Chronicles of Border Warfare
by Alexander Scott Withers
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In the afternoon of the next day, they arrived in sight of Piqua, and as they advanced upon the town, were attacked by the Indians concealed in the high weeds which grew around. Colonel Logan, with four hundred men, was ordered to file off,—march up the river to the east, and occupy a position from which to intercept the savages, should they attempt to fly in that direction. Another division of the army was in like manner posted on the opposite side of the river, while General Clarke with the troops under Colonel Slaughter and those attached to the artillery, was to advance directly upon the town. The Indians seemed to comprehend every motion of the army, and evinced the skill of tacticians in endeavoring to thwart its purpose. To prevent being surrounded by the advance of the detachment from the west, they made a powerful effort to turn the left wing. Colonel Floyd extended his line some distance west of the town, and the engagement became general. Both armies fought with determined [224] resolution, and the contest was warm and animated for some time. The Indians, finding that their enemy was gaining on them retired unperceived, through the prairie, a few only remaining in the town. The piece of cannon was then bro't to bear upon the houses, into which some of the savages had retired to annoy the army as it marched upon the village.—They were soon dislodged and fled.

On reaching the houses, a Frenchman was discovered concealed in one of them. From him it was learned, that the Indians had been apprized of the intention of Gen. Clarke to march against Chilicothe and other towns in its vicinity, by one of Col. Logan's men, who had deserted from the army while at the mouth of Licking, and was supposed to have fled to Carolina, as he took with him the horse furnished him for the expedition. Instead of this however, he went over to the enemy, and his treason,

——"Like a deadly blight, Came o'er the councils of the brave, And damped them in their hour of might."

Thus forwarned of the danger which threatened them, they were enabled in a considerable degree to avoid it, and watching all the movements of the army, were on the eve of attacking it silently, with tomahawks and knives, on the night of its encamping between Chilicothe and Piqua. The shooting of the guns, convincing them that they had not been rendered useless by the rain, alone deterred them from executing this determination.

Notwithstanding that the victory obtained by Gen. Clarke, was complete and decided, yet the army under his command sustained a loss in killed and wounded, as great as was occasioned to the enemy. This circumstance was attributable to the sudden and unexpected attack made on it, by the Indians, while entirely concealed, and partially sheltered. No men could have evinced more dauntless intrepidity and determined fortitude than was displayed by them, when fired upon by a hidden foe, and their comrades were falling around them. When the "combat thickened," such was their noble daring, that Girty, (who had been made chief among the Mingoes,) remarking the desperation with which they exposed themselves to the hottest of the fire, drew off his three hundred warriors; observing, that it was useless to fight with fools and madmen. The loss in killed under the peculiar [225] circumstances, attending the commencement of the action, was less than would perhaps be expected to befall an army similarly situated;—amounting in all to only twenty men.

Here, as at Chilicothe, the crops of corn and every article of subsistence on which the troops could lay their hands, were entirely laid waste. At the two places, it was estimated that not less than five hundred acres of that indispensable article, were entirely destroyed.[13]

An unfortunate circumstance, occurring towards the close of the engagement, damped considerably the joy which would otherwise have pervaded the army. A nephew of Gen. Clarke, who had been taken, and for some time detained, a prisoner by the savages, was at Piqua during the action. While the battle continued, he was too closely guarded to escape to the whites; but upon the dispersion of the savages which ensued upon the cannonading of the houses into which some of them had retreated, he was left more at liberty. Availing himself of this change of situation, he sought to join his friends. He was quickly discovered by some of them, and mistaken for an Indian. The mistake was fatal. He received a shot discharged at him, and died in a few hours.

Notwithstanding the success of the expeditions commanded by Col. Broadhead and Gen. Clarke, and the destruction which took place on the Alleghany, at Coshocton, Chilicothe and Piqua, yet the savages continued to commit depredations on the frontiers of Virginia. The winter, as usual, checked them for awhile, but the return of spring, brought with it, the horrors which mark the progress of an Indian enemy. In Kentucky and in North Western Virginia, it is true that the inhabitants did not suffer much by their hostilities in 1781, as in the preceding years; yet were they not exempt from aggression.

Early in March a party of Indians invaded the settlements on the upper branches of Monongahela river; and on the night of the 5th of that month, came to the house of Capt. John Thomas, near Booth's creek. Unapprehensive of danger, with his wife and seven children around him, and with thoughts devotedly turned upon the realities of another world, this gentleman was engaging in his accustomed devotions when the savages approached his door; and as he was repeating the first lines of the hymn, "Go worship at Emanuel's feet," a gun was fired at him, and he fell. The Indians [226] immediately forced open the door, and, entering the house, commenced the dreadful work of death. Mrs. Thomas raised her hands and implored their mercy for herself and her dear children. It was in vain. The tomahawk was uplifted, and stroke followed stroke in quick succession, till the mother and six children lay weltering in blood, by the side of her husband and their father—a soul-chilling spectacle to any but heartless savages. When all were down, they proceeded to scalp the fallen, and plundering the house of what they could readily remove, threw the other things into the fire and departed—taking with them one little boy a prisoner.

Elizabeth Juggins, (the daughter of John Juggins who had been murdered in that neighborhood, the preceding year) was at the house of Capt. Thomas, when the Indians came to it; but as soon as she heard the report of the gun and saw Capt. Thomas fall, she threw herself under the bed, and escaped the observation of the savages. After they had completed the work of blood and left the house, fearing that they might be lingering near, she remained in that situation until she observed the house to be in flames. When she crawled forth from her asylum, Mrs. Thomas was still alive, though unable to move; and casting a pitying glance towards her murdered infant, asked that it might be handed to her. Upon seeing Miss Juggins about to leave the house, she exclaimed, "Oh Betsy! do not leave us." Still anxious for her own safety, the girl rushed out, and taking refuge for the night between two logs, in the morning early spread the alarm.

When the scene of those enormities was visited, Mrs. Thomas was found in the yard, much mangled by the tomahawk and considerably torn by hogs—she had, perhaps in the struggle of death, thrown herself out at the door. The house, together with Capt. Thomas and the children, was a heap of ashes.[14]

In April, Matthias, Simon and Michael Schoolcraft left Buchannon fort, and went to the head of Stone coal creek for the purpose of catching pigeons. On their return, they were fired upon by Indians, and Matthias killed—the other two were taken captive. These were the last of the Schoolcraft family,—fifteen of them were killed or taken prisoners in the space of a few years. Of those who were carried into captivity, none ever returned. They were believed to have consociated with the savages, and from the report of others [227] who were prisoners to the Indians, three of them used to accompany war parties, in their incursions into the settlements.

In the same month, as some men were returning to Cheat river from Clarksburg, (where they had been to obtain certificates of settlement-rights to their lands, from the commissioners appointed to adjust land claims in the counties of Ohio, Youghiogany and Monongalia) they, after having crossed the Valley river, were encountered by a large party of Indians, and John Manear, Daniel Cameron and a Mr. Cooper were killed,—the others effected their escape with difficulty.

The savages then moved on towards Cheat, but meeting with James Brown and Stephen Radcliff, and not being able to kill or take them, they changed their course, and passing over Leading creek, (in Tygarts Valley) nearly destroyed the whole settlement. They there killed Alexander Roney, Mrs. Dougherty, Mrs. Hornbeck and her children, Mrs. Buffington and her children, and many others; and made prisoners, Mrs. Roney and her son, and Daniel Dougherty. Jonathan Buffington and Benjamin Hornbeck succeeded in making their escape and carried the doleful tidings to Friend's and Wilson's forts. Col. Wilson immediately raised a company of men and proceeding to Leading creek, found the settlement without inhabitants, and the houses nearly all burned. He then pursued after the savages, but not coming up with them as soon as was expected, the men became fearful of the consequences which might result to their own families, by reason of this abstraction of their defence, provided other Indians were to attack them, and insisted on their returning. On the second day of the pursuit, it was agreed that a majority of the company should decide whether they were to proceeded farther or not. Joseph Friend, Richard Kettle, Alexander West and Col. Wilson, were the only persons in favor of going on, and they consequently had to return.

