Chronicles of Border Warfare
by Alexander Scott Withers
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The shrieks of Captain Mason's men, and the discharge of the guns, induced Capt. Ogal to advance with his twelve scouts, to their relief. Being some distance in the rear of his men, the Indians, in closing round them, fortunately left him without the circle, and he concealed himself amid some briers in the corner of the fence; where he lay until the next day. The same fate awaited his men, which had befallen Capt. Mason's. Of the twenty six who were led out by these two officers, only three escaped death, and two of these were badly wounded: a striking evidence of the fact, that the ambuscade was judiciously planned, and the expectations of its success, well founded.[8]

While these things were doing, the inhabitants of the village were busily employed in removing to the fort and preparing for its defense. A single glance at the situation of the parties led on by Mason and Ogal, convinced them of the overwhelming force of the [163] Indians, and the impossibility of maintaining an open contest with them. And so quick had been the happening of the events which have been narrated, that the gates of the fort were scarcely closed, before the Indian army appeared under its walls, with a view to its reduction by storm.[9] But before the assault was begun to be made, the attention of the garrison was directed to a summons for its surrender, made by that infamous renegado, Simon Girty.[10]

This worse than savage wretch, appeared at the end window of a house not far from the fort, and told them, that he had come with a large army to escort to Detroit, such of the Inhabitants along the frontier, as were willing to accept the terms offered by Governor Hamilton, to those who would renounce the cause of the colonies and attach themselves to the interest of Great Britain; calling upon them to remember their fealty to their sovereign; assuring them of protection, if they would join his standard, and denouncing upon them, all the woes which spring from the uncurbed indulgence of savage vengeance, if they dared to resist, or fire one gun to the annoyance of his men. He then read to them, Gov. Hamilton's proclamation; and told them, he could allow only fifteen minutes to consider of his proposition. It was enough. In love with liberty, attached to their country, and without faith in his proffered protection, they required but little time to "deliberate, which of the two to choose, slavery or death." Col. Zane replied to him, "that they had consulted their wives and children, and that all were resolved to perish, sooner than place themselves under the protection of a savage army with him at its head, or abjure the cause of liberty and of the colonies." Girty then represented to them the great force of the Indians,—the impossibility that the fort could withstand the assault,—the certainty of protection if they acceded to his propositions, and the difficulty of restraining the assailants, if enraged and roused to vengeance by opposition and resistance. A shot discharged at him from the fort, caused him to withdraw from the window and the Indians commenced the assault.

There were then in the fort but thirty-three men, to defend it against the attack of upwards of three hundred and eighty Indians; and bravely did they maintain their situation against the superior force of the enemy, and all that art and fury could effect to accomplish their destruction. For twenty-three hours, all was life, and energy, and activity within the walls. Every individual had particular duties to perform; and promptly and faithfully were they discharged. The more expert of the women, took stations by the side of the men; and handling their guns with soldier like readiness, aided in the repulse, with fearless intrepidity.[11] Some were engaged in moulding bullets; others in loading and supplying the [164] men with guns already charged; while the less robust were employed in cooking, and in furnishing to the combatants, provisions and water, during the continuance of the attack. It seemed indeed, as if each individual were sensible, that the safety of all depended on his lone exertions; and that the slightest relaxation of these, would involve them all in one common ruin.

Finding that they could make no impression on the fort, and fearing to remain longer before it, lest their retreat might be cut off, by reinforcements from the surrounding country, the assailants fired all the houses without the walls; killed all the stock, which could be found; and destroying every thing on which they could lay their hands, retired about day light, and left the garrison in possession of the fortress, but deprived of almost every thing else. The alarm of the presence of Indians having been given after day light, and the attack on the fort commencing before sun rise, but little time was afforded them, for securing their moveable property. The greater part had taken with them nothing but their clothes, while some had left their homes with their night apparel only. Few were left the enjoyment of a bed, or the humble gratification of the coarse repast of bread and milk. Their distress was consequently great; and their situation for some time, not much more enviable, than when pent within the fort, and straining every nerve to repel its savage assailants.

Before this, the Governor had sent to Col. Andrew Swearingen, a quantity of ammunition for the defence of those who remained in the country above Wheeling. By his exertions, and under his superintendence, Bolling's and Holliday's old forts were repaired, and the latter made strong enough to serve as a magazine. In it was collected, all the inhabitants from its neighborhood; and it was generally regarded, as a strong position, and able, occasionally, to detach part of its garrison, for the aid of other portions of the country. Soon after the attack was begun to be made on Wheeling, the alarm reached Shepherd's fort, and a runner was despatched from thence to Holliday's fort with the intelligence, and the apprehension that if speedy relief were not afforded, the garrison at Wheeling must fall. No expectation, of being able to collect a force sufficient to cope with the assailants, was entertained. All that was expected was, to throw succours into the fort, and thus enable the garrison the more successfully to repel assaults, and preserve it from the violence of the Indian onsets. For this purpose, Col. Swearingen left Holliday's with fourteen men, who nobly volunteered to accompany him in this hazardous enterprise, to the regret of those who remained, from an apprehension that thus weakened, if Holliday's fort were attacked it must fall easily into the hands of the enemy. These men got into a large continental canoe, and plied their paddles industriously, to arrive in time to be of service to the besieged. But the night being dark, and a dense fog hanging over the river, they toiled to great disadvantage, frequently coming in contact with the banks; until [165] at length it was thought advisable to cease rowing and float with the current, lest they might, unknowingly, pass Wheeling, and at the appearance of day be obliged to contend with the force of the stream, to regain that point. Floating slowly, they at length descried the light which proceeded from the burning of the houses at Wheeling, and with all their exertion could not then attain their destination before the return of day. Could they have realized their expectation of arriving before day, they might from, the river bank, in the darkness of the night, have gained admission into the fort; but being frustrated in this, they landed some of the men near above Wheeling, to reconnoiter and ascertain the situation of things: it being doubtful to them, from the smoke and fog, whether the fort and all, were not a heap of ruins. Col. Swearingen, Cap. Bilderbock and William Boshears, volunteered for this service, and proceeding cautiously soon reached the fort.

When arrived there, it was still questionable whether the Indians had abandoned the attack, or were only lying concealed in the cornfield, in order to fall on any, who might come out from the fort, under the impression that danger was removed from them. Fearing that the latter was the case, it was thought prudent, not to give the preconcerted signal for the remainder of Col. Swearingen's party to come on, lest it might excite the Indians to greater vigilance and they intercept the men on their way to the fort. To obviate the difficulty arising from this apprehension, Col. Swearingen, Capt. Bilderbock and William Boshears, taking a circuitous route to avoid passing near the cornfield, returned to their companions, and escorted them to Wheeling. It then remained to ascertain whether the Indians had really withdrawn, or were only lying in ambush. A council, consisting of Col. Zane, Col. Shepherd, Doctor McMahon and Col. Swearingen, being requested to devise some expedient by which to be assured of the fact, recommended that two of their most active and vigilant men, should go out openly from the fort, and carelessly, but surely, examine the cornfield near to the palisade. Upon their return, twenty others, under the guidance of Col. Zane, marched round at some distance from the field, and approaching it more nearly on their return, became assured that the Indians had indeed despaired of success, and were withdrawn from the field. About this time Major M'Cullough arrived with forty-five men, and they all proceeded to view the battle ground.

Here was indeed a pitiable sight. Twenty-three of the men who had accompanied Capts. Mason and Ogal in the preceding morning, were lying dead; few of them had been shot, but the greater part, most inhumanly and barbarously butchered with the tomahawk and scalping knife. Upwards of three hundred head of cattle, horses, and hogs, wantonly killed by the savages, were seen lying about the field, and all the houses, with every thing which they contained, and which could not be conveniently taken off by the enemy, were but heaps of ashes. It was long indeed, before the [166] inhabitants of that neighborhood regained the comforts, of which that night's desolation had deprived them.

Soon after the happening of these events a company of militia under the command of Capt. Foreman, arrived from east of the Alleghany, to afford protection to the settlements around Wheeling, and occupy the fort at this place. While stationed in it, it was known that parties of Indians were still lurking about, seeking opportunities of doing mischief, and to prevent which, detachments were frequently sent on scouting expeditions. On the 26th of September, Capt. Foreman with forty five men, went about twelve miles below Wheeling and encamped for the night. He was ignorant of the practices of the Indians, and seemed rather indisposed to take council of those, who were conversant with them. After building fires for the night, he remained with his men close around them, contrary to the advice of one of the settlers, by the name of Lynn, who had accompanied him as a spy. Lynn however, would not consent to remain there himself, but taking with him those of the frontiers men who were in company, retired some distance from the fires, and spent the night. Before it was yet light, Lynn, being awake, thought he heard such a noise, as would be probably produced by the launching of rafts on the river, above the position occupied by Capt. Foreman. In the morning he communicated his suspicion that an Indian force was near them, and advised the Captain to return to Wheeling along the hill sides and avoid the bottoms. His advice was rejected; but Lynn, with the caution of one used to such a condition of things, prudently kept on the hill side with four others, while they, who belonged to the command of Capt. Foreman, continued along the level at the base of the hill.

