to that settlement.

[272] The foregoing event happened in September, and in a few days after, as Daniel Radcliff was proceeding to the Brushy Fork of Elk creek on a hunting expedition, he was shot (probably by the Indians who had been at Flesher's,) tomahawked and scalped in a shocking manner.

In 1785, six Indians came to Bingamon creek, (a branch of the West Fork) and made their appearance upon a farm occupied by Thomas and Edward Cunningham. At this time the two brothers were dwelling with their families in separate houses, but nearly adjoining, though not in a direct line with each other. Thomas was then on a trading visit east of the mountain, and his wife and four children were collected in their room for the purpose of eating dinner, as was Edward with his family, in their house. Suddenly a lusty savage entered where were Mrs. Thomas Cunningham and her children, but seeing that he would be exposed to a fire from the other house, and apprehending no danger from the woman and children, he closed the door and seemed for a time only intent on the means of escaping.

Edward Cunningham had seen the savage enter his brother's house, and fastened his own door, seized his gun and stepping to a small aperture in the wall next the house in which was the Indian, and which served as well for a port hole as for the admission of light, was ready to fire whenever the savage should make his appearance. But in the other house was a like aperture, and through it the Indian fired at Edward, and shouted the yell of victory. It was answered by Edward. He had seen the aim of the savage only in time to avoid it,—the bark from the log close to his head, was knocked off by the ball and flew into his face. The Indian seeing that he had missed his object, and observing an adze in the room, deliberately commenced cutting an aperture in the back wall through which he might pass out without being exposed to a shot from the other building.[3]

Another of the Indians came into the yard just after the firing of his companion, but observing Edward's gun pointing through the port hole, he endeavored to retreat out of its range. He failed of his purpose. Just as he was about to spring over the fence, the gun was fired and he fell forward. The ball however only fractured his thigh bone, and he was yet able to hobble over the fence and take shelter behind a [273] coverlet suspended on it, before Edward could again load his gun.

While the Indian was engaged in cutting a hole in the wall, Mrs. Cunningham made no attempt to get out. She was well aware that it would draw down upon her head the fury of the savage; and that if she escaped this, she would most probably be killed by some of those who were watching around, before the other door could be opened for her admission.—She knew too, that it was impossible for her to take the children with her, and could not brook the idea of leaving them in the hands of the savage monster. She even trusted to the hope that he would withdraw, as soon as he could, without molesting any of them. A few minutes served to convince her of the fallacy of this expectation. When the opening had been made sufficiently large, he raised his tomahawk, sunk it deep into the brains of one of the children, and throwing the scarcely lifeless body into the back yard, ordered the mother to follow after. There was no alternative but death, and she obeyed his order, stepping over the dead body of one of her children,[4] with an infant in her arms and two others screaming from horror at the sight, and clinging to her. When all were out he scalped the murdered boy, and setting fire to the house, retired to an eminence in the field, where two of the savages were, with their wounded companion.—leaving the other two to watch the opening of Edward Cunningham's door, when the burning of the house should force the family from their shelter. They were disappointed in their expectation of that event by the exertions of Cunningham and his son. When the flame from the one house communicated to the roof of the other, they ascended to the loft, threw off the loose boards which covered it, and extinguished the fire;—the savages shooting at them all the while, and their balls frequently striking close by.

Despairing of accomplishing farther havoc, and fearful of detection and pursuit, the Indians collected together and prepared to retreat. Mrs. Cunningham's eldest son was first tomahawked and scalped; the fatal hatchet sunk into the head of her little daughter, whom they then took by the arms and legs, and slinging it repeatedly against a tree, ended its sufferings with its life. Mrs. Cunningham stood motionless with grief, and in momentary expectation of having the same dealt to her and her innocent infant. But no! She was [274] doomed to captivity; and with her helpless babe in her arms, was led off from this scene of horror and of wo. The wounded savage was carried on a rough litter, and they all departed, crossing the ridge to Bingamon creek, near which they found a cave that afforded them shelter and concealment.[5] After night, they returned to Edward Cunningham's, and finding no one, plundered and fired the house.