But though the pursuit was thus abandoned, yet did not the savages get off with their wonted impunity. When the land claimants, who had been the first to encounter this party of Indians escaped from them, they fled back to Clarksburg, and gave the alarm. This was quickly communicated to the other settlements, and spies were sent out, to watch for the enemy. By some of these, the savages were discovered on the West Fork, near the mouth of Isaac's Creek, and intelligence of it immediately carried to the forts. Col. Lowther [228] collected a company of men, and going in pursuit, came in view of their encampment, awhile before night, on a branch of Hughes' river, ever since known as Indian creek. Jesse and Elias Hughs—active, intrepid and vigilant men—were left to watch the movements of the savages, while the remainder retired a small distance to refresh themselves, and prepare to attack them in the morning.

Before day Col. Lowther arranged his men in order of attack, and when it became light, on the preconcerted signal being given, a general fire was poured in upon them. Five of the savages fell dead and the others fled leaving at their fires, all their shot bags and plunder, and all their guns, except one. Upon going to their camp, it was found that one of the prisoners (a son of Alexander Rony who had been killed in the Leading creek massacre) was among the slain. Every care had been taken to guard against such an occurrence, and he was the only one of the captives who sustained any injury from the fire of the whites.[15]

In consequence of information received from the prisoners who were retaken (that a larger party of Indians was expected hourly to come up,) Col. Lowther [228] deemed it prudent not to go in pursuit of those who had fled, and collecting the plunder which the savages had left, catching the horses which [229] they had stolen, and having buried young Rony, the party set out on its return and marched home—highly gratified at the success which had crowned their exertions to punish their untiring foe.

Some short time after this, John Jackson and his son George, returning to Buchannon fort, were fired at by some Indians, but fortunately missed. George Jackson having his gun in his hand, discharged it at a savage peeping from behind a tree, without effect; and they then rode off with the utmost speed.

At the usual period of leaving the forts and returning to their farms, the inhabitants withdrew from Buchannon and went to their respective homes. Soon after, a party of savages came to the house of Charles Furrenash, and made prisoners of Mrs. Furrenash and her four children, and despoiled their dwelling. Mrs. Furrenash, being a delicate and weakly woman, and unable to endure the fatigue of travelling far on foot, was murdered on Hughes' river. Three of the children were afterwards redeemed and came back,—the fourth was never more heard of. In a few days after, the husband and father returned from Winchester (where he had been for salt) and instead of the welcome greeting of an affectionate wife, and the pleasing prattle of his innocent children, was saluted with the melancholy intelligence of their fate. It was enough to make him curse the authors of the outrage, and swear eternal enmity to the savage race.

The early period in spring at which irruptions were frequently made by the savages upon the frontier, had induced a belief, that if the Moravian Indians did not participate in the bloody deeds of their red bretren, yet that they afforded to them shelter and protection from the inclemency of winter, and thus enabled them, by their greater proximity to the white settlements, to commence depredations earlier than they otherwise could. The consequence of this belief was, the engendering in the minds of many, a spirit of hostility towards those Indians; occasionally threatening a serious result to them. Reports too, were in circulation, proceeding from restored captives, at war with the general pacific profession of the Moravians, and which, whether true or false, served to heighten the acrimony of feeling towards them, until the militia of a portion of the frontier came to the determination of breaking up the villages on the Muskingum.[16] To [230] carry this determination into effect, a body of troops, commanded by Col. David Williamson, set out for those towns, in the latter part of the year 1781. Not deeming it necessary to use the fire and sword, to accomplish the desired object, Col. Williamson resolved on endeavoring to prevail on them to move farther off; and if he failed in this, to make prisoners of them all, and take them to Fort Pitt. Upon his arrival at their towns, they were found to be nearly deserted, a few Indians only, remaining in them. These were made prisoners and taken to Fort Pitt; but were soon liberated.

It is a remarkable fact, that at the time the whites were planning the destruction of the Moravian villages, because of their supposed co-operation with the hostile savages, the inhabitants of those villages were suffering severely from the ill treatment of those very savages, because of their supposed attachment to the whites. By the one party, they were charged with affording to Indian war parties, a resting place and shelter, and furnishing them with provisions. By the other, they were accused of apprizing the whites of meditated incursions into the country, and thus defeating their purpose, or lessening the chance of success; and of being instrumental in preventing the Delawares from entering in the war which they were waging. Both charges were probably, well founded, and the Moravian Indians yet culpable in neither.[17]

Their villages were situated nearly midway between the frontier establishments of the whites, and the towns of the belligerent Indians, and were consequently, convenient resting places for warriors proceeding to and from the settlements. That they should have permitted war parties after ravages to refresh themselves there, or even have supplied them with provisions, does not argue a disposition to aid or encourage their hostile operations. It was at any time in the power of those warring savages, to exact by force whatever was required of the Moravian Indians, and the inclination was not wanting, to do this or other acts of still greater enormity. That the warriors were the better enabled to make incursions into the settlements, and effect their dreadful objects by reason of those accommodations, can not be questioned; the fault however, lay not in any inimical feeling of the christian Indians towards the whites, but in their physical inability to withhold whatever might be demanded of them.

And although they exerted themselves to prevail on other [231] tribes to forbear from hostilities against the whites, and apprised the latter of enterprizes projected against them, yet did not these things proceed from an unfriendly disposition towards their red brethren. They were considerate and reflecting, and saw that the savages must ultimately suffer, by engaging in a war against the settlements; while their pacific and christian principles, influenced them to forewarn the whites of impending danger, that it might be avoided, and the effusion of blood be prevented. But pure and commendable as were, no doubt, the motives which governed them, in their intercourse with either party, yet they were so unfortunate as to excite the enmity and incur the resentment of both, and eventually were made to suffer, though in different degrees, by both.

In the fall of 1781, the settlements of the Moravians were almost entirely broken up by upwards of three hundred warriors, and the missionaries, residing among them, after having been robbed of almost every thing, were taken prisoners and carried to Detroit. Here they were detained until the governor became satisfied that they were guiltless of any offence meriting a longer confinement; when they were released & permitted to return to their beloved people. The Indians were left to shift for themselves in the Sandusky plains where most of their horses and cattle perished from famine.[18]

——- [1] Col. Reuben T. Durrett, in his Centenary of Louisville, p. 47, says that Louisville at this time consisted of Clark's original block house, with eighteen cabins, on Corn Island, at the head of the rapids; a small fort at the foot of Third street, erected by Col. John Floyd in 1779; "a large fort on the east side of a ravine that entered the Ohio at Twelfth street, and a few rude log cabins scattered through the woods near the Twelfth street fort, all occupied by one hundred inhabitants, who had cleared and cultivated garden-spots around their humble cabins."—R. G. T.

[2] The expedition was sent out by Maj. A. S. De Peyster, then British commandant at Detroit. It was headed by Capt. Bird, with whom were Simon, James, and George Girty. The force, as rendezvoused at Detroit, consisted of 150 whites, and 100 Indians from the Upper Lakes; they carried two cannon. They were joined on the Miami by Capt. McKee, deputy Indian agent, and a large party of Indians, making the force of savages amount to 700.—R. G. T.

[3] The original destination was Louisville, but en route the Indian chiefs compelled Bird to first proceed against the forts on the Licking.—R. G. T.

[4] A station was a parallelogram of cabins, united by palisades so as to present a continued wall on the outer side, the cabin doors opening into a common square, on the inner side. They were the strong holds of the early settlers.

[5] There seems to be abundant evidence that Bird, a competent officer, was humanely inclined; but he was quite in the power of his savage allies, who would brook little control of their passions. The number of prisoners taken at Isaac Ruddell's was nearly 300; about fifty more were taken at Martin's.—R. G. T.

[6] The Indians had, contrary to Bird's expostulations, wantonly slaughtered all the cattle at Ruddell's Station, and this it was that caused the famine. With an abundance of food to sustain both prisoners and warriors, Bird might readily have carried out his purpose of uprooting nearly every settlement in Kentucky. There is nothing in his official report of the expedition, to warrant the statement that high water had any thing to do with the matter.—R. G. T.

[7] Col. Daniel Brodhead was in command of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment. He succeeded McIntosh at Fort Pitt, in April, 1779.—R. G. T.

[8] Brodhead set out from Fort Pitt, April 7, 1781, with 150 regulars; at Wheeling he picked up David Shepherd, lieutenant of Ohio County, Va., with 134 militia, including officers; besides these were five friendly Indians, eager for Delaware scalps.—R. G. T.