In marching along the Grave creek narrows, one of the soldiers saw a parcel of Indian ornaments lying in the path; and picking them up, soon drew around him the greater part of the company. While thus crowded together inspecting the trinkets, a galling fire was opened on them by a party of Indians who lay in ambush, and which threw them into great confusion. The fire was continued with deadly effect, for some minutes; and must eventually have caused the loss of the whole party, but that Lynn, with his few comrades rushed from the hill discharging their guns, and shouting so boisterously, as induced the Indians to believe that a reinforcement was at hand, and they precipitately retreated.

In this fatal ambuscade there were twenty-one of Captain Foreman's party killed, and several much wounded; among the slain were the Captain and his two sons.

It appeared that the Indians had dropped their ornaments, purposely to attract the attention of the whites; while they themselves were lying concealed in two parties; the one to the right of the path, in a sink-hole on the bottom, and the other to the left, under covert of the river bank. From these advantageous positions, they [167] fired securely on our men; while they were altogether exempt from danger 'till the party in the sink hole was descried by Lynn. His firing was not known to have taken effect; but to his good conduct is justly attributable the saving of the remnant of the detachment. The Indian force was never ascertained. It was supposed to have been small; not exceeding twenty warriors.

On the ensuing day, the inhabitants of the neighborhood of Wheeling under the direction and guidance of Colonel Zane, proceeded to Grave Creek and buried those who had fallen.[12]

At the time of the happening of those occurrences the belief was general, that the army which had been led to Wheeling by Girty, had been ordered on, for the purpose of conducting the tories from the settlements to Detroit; and that detachments from that army continued to hover about the frontiers for some time, to effect that object. There was then, unfortunately for the repose and tranquility of many neighborhoods, a considerable number of those misguided and deluded wretches, who, disaffected to the cause of the colonies, were willing to advance the interest of Britain, by the sacrifice of every social relation, and the abandonment of every consideration, save that of loyalty to the king. So far did their opposition, to those who espoused the cause of American liberty, blunt every finer and more noble feeling, that many of them were willing to imbrue their hands in the blood of their neighbors, in the most sly and secret manner, and in the hour of midnight darkness, for no offence but attachment to the independence of the colonies. A conspiracy for the murder of the whigs and for accepting the terms, offered by the Governor of Canada to those who would renounce their allegiance to the United States and repair to Detroit, by the relenting of one individual, was prevented being carried into effect; and many were consequently saved from horrors, equalling, if not transcending in enormity, the outrages of the savages themselves. Scenes of licentiousness and fury, followed upon the discovery of the plot.—Exasperated at its heinousness, and under the influence of resentful feelings, the whigs retaliated upon the tories, some of the evils which these had conspired to inflict upon them. In the then infuriated state of their minds, and the little restraint at that time imposed on the passions by the operation of the laws, it is really matter of admiration that they did not proceed farther, and requite upon those deluded wretches, the full measure of their premeditated wrongs. The head only of this fiendish league, lost his life; but many depredations were committed, on the property of its members.

A court, for the trial of the conspirants, was held at Redstone Fort; and many of them were arraigned at its bar. But as their object had been defeated by its discovery, and as no farther danger was apprehended from them, they were released, after having been required to take the oath of allegiance to the United States and to bear with the injuries which had [168] been done their property. Those who were suspected for the murder of the chief conspirator, were likewise arraigned for that offence, but were acquitted.

Hitherto the inhabitants of Tygart's Valley had escaped the ill effects of savage enmity; Indian hostility not having prompted an incursion into that country, since its permanent settlement was effected previous to the war of 1774. This however had not the effect to lull them into confident security. Ascribing their fortunate exemption from irruptions of the enemy, to other causes than a willingness on the part of the Indians, to leave them in quiet and repose, they exercised the utmost vigilance to discover their approach, and used every precaution to ensure them safety, if the enemy should appear among them. Spies were regularly employed in watching the warriors paths beyond the settlements, to detect their advance and to apprize the inhabitants of it.

In September of this year (1777) Leonard Petro and Wm. White, being engaged in watching the path leading up the Little Kenhawa, killed an Elk late in the evening; and taking part of it with them, withdrew a short distance for the purpose of eating their suppers and spending the night. About midnight, White, awaking from sleep, discovered by the light of the moon, that there were several Indians near, who had been drawn in quest of them by the report of the gun in the evening. He saw at a glance, the impossibility of escaping by flight; and preferring captivity to death, he whispered to Petro to lie still, lest any movement of his, might lead to this result. In a few minutes the Indians sprang on them; and White raising himself as one lay hold on him, aimed a furious blow, with his tomahawk, hoping to wound the Indian by whom he was beset, and then make his escape. Missing his aim he affected to have been ignorant of the fact that he was encountered by Indians, professed great joy at meeting with them, and declared that he was then on his way to their towns. They were not deceived by the artifice; for although he assumed an air of pleasantness and gaity, calculated to win upon their confidence, yet the woful countenance and rueful expression of poor Petro, convinced them that White's conduct was feigned, that he might lull them into inattention, and they be enabled to effect an escape. They were both tied for the night; and in the morning White being painted red, and Petro black, they were forced to proceed to the Indian towns. When approaching a [169] village, the whoop of success brought several to meet them; and on their arrival at it, they found that every preparation was made for their running the gauntlet; in going through which ceremony both were much bruised. White did not however remain long in captivity. Eluding their vigilance, he took one of their guns and began his flight homeward.—Before he had travelled far, he met an Indian on horseback, whom he succeeded in shooting; and mounting the horse from which he fell, his return to the Valley was much facilitated. Petro was never heard of afterwards. The painting of him black, had indicated their intention of killing him; and the escape of White probably hastened his doom.

During this time, and after the return of White among them, the inhabitants of Tygart's Valley practiced their accustomed watchfulness 'till about the twentieth of November; when there was a considerable fall of snow. This circumstance induced them to believe, that the savages would not attempt an irruption among them until the return of spring; and they became consequently, inattentive to their safety.

Generally, the settlements enjoyed perfect quiet from the first appearance of winter, until the return of spring. In this interval of time, the Indians are usually deterred from penetrating into them, as well because of their great exposure to discovery and observation in consequence of the nakedness of the woods and the increased facility of pursuing their trail in the snows which then usually covered the earth, as of the suffering produced by their lying in wait and travelling, in their partially unclothed condition, in this season of intense cold. Instances of their being troublesome during the winter were rare indeed; and never occurred, but under very peculiar circumstances: the inhabitants, were therefore, not culpably remiss, when they relaxed in their vigilance, and became exposed to savage inroad.

A party of twenty Indians, designing to commit some depredations during the fall, had nearly reached the upper end of Tygart's Valley, when the snow, which had inspired the inhabitants with confidence in their security, commenced falling. Fearful of laying themselves open to detection, if they ventured to proceed farther at that time, and anxious to effect some mischief before they returned home, they remained concealed about ten miles from the settlements, until the snow disappeared. On the 15th of December, they came to the [170] house of Darby Connoly, at the upper extremity of the Valley, and killed him, his wife and several of the children, and took three others prisoners. Proceeding to the next house, killed John Stewart, his wife and child, and took Miss Hamilton (sister-in-law to Stewart) into captivity. They then immediately changed their direction, and with great dispatch, entered upon their journey home; with the captives and plunder, taken at those two places.

In the course of the evening after these outrages were committed, John Hadden passing by the House of Connoly saw a tame elk belonging there, lying dead in the yard. This, and the death-like silence which reigned around, excited his fears that all was not right; and entering into the house, he saw the awful desolation which had been committed. Seeing that the work of blood had been but recently done, he hastened to alarm the neighborhood, and sent an express to Capt. Benjamin Wilson, living about twenty miles lower in the Valley, with the melancholy intelligence. With great promptitude, Capt. Wilson went through the settlement, exerting himself to procure as many volunteers, as would justify going in pursuit of the aggressors; and so indefatigable was he in accomplishing his purpose, that, on the day after the murders were perpetrated, he appeared on the theatre of their exhibition with thirty men, prepared to take the trail and push forward in pursuit of the savages. For five days they followed through cold and wet, without perceiving that they had gained upon them. At this time many of the men expressed a determination to return. They had suffered much, travelled far, and yet saw no prospect of overtaking the enemy. It is not wonderful that they became dispirited. In order to expedite their progress, the numerous water courses which lay across their path, swollen to an unusual height and width, were passed without any preparation to avoid getting wet; the consequence was that after wading one of them, they would have to travel with icicles hanging from their clothes the greater part of a day, before an opportunity could be allowed of drying them. They suffered much too for the want of provisions. The short time afforded for preparation, had not admitted of their taking with them as much as they expected would be required, as they had already been on the chase longer than was anticipated. Under these circumstances it was with great difficulty, Captain Wilson could prevail [171] on them to continue the pursuit one day longer; hoping the Indians would have to halt, in order to hunt for food. Not yet being sensible that they gained upon them, the men positively refused going farther; and they returned to their several homes.