When the savages withdrew in the evening, Cunningham went with his family into the woods, where they remained all night, there being no settlement nearer than eight or ten miles. In the morning, proceeding to the nearest house, they gave the alarm and a company of men was soon collected to go in pursuit of the Indians. When they came to Cunningham's and found both houses heaps of ashes, they buried the bones which remained of the boy who was murdered in the house, with the bodies of his brother and little sister, who were killed in the field; but so cautiously had the savages conducted their retreat that no traces of them could be discovered, and the men returned to their homes.

Some days after, circumstances induced the belief that the Indians were yet in the neighborhood, and men were again assembled for the purpose of tracing them. They were now enabled to distinguish the trail, and pursued it near to the cave, where from the number of rocks on the ground and the care which had been taken by the Indians to leave no vestige, they could no longer discover it. They however examined for it in every direction until night forced them to desist. In thinking over the incidents of the day; the cave occurred to the mind of Major Robinson, who was well acquainted with the woods, and he concluded that the savages must be concealed in it. It was examined early next morning, but they had left it the preceding night and departed for their towns. After her return from captivity, Mrs. Cunningham stated, that in time of the search on the day before, the Indians were in the cave, and that several times the whites approached so near, that she could distinctly hear their voices; the savages standing with their guns ready to fire, in the event of their being discovered, and forcing her to keep the infant to her breast, lest its crying might point to the place of their concealment.[6]

In consequence of their stay at this place on account of their wounded companion, it was some time before they arrived [275] in their own country;[7] and Mrs. Cunningham's sufferings, of body as well as mind were truly great. Fatigue and hunger oppressed her sorely,—the infant in her arms, wanting the nourishment derived from the due sustenance of the mother, plied at the breast for milk, in vain—blood came in stead; and the Indians perceiving this, put a period to its sufferings, with the tomahawk, even while clinging to its mother's bosom. It was cast a little distance from the path, and left without a leaf or bush to hide it from beasts of prey.

The anguish of this woman during the journey to the towns, can only be properly estimated by a parent; her bodily sufferings may be inferred from the fact, that for ten days her only sustenance consisted of the head of a wild turkey and three papaws, and from the circumstance that the skin and nails of her feet, scalded by frequent wading of the water, came with her stockings, when upon their arrival at a village of the Delawares, she was permitted to draw them off. Yet was she forced to continue on with them the next day.—One of the Indians belonging to the village where they were, by an application of some sanative herbs, very much relieved the pain which she endured.

When she came to the town of those by whom she had been made prisoner, although receiving no barbarous or cruel usage, yet everything indicated to her, that she was reserved for some painful torture. The wounded Indian had been left behind, and she was delivered to his father. Her clothes were not changed, as is the case when a prisoner is adopted by them; but she was compelled to wear them, dirty as they were,—a bad omen for a captive. She was however, not long in apprehension of a wretched fate. A conference was soon to take place between the Indians and whites, preparatory to a treaty of peace; and witnessing an uncommon excitement in the village one evening, upon inquiring, learned that the Great captain Simon Girty had arrived. She determined to prevail with him, if she could, to intercede for her liberation, and seeing him next day passing near on horseback, she laid hold on his stirrup, and implored his interference. For a while he made light of her petition,—telling her that she would be as well there as in her own country, and that if he were disposed to do her a kindness he could not as his saddle bags were too small to conceal her; but her importunity at length prevailed, and he whose heart had been so long steeled [276] against every kindly feeling, every sympathetic impression, was at length induced to perform an act of generous, disinterested benevolence. He paid her ransom, had her conveyed to the commissioners for negotiating with the Indians, and by them she was taken to a station on the south side of the Ohio.[8] Here she met with two gentlemen (Long and Denton) who had been at the treaty to obtain intelligence of their children taken captive some time before, but not being able to gain any information respecting them, they were then returning to the interior of Kentucky and kindly furnished her a horse.