[9] Salem, established by Heckewelder for his Indian converts, was on the west bank of the Tuscarawas, a mile and a half south-west of the present Port Washington.—R. G. T.

[10] John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder was born at Bedford, England, March 12, 1743. Coming to Pennsylvania in 1754, he was at first a cooper, but later became an assistant to Charles Frederick Post, the Moravian missionary. In 1771, he first became an evangelist to the Indians, on his own account, and spent fifteen years in Ohio, where he assisted in the work of David Zeisberger. He was a man of learning, and made important contributions to the study of American archaeology and, ethnology. The last thirteen years of his life were spent in literary work. He died at Bethlehem, Pa., January 21, 1823.—R. G. T.

[11] Called in some of the contemporary chronicles, Goschocking.—R. G. T.

[12] Withers here reverts to the Bird invasion in the summer of 1780, and the escape of Hinkstone from his British captors, related ante, pp. 295-98. Clark's retaliatory expedition was made during August, 1780.—R. G. T.

[13] Butterfield, in History of the Girtys, p. 121, places the white loss at seventeen killed, and "a number wounded;" and the Indian loss at six killed and three wounded. Clark's nephew, Joseph Rogers, was killed on August 8, the day of the general engagement. Clark left Piqua, the 10th.—R. G. T.

[14] I am informed by S. R. Harrison, of Clarksburg, W. Va., that the bodies of the victims were buried about five rods from the house, and "the graves are yet marked by the original rude stones." Mr. Harrison continues, "This burial ground, and also where the house stood, had never been disturbed until March, 1888—a hundred and seven years after the massacre—when the ground about the site of the house was plowed; many interesting relics were turned up, among them a compass and sun-dial in a copper case. I myself found a number of relics among the charred ruins of the house."—R. G. T.

[15] As soon as the fire was opened upon the Indians, Mrs. Rony (one of the prisoners) ran towards the whites rejoicing at the prospect of deliverance, and exclaiming, "I am Ellick Rony's wife, of the Valley, I am Ellick Rony's wife, of the Valley, and a pretty little woman too, if I was well dressed." The poor woman, ignorant of the fact that her son was weltering in his own gore, and forgetting for an instant that her husband had been so recently killed, seemed intent only on her own deliverance from the savage captors.

Another of the captives, Daniel Dougherty, being tied down, and unable to move, was discovered by the whites as they rushed towards the camp. Fearing that he might be one of the enemy and do them some injury if they advanced, one of the men, stopping, demanded who he was. Benumbed with cold, and discomposed by the sudden firing of the whites, he could not render his Irish dialect intelligible to them. The white man raised his gun and directed it towards him, calling aloud, that if he did not make known who he was, he should blow a ball through him, let him be white man or Indian. Fear supplying him with energy, Dougherty exclaimed, "Loord Jasus! and am I too be killed by white people at last!" He was heard by Col. Lowther and his life saved.

[16] The Moravian Indians were originally from the Susquehanna River. They moved to the Tuscarawas River in 1772, under the missionaries Zeisberger and Heckewelder, who built two villages on the eastern bank of that river, on land set apart for them by the Delawares: Schoenbrunn, about three miles south-east of the present New Philadelphia, in what is now Goshen township, Tuscarawas County, O., and Gnadenhuetten, lower down, in the outskirts of the present town of that name, in Clay township. The principal Delaware town, at that time, was some distance below, near the site of the present Newcomerstown; this was later moved to what is now Coshocton, at the confluence of the Tuscarawas and Walholding, which unite to form the Muskingum. At this time there was a Moravian village called Friedensstadt, on Beaver River, in what is now Lawrence County, Pa. In 1776 a new village for the accommodation of converts was established on the east bank of the Muskingum, two and a half miles below Coshocton, and called Lichtenau; William Edwards was the missionary in charge. In consequence of the disturbances on the border, Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhuetten were deserted in 1777, and all the teachers returned to Pennsylvania save Zeisberger and Edwards, who gathered the Indians together at Lichtenau; but in the spring of 1778, Gnadenhuetten was re-occupied, with Edwards in charge. This was not for a long time, however, for in July we find Zeisberger, Heckewelder, and Edwards in charge of the union station at Lichtenau, the others being deserted. The spring of 1779 finds Edwards again at the resuscitated Gnadenhuetten, Zeisberger re-occupying Schoenbrunn with a small party, and Heckewelder at Lichtenau. Later in the season Zeisberger began New Schoenbrunn on the west bank of the Tuscarawas, in what is now Goshen township, a quarter of a mile from the present Lockport, and a mile and a quarter south of New Philadelphia; thither he removed his flock in December. In the spring of 1780, Heckewelder abandoned Lichtenau, and took his converts to the west bank of the Tuscarawas, where he established Salem, in the present Salem township, a mile and a half north-west of Port Washington. In the autumn the Moravian villages were in general charge of Zeisberger, who traveled from one to the other; Gottlob Senseman being in charge of New Schoenbrunn, Edwards of Gnadenhuetten, and Heckewelder of Salem. It will thus be seen that at the time of the massacre, the Moravian villages were wholly in the valley of the Tuscarawas.—R. G. T.

[17] Zeisberger and Heckewelder kept Brodhead continually informed, by letters, of the movements and councils of the hostiles. The position of the missionaries was one of exceeding delicacy, but the voluminous correspondence between them and Brodhead proves that the former were steadfast friends of the American colonies, and did effective service throughout the several years of disturbance on the frontier.—R. G. T.

[18] Brodhead's successful expedition against the Coshocton Indians, in April, 1781, led to preparations for a retaliatory foray. Headed by the renegade Capt. Matthew Elliott, a party of about 250 Indians,—mostly Wyandots, with chiefs Half King, Pipe, Snip, John and Thomas Snake, and others—assembled at Gnadenhuetten, for a talk with the Moravian teachers, preparatory to an expedition against Wheeling. They arrived August 17, and Zeisberger at once secretly sent a message of warning to Ft. Pitt, which threw the frontier into alarm, and caused the garrison at Wheeling to be fully prepared when the enemy appeared. A boy whom the Wyandots captured outside of Wheeling told them of Zeisberger's warning, and when the unsuccessful war party returned to Gnadenhuetten (Sept. 2), vengeance was wreaked on the Moravians. The town was sacked that day, and the missionaries were kept as prisoners for several days. Finally they were released (Sept.6), on promise that they remove their converts from the line of the warpaths. September 11, the Moravians and their teachers left Salem in a body, with but few worldly goods, for most of their property had been destroyed by the Wyandots. They proceeded down the Tuscarawas to the mouth of the Walhonding, thence up the latter stream and Vernon River, and across country to the Sandusky, where they arrived October 1, and erected a few huts on the east bank of the river, about two and a-half miles above the present Upper Sandusky. Fourteen days later, the missionaries were summoned to appear before the British commandant at Detroit, Major De Peyster. Zeisberger, Heckewelder, Edwards, and Senseman left for Detroit, October 25. De Peyster questioned them closely, and finally released them with the statement that he would confer with them later, relative to their final abode. They reached the Sandusky, on their return, November 22. Meanwhile, the winter had set in early; and in danger of starving, a party of the Moravians had returned to the Tuscarawas to gather corn in the abandoned fields; while there, a party of border rangers took them prisoners and carried them to Fort Pitt. Brig.-Gen. William Irvine, then in command, treated the poor converts kindly, and allowed them to go in peace, many returning to their old villages on the Tuscarawas, to complete their dismal harvesting.—R. G. T.


The revengeful feelings which had been engendered, by inevitable circumstances, towards the Moravian Indians, and which had given rise to the expedition of 1781, under Col. Williamson, were yet more deeply radicated by subsequent events. On the night after their liberation from Fort Pitt, the family of a Mr. Monteur were all killed or taken captive; and the outrage, occurring so immediately after they were set at liberty and in the vicinity of where they were, was very generally attributed to them. An irruption was made too, in the fall of 1781, into the settlement on Buffalo creek, and some murders committed and prisoners taken. One of these, escaping from captivity and returning soon after, declared that the party committing the aggression, was headed by a Moravian warrior.

These circumstances operated to confirm many in the belief, that those Indians were secretly inimical to the whites, and not only furnished the savages with provisions and a temporary home, but likewise engaged personally in the war of extermination, which they were waging against the frontier. Events occurring towards the close of winter, dispelled all doubt, from the minds of those who had fondly cherished every suggestion which militated against the professed, and generally accredited, neutrality and pacific disposition of the Moravians.