This was the last outrage committed by the savages on North Western Virginia, in this year. And although there was not as much mischief effected by them in this season, as had been in others, yet the year 1777, has become memorable in the annals of Border Warfare. The murder of Cornstalk and his companions,—the attack on Wheeling Fort,—the loss of lives and destruction of property which then took place, together with the fatal ambuscade at Grave Creek Narrows, all conspired to render it a period of much interest, and to impress its incidents deeply on the minds of those who were actors in these scenes.

——- [1] This "year of the three sevens," as it was called, was long known as "the bloody year" of border history.—R. G. T.

[2] General Hand was commandant, and George Morgan Indian agent, at Fort Pitt. Runners from the Moravian towns on the Tuscarawas and Muskingum rivers, in Ohio, frequently came into the fort during the summer, with dispatches for either of these officials. The Delawares, as a nation, were friendly throughout the year. The hostiles were chiefly composed of Wyandots and Mingoes, but with them were a few Shawnees and Delawares.—R. G. T.

[3] The first fort at Wheeling was built in the summer of 1774, by order of Lord Dunmore, under direction of Majors William Crawford and Angus McDonald. It stood upon the Ohio bank about a quarter of a mile above the entrance of Wheeling Creek. Standing in open ground, it was a parallelogram of square pickets pointed at top, with bastions and sentry boxes at the angles, and enclosed over half an acre. It ranked in strength and importance, next to Fort Pitt. Within the fort were log barracks, an officers' house, a storehouse, a well, and cabins for families. A steep hill rises not far inland; between the fort and the base of this hill the forest had been leveled, and a few log cabins were nestled in the open. Such was Wheeling in 1777. At first the fort had been called Fincastle, for the Ohio Valley settlements were then in Fincastle County, Va.; but upon the opening of the Revolution the post, now in Ohio County, was named Fort Henry, in honor of the first state governor of Virginia.—R. G. T.

[4] News came to Fort Pitt, early in August, that an Indian attack in force, on Wheeling, might be expected at any time. Says the Shane MSS., "White Eyes came to Fort Pitt and told them the Indians were going to take Wheeling home." August 2d, Gen. Hand wrote to David Shepherd, lieutenant of Ohio County, warning him of the perilous situation, and ordering him to leave his own fort, six miles from Fort Henry, and to rally at the latter all the militia between the Ohio and Monongahela,—the "pan-handle." Shepherd did this, and by the close of the month Fort Henry was, as he said, "Indian proof." But the non-arrival of the foe caused a relaxation of vigilance. Nine companies were allowed to go home, and by the last day of August only two companies remained in the fort, those of Capts. Joseph Ogle and Samuel Mason.—R. G. T.

[5] Shepherd to Hand, Sept. 15, 1777: "By the best judges here ... it is thought their numbers must have been not less than between two and three hundred." The Shepherd, Hand, Shane, and Doddridge MSS., in the library of the Wisconsin Historical Society, throw much light on this episode.—R. G. T.

[6] The Indians made their appearance on the night of August 31st—not September 1st, as in the text. The incident here related occurred at about sunrise of September 1st. Andrew Zane, young John Boyd, Samuel Tomlinson, and a negro, set out to hunt for the horses of Dr. James McMechen, because the latter wished that day to return to the older settlements, either on the Monongahela, or east of the mountains. Boyd was killed, but his companions escaped—Zane, by leaping from a cliff, the height of which local tradition places at seventy feet.—R. G. T.

[7] De Hass, in his History of the Early Settlement and Indian Wars of West Virginia,—a conscientious work, which depends, however, too closely on traditions,—says (p. 225), "out of the fourteen, but two escaped."—R. G. T.

[8] Among the survivors was Ogle who, like Mason, hid himself in the bushes until nightfall enabled him to return to the fort.—R. G. T.

[9] As a matter of fact, the Indians made no attack on the fort at this time, being content with the success of their ambuscade. After throwing up some rude earth-works and blinds, scalping the dead whites, killing all the live stock within reach, and setting fire to the outlying cabins, they retired across the Ohio in the night, and dispersed. Their loss was one killed and nine wounded; the whites lost fifteen killed and five wounded. The next day (September 2), the whites buried their dead, and unavailingly scoured the country for Indians.

Tradition has made sad havoc with the records, in regard to this first "siege" of Wheeling. Some of the deeds of heroism related below, by Withers, were incidents of the second siege—September 11, 1782, seven years later; but most of them are purely mythical, or belong to other localities. Perhaps no events in Western history have been so badly mutilated by tradition, as these two sieges.—R. G. T.

[10] This statement of Withers, that Simon Girty was at the siege of Wheeling, was long accepted as fact by Western historians. But it is now established beyond doubt, that neither Simon nor his brothers were present at that affair, being at the time in the employ of Indian Agent Morgan, at Fort Pitt. For details of the evidence, consult Butterfield's History of the Girtys, passim.—R. G. T.

[11] [163] The notes furnished the compiler, mention particularly a Mrs. Glum and Betsy Wheat, as performing all the duties of soldiers with firmness and alacrity.


Comment by R. G. T.—Withers derived his information from traditional notes in the possession of Noah Zane, son of Ebenezer.

[12] After the affair at Wheeling, September 1, the Indians returned home. But soon thereafter, Half King, head chief of the Wyandots, set out with forty of that tribe to again harry the Wheeling country. On the morning of the 26th, Capts. William Foreman with twenty-four men, Ogle with ten men, and William Linn with nine, started from Fort Henry on a scout. Linn was ranking officer, although there was little discipline. Foreman was a new arrival from Hampshire County, enlisted to go on Hand's intended expedition. They intended crossing the Ohio at Grave Creek, 12 miles below, and proceeding 8 miles farther down to Captina. At Grave, however, they found that the Tomlinson settlement (nucleus of the present Mound City, W. Va.) had been abandoned, and sacked by Indians, and no canoes were to be had. They camped for the night, and the next morning (the 27th) started to return along the river bank, to Wheeling. Linn, apprehensive of Indians, marched along the hill crest, but Ogle and Foreman kept to the trail along the bottom. At a point where the bottom narrows because of the close approach of the hills to the river—a defile then known as McMechen's (or McMahon's) Narrows—they were set upon by Half King's party, awaiting them in ambush. Foreman and twenty others were killed, and one captured. The story about Linn's gallant attack on the Indians from his vantage point on the hilltop, is without foundation. His party helped to secrete a wounded man who escaped in the melee, and then put off in hot haste for home. It was not until four days later, when reinforcements had arrived from Fort Pitt, that Colonel Shepherd ventured from the fort to bury the dead. In 1835, an inscribed stone was set up at the Narrows, to commemorate the slain.—R. G. T.

[172] CHAPTER X.

After the winter became so severe as to prevent the Indians from penetrating the country and committing farther aggression, the inhabitants became assured of safety, and devoted much of their time to the erection of new forts, the strengthening of those which had been formerly established, and the making of other preparations, deemed necessary to prevent the repetition of those distressing occurrences, which had spread gloom and sorrow over almost every part of North Western Virginia. That the savages would early renew their exertions to destroy the frontier settlements, and harrass their citizens, could not for an instant be doubted.—Revenge for the murder of Cornstalk, and the other chiefs killed in the fort by the whites, had operated to unite the warlike nation of the Shawanees in a league with the other Indians, against them; and every circumstance seemed to promise increased exertions on their part, to accomplish their purposes of blood and devastation.

Notwithstanding all which had been suffered during the preceding season; and all, which it was confidently anticipated, would have to be undergone after the return of spring, yet did the whole frontier increase in population, and in capacity to defend itself against the encroachments of a savage enemy, aided by British emissaries, and led on by American tories. The accession to its strength, caused by the number of emigrants, who came into the different settlements, was indeed considerable; yet it was insufficient, to enable the inhabitants to purchase by offensive operations, exemption from [173] invasion, or security from the tomahawk and scalping knife. Assured of this, Virginia extended to them farther assistance; and a small body of regular troops, under the command of General McIntosh, was appropriated to their defence.

In the spring of 1778, General McIntosh,[1] with the regulars and some militiamen, attached to his command, descended the Ohio river from Fort Pitt, to the mouth of Big Beaver—a creek discharging itself into that river from the north-west.[2] This was a favorable position, at which to station his troops to effect the partial security of the frontier, by intercepting parties of Indians on their way to the settlements on the opposite side of the river, and by pursuing and punishing them while engaged, either in committing havoc, or in retreating to their towns, after the consummation of their horrid purposes. Fort McIntosh was accordingly erected here, and garrisoned; a six pounder mounted for its defence.

From Wheeling to Point Pleasant, a distance of one hundred and eighty-six miles,[3] there was then no obstacle whatever, presented to the advance of Indian war parties, into the settlements on the East and West Forks of the Monongahela, and their branches. The consequences of this exposure had been always severely felt; and never more so than after the establishment of Fort McIntosh. Every impediment to their invasion of one part of the country, caused more frequent irruptions into others, where no difficulties were interposed to check their progress, and brought heavier woes on them.—This had been already experienced, in the settlements on the upper branches of the Monongahela, and as they were the last to feel the effects of savage enmity in 1777, so were they first to become sacrificed to its fury in 1778.