In consequence of the great danger attending a journey through the wilderness which lay between the settlements in Kentucky and those on the Holstein, persons scarcely ever performed it but at particular periods of the year, and in caravans, the better to defend themselves against attacks of savages. Notice of the time and place of the assembling of one of these parties being given, Mrs. Cunningham prepared to accompany it; but before that time arrived, they were deterred from the undertaking by the report that a company of travellers, stronger than theirs would be, had been encountered by the Indians, and all either killed or made prisoners. Soon after another party resolved on a visit to Virginia, and Mrs. Cunningham was furnished a horse belonging to a gentleman on Holstein (which had escaped from him while on a buffalo hunt in Kentucky and was found after his return,) to carry her that far on her way home. Experiencing the many unpleasant circumstances incident to such a jaunt, she reached Holstein, and from thence, after a repose of a few days, keeping up the Valley of Virginia, she proceeded by the way of Shenandoah, to the county of Harrison.[9] Here she was sadly disappointed in not meeting with her husband. Having understood that she had been ransomed and taken to Kentucky, he had, some time before, gone on in quest of her. Anxiety for his fate, alone and on a journey which she well knew to be fraught with many dangers, she could not cheerily partake of the general joy excited by her return. In a few days however, he came back. He had heard on Holstein of her having passed there and he retraced his steps. Arriving at his brother Edward's, he again enjoyed the satisfaction of being with all that was then dear to him on earth. It was a delightful satisfaction, but presently damped by the recollection of [277] the fate of his luckless children—Time assuaged the bitterness of the recollection and blessed him with other and more fortunate children.[10]

In October 1784, a party of Indians ascended Sandy river and passing over to the head of Clynch, came to the settlement near where Tazewell court house is now located. Going first to the house of a Mr. Davisson, they killed him and his wife; and setting fire to their dwelling, proceeded towards the residence of James Moore, sr. On their way they met Moore salting his horses at a lick trough in the woods, and killed him. They then went to the house and captured Mrs. Moore and her seven children, and Sally Ivens, a young lady who was there on a visit. Fearing detection, they immediately departed for Ohio with the prisoners; and in order to expedite their retreat, killed John Moore, jr. and the three younger children.

Upon their arrival at the Shawanee town on the Scioto (near the mouth of Paint creek) a council was held, and it was resolved that two of the captives should be burned alive, to avenge the death of some of their warriors who had been killed on the Kentucky river. This dreadful doom was allotted to Mrs. Moore and her daughter Jane,—an interesting girl about sixteen years of age. They were tied to a post and tortured to death with burning splinters of pine, in the presence of the remaining members of the family.

After the death of his mother and sister, James Moore was sent to the Maumee towns in Michigan, where he remained until December 1785,—his sister Mary and Sally Ivins remaining with the Shawanees. In December 1786, they were all brought to Augusta county in conformity with the stipulations of the treaty of Miami, and ransomed by their friends.[11]

In the fall of 1796, John Ice and James Snodgrass were killed by the Indians when looking for their horses which they [278] had lost on a buffalo hunt on Fishing creek. Their remains were afterwards found—the flesh torn from the bones by the wolves—and buried.

In a few days after Ice and Snodgrass left home in quest of their horses, a party of Indians came to Buffalo creek in Monongalia, and meeting with Mrs. Dragoo and her son in a corn field gathering beans, took them prisoners, and supposing that their detention would induce others to look for them, they waylaid the path leading [277] from the house. According to their expectation, uneasy at their continued absence, Jacob Strait and Nicholas Wood went to ascertain its cause. As they approached the Indians fired from their covert, and Wood fell;—Strait taking to flight was soon overtaken. Mrs. Strait and her daughter, hearing the firing and seeing the savages in pursuit of Mr. Strait, betook themselves also to flight, but were discovered by some of the Indians who immediately ran after them. The daughter concealed herself in a thicket of bushes and escaped observation. Her mother sought concealment under a large shelving rock, and was not afterwards discovered by the savages, although those in pursuit of her husband, passed near and overtook him not far off. Indeed she was at that time so close, as to hear Mr. Strait say, when overtaken, "don't kill me and I will go with you;" and the savage replying "will you go with me," she heard the fatal blow which deprived her husband of life.