On the 8th of February 1782, while Henry Fink and his son John, were engaged in sledding rails, on their farm in the Buchannon settlement, several guns were simultaneously discharged at them; and before John had time to reply to his father's inquiry, whether he were hurt, another gun was fired and he fell lifeless. Having unlinked the chain which fastened the horse to the sled, the old man [233] galloped briskly away. He reached his home in safety, and immediately moved his family to the fort. On the next day the lifeless body of John, was brought into the fort.—The first shot had wounded his arm; the ball from the second passed through his heart, & he was afterwards scalped.

Near the latter part of the same month, some Indians invaded the country above Wheeling, and succeeded in killing a Mr. Wallace, and his family, consisting of his wife and five children, & in taking John Carpenter a prisoner. The early period of the year at which those enormities were perpetrated, the inclemency of the winter of 1781—2, and the distance of the towns of hostile Indians from the theatre of these outrages, caused many to exclaim, "the Moravians have certainly done this deed." The destruction of their villages was immediately resolved, and preparations were made to carry this determination into effect.

There were then in the North Western wilderness, between three and four hundred of the christian Indians, and who, until removed by the Wyandots and whites in 1781, as before mentioned, had resided on the Muskingum in the villages of the Gnadenhutten, Salem and Shoenbrun. The society of which they were members, had been established in the province of Pennsylvania about the year 1752, and in a short time became distinguished for the good order and deportment of its members, both as men and as christians. During the continuance of the French war, they nobly withstood every allurement which was practised to draw them within its vortex, and expressed their strong disapprobation of war in general; saying, "that it must be displeasing to that Great Being, who made men, not to destroy men, but to love and assist each other." In 1769 emigrants from their villages of Friedenshutten, Wyalusing and Shesheequon in Pennsylvania, began to make an establishment in the North Western wilderness, and in a few years, attained a considerable degree of prosperity, their towns increased rapidly in population, and themselves, under the teaching of pious and beneficent missionaries, in civilization and christianity. In the war of 1774, their tranquil and happy hours were interrupted, by reports of the ill intention of the whites along the frontier, towards them, and by frequent acts of annoyance, committed by war parties of the savages.

This state of things continued with but little, if any, intermission, occasionally assuming a more gloomy and portentious aspect, until the final destruction of their villages. In the spring of 1781, the principal war chief of the Delawares apprised the missionaries and them, of the danger which threatened them, as well from the whites as the savages, and advised them to remove to some situation, where they would be exempt from molestation by either. Conscious of the rectitude of their conduct as regarded both, and unwilling to forsake the comforts which their industry had procured for them, and the fields rendered productive by their labor, they disregarded the [234] friendly monition, and continued in their villages, progressing in the knowledge and love of the Redeemer of men, and practising the virtues inculcated by his word.

This was their situation, at the time they were removed to Sandusky, early in the fall of 1781. When their missionaries and principal men were liberated by the governor of Detroit, they obtained leave of the Wyandot chiefs to return to the Muskingum to get the corn which had been left there, to prevent the actual starvation of their families. About one hundred and fifty of them, principally women and children went thither for this purpose, and were thus engaged when the second expedition under Col. Williamson proceeded against them.

In March 1782, between eighty and ninety men assembled themselves for the purpose of effecting the destruction of the Moravian towns.[1] If they then had in contemplation the achieving of any other injury to those people, it was not promulgated in the settlements. They avowed their object to be the destruction of the houses and the laying waste the crops, in order to deprive the hostile savages of the advantage of obtaining shelter and provisions, so near to the frontier; and the removal of the Moravians to Fort Pitt, to preserve them from the personal injury which, it was feared, would be inflicted on them by the warriors. Being merely a private expedition, each of the men took with him, his own arms, ammunition and provisions; and many of them, their horses. They took up the line of march from the Mingo Bottom, and on the second night thereafter, encamped within one mile of the village of Gnadenhutten; and in the morning proceeded towards it, in the order of attack prescribed by a council of the officers.

The village being built upon both sides of the river, and the scouts having discovered and reported that it was occupied on both sides, one-half the men were ordered to cross over and bear down upon the town on the western bank, while the other half would possess themselves of that part of it which lay on the eastern shore. Upon the arrival of the first division at the river, no boat or other small craft was seen in which they could be transported across; and they were for a time, in some difficulty how they should proceed. What appeared to be a canoe was at length discovered on the opposite bank, and a young man by the name of Slaughter, plunging in swam to it. It proved to be a trough for containing sugar water, and capable of bearing only two persons at a time. To obviate the delay which must have resulted from this tedious method of conveying themselves over, many of the men unclothed themselves, and placing their garments, arms and ammunition in the trough, swam by its sides, notwithstanding that ice was floating in the current and the water, consequently, cold and chilling.

When nearly half this division had thus reached the western bank, two sentinels, who on the first landing had been stationed a short distance in advance, discovered and fired at, one of the Indians. [235] The shot of one broke his arm,—the other killed him. Directions were then sent to the division which was to operate on the eastern side of the river, to move directly to the attack, lest the firing should alarm the inhabitants and they defeat the object which seemed now to be had in view. The few who had crossed without awaiting for the others, marched immediately into the town on the western shore.

Arrived among the Indians, they offered no violence, but on the contrary, professing peace and good will, assured them, they had come for the purpose of escorting them safely to Fort Pitt, that they might no longer be exposed to molestation from the militia of the whites, or the warriors of the savages. Sick of the sufferings which they had so recently endured, and rejoicing at the prospect of being delivered from farther annoyance they gave up their arms, and with alacrity commenced making preparations for the journey, providing food as well for the whites, as for themselves. A party of whites and Indians was next despatched to Salem, to bring in those who were there. They then shut up the Moravians left at Gnadenhutten, in two houses some distance apart, and had them well guarded, When the others arrived from Salem, they were treated in like manner, and shut up in the same houses with their brethren of Gnadenhutten.

The division which was to move into the town on the eastern side of the river, coming unexpectedly upon one of the Indian women, she endeavored to conceal herself in a bunch of bushes at the water edge, but being discovered, by some of the men, was quickly killed. She was the wife of Shabosh, who had been shot by the sentinels of the other division. Others, alarmed at the appearance of a party of armed men, and ignorant that a like force was on the opposite side of the river, attempted to escape thither.—They did not live to effect their object. Three were killed in the attempt; and the men then crossed over, with such as they had made prisoners, to join their comrades, in the western and main part of the town.

A council of war was then held to determine on the fate of the prisoners. Col. Williamson having been much censured for the lenity of his conduct towards those Indians in the expedition of the preceding year, the officers were unwilling to take upon themseves the entire responsibility of deciding upon their fate now, and agreed that it should be left to the men. The line was soon formed, and they were told it remained with them to say, whether the Moravian prisoners should be taken to Fort Pitt or murdered; and Col. Williamson requested that those who were inclined to mercy, should advance and form a second link, that it might be seen on which side was the majority. Alas! it required no scrutiny to determine. Only sixteen, or at most eighteen men, stepped forward to save the lives of this unfortunate people, and their doom became sealed.[2]

From the moment those ill fated beings were immured in houses they seemed to anticipate the horrid destiny which awaited them; [236] and spent their time in holy and heartfelt devotion, to prepare them for the awful realities of another world. They sang, they prayed, they exhorted each other to a firm reliance on the Saviour of men, and soothed those in affliction with the comfortable assurance, that although men might kill the body, they had no power over the soul, and that they might again meet in a better and happier world, "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary find rest." When told that they were doomed to die, they all affectionately embraced, and bedewing their bosoms with mutual tears, reciprocally sought, and obtained forgiveness for any offences which they might have given each other through life. Thus at peace with God, and reconciled with one another, they replied to those, who impatient for the slaughter had asked if they were not yet prepared, "Yes! We have commended our souls to God, and are ready to die."

What must have been the obduracy of those, who could remain inflexible in their doom of death, amid such scenes as these? How ruthless & unrelenting their hearts, who unmoved by the awful spectacle of so many fellow creatures, preparing for the sudden and violent destruction of life and asking of their God, mercy for themselves and forgiveness for their enemies—could yet thirst for blood, and manifest impatience that its shedding was delayed for an instant? Did not the possibility of that innocence, which has been ever since so universally accorded to their victims, once occur to them; or were their minds so under the influence of exasperation and resentment, that they ceased to think of any thing, but the gratification of those feelings? Had they been about to avenge the murder of friends on its known authors, somewhat might have been pardoned to retaliation and to vengeance; but involving all in one common ruin, for the supposed offences of a few, there can be no apology for their conduct,—no excuse for their crime.