Anticipating the commencement of hostilities at an earlier period of the season, than usual, several families retired into Harbert's block-house, on Ten Mile (a branch of the West Fork,) in the month of February. And notwithstanding the prudent caution manifested by them in the step thus taken; yet, the state of the weather lulling them into false security, they did not afterwards exercise the vigilance and provident care, which were necessary to ensure their future safety. On the third of March, some children, playing with a crippled crow, at a short distance from the yard, espied a number of Indians proceeding towards them; and running briskly to the house, told "that a number of red men were close by."—[174] John Murphey stepped to the door to see if danger had really approached, when one of the Indians, turning the corner of the house, fired at him. The ball took effect, and Murphey fell back into the house. The Indian springing directly in, was grappled by Harbert, and thrown on the floor. A shot from without, wounded Harbert, yet he continued to maintain his advantage over the prostrate savage, striking him as effectually as he could with his tomahawk, when another gun was fired at him from without the house. The ball passed through his head, and he fell lifeless. His antagonist then slipped out at the door, sorely wounded in the encounter.

Just after the first Indian had entered, an active young warrior, holding in his hand a tomahawk with a long spike at the end, also came in. Edward Cunningham instantly drew up his gun to shoot him; but it flashed, and they closed in doubtful strife. Both were active and athletic; and sensible of the high prize for which they were contending, each put forth his utmost strength, and strained his every nerve, to gain the ascendency. For a while, the issue seemed doubtful. At length, by great exertion, Cunningham wrenched the tomahawk from the hand of the Indian, and buried the spike end to the handle, in his back. Mrs. Cunningham closed the contest. Seeing her husband struggling closely with the savage, she struck at him with an axe. The edge wounding his face severely, he loosened his hold, and made his way out of the house.

The third Indian, which had entered before the door was closed, presented an appearance almost as frightful as the object which he had in view. He wore a cap made of the unshorn front of a buffalo, with the ears and horns still attached to it, and which hanging loosely about his head, gave to him a most hideous aspect. On entering the room, this infernal monster, aimed a blow with his tomahawk at a Miss Reece, which alighting on her head, wounded her severely. The mother of this girl, seeing the uplifted arm about to descend on her daughter, seized the monster by the horns; but his false head coming readily off, she did not succeed in changing the direction of the weapon. The father then caught hold of him; but far inferior in strength and agility, he was soon thrown on the floor, and must have been killed, but for the timely interference of Cunningham. Having [175] succeeded in ridding the room of one Indian, he wheeled, and sunk a tomahawk into the head of the other.

During all this time the door was kept by the women, tho' not without great exertion. The Indians from without endeavored several times to force it open and gain admittance; and would at one time have succeeded, but that, as it was yielding to their effort to open it, the Indian, who had been wounded by Cunningham and his wife, squeezing out at the aperture which had been made, caused a momentary relaxation of the exertions of those without, and enabled the women again to close it, and prevent the entrance of others.—These were not however, unemployed. They were engaged in securing such of the children in the yard, as were capable of being carried away as prisoners, and in killing and scalping the others; and when they had effected this, despairing of being able to do farther mischief, they retreated to their towns.

Of the whites in the house, one only was killed and four were wounded; and seven or eight children in the yard, were killed or taken prisoners. One Indian was killed, and two badly wounded. Had Reece engaged sooner in the conflict, the other two who had entered the house, would no doubt have been likewise killed; but being a quaker, he looked on, without participating in the conflict, until his daughter was wounded. Having then to contend singly, with superior prowess, he was indebted for the preservation of his life, to the assistance of those whom he refused to aid in pressing need.

On the eleventh of April, some Indians visited the house of Wm. Morgan, at the Dunkard bottom of Cheat river. They there killed a young man by the name of Brain, Mrs. Morgan, (the mother of William) and her grand daughter, and Mrs. Dillon and her two children; and took Mrs. Morgan (the wife) and her child prisoners. When, on their way home, they came near to Pricket's fort, they bound Mrs. Morgan to a bush, and went in quest of a horse for her to ride, leaving her child with her. She succeeded in untying with her teeth, the bands which confined her, and wandered the balance of that day and part of the next before she came in sight of the fort. Here she was kindly treated and in a few days sent home. Some men going out from Pricket's fort some short time after, found at the spot where Mrs. Morgan had [176] been left by the Indians, a fine mare stabbed to the heart.—Exasperated at the escape of Mrs. Morgan, they had no doubt vented their rage on the animal which they had destined to bear her weight.

In the last of April, a party of about twenty Indians came to the neighborhoods of Hacker's creek and the West Fork. At this time the inhabitants of those neighborhoods had removed to West's fort, on the creek, and to Richards' fort on the river; and leaving the women and children in them during the day, under the protection of a few men, the others were in the habit of performing the usual labors of their farms in companies, so as to preserve them from attacks of the Indians. A company of men, being thus engaged, the first week of May, in a field, now owned by Minter Bailey, on Hacker's creek, and being a good deal dispersed in various occupations, some fencing, others clearing, and a few ploughing, they were unexpectedly fired upon by the Indians, and Thomas Hughes and Jonathan Lowther shot down: the others being incautiously without arms fled for safety. Two of the company, having the Indians rather between them and West's fort, ran directly to Richards', as well for their own security as to give the alarm there. But they had been already apprized that the enemy was at hand. Isaac Washburn, who had been to mill on Hacker's creek the day before, on his return to Richards' fort and near to where Clement's mill now stands, was shot from his horse, tomahawked and scalped. The finding of his body, thus cruelly mangled, had given them the alarm, and they were already on their guard, before the two men from Hacker's creek arrived with the intelligence of what had been done there. The Indians then left the neighborhood without effecting more havoc; and the whites were too weak to go in pursuit, and molest them.

The determination of the Shawanees to revenge the death of their Sachem, had hitherto been productive of no very serious consequences. A while after his murder, a small band of them made their appearance near the fort at Point Pleasant; and Lieutenant Moore was dispatched from the garrison, with some men, to drive them off. Upon his advance, they commenced retreating; and the officer commanding the detachment, fearing they would escape, ordered a quick pursuit. He did not proceed far before he fell into an ambuscade. He and three of his men were killed at the first [177] fire;—the rest of the party saved themselves by a precipitate flight to the fort.

In the May following this transaction, a few Indians again came in sight of the fort. But as the garrison had been very much reduced by the removal of Captain Arbuckle's company, and the experience of the last season had taught them prudence, Captain McKee forbore to detach any of his men in pursuit of them. Disappointed, in their expectations of enticing others to destruction, as they had Lieutenant Moore in the winter, the Indians suddenly rose from their covert, and presented an unbroken line, extending from the Ohio to the Kanawha river in front of the fort. A demand for the surrender of the garrison, was then made; and Captain McKee asked 'till the next morning to consider of it. In the course of the night, the men were busily employed in bringing water from the river, expecting that the Indians would continue before the fort for some time.

In the morning, Captain McKee sent his answer by the grenadier squaw, (sister to Cornstalk, and who, notwithstanding the murder of her brother and nephew, was still attached to the whites, and was remaining at the fort in the capacity of interpreter)[4] that he could not comply with their demand.—The Indians immediately began the attack, and for one week kept the garrison closely besieged. Finding however, that they made no impression on the fort, they collected the cattle about it and instead of returning towards their own country with the plunder, proceeded up the Kanawha river towards the Greenbrier settlement.

Believing their object to be the destruction of that settlement, and knowing from their great force that they would certainly accomplish it, if the inhabitants were unadvised of their approach, Captain McKee despatched two men to Col. Andrew Donnelly's, (then the frontier house,) with the intelligence. These men soon came in view of the Indians; but finding that they were advancing in detached groups, and dispersed in hunting parties, through the woods, they despaired of being able to pass them, and returned to the fort. Captain McKee then made an appeal to the chivalry of the garrison, and asked, "who would risk his life to save the people of Greenbrier." John Pryor and Philip Hammond, at once stepped forward, and replied "WE WILL." They were then habited after the Indian manner, and painted in Indian style by the Grenadier Squaw, and departed on their hazardous, but noble and generous undertaking. Travelling, night and day, with great rapidity, they [178] passed the Indians at Meadow river, and arrived, about sunset of that day at Donnelly's fort, twenty miles farther on.

As soon as the intelligence of the approach of the Indians, was communicated by these men, Col. Donnelly had the neighbors all advised of it; and in the course of the night, they collected at his house. He also dispatched a messenger to Capt. John Stuart, to acquaint him with the fact; and made every preparation to resist attack and ensure their safety, of which his situation admitted. Pryor and Hammond told them how, by the precaution of Captain McKee, the garrison at Point Pleasant had been saved from suffering by the want of water; and advised them to lay in a plentiful supply, of that necessary article. A hogshead was accordingly filled and rolled behind the door of the kitchen, which adjoined the dwelling house.

Early next morning, John Pritchet (a servant to Col. Donnelly) went out for some firewood, and while thus engaged, was fired at and killed. The Indians then ran into the yard, and endeavored to force open the kitchen door; but Hammond and Dick Pointer (a negro belonging to Col. Donnelly) who were the only persons within, aided by the hogshead of water, prevented their accomplishing this object. They next proceeded to cut it in pieces, with their tomahawks. Hammond seeing that they would soon succeed in this way, with the assistance of Dick, rolled the hogshead to one side, and letting the door suddenly fly open, killed the Indian at the threshold, and the others who were near gave way. Dick then fired among them, with a musket heavily charged with swan shot, and no doubt with effect, as the yard was crowded with the enemy; a war club with a swan shot in it, was afterwards picked up near the door.