Mrs. Dragoo being infirm and unable to travel to their towns, was murdered on the way. Her son (a lad of seven) remained with the Indians upwards of twenty years,—he married a squaw, by whom he had four children,—two of whom he brought home with him, when he forsook the Indians.

In 1787 the Indians again visited the settlement on Buffaloe, and as Levi Morgan was engaged in skinning a wolf which he had just taken from his trap, he saw three of them—one riding a horse which he well knew, the other two walking near behind—coming towards him. On first looking in the direction they were coming, he recognized the horse, and supposed the rider to be its owner—one of his near neighbors. A second glance discovered the mistake, and he siezed his gun and sprang behind a large rock,—the Indians at the same instant taking shelter by the side of a large tree.—As soon as his body was obscured from their view, he turned, and seeing the Indians looking towards the farther end of the [279] rocks as if expecting him to make his appearance there, he fired and one of them fell. Instantly he had recourse to his powder horn to reload, but while engaged in skinning the wolf the stopper had fallen out and his powder was wasted. He then fled, and one of the savages took after him. For some time he held to his gun; but finding his pursuer sensibly gaining on him, he dropped it under the hope that it would attract the attention of the Indian and give him a better chance of escape. The savage passed heedlessly by it. Morgan then threw his shot pouch and coat in the way, to tempt the Indian to a momentary delay. It was equally vain,—his pursuer did not falter for an instant. He now had recourse to another expedient to save himself from captivity or death. Arriving at the summit of the hill up which he had directed his steps, he halted; and, as if some men were approaching from the other side, called aloud, "come on, come on; here is one, make haste." The Indian not doubting that he was really calling to some men at hand, turned and retreated as precipitately as he had advanced; and when he heard Morgan exclaim, "shoot quick, or he will be out of reach," he seemed to redouble his exertion to gain that desirable distance. Pleased with the success of the artifice, Morgan hastened home; leaving his coat and gun to reward the savage for the deception practised on him.[12]

In September of this year, a party of Indians were discovered in the act of catching some horses on the West Fork above Clarksburg; and a company of men led on by Col. Lowther, went immediately in pursuit of them.[13] On the third night the Indians and whites, unknown to each other, encamped not far apart; and in the morning the fires of the latter being discovered by Elias Hughes, the detachment which was accompanying him fired upon the camp, and one of the savages fell. The remainder taking [279] to flight, one of them passed near to where Col. Lowther and the other men were, and the Colonel firing at him as he ran, the ball entering at his shoulder, perforated him, and he fell. The horses and plunder which had been taken by the savages, were then collected by the whites, and they commenced their return home, in the confidence of false security. They had not proceeded far, when two guns were unexpectedly fired at them, and John Bonnet fell, pierced through the body. He died before he reached home.[14]

[280] The Indians never thought the whites justifiable in flying to arms to punish them for acts merely of rapine. They felt authorized to levy contributions of this sort, whenever an occasion served, viewing property thus acquired as (to use their own expression) the "only rent which they received for their lands;" and if when detected in secretly exacting them, their blood paid the penalty, they were sure to retaliate with tenfold fury, on the first favorable opportunity. The murder of these two Indians by Hughes and Lowther was soon followed by acts of retribution, which are believed to have been, at least mediately, produced by them.