It were well, if all memory of the tragedy at Gnadenhutten, were effaced from the mind; but it yet lives in the recollection of many and stands recorded on the polluted page of history.—Impartial truth requires, that it should be here set down.

A few of the prisoners, supposed to have been actively engaged in war, were the first to experience their doom. They were tied and taken some distance from the houses in which [237] they had been confined; despatched with spears and tomahawks, and scalped. The remainder of both sexes, from the hoary head of decrepitude, incapable of wrong, to helpless infancy, pillowed on its mother's breast, were cruelly & shockingly murdered; and the different apartments of those houses of blood, exhibited their bleeding bodies, mangled by the tomahawk, scalping knife and spear, and disfigured by the war-club and the mallet.[3]

Thus perished ninety-six of the Moravian Indians. Of these, sixty-two were grown persons, one-third of whom were women; the remaining thirty-four were children.[4] Two youth alone, made their escape. One of them had been knocked down and scalped, but was not killed. He had the presence of mind to lie still among the dead, until nightfall, when he crept silently forth and escaped. The other, in the confusion of the shocking scene, slipped through a trap door into the cellar, and passing out at a small window, got off unnoticed and uninjured.

In the whole of this transaction the Moravians were passive and unresisting. They confided in the assurances of protection given them by the whites, and until pent up in the houses, continued cheerful and happy. If when convinced of the murderous intent of their visitors, they had been disposed to violence and opposition, it would have availed them nothing. They had surrendered their arms (being requested to do so, as a guarantee for the security of the whites,) and were no longer capable of offering any effectual or available resistance, and while the dreadful work of death was doing, "they were as lambs led to the slaughter; & as sheep before the shearers are dumb, so opened they not their mouths." There was but a solitary exception to this passiveness, and it was well nigh terminating in the escape of its author, and in the death of some of the whites.

As two of the men were leading forth one of the supposed warriors to death, a dispute arose between them, who should have the scalp of this victim to their barbarity. He was progressing after them with a silent dancing motion, and singing his death song. Seeing them occupied so closely with each other, he became emboldened to try an escape. Drawing a knife from its scabbard, he cut the cord which bound him; and springing forward, aimed a thrust at one of his conductors. The cutting of the rope had, however, drawn it so [238] tightly that he who held it became sensible that it was wrought upon in some way; and turning quickly round to ascertain the cause, scarcely avoided the stab. The Indian then bounded from them, and as he fled towards the woods, dexterously removed the cord from his wrists. Several shots were discharged at him without effect, when the firing was stopped, lest in the hurry and confusion of the pursuit, some of their own party might suffer from it. A young man, mounting his horse, was soon by the side of the Indian, and springing off, his life had well nigh been sacrificed by his rashness. He was quickly thrown to the ground, and the uplifted tomahawk about to descend on his head, when a timely shot, directed with fatal precision, took effect on the Indian and saved him.

Had the Moravians been disposed for war, they could easily have ensured their own safety, and dealt destruction to the whites. If, when their town was entered by a party of only sixteen, their thirty men, aided by the youths of the village, armed and equipped as all were, had gone forth in battle array, they could have soon cut off those few; and by stationing some gunners on the bank of the river, have prevented the landing of the others of the expedition. But their faith in the sincerity of the whites—their love of peace and abhorrence of war, forbade it; and the confidence of those who first rushed into the town, in these feelings and dispositions of the Indians, no doubt prompted them to that act of temerity, while an unfordable stream was flowing between them and their only support.

During the massacre at Gnadenhutten, a detachment of the whites was ordered to Shoenbrun to secure the Moravians who were there. Fortunately however, two of the inhabitants of this village had discovered the dead body of Shabosh in time to warn their brethren of danger, and they all moved rapidly off. When the detachment arrived, nothing was left for them but plunder.—This was secured, and they returned to their comrades. Gnadenhutten was then pillaged of every article of value which could be easily removed; its houses—even those which contained the dead bodies of the Moravians—were burned to ashes, and the men set out on their return to the settlements.[5]

The expedition against the Moravian towns on the Muskingum, was projected and carried on by inhabitants of the [239] western counties of Pennsylvania,—a district of country which had long been the theatre of Indian hostilities. Its result (strange as it may now appear) was highly gratifying to many; and the ease with which so much Indian blood had been made to flow, coupled with an ardent desire to avenge the injuries which had been done them by the savages, led to immediate preparations for another, to be conducted on a more extensive scale, and requiring the co-operation of more men. And although the completion of the work of destruction, which had been so successfully begun, of the Moravian Indians, was the principal inducement of some, yet many attached themselves to the expedition, from more noble and commendable motives.

The residence of the Moravians ever since they were removed to the plains of Sandusky, was in the immediate vicinity of the Wyandot villages, and the warriors from these had been particularly active and untiring in their hostility to the frontier settlements of Pennsylvania. The contemplated campaign against the Moravians, was viewed by many as affording a fit opportunity to punish those savages for their many aggressions, as it would require that they should proceed but a short distance beyond the point proposed, in order to arrive at their towns; and they accordingly engaged in it for that purpose.

Other causes too, conspired to fill the ranks and form an army for the accomplishment of the contemplated objects.—The commandants of the militia of Washington and Westmoreland counties (Cols. Williamson and Marshall)[6] encouraged the inhabitants to volunteer on this expedition, and made known, that every militia man who accompanied it, finding his own horse and gun, and provisions for a month, should be exempt from two tours of militia duty; and that all horses unavoidably lost in the service, should be replaced from those taken in the Indian country. From the operation of these different causes, an army of nearly five hundred men was soon raised, who being supplied with ammunition by the Lieutenant Colonel of Washington county, proceeded to the Old Mingo towns, the place of general rendezvous—where an election was held to fill the office of commander of the expedition.[7] The candidates were Colonel Williamson and Colonel Crawford; and the latter gentleman being chosen immediately organized the troops, and prepared to march.

[240] On the 25th of May, the army left the Mingo towns, and pursuing "Williamson's trail," arrived at the upper Moravian town on the Muskingum (Shoenbrun,) where (finding plenty of corn of the preceding year's crop, yet on the stalk) they halted to refresh their horses. While here, Captains Brenton and Bean, discovered and fired upon two Indians; and the report of the guns being heard in camp, the men, in despite of the exertions of their officers, rushed towards the source of alarm, in the most tumultuous and disorderly manner.—Colonel Crawford, used to the discipline of continental soldiers, saw in the impetuosity and insubordination of the troops under his command, enough to excite the liveliest apprehensions for the event of the expedition. He had volunteered to go on the campaign, only in compliance with the general wish of the troops that he should head them, and when chosen commander in chief of the forces assembled at the Mingo towns, he is said to have accepted the office with reluctance, not only sensible of the impracticability of controlling men unused to restraint, but opposed to some of the objects of the expedition, and the frequently expressed determination of the troops, to spare no Indian whom accident or the fortune of war should place in their power.

From Shoenbrun the army proceeded as expeditiously as was practicable to the site of the Moravian village, near the Upper Sandusky; but instead of meeting with this oppressed and persecuted tribe, or having gained an opportunity of plundering their property, they saw nothing which manifested that it had been the residence of man, save a few desolate and deserted huts,—the people, whom it was their intention to destroy, had some time before, most fortunately for themselves, moved to the Scioto.

Discontent and dissatisfaction ensued upon the disappointment. The guides were ignorant of there being any Indian towns nearer than those on Lower Sandusky, and the men became impatient to return home. In this posture of affairs, a council of war, consisting of the field officers and captains, was held, and it was resolved to move forward, and if no enemy appeared that day, to retrace their steps. Just after this determination was made known, an express arrived, from a detachment of mounted men, which had been sent forward to reconnoitre, with information that about three miles in advance a large body of Indians had been discovered hastening [241] rapidly to meet them. The fact was, that Indian spies had watched and reported the progress of the expedition, ever after it left the Mingo towns; and when satisfied of its destination, every arrangement which they could make to defeat its object, and involve the troops in the destruction to which it was their purpose to consign others, was begun by the savages. Having perfected these, they were marching on to give battle to the whites.

Immediately upon the reception of this intelligence, the army moved forward, and meeting the reconnoitreing party coming in, had proceeded but a short distance farther, when they came in view of the Indians hastening to occupy a small body of woods, in the midst of an extensive plain. The battle was then begun by a heavy fire from both sides, and the savages prevented gaining possession of the woods. A party of them having however, taken post in them before the whites came up, continued much to annoy the troops, until some of them, alighting from their horses, bravely rushed forward and dislodged them. The Indians then attempted to gain a small skirt of wood on Colonel Crawford's right; but the vigilance of the commanding officer of the right wing, (Major Leet) detected the movement, and the bravery of his men defeated it. The action now became general and severe and was warmly contested until dark, when it ceased for a time without having been productive of much advantage to either side. During the night, both armies lay on their arms; adopting the wise policy of kindling large fires along the line of battle, and retreating some distance behind them, to prevent being surprised by a night attack.

Early in the morning a few shots were fired, but at too great distance for execution. The Indians were hourly receiving reinforcements, and seemed busily engaged in active preparations for a decisive conflict. The whites became uneasy at their increasing strength; and a council of the officers deemed it expedient to retreat. As it would be difficult to effect this in open day, in the presence of an enemy of superior force, it was resolved to postpone it until night, making in the mean time every arrangement to ensure its success.—The killed were buried, and fires burned over the graves to prevent discovery,—litters were made for bearing the wounded, and the army was formed into three lines with them in the centre.

[242] The day passed, without an attack being made by the Indians. They were still seen to traverse the plains in every direction, and in large bodies; and not until the troops were about forming the line of retreat, did they seem to have any idea that such a movement was intended. They then commenced firing a few shots, and in a little while it became apparent that they had occupied every pass, leaving open only that which led to Sandusky. Along this way, the guides conducted the main army, until they had passed the Indian lines about a mile; when wheeling to the left, they marched round and gained the trail of their outward march. Continuing in this they proceeded to the settlements without any interruption.—The savage warriors thinking it better to follow detached parties than the main army.

The few shots which were fired by the Indians as the whites were forming the line of retreat, were viewed by many as evidence that their purpose had been discovered, and that these were signal guns preceding a general attack. Under these impressions, the men in front hurried off and others following the example, at least one third of the army were to be seen flying in detached parties, and in different directions from that taken by the main body, supposing that the attention of the Indians would be wholly turned to this point. They were not permitted to proceed far under this delusive supposition. Instead of following the main army, the Indians pursued those small parties with such activity, that not many of those composing them were able to escape;—one company of forty men under a Captain Williamson,[8] was the only party detached from the principal body of the troops, fortunate enough to get with the main army on its retreat. Late in the night, they broke through the Indian lines under a heavy fire and with some loss, and on the morning of the second day of the retreat, again joined their comrades in the expedition, who had marched off in a body; in compliance with the orders of the commander-in-chief.

Colonel Crawford himself proceeded at the head of the army for some short distance, when missing his son, his son-in-law (Major Harrison) and two nephews,[9] he stopped to enquire for them. Receiving no satisfactory information respecting either of them, he was induced through anxiety for their fate to continue still, until all had passed on, when he resumed his flight, in company with doctor Knight[10] and two [243] others. For their greater security, they travelled some distance apart, but from the jaded and exhausted condition of their horses could proceed but slowly. One of the two men in company with the Colonel and doctor Knight, would frequently fall some distance behind the others, and as frequently call aloud for them to wait for him. Near the Sandusky creek he hallooed to them to halt, but the yell of a savage being heard near him, they went on and never again was he heard of. About day, Colonel Crawford's horse gave out and he was forced to proceed on foot, as was also the other of the two who had left the field with him and Knight. They continued however to travel together, and soon overtook Captain Biggs, endeavoring to secure the safety of himself and Lieutenant Ashly, who had been so badly wounded that he was unable to ride alone. A heavy fall of rain induced them to halt, and stripping the bark from some trees, they formed a tolerable shelter from the storm, and remained there all night. In the morning they were joined by another of the troops, when their company consisted of six—Colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight, who kept about an hundred yards in front—Captain Biggs and Lieutenant Ashly, in the center; and the other two men in the rear. They proceeded in this way about two miles, when a party of Delawares suddenly sprang from their hiding places into the road, and making prisoners of Colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight, carried them to the Indian camp near to where they then were. On the next day the scalps of Captain Biggs and Lieutenant Ashly, were brought in by another party of Indians who had been likewise watching the road. From the encampment, they were led, in company with nine other prisoners, to the old Wyandot town, from which place they were told they would be taken to the new town, not far off. Before setting out from this place, Colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight were painted black by Captain Pipe, a Delaware chief, who told the former, that he intended to have him shaved when he arrived among his friends, and the latter that he was to be carried to the Shawnee town, to see some of his old acquaintance. The nine prisoners were then marched off in front of Colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight, who were brought on by Pipe and Wingenim,[11] another of the Delaware chiefs. As they went on, they passed the bodies of four of the captives, who had been tomahawked and scalped on the way, and came [244] to where the remaining five were, in time to see them suffer the same fate from the hands of squaws and boys. The head of one of them (John McKinley, formerly an officer in one of the Virginia regiments) was cut off, and for some time kicked about on the ground. A while afterwards they met Simon Girty and several Indians on horseback; when Col. Crawford was stripped naked, severely beaten with clubs and sticks, and made to sit down near a post which had been planted for the purpose, and around which a fire of poles was burning briskly. His hands were then pinioned behind him, and a rope attached to the band around his wrist and fastened to the foot of a post about fifteen feet high, allowing him liberty only to sit down, or walk once or twice round it, and return the same way. Apprehensive that he was doomed to be burned to death, he asked Girty if it were possible that he had been spared from the milder instruments of the tomahawk and scalping knife, only to suffer the more cruel death by fire. "Yes, said Girty, composedly, you must be burned Colonel." "It is dreadful, replied Crawford, but I will endeavor to bear it patiently." Captain Pipe then addressed the savages in an animated speech, at the close of which, they rent the air with hideous yells, and immediately discharged a number of loads of powder at the naked body of their victim. His ears were then cut off, and while the men would apply the burning ends of the poles to his flesh, the squaws threw coals and hot embers upon him, so that in a little time he had too, to walk on fire. In the midst of these sufferings, he begged of the infamous Girty to shoot him. That worse than savage monster, tauntingly replied, "how can I? you see I have no gun," and laughed heartily at the scene.

For three hours Colonel Crawford endured the most excruciating agonies with the utmost fortitude, when faint and almost exhausted, he commended his soul to God, and laid down on his face. He was then scalped, and burning coals being laid on his head and back, by one of the squaws, he again arose and attempted to walk; but strength failed him and he sank into the welcome arms of death. His body was then thrown into the fire and consumed to ashes.[12]

Of the whole of this shocking scene, Doctor Knight was [245] an unwilling spectator; and in the midst of it was told by Girty, that it should be his fate too, when he arrived at the Shawanee towns. These were about forty miles distant; and he was committed to the care of a young warrior to be taken there. On the first day they travelled about twenty-five miles, and when they stopped for the night, the Doctor was securely fastened. In vain did he anxiously watch for an opportunity to endeavor to [244] release himself from the cords which bound him. The Indian was vigilant and slept none. About day light they arose, and while the Indian was kindling a fire, the gnats were so troublesome that he untied his prisoner, and set him likewise to making a fire to relieve them from the annoyance. The doctor took a burning coal between two sticks, and going behind the Indian towards the spot at which he was directed to excite a smoke, turned suddenly around, and struck the savage with all his force. The Indian fell forward, but quickly recovering and seeing his gun in the hands of his assailant, ran off, howling hideously.—The anxiety of Doctor Knight, saved the life of the savage.—When he seized the gun, he drew back the cock in such haste and with so much violence as to break the main spring and render it useless to him; but as the Indian was ignorant of this circumstance, he continued his flight and the doctor was then enabled to escape. After a toilsome travel of twenty-one days, during which time he subsisted altogether on wild gooseberries, young nettles, a raw terrapin and two young birds, he arrived safely at Fort McIntosh—meagre, emaciated and almost famished.

Another instance of great good-fortune occurred in the person of John Slover,[13] who was also made prisoner after having travelled more than half the distance from the fatal scene of [246] action to Fort Pitt. When only eight years of age he had been taken by some Indians on New river, and detained in captivity for twelve years. In this time he became well acquainted with their manners and customs, and attached to their mode of living so strongly, that when ransomed by his friends, he left his Indian companions with regret. He had become too, while with them, familiar with the country north west of the Ohio, and an excellent woodsman; and in consequence of these attainments was selected a principal guide to the army on its outward march. When a retreat was prematurely began to be made by detached parties, he was some distance from camp, and having to equip himself for flight, was left a good way in the rear. It was not long however, before he came up with a party, whose horses were unable to extricate themselves from a deep morass, over which they had attempted to pass. Slover's was soon placed in the same unpleasant situation, and they all, alighting from them, proceeded on foot. In this manner they traveled on until they had nearly reached the Tuscarawa, when a party of savages from the way side, fired upon them. One of the men was killed, Slover and two others made prisoners, & the fifth escaped to Wheeling.

Those taken captive were carried first to Wachatomakah (a small town of the Mingoes and Shawanees,) from whence after having been severely beaten, they were conducted to a larger town two miles farther. On their arrival here, they had all to pass through the usual ceremonies of running the gauntlet; and one of them who had been stripped of his clothes and painted black, was most severely beaten, mangled, and killed, and his body cut in pieces and placed on poles outside the town. Here too, Slover saw the dead bodies of Col. McClelland, Major Harrison and John Crawford; and learned that they had all been put to death but a little while before his arrival there; and although he was spared for some time, yet every thing which he saw acted towards other prisoners, led him to fear that he was reserved for a more cruel fate, whenever the whim of the instant should suggest its consummation. At length an express arrived from Detroit with a speech for the warriors, which decided his doom. Being decyphered from the belt of wampum which contained it, the speech began by enquiring why they continued to take prisoners, and said, "Provisions are scarce and when you send in [247] prisoners, we have them to feed, and still some of them are getting off, and carrying tidings of our affairs. When any of your people are taken by the rebels, they shew no mercy. Why then should you? My children take no more prisoners of any sort, men, women, or children." Two days after the arrival of the express with this speech, a council of the different tribes of Indians near, was held, and it was determined to act in conformity with the advice of the Governor of Detroit. Slover was then the only white prisoner at this town; and on the morning after the council was dissolved, about forty warriors came to the house where he was, and tying a rope around his neck, led him off to another village, five miles distant. Here again he was severely beaten with clubs & the pipe end of the tomahawk, & then tied to a post, around which were piles of wood. These were soon kindled, but a violent rain falling unexpectedly, extinguished the flames, before they had effected him. It was then agreed to postpone his execution, until the next day, and being again beaten and much wounded by their blows, he was taken to a block house, his hands tied, the rope about his neck fastened to a beam of the building, and three warriors left to guard him for the night.

If the feelings of Slover would have permitted him to enjoy sleep, the conduct of the guard would have prevented it. They delighted in keeping alive in his mind the shocking idea of the suffering which he would have to endure, & frequently asking him "how he would like to eat fire," tormented him nearly all night. Awhile before day however, they fell asleep, and Slover commenced untying himself. Without much difficulty he loosened the cord from his arms, but the ligature around his neck, of undressed buffalo-hide, seemed to defy his exertions to remove it; and while he was endeavoring to gnaw it in vain, one of the sleeping Indians, rose up and going near to him, sat and smoked his pipe for some time. Slover lay perfectly still, apprehensive that all chance of escape was now lost to him. But no—the Indian again composed himself to sleep, and the first effort afterwards made, to loose the band from his neck by slipping it over his head, resulted in leaving Slover entirely unbound. He then crept softly from the house and leaping a fence, gained the cornfield. Passing on, as he approached a tree, he espied a squaw with several children lying at its root; and fearing that some of them might discover him and give the alarm of his [248] escape, he changed his course. He soon after reached a glade, in which were several horses, one of which he caught; and also found a piece of an old rug, which afforded him his only covering until he reached Wheeling. This he was enabled to do in a few days, being perfectly acquainted with the country.

The town, from which Slover escaped, was the one to which Dr. Knight was to have been taken. The Indian who had him in charge, came in while Slover was there, and reported his escape—magnifying the Doctor's stature to gigantic size and attributing to him herculean strength. When Slover acquainted the warriors with the fact, that Doctor Knight was diminutive and effeminate, they laughed heartily at this Indian, and mocked at him for suffering the escape. He however bore a mark which showed that, weak and enfeebled as he was, the Doctor had not played booty when he aimed the blow at his conductor.—It had penetrated to the skull and made a gash of full four inches length.

These are but few of the many incidents which no doubt occurred, to individuals who endeavored to effect an escape by detaching themselves from the main army. The number of those, thus separated from the troops, who had the good fortune to reach the settlements, was small indeed; and of the many of them who fell into the hands of the savages, Knight and Slover are believed to be the only persons, who were so fortunate as to make an escape. The precise loss sustained in the expedition, was never ascertained, and is variously represented from ninety to one hundred and twenty.

Among those of the troops who went out under Col. Crawford, that came into Wheeling, was a man by the name of Mills.[14] Having rode very fast, and kept his horse almost continually travelling, he was forced to leave him, near to the present town of St. Clairsville in Ohio. Not liking the idea of loosing him altogether, upon his arrival at Wheeling he prevailed on Lewis Wetsel[15] to go with him to the place where his horse gave out, to see if they could not find him. Apprehensive that the savages would pursue the fugitives to the border of the settlements, Wetsel advised Mills that their path would not be free from dangers, and counselled him to "prepare for fighting."

When they came near to the place where the horse had been left, they met a party of about forty Indians going towards [249] the Ohio river and who discovered Mills and Wetsel as soon as these saw them. Upon the first fire from the Indians Mills was wounded in the heel, and soon overtaken and killed. Wetzel singled out his mark, shot, and seeing an Indian fall, wheeled and ran. He was immediately followed by four of the savages, who laid aside their guns that they might the more certainly overtake him. Having by practice, acquired the art of loading his gun as he ran, Wetsel was indifferent how near the savages approached him, if he were out of reach of the rifles of the others. Accordingly, keeping some distance ahead of his pursuers whilst re-loading his gun, he relaxed his speed until the foremost Indian had got within ten or twelve steps of him. He then wheeled, shot him dead, and again took to flight. He had now to exert his speed to keep in advance of the savages 'till he should again load, & when this was accomplished and he turned to fire, the second Indian was near enough to catch hold of the gun, when as Wetsel expressed it, "they had a severe wring." At length he succeed in raising the muzzle to the breast of his antagonist, and killed him also.

In this time both the pursuers and pursued had become much jaded, and although Wetsel had consequently a better opportunity of loading quickly, yet taught wariness by the fate of their companions, the two remaining savages would spring behind trees whenever he made a movement like turning towards them. Taking advantage of a more open piece of ground, he was enabled to fire on one of them who had sought protection behind a sapling too small to screen his body. The ball fractured his thigh, and produced death. The other, instead of pressing upon Wetsel, uttered a shrill yell, and exclaiming, "no catch him, gun always loaded," returned to his party.

——- [1] One hundred and eighty-six men, mounted, from the Monongahela settlements. Early in March, 1782, they assembled under David Williamson, colonel of one of the militia battalions of Washington County, Pa., on the east bank of the Ohio, a few miles below Steubenville. The water was high, the weather cold and stormy, and there were no boats for crossing over to Mingo Bottom. Many turned back, but about two hundred succeeded in crossing. The expedition was not a "private" affair, but was regularly authorized by the military authority of Washington County; its destination was not the Moravian settlements, but the hostile force, then supposed to be on the Tuscarawas river. It seems to have generally been understood on the border that the Moravian towns were now deserted.—R. G. T.

[2] Contemporary accounts speak of a council of war, held in the evening, at which this question was decided. But a small majority voted for the butchery; Williamson himself was in the minority. Dorsey Pentecost, writing from Pittsburg, May 8, 1782 (see Penn. Arch., ix., p. 540), says: "I have heard it intimated that about thirty or forty only of the party gave their consent or assisted in the catastrophe."—R. G. T.

[3] Lineback's Relation (Penn. Arch., ix., p. 525) says: "In the morning, the militia chose two houses, which they called the 'slaughter houses,' and then brought the Indians two or three at a time, with ropes about their necks, and dragged them into the slaughter houses where they knocked them down." This accords with Heckewelder's Narrative, p. 320, which says they were knocked down with a cooper's mallet. The victims included those converts living at Salem, who had peaceably come in to Gnadenhuetten with their captors; but those at New Schoenbrunn had taken the alarm and fled.—R. G. T.

[4] Later authorities put the total number at ninety—twenty-nine men, twenty-seven women, and thirty-four children.—R. G. T.

[5] Salem, New Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhuetten were all destroyed by fire. The whites returned home the following day, with ninety-six scalps—ninety Moravians and six outlying Indians. It seems certain that a few hostiles were with the Moravians at the time of the massacre.—R. G. T.

[6] David Williamson, as previously seen, was a colonel of militia in Washington County, Pa.; James Marshal, as county lieutenant of Washington, was his superior officer.—R. G. T.

[7] The place of rendezvous was Mingo Bottom (the present Mingo Junction, O.), and the date May 20. It was the 24th before all were present. The volunteers numbered 480, of whom two-thirds were from Washington County; most of the others were from Fayette County, Pa., and a few from Ohio County, Va. In the vote for commander, William Crawford received 235, and Williamson 230. Four field majors were elected to rank in the order named: Williamson, Thomas Gaddis, John McClelland, and one Brinton. The standard modern authority for the details of this expedition, is Butterfield's Crawford's Expedition Against Sandusky (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1873).—R. G. T.

[8] Col. David Williamson.—R. G. T.

[9] His son John, his son-in-law Major William Harrison, and one of his nephews,—not two,—William Crawford. They were captured by the Indians and killed.—R. G. T.

[10] Dr. John Knight, surgeon to the expedition. He was captured, and sentenced to death, but after thrilling adventures finally escaped.—R. G. T.

[11] Wingenund.—R. G. T.

[12] Colonel Crawford was then about fifty years of age, and had been an active warrior against the savages for a great while. During [245] the French war, he distinguished himself by his bravery and good conduct, and was much noticed by General Washington, who obtained for him an ensigncy. At the commencement of the revolution, he raised a regiment by his own exertions, and at the period of this unfortunate expedition, bore the commission of Colonel in the Continental army. He possessed a sound judgment, was a man of singular good nature and great humanity, and remarkable for his hospitality. His melancholy sufferings and death spread a gloom over the countenances of all who knew him. His son, John Crawford, and his son-in-law, Major Harrison, were taken prisoners, carried to the Shawanee towns and murdered.


Comment by R. G. T.—Crawford was born in 1732, in Orange County, Va., of Scotch-Irish parentage. He made the friendship of Washington while the latter was surveying for Lord Fairfax, in the Shenandoah Valley, in 1749. Washington taught him his art, but in 1755 he abandoned it for a military life, and thenceforward was a prominent character on the frontier, often serving under Washington. From 1767 forward, his home was on the banks of the Youghiogheny, on Braddock's Road. Crawford fought in Dunmore's War, and throughout the Revolution did notable service on the Virginia border.

[13] John Slover, one of the guides to the expedition, was among the best known scouts of his day, on the Upper Ohio. His published Narrative is a prime source of information relative to the events of the campaign.—R. G. T.

[14] Thomas Mills.—R. G. T.

[15] Lewis Wetzel, a noted Indian fighter. See p. 161, note.—R. G. T.


While expeditions were carrying on by the whites, against the Moravian and other Indians, the savages were prosecuting their accustomed predatory and exterminating war, against several of the settlements. Parties of Indians, leaving the towns to be defended by the united exertions of contiguous tribes, would still penetrate to the abode of the whites, and with various success, strive to avenge on them their real and fancied wrongs.

On the 8th of March as William White, Timothy Dorman and his wife, were going to, and in site of Buchannon fort, some guns were discharged at them, and White being shot through the hip soon fell from his horse, and was tomahawked, scalped and lacerated in the most frightful manner.[1]—Dorman and his wife were taken prisoners. The people in the fort heard the firing and flew to arms; but the river being between, the savages cleared themselves, while the whites were crossing over.

After the killing of White (one of their most active and vigilant warriors and spies) and the capture of Dorman, it was resolved to abandon the fort, and seek elsewhere, security from the greater ills which it was found would befall them if they remained. This apprehension arose from the fact, that Dorman was then with the savages, and that to gratify his enmity to particular individuals in the settlement, he would unite with the Indians, and from his knowledge of the [251] country, be enabled to conduct them the more securely to blood and plunder. He was a man of sanguinary and revengeful disposition, prone to quarrelling, and had been known to say, that if he caught particular individuals with whom he was at variance, in the woods alone, he would murder them and attribute it to the savages. He had led, when in England, a most abandoned life, and after he was transported to this country, was so reckless of reputation and devoid of shame for his villainies, that he would often recount tales of theft and robbery in which he had been a conspicuous actor. The fearful apprehensions of increased and aggravated injuries after the taking of him prisoner, were well-founded; and subsequent events fully proved, that, but for the evacuation of the fort, and the removal of the inhabitants, all would have fallen before the fury of savage warriors, with this abandoned miscreant at their head.

While some of the inhabitants of that settlement were engaged in moving their property to a fort in Tygart's Valley (the others removing to Nutter's fort and Clarksburg,) they were fired upon by a party of savages, and two of them, Michael Hagle and Elias Paynter, fell. The horse on which John Bush was riding, was shot through; yet Bush succeeded in extricating himself from the falling animal, and escaped though closely pursued by one of the savages. Several times the Indian following him, would cry out to him, "Stop, and you shall not be hurt—If you do not, I will shoot you," and once Bush, nearly exhausted, and in despair of getting off, actually relaxed his pace for the purpose of yielding himself a prisoner, when turning round he saw the savage stop also, and commence loading his gun. This inspired Bush with fear for the consequences, and renewing his flight he made his escape. Edward Tanner, a mere youth, was soon taken prisoner, and as he was being carried to their towns, met between twenty and thirty savages, headed by Timothy Dorman, proceeding to attack Buchannon fort. Learning from him that the inhabitants were moving from it, and that it would be abandoned in a few days, the Indians pursued their journey with so much haste, that Dorman had well nigh failed from fatigue. They arrived however, too late, for the accomplishment of their bloody purpose; the settlement was deserted, and the inhabitants safe within the walls of other fortresses.

[252] A few days after the evacuation of the fort, some of its former inmates went from Clarksburg to Buchannon for grain which had been left there. When they came in sight, they beheld a heap of ashes where the fort had been; and proceeding on, became convinced that the savages were yet lurking about. They however, continued to go from farm to farm collecting the grain, but with the utmost vigilance and caution, and at night went to an out house, near where the fort had stood. Here they found a paper, with the name of Timothy Dorman attached to it, dated at the Indian towns, and containing information of those who had been taken captive in that district of country.

In the morning early, as some of the men went from the house to the mill, they saw the savages crossing the river, Dorman being with them. Thinking it best to impress them with a belief that they were able to encounter them in open conflict, the men advanced towards them,—calling to their companions in the house, to come on. The Indians fled hastily to the woods, and the whites, not so rash as to pursue them, returned to the house, and secured themselves in it, as well as they could. At night, Captain George Jackson went privately forth from the house, and at great hazzard of being discovered by the waylaying savages, proceeded to Clarksburg, where he obtained such a reinforcement as enabled him to return openly and escort his former companions in danger, from the place of its existence.

Disappointed in their hopes of involving the inhabitants of the Buchannon settlements in destruction, the savages went on to the Valley. Here, between Westfall's and Wilson's forts, they came upon John Bush and his wife, Jacob Stalnaker and his son Adam. The two latter being on horse back and riding behind Bush and his wife, were fired at, and Adam fell. The old gentleman, rode briskly on, but some of the savages were before him and endeavored to catch the reins of his bridle, and thus stop his flight. He however, escaped them all. The horse from which Adam Stalnaker had fallen, was caught by Bush, and both he and Mrs. Bush got safely away on him.

The Indians then crossed the Alleghany mountains, and coming to the house of Mrs. Gregg, (Dorman's former master) made an attack on it. A daughter of that gentleman, alone fell a victim to their thirst for blood. When taken prisoner, [253] she refused to go with them, and Dorman sunk his tomahawk into her head and then scalped her. She however, lived several days and related the circumstances above detailed.

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