The men in the house, who were asleep at the commencement of the attack, being awakened at the firing of Hammond and Dick, now opened a galling fire upon the Indians. Being chiefly up stairs they were enabled to do greater execution, and fired with such effect that, about one o'clock, the enemy retired a small distance from the house. Before they retired however, some of them succeeded in getting under the floor, when they were aided by the whites below in raising some of the puncheons of which it was made. It was to their advantage to do this; and well did they profit by it. Several of the Indians were killed in this attempt to gain admittance, while only one of the whites received a wound, which but slightly injured his hand.

When intelligence was conveyed to Capt. Stuart of the approach of so large a body of savages, Col. Samuel Lewis was with him; and they both exerted themselves to save the settlement from destruction, by collecting the inhabitants at a fort where Lewisburg now stands. Having succeeded in this, they sent two men to Donnelly's to learn whether the Indians had advanced that far. As they approached, the firing became distinctly audible, and they returned [179] with the tidings. Capt. Stuart and Col. Lewis proposed marching to the relief of Donnelly's fort, with as many men as were willing to accompany them; and in a brief space of time, commenced their march at the head of sixty-six men. Pursuing the most direct route without regarding the road, they approached the house on the back side; and thus escaped an ambuscade of Indians placed near the road to intercept and cut off any assistance which might be sent from the upper settlements.

Adjoining the yard, there was a field of well grown rye, into which the relief from Lewisburg, entered about two o'clock; but as the Indians had withdrawn to a distance from the house, there was no firing heard. They soon however, discovered the savages in the field, looking intently towards Donnoly's; and it was resolved to pass them. Capt. Stuart and Charles Gatliff fired at them, and the whole party rushed forward into the yard, amid a heavy discharge of balls from the savage forces. The people in the fort hearing the firing in the rear of the house, soon presented themselves at the port holes, to resist, what they supposed, was a fresh attack on them; but quickly discovering the real cause, they opened the gates, and all the party led on by Stuart and Lewis, safely entered.

The Indians then resumed the attack, and maintained a constant fire at the house, until near dark, when one of them approached, and in broken English called out, "we want peace." He was told to come in and he should have it; but he declined the invitation to enter, and they all retreated, dragging off those of their slain, who lay not too near the fort.

Of the whites, four only were killed by the enemy. Pritchet, before the attack commenced,—James Burns and Alexander Ochiltree, as they were coming to the house early in the morning,—and James Graham while in the fort. It was impossible to ascertain the entire loss of the Indians. Seventeen lay dead in the yard; and they were known to carry off others of their slain. Perhaps the disparity of the killed, equalled, if it did not exceed the disparity of the number engaged. There were twenty-one men at Donnoly's fort, before the arrival of the reinforcement under Stuart and Lewis; and the brunt of the battle was over before they came. The Indian force exceeded two hundred men.

It was believed, that the invasion of the Greenbrier country had been projected, some time before it actually was made. During the preceding season, an Indian calling himself John Hollis, had been very much through the settlement; and was known to take particular notice of the different forts, which he entered under the garb of friendship. He was with the Indians in the attack on Donnoly's fort; and was recognized as one of those who were left dead in the yard.

On the morning after the Indians departed, Capt. Hamilton went in pursuit of them with seventy men; but following two days, without [180] perceiving that he gained on them, he abandoned the chase and returned.

About the middle of June, three women went out from West's fort, to gather greens in a field adjoining; and while thus engaged were attacked by four Indians, lying in wait. One gun only was fired, and the ball from it, passed through the bonnet of Mrs. Hackor, who screamed aloud and ran with the others towards the fort. An Indian, having in his hand a long staff, with a spear in one end, pursuing closely after them, thrust it at Mrs. Freeman with such violence that, entering her back just below the shoulder, it came out at her left breast. With his tomahawk, he cleft the upper part of her head, and carried it off to save the scalp.

The screams of the women alarmed the men in the fort; and seizing their guns, they ran out, just as Mrs. Freeman fell. Several guns were fired at the Indian while he was getting her scalp, but with no effect. They served however, to warn the men who went out, that danger was at hand; and they quickly came in.

Jesse Hughs[5] and John Schoolcraft (who were out) in making their way to the fort, came very near two Indians standing by the fence looking towards the men at West's, so intently, that they did not perceive any one near them. They however, were observed by Hughs and Schoolcraft, who, avoiding them, made their way in, safely, Hughs immediately took up his gun, and learning the fate of Mrs. Freeman, went with some others to bring in the corpse. While there, he proposed to go and shew them, how near he had approached the Indians after the alarm had been given, before he saw them. Charles and Alexander West, Chas. Hughs, James Brown and John Steeth, went with him. Before they had arrived at the place, one of the Indians was heard to howl like a wolf; and the men with Hughs moved on in the direction from which the sound proceeded. Supposing that they were then near the spot, Jesse Hughs howled in like manner, and being instantly answered, they ran to a point of the hill and looking over it, saw two Indians coming towards them. Hughs fired and one of them fell. The other took to flight. Being pursued by the whites, he sought shelter in a thicket of brush; and while they were proceeding to intercept him at his coming out, he returned by the way he had entered, and made his escape. The wounded Indian likewise got off. When the whites were in pursuit of the one who took to flight, they passed near to him who had fallen, and one of the men was for stopping and finishing him; but Hughs called to him, "he is safe—let us have the other," and they all pressed forward. On their return, however, he was gone; and although his free bleeding enabled them to pursue his track readily for a while, yet a heavy shower of rain soon falling, all trace of him was quickly lost and could not be afterwards regained.

On the 16th of June as Capt. James Booth and Nathaniel Cochran, were at work in a field on Booth's creek, they were fired at by [181] the Indians. Booth fell, but Cochran, being very slightly wounded, took to flight. He was however, overtaken, and carried into captivity to their towns. From thence he was taken to Detroit, where he remained some time; and endeavoring to escape from that place, unfortunately took a path which led him immediately to the Maumee old towns. Here he was detained a while, & then sent back to Detroit, where he was exchanged, and from whence he made his way home, after having had to endure much suffering and many hardships. The loss of Booth was severely felt by the inhabitants in that settlement. He was not only an active and enterprising man, but was endowed with superior talents, and a better education than most of those who had settled in the country; and on these accounts was very much missed.

In a few days after this transaction, Benjamin Shinn, Wm. Grundy, and Benjamin Washburn, returning from a lick on the head of Booth's creek, were fired on by the Indians, when near to Baxter's run. Washburn and Shinn escaped unhurt, but Grundy was killed: he was brother to Felix Grundy of Tennessee, whose father was then residing at Simpson's creek, at a farm afterwards owned by Colonel Benjamin Wilson, senior.

This party of Indians continued for some days, to prowl about the neighborhood, seeking opportunities of committing murder on the inhabitants; fortunately however, with but little success. James Owens, a youth of sixteen years of age, was the only one whom they succeeded in killing after the murder of Grundy. Going from Powers' fort on Simpson's creek, to Booth's creek, his saddle girth gave way, and while he was down mending it, a ball was discharged at him, which killed both him and the horse.

Seeing that the whites, in that neighborhood, had all retired to the fort; and being too weak, openly to attack it, they crossed over to Bartlett's run, and came to the house of Gilbert Hustead, who was then alone, and engaged in fixing his gun lock. Hearing a noise in the yard, for which he was unable to account, he slipped to the door, to ascertain from whence it proceeded. The Indians were immediately round it, and there was no chance for his escape. Walking out with an air of the utmost pleasantry, he held forth his hand to the one nearest him, and asked them all to walk in. While in the house he affected great cheerfulness, and by his tale [182] won their confidence and friendship. He told them that he was a King's man and unwilling to live among the rebels; for which reason, when others retired into the fort, he preferred staying at his own house, anxiously hoping for the arrival of some of the British Indians, to afford him an opportunity of getting among English friends. Learning upon enquiry, that they would be glad to have something to eat, he asked one of them to shoot a fat hog which was in the yard, that they might regale on it that night, and have some on which to subsist while travelling to their towns. In the morning, still farther to maintain the deception he was practising, he broke his furniture to pieces, saying "the rebels shall never have the good of you." He then accompanied them to their towns, acting in the same, apparently, contented and cheerful manner, 'till his sincerity was believed by all, and he obtained leave to return for his family. He succeeded in making his way home, where he remained, sore at the destruction of his property, but exulting in the success of his artifice.

While this party of Indians were thus engaged, on Booth's creek and in the circumjacent country, a more numerous body had invaded the settlements lower down, and were employed in the work of destruction there. They penetrated to Coburn's creek unperceived, and were making their way (as was generally supposed) to a fort not far from Morgantown, when they fell in with a party of whites, returning from the labors of the cornfield, and then about a mile from Coburn's fort. The Indians had placed themselves on each side of the road leading to the fort, and from their covert fired on the whites, before they were aware of danger. John Woodfin being on horseback, had his thigh broken by a ball; which killed his horse and enabled them to catch him easily.—Jacob Miller was shot through the abdomen, and soon overtaken, tomahawked and scalped.—The others escaped to the fort.