On the 5th of December, a party of Indians and one white man (Leonard Schoolcraft) came into the settlement on Hacker's creek, and meeting with a daughter of Jesse Hughes, took her prisoner. Passing on, they came upon E. West, Senr. carrying some fodder to the stable, and taking him likewise captive, carried him to where Hughes' daughter had been left in charge of some of their party.—Here the old gentleman fell upon his knees and expressed a fervent wish that they would not deal harshly by him. His petition was answered by a stroke of the tomahawk, and he fell dead.

They then went to the house of Edmund West, Jun. where were Mrs. West and her sister (a girl of eleven years old, daughter of John Hacker) and a lad of twelve, a brother of West. Forcing open the door, Schoolcraft and two of the savages entered; and one of them immediately tomahawked Mrs. West. The boy was taking some corn from under the bed,—he was drawn out by the feet and the tomahawk sank twice in his forehead, directly above each eye. The girl was standing behind the door. One of the savages approached and aimed at her a blow. She tried to evade it; but it struck on the side of her neck, though not with sufficient force to knock her down. She fell however, and lay as if killed. Thinking their work of death accomplished here, they took from a press some milk, butter and bread, placed it on the table, and deliberately sat down to eat,—the little girl observing all that passed, in silent stillness. When they had satisfied their hunger, they arose, scalped the woman and boy, plundered the house—even emptying the feathers to carry off the ticking—and departed, dragging the little girl by the hair, forty or fifty yards from the house. They then threw her over the fence, and scalped her; but as she evinced symptoms of life, Schoolcraft observed "that is not enough," when immediately one of the savages thrust a knife into her side, and they left her. Fortunately the point of the knife came in contact with a rib and did not injure her much.

Old Mrs. West and her two daughters, who were alone when the old gentleman was taken, became uneasy that he did not return; and fearing that he had fallen into the hands of savages (as they could not otherwise account for his absence) they left the house and went to Alexander West's, who was then on a hunting expedition with his brother Edmund. They told of the absence of old Mr. West and [281] their fears for his fate; and as there was no man here, they went over to Jesse Hughes' who was himself uneasy that his daughter did not come home. Upon hearing that West too was missing, he did not doubt but that both had fallen into the hands of Indians; and knowing of the absence from home of Edmund West, Jun. he deemed it advisable to apprize his wife of danger, and remove her to his house. For this purpose and accompanied by Mrs. West's two daughters, he went on. On entering the door, the tale of destruction which had been done there was soon told in part. Mrs. West and the lad lay weltering in their blood, but not yet dead. The sight overpowered the girls, and Hughes had to carry them off.—Seeing that the savages had but just left them; and aware of the danger which would attend any attempt to move out and give the alarm that night, Hughes guarded his own house until day, when he spread the sorrowful intelligence, and a company were collected to ascertain the extent of the mischief and try to find those who were known to be missing.

Young West was found—standing in the creek about a mile from where he had been tomahawked. The brains were oozing from his head; yet he survived in extreme suffering for three days. Old Mr. West was found in the field where he had been tomahawked. Mrs. West was in the house; she had probably lived but a few minutes after Hughes and her sisters-in-law had left there.—The little girl (Hacker's daughter) was in bed at the house of old Mr. West. She related the history of the transactions at Edmund West's, Jun. and said that she went to sleep when thrown over the fence and was awaked by the scalping. After she had been stabbed at the suggestion of Schoolcraft and left, she tried to re-cross the fence to the house, but as she was climbing up she again went to sleep and fell back. She then walked into the woods, sheltered herself as well as she could in the top of a fallen tree, and remained there until the cocks crew in the morning.

Remembering that there was no person left alive at the house of her sister, awhile before day she proceeded to old Mr. West's. She found no person at home, the fire nearly out, but the hearth warm and she laid down on it. The heat produced a sickly feeling, which caused her to get up and go to the bed, in which she was found.—She recovered, grew up, was married, gave birth to ten children, and died, as was believed, of an affection of the head, occasioned by the wound she received that night. Hughes' daughter was ransomed by her father the next year, and is yet living in sight of the theatre of those savage enormities.

In March 1789, two Indians came to the house of Mr. Glass in the upper end of Ohio (now Brooke) county. They were discovered by a negro woman, who immediately exclaimed, "here are Indians." Mrs. Glass rose up from her spinning wheel, ran to the door, and was met by an Indian with his gun presented. She laid hold on the muzzle and turning it aside, begged that he would not kill, [282] but take her prisoner. He walked into the house and when joined by another Indian with the negro woman and her boy, about four years old, they opened a chest, took out a small box and some articles of clothing, and without doing farther mischief, departed with the prisoners,—Mrs. Glass and her child, two years of age, the negro woman and boy and her infant child. They had proceeded but a short distance when a consultation was held, and Mrs. Glass supposing from their gestures and frequent pointing towards the children they were the subject of deliberation, held forth her little boy to one of the savages and begged that he might be spared—adding, "he will make a fine little Indian after awhile." He signed to her to go on. The other savage then struck the negro boy with the pipe end of his tomahawk, and with the edge gave him a blow across the back of the neck, and scalped and left him.

In the evening they came to the Ohio river just above Wellsburg, and descended it in a canoe about five miles, to the mouth of Rush run. They drew the canoe some distance up the run and proceeding between one and two miles farther encamped for the night.—Next morning they resumed their march and about two o'clock halted on Indian Short creek, twenty miles farther.

When the savages came to the house of Mr. Glass he was at work in a field some few hundred yards off, and was ignorant that any thing extraordinary had occurred there, until in the afternoon.—Searching in vain for his wife, he became satisfied that she had been taken by the Indians; and proceeding to Well's fort prevailed on ten men to accompany him in quest of them. Early next morning they discovered the place where the Indians embarked in the canoe; and as Mr. Glass readily distinguished the impression made by Mrs. Glass' shoe on the sand, they crossed the river with great expectation of being able to overtake them. They then went down the river to the mouth of Rush run, where the canoe was found and identified by some of Mr. Glass' papers, purposely left there by Mrs. Glass. From this place the trail of the Indians and their prisoners was plainly visible, and pursuing it, the party arrived in view of the smoke from their fire on Short creek, about an hour after the Indians had halted. Crossing slyly forward, when rather more than one hundred yards off they beheld the two savages attentively inspecting a red jacket which one of them held, and Mrs. Glass and her little boy and the negro woman and her child a few paces from them.—Suddenly the Indians let fall the jacket, and looked towards the men. Supposing they were discovered, they discharged their guns and rushed towards the fire. One of the Indians fell and dropped his gun, but recovering, ran about one hundred yards when a shot aimed at him by Major McGuire brought him to his hands and knees.—Mrs. Glass informing them that there was another encampment of Indians close by, instead of following the wounded savage, they returned home with all speed.

[283] In August five Indians on their way to the settlements on the waters of the Monongahela, met with two men on Middle Island creek, and killed them. Taking their horses they continued on their route until they came to the house of William Johnson on Ten Mile, and made prisoner of Mrs. Johnson and some children; plundered the house, killed part of the stock, and taking with them one of Johnson's horses, returned towards the Ohio. When the Indians came to the house, Johnson had gone to a lick not far off, and on his return in the morning, seeing what had been done, and searching until he found the trail of the savages and their prisoners, ran to Clarksburg for assistance. A company of men repaired with him immediately to where he had discovered the trail, and keeping it about a mile, found four of the children lying dead in the woods. The savages had tomahawked and scalped them, and placing their heads close together, turned their bodies and feet straight out so as to represent a cross. The dead were buried and farther pursuit given over.