Woodfin was afterwards found on a considerable eminence overlooking the fort, tomahawked and scalped. The Indians had, most probably, taken him there, that he might point out to them the least impregnable part of the fortress, and in other respects give them such information, as would tend to ensure success to their meditated attack on it; but when they heard its strength and the force with which it was garrisoned, despairing of being able to reduce it, in a fit of disappointed fury, they murdered him on the spot.

[183] They next made their appearance on Dunkard creek, and near to Stradler's fort. Here, as on Coburn's creek, they lay in ambush on the road side, awaiting the return of the men who were engaged at work, in some of the neighboring fields. Towards evening the men came on, carrying with them some hogs which they had killed for the use of the fort people, and on approaching where the Indians lay concealed, were fired on and several fell. Those who escaped injury from the first fire, returned the shot, and a severe action ensued. But so many of the whites had been killed before the savages exposed themselves to view, that the remainder were unable long to sustain the unequal contest. Overpowered by numbers, the few, who were still unhurt, fled precipitately to the fort, leaving eighteen of their companions dead in the road. These were scalped and mangled by the Indians in a most shocking manner, and lay some time, before the men in the fort, assured of the departure of the enemy, went out and buried them.

Weakened by the severe loss sustained in this bloody skirmish, had the Indians pushed forward to attack the fort, in all human probability, it would have fallen before them. There were at that day very few settlements which could have maintained possession of a garrison for any length of time, after having suffered so great a diminution of the number of their inhabitants, against the onsets of one hundred savages, exercising their wonted energy: and still less would they be able to leave their strong holds, and cope with such superior force, in open battle. Nor were the settlements, as yet, sufficiently contiguous to each other, to admit of their acting in concert, and combining their strength, to operate effectively against their invaders. When alarmed by the approach of the foe, all that they could generally do, was, retire to a fort, and endeavor to defend it from assault. If the savages, coming in numbers, succeeded in committing any outrage, it usually went unpunished. Sensible of their want of strength, the inhabitants rarely ventured in pursuit, to harrass or molest the retiring foe. When, however, they would hazard to hang on their retreat, the many precautions which they were compelled to exercise, to prevent falling into ambuscades and to escape the entangling artifices of their wily enemies, frequently rendered their enterprises abortive, and their exertions inefficient.

[184] The frequent visits paid by the Indians to the country on the West Fork, and the mischief which they would effect at these times, led several of the inhabitants to resolve on leaving a place so full of dangers, as soon as they could make the necessary preparations. A family of Washburns particularly, having several times very narrowly escaped destruction, commenced making arrangements and fitting up for their departure. But while two of them were engaged in procuring pine knots, from which to make wax for shoemaking, they were discovered, and shot at by the Indians. Stephen fell dead, and James was taken prisoner and carried to their towns.—He was there forced to undergo repeated and intense suffering before death closed the scene of his miseries.

According to the account given by Nathaniel Cochran on his return from captivity, Washburn was most severely beaten, on the first evening of his arrival at their village, while running the gauntlet; and although he succeeded in getting into the council house, where Cochran was, yet he was so disfigured and mutilated, that he could not be recognised by his old acquaintance; and so stunned and stupified, that he remained nearly all night in a state of insensibility. Being somewhat revived in the morning, he walked to where Cochran sat by the fire, and being asked if he were not James Washburn, replied with a smile—as if a period had been put to his sufferings by the sympathetic tone in which the question was proposed—that he was. The gleam of hope which flashed over his countenance, was transient and momentary. In a few minutes he was again led forth, that the barbarities which had been suspended by the interposition of night, might be revived; and he made to endure a repetition of their cruelties. He was now feeble and too much exhausted to save himself from the clubs and sticks, even of the aged of both sexes. The old men and the old women, who followed him, had strength and activity enough to keep pace with his fleetest progress, and inflict on him their severest blows. Frequently he was beaten to the ground, and as frequently, as if invigorated by the extremity of anguish, he rose to his feet. Hobbling before his tormentors, with no hope but in death, an old savage passed a knife across his ham, which cutting the tendons, disabled him from proceeding farther. Still they repeated their unmerciful blows with all their energy. He was next scalped, though alive, and struggling to regain his feet. [185] Even this did not operate to suppress their cruelty. They continued to beat him, until in the height of suffering he again exhibited symptoms of life and exerted himself to move. His head was then severed from his shoulders, attached to a pole, and placed in the most public situation in the village.

After the attack on the Washburns, there were but two other outrages committed in the upper country during that season. The cessation on the part of the savages, of hostile incursions, induced an abandonment of the forts, and the people returned to their several homes, and respective occupations. But aggression was only suspended for a time. In October, two Indians appeared near the house of Conrad Richards, and finding in the yard a little girl at play, with an infant in her arms, they scalped her and rushed to the door. For some time they endeavored to force it open; but it was so securely fastened within, that Richards was at liberty to use his gun for its defence. A fortunate aim wounded one of the assailants severely, and the other retreated, helping off his companion. The girl who had been scalped in the yard, as soon as she observed the Indians going away, ran, with the infant still in her arms and uninjured, and entered the house—a spectacle of most heart-rending wretchedness.

Soon after, David Edwards, returning from Winchester with salt, was shot near the Valley river, tomahawked and scalped; in which situation he lay for some time before he was discovered. He was the last person who fell a victim to savage vengeance, in North Western Virginia in the year 1778.

The repeated irruptions of the Indians during the summer of the year;[6] and the frequent murders and great devastation committed by them, induced Government to undertake two expeditions into the Indian country. One thousand men were placed under the command of General McIntosh, some time in the fall, and he received orders to proceed forthwith against the Sandusky towns. Between two and three hundred soldiers were likewise placed under Colonel Clarke, to operate against the Canadian settlements in Illinois. It was well known that the Governor of those settlements was an indefatigable agent of British cruelty, stimulating the savages to aggression, and paying them well for scalps, torn alike from the heads of the aged matron and the helpless infant.[7] [186] The settlements in Kentucky, were constantly the theatre of outrage and murder; and to preserve these from entire destruction, it was necessary that a blow should be aimed, at the hives from which the savages swarmed, and if possible, that those holds, into which they would retire to reap the rewards of their cruelties and receive the price of blood, should be utterly broken up. The success of those two expeditions could not fail to check savage encroachments, and give quiet and security to the frontier; and although the armies destined to achieve it, were not altogether adequate to the service required, yet the known activity and enterprise of the commanding officers, joined to their prudence and good conduct, and the bravery and indefatigable perseverance and hardiness of the troops, gave promise of a happy result.

The success of the expedition under Colonel Clarke,[8] fully realized the most sanguine expectations of those, who were acquainted with the adventurous and enterprising spirit of its commander; and was productive of essential benefit to the state, as well as of comparative security to the border settlements. Descending the Ohio river, from Fort Pitt to the Falls, he there landed his troops, and concealing his boats, marched directly towards Kaskaskias. Their provisions, which were carried on their backs, were soon exhausted; and for two days, the army subsisted entirely on roots. This was the only circumstance, which occurred during their march, calculated to damp the ardor of the troops. No band of savage warriors, had interposed to check their progress,—no straggling Indian, had discovered their approach. These fortunate omens inspired them with flattering hopes; and they pushed forward, with augmented energy. Arriving before Kaskaskias in the night, they entered it, unseen and unheard, and took possession of the town and fort, without opposition. Relying on the thick and wide extended forests which interposed between them and the American settlements, the inhabitants had been lulled to repose by fancied security, and were unconscious of danger until it had become too late to be avoided. Not a single individual escaped, to spread the alarm in the adjacent settlements.

But there still remained other towns, higher up the Mississippi, which, if unconquered, would still afford shelter to the savages and furnish them the means of annoyance and of ravage. Against these, Colonel Clarke immediately directed [187] operations. Mounting a detachment of men, on horses found at Kaskaskias, and sending them forward, three other towns were reduced with equal success. The obnoxious governor at Kaskaskias was sent directly to Virginia, with the written instructions which he had received from Quebec, Detroit and Michillimacinac, for exciting the Indians to war, and remunerating them for the blood which they might shed.

Although the country within which Colonel Clarke had so successfully carried on operations, was considered to be within the limits of Virginia; yet as it was occupied by savages and those who were but little, if any, less hostile than they; and being so remote from her settlements, Virginia had as yet exercised no act of jurisdiction over it. But as it now belonged to her, by conquest as well as charter, the General Assembly created it into a distinct county, to be called Illinois; a temporary government was likewise established in it, and a regiment of infantry and a troop of cavalry, ordered to be enlisted for its defence, and placed under the command of its intrepid and enterprising conqueror.

The expedition directed under General McIntosh, was not equally successful. The difficulty of raising, equipping, and organizing, so large a force as was placed under his command, at so great a distance from the populous district of the state, caused the consumption of so much time, that the season for carrying on effective operations had well nigh passed before he was prepared to commence his march. Anxious however, to achieve as much as could then be effected for the security of the frontier, he penetrated the enemy's country, as far as Tuscarawa, when it was resolved to build and garrison a fort, and delay farther operations 'till the ensuing spring. Fort Laurens was accordingly erected on the banks of the Tuscarawa, a garrison of one hundred and fifty men, under the command of Colonel John Gibson, left for its preservation, and the main army returned to Fort Pitt.

——- [1] Lachlan McIntosh was born near Inverness, Scotland, March 17, 1725. With his father, and 100 others of the Clan McIntosh, he emigrated to Georgia in 1736, in the train of Oglethorpe. The party founded New Inverness, in McIntosh County. Lachlan entered the Colonial army at the opening of the Revolution, and rose to be brigadier-general. In a duel with Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, he killed the latter. General McIntosh was at the siege of Savannah in 1779, was a prisoner of war in 1780, a member congress in 1784, and in 1785 a commissioner to treat with the Southern Indians. He died at Savannah, February 20, 1806.—R. G. T.

[2] The distance below Pittsburg is 26 miles. See p. 45, note, for notice of Shingiss Old Town, at this point.—R. G. T.

[3] The distance, according to the shore meanderings of the U. S. Corps of Engineers, is 263 miles; the mileage of the channel would be somewhat greater.—R. G. T.

[4] See p. 176, note, for notice of Grenadier Squaw's Town, near Chillicothe.—R. G. T.

[5] See p. 137, note, for notice of Jesse Hughes; also, Peyton's History of Augusta County, p. 353.—R. G. T.

[6] These war parties largely emanated from the Detroit region. Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton, the British commander at Detroit, writing to his superior, General Haldimand, September 16, 1778, mentions incidentally that he sent out small parties of Miamis and Chippewas, August 5, and September 5 and 9; these were but three of dozens of such forays which he incited against the Virginia and Pennsylvania borders, during that year.—R. G. T.

[7] This reference is to Lieut.-Governor Hamilton, whom George Rogers Clark called "the hair-buying general."—R. G. T.

[8] Gen. George Rogers Clark was born November 19, 1752, near Monticello, Albemarle County, Va. At the age of twenty he was practicing his profession as a surveyor on the upper Ohio, and took up a claim at the mouth of Fish Creek. In 1774, he participated as a captain in Dunmore's campaign against the Shawnees and Mingoes. Early in 1775, Clark went as a surveyor to Kentucky, where he acquired marked popularity, and in 1776 was elected as "a delegate to the Virginia convention, to urge upon the state authorities the claims of the colony for government and defense." He secured the formation of the new county of Kentucky, and a supply of ammunition for the defense of the border. In 1777, Clark, now a major of militia, repelled the Indian attacks on Harrodsburg, and proceeded on foot to Virginia to lay before the state authorities his plan for capturing the Illinois country and repressing the Indian forays from that quarter. His scheme being approved, he was made a lieutenant-colonel, and at once set out to raise for the expedition a small force of hardy frontiersmen. He rendezvoused and drilled his little army of a hundred and fifty on Corn Island in the Ohio river, at the head of the Falls (or rapids), opposite the present city of Louisville. June 24, 1778, he started in boats down the Ohio, and landed near the deserted Fort Massac, which was on the north bank, ten miles below the mouth of the Tennessee; thence marching across country, much pressed for food, he reached Kaskaskia in six days. The inhabitants there were surprised and coerced during the night of July 4-5, without the firing of a gun. Cahokia and Vincennes soon quietly succumbed to his influence. Lieut.-Governor Hamilton, on hearing of this loss of the Illinois country and the partial defection to the Americans of the tribes west and southwest of Lake Michigan, at once set out to organize an army, chiefly composed of Indians, to retake the Illinois. He proceeded via the Wabash and Maumee, with eight hundred men, and recaptured Vincennes, December 17.

The intelligence of this movement of Hamilton was not long in reaching Clark at Kaskaskia, and he at once set out for Vincennes to recapture it. The march thither was one of the most heroic in American military annals. Hamilton surrendered to him, February 25, and was forwarded to Virginia as a prisoner. Early in 1780 he established Fort Jefferson, just below the mouth of the Ohio, and later in the season aided in repelling a body of British and Indians who had come to regain the Illinois country and attack the Spaniards at St. Louis. Leaving Colonel Montgomery to pursue the enemy up the Mississippi, Clark, with what force could be spared, hastened to Kentucky, where he quickly raised a thousand men, and invaded and laid waste the Shawnee villages, in retaliation for Capt. Henry Bird's invasion (see p. 262, note).

Later, he was engaged in some minor forays, and was appointed a brigadier-general; but his favorite scheme of an expedition to conquer Detroit miscarried, owing to the poverty of Virginia and the activity of the enemy under Brant, McKee, Girty, and other border leaders. In 1782 Clark led a thousand men in a successful campaign against the Indians on the Great Miami. This was his last important service, his subsequent expeditions proving failures. His later years were spent in poverty and seclusion, and his social habits became none of the best. In 1793 he imprudently accepted a commission as major-general from Genet, the French diplomatic agent, and essayed to raise a French revolutionary legion in the West to overcome the Spanish settlements on the Mississippi; upon Genet's recall, Clark's commission was canceled. Later, he sought to secure employment under the Spanish (see p. 130, note.) He died February 18, 1818, at Locust Grove, near Louisville, and lies buried at Cave Hill, in the Louisville suburbs. In his article on Clark, in Appleton's Cyclop. of Amer. Biog., i., pp. 626, 627, Dr. Draper says: "Clark was tall and commanding, brave and full of resources, possessing the affection and confidence of his men. All that rich domain northwest of the Ohio was secured to the republic, at the peace of 1783, in consequence of his prowess." Cf. William F. Poole, in Winsor's Narr. and Crit. Hist. Amer., vi., pp. 710-742. While due credit should be given to Clark for his daring and successful undertaking, we must not forget that England's jealousy of Spain, and shrewd diplomacy on the part of America's peace plenipotentiaries, were factors even more potent in winning the Northwest for the United States.—R. G. T.


No sooner had the adventurous advance of Col. Clarke, and the success with which it was crowned, become known at Detroit, than preparations were made to expel him from Kaskaskias, or capture his little army, and thus rid the country of this obstacle to the unmolested passage of the savages, to the frontier of Virginia. An army of six hundred men, principally Indians, led on by Hamilton, the governor of Detroit—a man at once bold and active, yet blood-thirsty and cruel, and well known as a chief instigator of the savages to war, and as a stay and prop of tories—left Detroit and proceeded towards the theatre of Clarke's renown. With this force, he calculated on being able to effect his purpose as regarded Col. Clarke and his little band of bold and daring adventurers, and to spread devastation and death along the frontier, from Kentucky to Pennsylvania. Arriving at Fort St. Vincent,[1] on the Wabash, about the middle of December, and deeming it too late to advance towards Kaskaskias, he repaired its battlements and converting it into a repository for warlike implements of every description, he detached the greater part of his force in marauding parties to operate against the settlements on the Ohio river, reserving for the security of his head quarters only one company of men.

While these alarming preparations were being made, Col. Clarke was actively engaged in acquiring an ascendency over the neighboring tribes of Indians; and in endeavors to attach them to the cause of the United States, from principle or fear. The aid which had been voted him, fell far short of [189] the contemplated assistance, and had not yet arrived; but his genius and activity amply compensated for the deficiency. In the heart of an Indian country,—remote from every succour,—and in the vicinity of powerful and hostile tribes, he yet not only maintained his conquest and averted injury, but carried terror and dismay into the very strongholds of the savages. Intelligence of the movement of Hamilton at length reached him, and hostile parties of Indians soon hovered around Kaskaskias. Undismayed by the tempest which was gathering over him, he concentrated his forces, withdrawing garrisons from the other towns to strengthen this, and made every preparation to enable him to endure a siege, and withstand the assault of a powerful army. The idea of abandoning the country never occurred to him. He did not despair of being able to maintain his position, and he and his gallant band resolved that they would do it, or perish in the attempt. In this fearful juncture, all was activity and industry, when the arrival of a Spanish merchant who had been at St. Vincents brought information of the reduced state of Hamilton's army.[2] Convinced that a crisis had now arrived, Clarke resolved by one bold stroke to change the aspect of affairs, and instead of farther preparing to resist attack, himself to become the assailant. For this purpose, a galley, mounting two four pounders and four swivels, and having on board a company of men, was despatched, with orders to the commanding officer, to ascend the Wabash and station himself a few miles below St. Vincents, allowing no one to pass him until the arrival of the main army. Garrisoning Kaskaskias, with militia, and embodying the inhabitants for the protection of the other towns, Colonel Clarke set forward on his march across the country, on the 7th of February, 1779, at the head of one hundred and thirty brave and intrepid men.[3]

Such was the inclemency of the weather, and so many and great the obstacles which interposed, that in despite of the ardor, perseverance and energy of the troops, they could yet advance very slowly towards the point of destination. They were five days in crossing the drowned lands of the Wabash, and for five miles had to wade through water and ice, frequently up to their breasts. They overcame every difficulty and arrived before St. Vincents on the evening of the twenty-third of February and almost simultaneously with the galley.

Thus far fortune seemed to favor the expedition. The army had not been discovered on its march, and the garrison was totally ignorant of its approach. Much however yet remained to be done. They had arrived within view of the enemy, but the battle was yet to be fought.

Sensible of the advantage to be derived from commencing the attack, while the enemy was ignorant of his approach, at seven o'clock he marched to the assault. The inhabitants instead of offering opposition, received the troops with gladness, and surrendering [190] the town, engaged with alacrity in the siege of the fort. For eighteen hours the garrison resisted the repeated onsets of the assailants; but during the night succeeding the commencement of the attack, Colonel Clarke had an entrenchment thrown up within rifle shot of the enemy's strongest battery, and in the morning, from this position, poured upon it such a well-directed shower of balls, that in fifteen minutes he silenced two pieces of cannon without sustaining any loss whatever. The advantages thus gained, induced Hamilton to demand a parley, intimating an intention of surrendering. The terms were soon arranged. The governor and garrison became prisoners of war, and a considerable quantity of military stores fell into the hands of the conqueror. [4]

During the continuance of the siege, Colonel Clarke received information that a party of Indians which had been detached by Hamilton to harrass the frontiers, was returning and then near to St. Vincents with two prisoners. He immediately ordered a detachment of his men to march out and give them battle—nine Indians were taken and the two prisoners released.

History records but few enterprises, which display as strikingly the prominent features of military greatness, and evince so much of the genius and daring which are necessary to their successful termination, as this; while the motives which led to its delineation, were such, as must excite universal admiration. Bold and daring, yet generous and disinterested, Colonel Clarke sought not his individual advancement in the projection or execution of this campaign. It was not to gratify the longings of ambition, or an inordinate love of fame, that prompted him to penetrate the Indian country to the Kaskaskias, nor that tempted him forth from thence, to war with the garrison at St. Vincent. He was not one of

"Those worshippers of glory, Who bathe the earth in blood, And launch proud names for an after age, Upon the crimson flood."

The distress and sufferings of the frontier of Virginia required that a period should speedily be put to them, to preserve the country from ravage and its inhabitants from butchery. Clarke had seen and participated in that distress and those sufferings, and put in requisition every faculty of his mind and all the energies of his body, to alleviate and prevent them. Providence smiled on his undertaking, and his exertions were crowned with complete success. The plan which had been concerted for the ensuing campaign against the frontier of Virginia, threatening to involve the whole country west of the Alleghany mountains in destruction and death, was thus happily frustrated; and he, who had been mainly instrumental in impelling the savages to war, and in permitting, if not instigating them to the commission of the most atrocious barbarities, was a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. So justly obnoxious had he [191] rendered himself by his conduct, that a more than ordinary rigor was practised upon him; and by the orders of the governor of Virginia, the governor of Detroit was manacled with irons, and confined in jail.[5]

Far different was the termination of the enterprise entrusted to the conduct of General McIntosh. It has been already seen that the approach of winter forced the main army to retire to the settlements into winter quarters, before they were able to accomplish any thing, but the erection of Fort Laurens.[6] Colonel Gibson, the commandant of the garrison, though a brave and enterprising officer, was so situated, that the preservation of the fort, was all which he could accomplish; and this was no little hazard of failure, from the very superior force of the enemy, and the scarcity of provisions for the subsistance of the garrison. So soon as the Indians became acquainted with the existence of a fort so far in their country, they put in practice those arts which enable them, so successfully to annoy their enemies.

Early in January, a considerable body of savages approached Fort Laurens unperceived and before the garrison was apprised that an Indian knew of its erection.[7] In the course of the night they succeeded in catching the horses outside of the fort; and taking off their bells, carried them into the woods, some distance off. They then concealed themselves in the prairie grass, along a path leading from the fort, and in the morning commenced rattling the bells, at the farther extremity of the line of ambushment, so as to induce the belief that the horses was there to be found. The stratagem succeeded. Sixteen men were sent out to bring in the horses. Allured by the sound of the bells, they kept the path, along which the Indians lay concealed, until they found themselves unexpectedly in the presence of an enemy, who opened upon them a destructive fire from front and rear. Fourteen were killed on the spot, and the remaining two were taken prisoners.

On the evening of the day on which this unfortunate surprise took place, the Indian army, consisting of eight hundred and forty-seven warriors, painted and equipped for war, marched in single file through a prairie near the fort and in full view of the garrison, and encamped on an adjacent elevation on the opposite side of the river. From this situation, frequent conversations were held by them with the whites, in which they deprecated the longer continuance of hostilities, but yet protested against the encroachment made upon their territory by the whites, the erection of a fort and the garrisoning soldiers within their country, not only unpermitted by them, but for some time before they knew any thing of it. For these infringements on their rights, they were determined on prosecuting the war, and continued the investure of the fort, for six weeks. In this time they became straitened for provisions, and aware that without a fresh supply of them, they would be forced to abandon the siege, they sent word to the commander of the garrison, by a Delaware [192] Indian, calling himself John Thompson, (who, though with the whites in the fort, was permitted by both parties to go in and out, as he choose) that they were desirous of peace, and were willing to enter into a negotiation, if he would send them a barrel of flour and some tobacco. Scarce as these articles had actually become in the garrison, yet Col. Gibson complied with their request, hoping that they might be induced to make peace, or withdraw from the fort, and hopeless of timely succours from the settlements. Upon the receipt of those presents, the Indians raised the siege and marched their army off, much to the relief of the garrison, although they did not fulfil their promise of entering into a treaty.

During the time the Indians remained about the fort, there was much sickness in the garrison; and when they were believed to have retired, the commandant detached Col. Clarke, of the Pennsylvania line,[8] with a party of fifteen men, to escort the invalids to Fort McIntosh. They proceeded but a small distance from the gate, where they were attacked by some Indians, who had been left concealed near the fort, for the purpose of effecting farther mischief. A skirmish ensued; but overpowered by numbers and much galled by the first fire, Col. Clarke could not maintain the conflict. With much difficulty, he and three others reached the fort in safety: the rest of the party were all killed.

Col. Gibson immediately marched out at the head of the greater part of the garrison, but the Indians had retreated as soon as they succeeded in cutting off the detachment under Col. Clarke, and prudence forbade to proceed in pursuit of them, as the main army was believed to be yet in the neighborhood. The dead were however brought in, and buried with the honors of war, in front of the fort gate.

In a few days after this, Gen. McIntosh arrived with a considerable body of troops and a supply of provisions for the garrison. While the savages were continuing the siege, a friendly Indian, had been despatched by Col. Gibson to acquaint Gen. McIntosh with the situation at Fort Laurens, and that without the speedy arrival of a reinforcement of men and an accession to their stock of provisions, the garrison would have to surrender; or seek a doubtful safety, by evacuating the fort and endeavoring to regain the Ohio river, in the presence of an overwhelming body of the enemy. With great promptitude the settlers flocked to the standard of Gen. McIntosh, and loading pack horses, with abundance of provisions for the supply of the garrison at Fort Laurens, commenced a rapid march to their relief. Before their arrival, they had been relieved from the most pressing danger, by the withdrawal of the Indian army; and were only suffering from the want of flour and meat. A manifestation of the great joy felt upon the arrival of Gen. McIntosh, had well nigh deprived them of the benefit to be derived from the provisions brought for them. When the relief army approached the fort, a salute was fired by the garrison, which, alarming the pack horses, caused them [193] to break loose and scatter the greater part of the flour in every direction through the woods, so that it was impossible to be again collected.

The remains of those, who had unfortunately fallen into the ambuscade in January, and which had lain out until then, were gathered together and buried;[9] and a fresh detachment, under Major Vernon, being left to garrison the fort, in the room of that which had been stationed there during winter, Gen. McIntosh, withdrew from the country and returned to Fort McIntosh. In the ensuing fall, Fort Laurens was entirely evacuated; the garrison having been almost reduced to starvation, and it being found very difficult to supply them with provisions at so great a distance from the settlements and in the heart of the Indian country.

During the year 1778, Kentucky was the theatre of many outrages. In January, a party of thirty men, among whom was Daniel Boone, repaired to the "Lower Blue Licks" for the purpose of making salt; and on the 7th of February, while Boone was alone in the woods, on a hunt to supply the salt makers with meat, he was encountered by a party of one hundred and two Indians and two Canadians, and made prisoner. The savages advanced to the Licks, and made prisoners of twenty-seven of those engaged in making salt.[10] Their object in this incursion, was [193] the destruction of Boonesborough; and had they continued their march thither, there is no doubt but that place, weakened as it was by the loss of so many of its men and not expecting an attack at that inclement season, would have fallen into their hands; but elated with their success, the Indians marched directly back with their prisoners to Chillicothe. The extreme suffering of the prisoners, during this march, inspired the savages with pity, and induced them to exercise an unusual lenity towards their captives. In March, Boone was carried to Detroit, where the Indians refused to liberate him, though an hundred pounds were offered for his ransom, and from which place he accompanied them back to Chillicothe in the latter part of April. In the first of June, he went with them to the Scioto salt springs, and on his return found one hundred and fifty choice warriors of the Shawanee nation, painting, arming, and otherwise equipping themselves to proceed again to the attack of Boonesborough.

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