Other Indians, about the same time, came to the house of John Mack on a branch of Hacker's creek. He being from home, they killed all who were at the house. Two of the children, who had been sent into the woods to hunt the cattle, returning, saw a little sister lying in the yard scalped, and directly fled, and gave the alarm. In the morning some men assembled and went to ascertain the extent of the mischief. The house was no longer to be seen,—a heap of ashes was all that remained of it. The little girl who had been scalped in the yard, was much burned, and those who had been murdered in the house, were consumed with it. Mrs. Mack had been taken some distance from the house, tomahawked, scalped, and stripped naked. She was yet alive; and as the men approached, a sense of her situation induced her to exert her feeble strength in drawing leaves around her so as to conceal her nakedness. The men wrapped their hunting shirts about her, and carried her to a neighboring house. She lived a few days, gave birth to a child and died.

Some time after the murder of Mack's family, John Sims, living on a branch of Gnatty creek, seeing his horses come running up much affrighted, was led to believe that the Indians had been trying to catch them. In a few minutes, the dogs began to bark furiously in the corn field adjoining, and he became satisfied the savages were approaching. Knowing [284] that he could offer no effectual resistance, if they should attack his house, he contrived an artifice to deter them from approaching. Taking down his gun, he walked around the house backward and forward, and as if speaking to men in it, called out, "Be watchful. They will soon be here, and as soon as you see them, draw a fine bead;" Mrs. Sims in a coarse tone of voice and with feigned resolution, answering as she had been advised, "Never fear! let them once shew their yellow hides, and we'll pepper them." He would then retire into the house, change his garments, the better to support the deception, and again go forth to watch and give directions to those within. He pursued this plan until night, when he withdrew with his family to a place of safety. The Indians had actually been in the cornfield, and near enough to have shot Sims,—the place where they had been sitting being plainly discernible next morning. Sims' artifice no doubt drove them off, and as they were retreating they fired the house of Jethro Thompson on Lost creek.

In the spring of 1790, the neighborhood of Clarksburg was again visited by Indians in quest of plunder, and who stole and carried off several horses. They were discovered and pursued to the Ohio river, when the pursuers, being reinforced, determined to follow on over into the Indian country. Crossing the river and ascending the Hockhocking, near to the falls, they came upon the camp of the savages. The whites opened an unexpected fire, which killing one and wounding another of the Indians, caused the remainder to fly, leaving their horses about their camp.—These were caught, brought back and restored to their owners.

In April as Samuel Hull was engaged in ploughing a field for Major Benjamin Robinson, he was discovered by some Indians, shot, tomahawked, and scalped. The murder was first ascertained by Mrs. Robinson. Surprised that Hull did not come to the house as usual, to feed the horses and get his own dinner, she went to the field to see what detained him. She found the horses some distance from where they had been recently at work; and going on, presently saw Hull lying where he had been shot.

——- [1] News of the preliminary articles of peace, which had been signed at Paris, November 30, 1782, did not reach Fort Pitt until May, 1783. In July following, De Peyster, British commandant at Detroit, gathered at that post the chiefs of eleven tribes as far south as the Great Miami and the Wabash, and informed them of the event.—R. G. T.

[2] The treaty was held at Fort McIntosh, at the mouth of the Beaver, early in January, 1785. The tribes represented were the Wyandots, Chippewas, Delawares, and Ottawas. The commissioners were Arthur Lee, Richard Butler, and George Rogers Clark. Col. Josiah Harmar was in charge of the troops.—R. G. T.

[3] L. V. McWhorter, well informed in the local traditions, writes: "When the Indian sprang into the house, with drawn tomahawk, he closed and for a few moments stood with his back to the door. Then, while cutting an opening through the wall, he asked Mrs. Cunningham how many men there were in the other house. She answered by holding up the extended fingers of both hands, indicating 10."—R. G. T.

[4] McWhorter: "Mrs. Cunningham related that the last she saw of her little daughter, was one quivering little foot sticking up over a log behind which she had been thrown."—R. G. T.

[5] McWhorter: "The cave in which Mrs. Cunningham was concealed is on Little Indian Run, a branch of Big Bingamon Creek, on which stream the tragedy took place. The cave is about two miles northwest of the site of the capture, and in Harrison County, W. Va."—R. G. T.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse