"Both of these conceptions of the character of the Pioneer Fathers are, to a certain extent, correct as regards individuals among them; but the pictures which have often been given us, even when held up beside such individuals, will prove to be exaggerations in more respects than one. Daniel Boone is an individual instance of a man plunging into the depths of an unknown wilderness, shunning rather than seeking contact with his kind, his gun and trap the only companions of his solitude, and wandering about thus for months,"
"'No mark upon the tree, nor print, nor track, To lead him forward, or to guide him back.'"
"contented and happy; yet, for all this, if those who knew him well had any true conception of his character, Boone was a man of ambition, and shrewdness, and energy, and fine social qualities, and extreme sagacity. And individual instances there may have been—though even this possibility is not sustained by the primitive histories of those times—of men who were so far outre to the usual course of their kind, as to have afforded originals for the Sam Huggs the Nimrod Wildfires, the Ralph Stackpoles, the Tom Bruces, and the Earthquakes, which so abound in most of those fictions whose locale is the Western country. But that naturalist who should attempt, by ever so minute a description of a pied blackbird, to give his readers a correct idea of the Gracula Ferruginea of ornithologists, would not more utterly fail of accomplishing his object, than have the authors whose creations we have named, by delineating such individual instances—by holding up, as it were, such outre specimens of an original class—failed to convey any thing like an accurate impression of the habits, customs, and general character of the western pioneers.
"Daniel Boone, and those who accompanied him into the wildernesses of Kentucky, had been little more than hunters in their original homes, on the frontiers of North Carolina; and, with the exception of their leader, but little more than hunters did they continue after their emigration. The most glowing accounts of the beauty and fertility of the country northwest of the Laurel Ridge, had reached their ears from Finley and his companions; and they shouldered their guns, strapped their wallets upon their backs and wandered through the Cumberland Gap into the dense forests, and thick brakes, and beautiful plains which soon opened upon their visions, more to indulge a habit of roving, and gratify an excited curiosity, than from any other motive; and, arrived upon the head-waters of the Kentucky, they built themselves rude log cabins, and spent most of their lives in hunting and eating, and fighting marauding bands of Indians. Of a similar character were the earliest Virginians, who penetrated these wildernesses. The very first, indeed, who wandered from the parent State over the Laurel Ridge, down into the unknown regions on its northwest, came avowedly as hunters and trappers; and such of them as escaped the tomahawk of the Indian, with very few exceptions, remained hunters and trappers till their deaths.
"But this first class of pioneers was not either numerous enough, or influential enough, to stamp its character upon the after-coming hundreds; and the second class of immigrants into Kentucky was composed of very different materials. Small farmers from North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, for the most part, constituted this; and these daring adventurers brought with them intelligent and aspiring minds, industrious and persevering habits, a few of the comforts of civilized life, and some of the implements of husbandry. A number of them were men who had received the rudiments of an English education, and not a few of them had been reared up in the spirit, and a sincere observance of the forms, of religious worship. Many, perhaps most of them, were from the frontier settlements of the States named; and these combined the habits of the hunter and agriculturist, and possessed, with no inconsiderable knowledge of partially refined life, all that boldness and energy, which subsequently became so distinctive a trait of the character of the early settlers.
"This second class of the pioneers, or at least the mass of those who constituted it, sought the plains and forests, and streams of Kentucky, not to indulge any inclination for listless ramblings; nor as hunters or trappers; nor yet for the purpose of gratifying an awakened curiosity: they came deliberately, soberly, thoughtfully, in search of a home, determined, from the outset, to win one, or perish in the attempt; they came to cast their lot in a land that was new, to better their worldly condition by the acquisition of demesnes, to build up a new commonwealth in an un-peopled region; they came with their wives, and their children, and their kindred, from places where the toil of the hand, and the sweat of the brow, could hardly supply them with bread, to a land in which ordinary industry would, almost at once, furnish all the necessaries of life, and when it was plain well-directed effort would ultimately secure its ease, its dignity, and its refinements. Poor in the past, and with scarce a hope, without a change of place, of a better condition of earthly existence, either for themselves or their offspring, they saw themselves, with that change, rich in the future, and looked forward with certainty to a time when their children, if not themselves, would be in a condition improved beyond compare.
"There was also a third class of pioneers, who in several respects differed as much from either the first or the second class, as these differed from each other. This class was composed, in great part, of men who came to Kentucky after the way had been in some measure prepared for immigrants, and yet before the setting in of that tide of population which, a year or two after the close of the American Revolution, poured so rapidly into these fertile regions from several of the Atlantic States. In this class of immigrants, there were many gentlemen of education, refinement, and no inconsiderable wealth; some of whom came to Kentucky as surveyors, others as commissioners from the parent State, and others again as land speculators; but most of them as bona fide immigrants, determined to pitch their tents in the Great West, at once to become units of a new people, and to grow into affluence, and consideration, and renown, with the growth of a young and vigorous commonwealth.
"Such were the founders of Kentucky; and in them we behold the elements of a society inferior, in all the essentials of goodness and greatness, to none in the world. First came the hunter and trapper, to trace the river courses, and spy out the choice spots of the land; then came the small farmer and the hardy adventurer, to cultivate the rich plains discovered, and lay the nucleuses of the towns and cities, which were so soon, and so rapidly, to spring up; and then came the surveyor, to mark the boundaries of individual possessions and give civil shape and strength to the unformed mass, the speculator to impart a new activity and keenness to the minds of men, and the chivalrous and educated gentleman, to infuse into the crude materials here collected together, the feelings and sentiments of refined existence, and to mold them into forms of conventional beauty and social excellence. Kentucky now began to have a society, in which were the sinews of war, the power of production, and the genius of improvement; and from this time, though still harassed, as she had been from the beginning, by the inroads of a brave and determined enemy on her north, her advancement was regular and rapid."
[Footnote 20: W.D. Gallagher, "Hesperian," Vol. II., p 89.]
Daniel Boone sets out for Kentucky with his family and his brother Squire Boone—Is joined by five families and forty men at Powell's Valley—The party is attacked by Indians and Daniel Boone's oldest son is killed—The party return to the settlements on Clinch River—Boone, at the request of Governor Dunmore, goes to the West and conducts a party of surveyors to Virginia—Boone receives the command of three garrisons and the commission of Captain—He takes a part in the Dunmore war—Battle of Point Pleasant and termination of the war.
Having completed all his arrangements for the journey, on the 25th of September, 1774, Daniel Boone, with his wife and children, set out on his journey to the West. He was accompanied by his brother, Squire Boone; and the party took with them cattle and swine, with a view to the stocking of their farms, when they should arrive in Kentucky. Their bedding and other baggage was carried by pack-horses.
At a place called Powel's Valley, the party was reinforced by another body of emigrants to the West consisting of five families and no less than forty able-bodied men; well armed and provided with provisions and ammunition.
They now went on in high spirits, "camping out" every night in woods, under the shelter of rude tents constructed with poles covered with bed-clothes. They thus advanced on their journey without accident or alarm, until the 6th of October, when they were approaching a pass in the mountains, called Cumberland Gap. The young men who were engaged in driving the cattle had fallen in rear of the main body a distance of five or six miles, when they were suddenly assailed by a party of Indians, who killed six of their number and dispersed the cattle in the woods. A seventh man escaped with a wound. The reports of the musketry brought the remainder of the party to the rescue, who drove off the Indians and buried the dead. Among the slain was the oldest son of Daniel Boone.
A council was now held to determine on their future proceedings. Notwithstanding the dreadful domestic misfortune which he had experienced in the loss of his son, Daniel Boone was for proceeding to Kentucky; in this opinion he was sustained by his brother and some of the other emigrants; but most of them were so much disheartened by the misfortune they had met with, that they insisted on returning; and Boone and his brother yielding to their wishes, returned to the settlement on the Clinch River, in the south-western part of Virginia, a distance of forty miles from the place where they had been surprised by the Indians.
Here Boone was obliged to remain with his family for the present; but he had by no means relinquished his design of settling in Kentucky. This delay, however, was undoubtedly a providential one; for in consequence of the murder of the family of the Indian chief Logan, a terrible Indian war, called in history the Dunmore War, was impending, which broke out in the succeeding year, and extended to that part of the West to which Boone and his party were proceeding, when they were turned back by the attack of the Indians.
In this war Daniel Boone was destined to take an active part. In his autobiography, already quoted, he says:
"I remained with my family on Clinch until the 6th of June, 1774, when I and one Michael Stoner were solicited by Governor Dunmore, of Virginia, to go to the Falls of the Ohio, to conduct into the settlement a number of surveyors that had been sent thither by him some months before; this country having about this time drawn the attention of many adventurers. We immediately complied with the governor's request, and conducted in the surveyors, completing a tour of eight hundred miles, through many difficulties, in sixty-two day.
"Soon after I returned home, I was ordered to take command of three garrisons, during the campaign which Governor Dunmore carried on against the Shawanese Indians."
These three garrisons were on the frontier contiguous to each other; and with the command of them Boone received a commission as captain.
We quote from a contemporary an account of the leading events of this campaign, and of the battle of Point Pleasant, which may be said to have terminated the war. Whether Boone was present at this battle is uncertain; but his well-known character for ability and courage, renders it probable that he took a part in the action.
The settlers, now aware that a general warfare would be commenced by the Indians, immediately sent an express to Williamsburg, the seat of government in Virginia, communicating their apprehensions, and soliciting protection.
The Legislature was in session at the time, and it was immediately resolved upon to raise an army of about three thousand men, and march into the heart of the Indian country.
One half of the requisite number of troops was ordered to be raised in Virginia, and marched under General Andrew Lewis across the country to the mouth of the Kenhawa; and the remainder to be rendezvoused at Fort Pitt, and be commanded by Dunmore in person, who proposed to descend the Ohio and join Lewis at the place mentioned, from where the combined army was to march as circumstances might dictate at the time.
By the 11th of September the troops under General Lewis, numbering about eleven hundred men, were in readiness to leave. The distance across to the mouth of the Kenhawa, was near one hundred and sixty miles through an unbroken wilderness. A competent guide was secured, the baggage mounted on pack horses, and in nineteen days they arrived at the place of destination.
The next morning after the arrival of the army at Point Pleasant, as the point of land at the junction of the Kenhawa and the Ohio was called, two men were out some distance from the camp, in pursuit of a deer, and were suddenly fired upon by a large body of Indians; one was killed, and the other with difficulty retreated back to the army; who hastily reported "that he had seen a body of the enemy covering four acres of ground, as closely as they could stand by the side of each other."
General Lewis was a remarkably cool and considerate man; and upon being informed of this, "after deliberately lighting his pipe," gave orders that the regiment under his brother, Colonel Charles Lewis, and another under Colonel Fleming, should march and reconnoiter the enemy, while he would place the remainder of the troops in order for battle. The two regiments marched without delay, and had not proceeded more than four hundred yards when they were met by the Indians, approaching for the same purpose. A skirmish immediately ensued, and before the contest had continued long, the colonels of the two regiments fell mortally wounded, when a disorder in the ranks followed, and the troops began a precipitate retreat; but almost at this moment another regiment under Colonel Field arriving to their aid and coming up with great firmness to the attack effectually checked the savages in the pursuit, and obliged them in turn to give way till they had retired behind a breastwork of logs and brush which they had partially constructed.
Lewis, on his arrival at the place, had encamped quite on the point of land between the Ohio and Kenhawa, and having moved but a short distance out to the attack, the distance across from river to river was still but short. The Indians soon extending their ranks entirely across, had the Virginians completely hemmed in, and in the event of getting the better of them, had them at their disposal, as there could have been no chance for escape.
Never was ground maintained with more obstinacy; for it was slowly, and with no precipitancy, that the Indians retired to their breastwork. The division under Lewis was first broken, although that under Fleming was nearly at the same moment attacked. This heroic officer first received two balls through his left wrist, but continued to exercise his command with the greatest coolness and presence of mind. His voice was continually heard, "Don't lose an inch of ground. Advance, outflank the enemy, and get between them and the river." But his men were about to be outflanked by the body that had just defeated Lewis; meanwhile the arrival of Colonel Field turned the fortune of the day, but not without a severe loss; Colonel Fleming was again wounded, by a shot through the lungs; yet he would not retire, and Colonel Field was killed as he was leading on his men. The whole line of the breastwork now became as a blaze of fire, which lasted nearly till the close of the day. Here the Indians under Logan, Cornstock, Elenipsico, Red-Eagle, and other mighty chiefs of the tribes of the Shawneese, Delawares, Mingos, Wyandots, and Cayugas, amounting, as was supposed, to fifteen hundred warriors, fought, as men will ever do for their country's wrongs, with a bravery which could only be equaled. The voice of the great Cornstock was often heard during the day, above the din of strife, calling on his men in these words: "Be strong! Be strong!" And when by the repeated charges of the whites, some of his warriors began to waver, he is said to have sunk his tomahawk into the head of one who was basely endeavoring to desert. General Lewis, finding at length that every charge upon the lines of the Indians lessened the number of his forces to an alarming degree, and rightly judging that if the Indians were not routed before it was dark, a day of more doubt might follow, he resolved to throw a body, if possible, into their rear. As the good fortune of the Virginians turned, the bank of the river favored this project, and forthwith three companies were detached upon the enterprise, under the three captains, Isaac Shelby (after renowned in the revolution, and since in the war with Canada,) George Matthews, and John Stewart. These companies got unobserved to their place of destination upon Crooked Creek, which runs into the Kenhawa. From the high weeds upon the bank of this little stream, they rushed upon the backs of the Indians with such fury, as to drive them from their works with precipitation. The day was now decided. The Indians, thus beset from a quarter they did not expect, were ready to conclude that a reinforcement had arrived. It was about, sunset when they fled across the Ohio, and immediately took up their march for their towns on the Scioto.
Of the loss of both Indians and whites in this engagement, various statements have been given. A number amounting to seventy-five killed, and one hundred and forty wounded of the whites, has been rendered; with a loss on part of the Indians not so great, but not correctly known. This was the severest battle ever fought with the Indians in Virginia. Shortly after this battle the Indians sent messengers to Governor Dunmore, suing for peace, and a treaty was accordingly concluded. In this treaty the Indians surrendered all claim to Kentucky. The Six Nations had already done the same thing at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768. The Cherokees had sold their claims to Henderson's company; so that when Boone settled in Kentucky it was effectually cleared of all Indian titles.
[Footnote 21: "History of the Backwoods."]
The militia discharged—Captain Boone returns to his family—Henderson's company—Various companies of emigrants to Kentucky—Bounty lands—Harrod's party builds the first log-cabin erected in Kentucky, and founds Harrodsburg—Proceedings of Henderson's company—Agency of Captain Boone—He leads a company to open a road to Kentucky River—Conflicts with the Indians—Captain Boone founds Boonesborough—His own account of this expedition—His letter to Henderson—Account of Colonel Henderson and the Transylvania Company—Failure of the scheme—Probability of Boone having been several years in the service of Henderson.
On the conclusion of Dunmore's war, the militia were discharged from service, the garrisons which had been under Captain Daniel Boone's command were broken up, and he once more returned to his family, who were still residing on Clinch River. But he was not long permitted to remain comparatively idle. Captain Boone's character as an able officer and a bold pioneer, was now well known and appreciated by the public. The marks of confidence bestowed on him by Governor Dunmore rendered him one of the most conspicuous men in the Southern colonies, and his services were soon to be put in requisition by the most considerable and remarkable of all the parties of adventurers who ever sought a home in the West. This was Henderson's company, called the Transylvania Company, to whose proceedings we shall presently refer.
Between 1769 and 1773, various associations of men were formed, in Virginia and North Carolina, for visiting the newly-discovered regions and locating lands; and several daring adventurers, at different times during this period, penetrated to the head-waters of the Licking River, and did some surveying; but it was not till the year 1774 that the whites obtained any permanent foothold in Kentucky. From this year, therefore, properly dates the commencement of the early settlements of the State.
The first great impetus given to adventure in Kentucky was by the bounty in Western land given by Virginia to the officers and soldiers of her own troops who had served in the British army in the old war in Canada between the English and French. These lands were to be surveyed on the Ohio River, and its tributaries, by the claimants thus created, who had the privilege of selecting them wherever they pleased within the prescribed regions. The first locations were made upon the Great Kenawha in the year 1772, and the next on the south side of the Ohio itself the following year. During this year, likewise, extensive tracts of land were located on the north fork of the Licking, and surveys made of several salt-licks, and other choice spots. But 1774 was more signalized than had been any preceding year by the arrival, in the new "land of promise," of the claimants to portions of its territory, and the execution of surveys. Among the hardy adventurers who descended the Ohio this year and penetrated to the interior of Kentucky by the river of that name, was James Harrod, who led a party of Virginians from the shores of the Monongahela. He disembarked at a point still known as "Harrod's Landing," and, crossing the country in a direction nearly west, paused in the midst of a beautiful and fertile region, and built the first log-cabin ever erected in Kentucky, on or near the site of the present town of Harrodsburg. This was in the spring, or early part of the summer, of 1774.
The high-wrought descriptions of the country north west of the Laurel Ridge, which were given by Daniel Boone upon his return to North Carolina after his first long visit to Kentucky, circulated with great rapidity throughout the entire State, exciting the avarice of speculators and inflaming the imaginations of nearly all classes of people. The organization of several companies, for the purpose of pushing adventure in the new regions and acquiring rights to land, was immediately attempted; but that which commenced under the auspices of Colonel Richard Henderson, a gentleman of education and means, soon engaged public attention by the extent and boldness of its scheme, and the energy of its movements; and either frightened from their purpose, or attracted to its own ranks, the principal of those individuals who had at first been active in endeavoring to form other associations.
The whole of that vast extent of country lying within the natural boundaries constituted by the Ohio, Kentucky, and Cumberland rivers, was at this time claimed by a portion of the Cherokee Indians, who resided within the limits of North Carolina; and the scheme of Henderson's Company was nothing less than to take possession of this immense territory, under color of a purchase from those Indians, which they intended to make, and the preliminary negotiations for which were opened with the Cherokees, through the agency of Daniel Boone, as soon as the company was fully organized. Boone's mission to the Indians having been attended with complete success, and the result thereof being conveyed to the company, Colonel Henderson at once started for Fort Wataga, on a branch of the Holston River, fully authorized to effect the purchase; and here, on the 17th of March, 1775, he met the Indians in solemn council, delivered them a satisfactory consideration in merchandise, and received a deed signed by their head chiefs.
The purchase made, the next important step was to take possession of the territory thus acquired. The proprietors were not slow to do this, but immediately collected a small company of brave and hardy men, which they sent into Kentucky, under the direction of Daniel Boone, to open a road from the Holston to the Kentucky River, and erect a Station at the mouth of Otter Creek upon this latter.
After a laborious and hazardous march through the wilderness, during which four men were killed, and five others wounded, by trailing and skulking parties of hostile Indians, Boone and his company reached the banks of the Kentucky on the first of April, and descending this some fifteen miles, encamped upon the spot where Boonesborough now stands. Here the bushes were at once cut down, the ground leveled, the nearest trees felled, the foundations laid for a fort, and the first settlement of Kentucky commenced.
Perhaps the reader would like to see Boone's own account of these proceedings. Here is the passage where he mentions it in his autobiography. He has just been speaking of Governor Dunmore's war against the Shawanese Indians: "After the conclusion of which, he says, the militia was discharged from each garrison, and I being relieved from my post, was solicited by a number of North Carolina gentlemen, that were about purchasing the lands lying on the South side of Kentucky River from the Cherokee Indians, to attend their treaty at Wataga, in March, 1775, to negotiate with them, and mention the boundaries of the purchase. This I accepted; and at the request of the same gentlemen, undertook to mark out a road in the best passage through the wilderness to Kentucky, with such assistance as I thought necessary to employ for such an important undertaking?
"I soon began this work, having collected a number of enterprising men, well armed. We proceeded with all possible expedition until we came within fifteen miles of where Boonesborough now stands, and where we were fired upon by a party of Indians, that killed two, and wounded two of our number; yet, although surprised and taken at a disadvantage, we stood our ground. This was on the twentieth of March, 1775. Three days after we were fired upon again, and had two men killed and three wounded. Afterward we proceeded on to Kentucky River without opposition, and on the fifth day of April began to erect the fort of Boonesborough at a salt-lick, about sixty yards from the river, on the south side."
"On the fourth day, the Indians killed one of our men. We were busily engaged in building the fort, until the fourteenth day of June following, without any further opposition from the Indians."
In addition to this account by Captain Boone, we have another in a sort of official report made by him to Colonel Richard Henderson, the head of the company in whose service Boone was then employed. It is cited by Peck in his Life of Boone, as follows:
"April 15th, 1775.
"Dear Colonel: After my compliments to you, I shall acquaint you with our misfortune. On March the 25th a party of Indians fired on my company about half an hour before day, and killed Mr. Twitty and his negro, and wounded Mr. Walker very deeply but I hope he will recover.
"On March the 28th, as we were hunting for provisions, we found Samuel Tate's son, who gave us an account that the Indians fired on their camp on the 27th day. My brother and I went down and found two men killed and scalped, Thomas McDowell and Jeremiah McPeters. I have sent a man down to all the lower companies in order to gather them all to the mouth of Otter Creek. My advice to you, sir, is to come or send as soon as possible. Your company is desired greatly, for the people are very uneasy, but are willing to stay and venture their lives with you; and now is the time to flusterate their (the Indians) intentions, and keep the country whilst we are in it. If we give way to them now, it will ever be the case This day we start from the battle-ground for the mouth of Otter Creek, where we shall immediately erect a fort, which will be done before you can come or send; then we can send ten men to meet you if you send for them.
"I am, sir, your most obedient,
"N.B.—We stood on the ground and guarded our baggage till day, and lost nothing. We have about fifteen miles to Cantuck, at Otter Creek."
Colonel Henderson was one of the most remarkable men of his time. He was born in Hanover County, Virginia, April 20th, 1735, the same year with Boone. He studied law, and was appointed judge of the Superior Court of North Carolina under the Colonial government. The troubled times of the Regulators shut up the courts of justice. In 1774 he engaged in his grand scheme of founding the republic of Transylvania, and united with him John Williams, Leonard Hendly Bullock, of Granville; William Johnston, James Hogg, Thomas Hart, John Lutterell, Nathaniel Hart, and David Hart, of Orange County, in the company which made the purchase of the immense tract of lands above referred to.
The company took possession of the lands on the 20th of April, 1775; the Indians appointing an agent to deliver them according to law.
The Governor of North Carolina, Martin, issued his proclamation in 1775, declaring this purchase illegal. The State subsequently granted 200,000 acres to the company in lieu of this.
The State of Virginia declared the same, but granted the company a remuneration of 200,000 acres, bounded by the Ohio and Green rivers. The State of Tennessee claimed the lands, but made a similar grant to the company in Powell's Valley. Thus, though the original scheme of founding an independent republic failed, the company made their fortunes by the speculation. Henderson died at his seat in Granville, January 30, 1785, universally beloved and respected.
What makes Henderson and his company particularly interesting to the admirers of Daniel Boone is, the strong probability that the purchase of the Cherokees was made on his representation and by his advice. This is the opinion of Judge Hall and of Mr. Peck, who also believe that Boone was already in the service of Henderson when he made his long journey to Kentucky. "This theory," says Mr. Peck, "explains why his brother, Squire Boone, came out with supplies, and why they examined the country so fully and particularly between the Kentucky and Cumberland rivers."
[Footnote 22: Gallagher.]
[Footnote 23: Gallagher.]
Description of the Old Fort at Boonesborough—Usual methods of fortification against the Indians—Arrival of more settlers at Boonesborough—Captain Boone returns to the Clinch River to bring out his family—He enlists new emigrants and starts for Kentucky—Reinforced by a large party at Powell's Valley—Arrival at Boonesborough—Arrival of many new settlers at Boonesborough and Harrod's settlement—Arrival of Kenton, Floyd, the McAfees, and other distinguished persons—Arrival of Colonel Richard Callaway.
As the old fort at Boonesborough became so celebrated in the Indian wars which followed its erection, our readers may be curious to know what sort of structure it was. "We have accordingly copied from a print in Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky a view of the fort, from a drawing made by Colonel Henderson himself, and the following description: 'It was situated adjacent to the river, with one of the angles resting on its bank near the water, and extending from it in the form of a parallelogram. The length of the fort, allowing twenty feet for each cabin and opening, must have been about two hundred and sixty, and the breadth one hundred and fifty feet. In a few days after the work was commenced, one of the men was killed by the Indians.' The houses, being built of hewn logs, were bullet proof. They were of a square form, and one of them projected from each corner, being connected by stockades. The remaining space on the four sides, as will be seen by the engraving, was filled up with cabins erected of rough logs, placed close together. The gates were on opposite sides, made of thick slabs of timber, and hung on wooden hinges. This was in accordance with the fashion of the day."
"A fort, in those rude military times," says Butler, "consisted of pieces of timber sharpened at the end and firmly lodged in the ground: rows of these pickets enclosed the desired space, which embraced the cabins of the inhabitants. A block-house or more, of superior care and strength, commanding the sides of the fort, with or without a ditch, completed the fortifications or Stations, as they were called. Generally the sides of the interior cabins formed the sides of the fort. Slight as this advance was in the art of war, it was more than sufficient against attacks of small arms in the hands of such desultory warriors, as their irregular supply of provisions necessarily rendered the Indians. Such was the nature of the military structures of the provision against their enemies. They were ever more formidable in the canebrakes and in the woods than before even these imperfect fortifications."
We have seen in Boone's own account that the fort at Boonesborough was completed on the 14th of June, 1774. The buildings necessary for the accommodation and safety of the little colony, and of the relatives and friends by whom they expected to be joined during the summer and fall, were completed about this time. Colonel Henderson, Mr. John Luttrell, and Mr. Nathaniel Hart, three of the proprietors, arrived at the station, which was now named Boonesborough, in compliment to the intrepid pioneer. These gentlemen brought out with them between thirty and forty new settlers, a goodly number of pack-horses, and some of the necessaries of civilized life; and the Station, upon which various improvements were soon made, at once became quite a bustling, life-like, important military place. Much pleased with the manner in which he had commenced the settlement of a new commonwealth, and laid the foundations of what he doubted not was soon to become a great city, Boone took a part of his men and returned to the settlement on Clinch River, for the purpose of setting an example to others by moving out his own family.
The daring pioneer was now in high spirits, and more than ever enraptured with the deep forests and rich plains of Kentucky. He sounded their praises without intermission among the settlers on Clinch River, and soon induced a number of persons to agree to accompany him on his return to Boonesborough. He then went about making his domestic arrangements, for a final removal to Kentucky, with great energy; and these being soon completed, in September or October he turned his back upon his old home forever, and started with his family and a few followers toward that which his unsurpassed daring and rude skill had prepared for them in a new land. In Powell's Valley he found Hugh McGary, Richard Hogan, and Thomas Denton, with their families and followers, awaiting his arrival. His companions, as now increased, amounted to twenty-six men, four women, and four or five boys and girls, perhaps half grown; and placing himself at the head of this interesting little colony, he proudly led it through the Cumberland Gap into the wilderness beyond, where it was destined to be the germ of a great State.
When this party had arrived at the head of Dick's River, McGary, Denton, and Hogan, with their families and a few followers, separated themselves from the rest, and struck through the forest for the spot where Harrod and his Monongahelians had built their cabin the year before. Boone, with the main body of the party, continued his original course, and in due time arrived safely at Boonesborough; "and Mrs. Boone and her daughter," it is always recorded with an air of pleasant exultation by the admirers of the old pioneer, "were the earliest white women in that region, and the first of their sex and color that ever stood upon the banks of the wild and beautiful Kentucky."
During the latter part of the year 1775, a great many adventurers and surveyors, principally from Virginia and North Carolina, made their appearance in Kentucky; and for all such, Boonesborough was a place of general rendezvous. Some united themselves to Boone's colony, and remained permanently at his Station: others clustered abound Harrod's Old Cabin, and the Fort which had by this time been erected by Logan, and made "improvements" in the vicinity of each; but most of them returned to their several homes after having made such locations and surveys as they thought proper. Among those by whom Boone was visited in the course of this year, were several men who have subsequently rendered very important services in the settlement of the West, and attained great and deserved celebrity: such were Simon Kenton, John Floyd, the four brothers McAfee, and others. A tolerably good road, sufficient for the passage of pack-horses in single file, had been opened from the settlements on the Holston to Boonesborough, by the party which Boone led out early in the following spring; and this now became the thoroughfare for other adventurers, a number of whom removed their families from North Carolina to Kentucky, and settled at Boonesborough, during the fall and winter of this year. Colonel Richard Callaway was one of these; and there were others of equal respectability.
[Footnote 24: History of Kentucky.]
Disturbed state of the country in 1775—Breaking out of the Revolutionary war—Exposed situation of the Kentucky settlements—Hostility of the Indians excited by the British—First political convention in the West—Capture of Boone's daughter and the daughters of Colonel Callaway by the Indians—Their rescue by a party led by Boone and Callaway—Increased caution of the colonists at Boonesborough—Alarm and desertion of the Colonies in the West by land speculators and other adventurers—A reinforcement of forty-five men from North Carolina arrive at Boonesborough—Indian attack on Boonesborough in April—Another attack in July—Attack on Logan's Fort, and siege—Attack on Harrodsburg.
The reader will not fail to remark that the period at which Daniel Boone commenced the settlement of Kentucky, was the most eventful one in the history of our country. In the year 1775 hostilities between Great Britain and her American Colonies commenced at Lexington and Concord, and the whole country was mustering in arms at the time when Boone and the other western emigrants were forming settlements four hundred miles beyond the frontiers of Virginia and the Carolinas. Encouraged by the treaty of Lord Dunmore with the Indians in 1774, and knowing the Indian titles to the lands they were occupying to have been extinguished, they naturally counted on an unmolested possession of the region they were settling. But in this expectation they were sorely disappointed. The English officers and agents in the northwest were indefatigable in stimulating the Indians to attack the American colonists in every quarter. They supplied them with arms and ammunition, bribed them with money, and aided and encouraged them to attack the feeble settlements in Kentucky and Tennessee. But Providence overruled these circumstances for the benefit of the Western country. "The settlement of Kentucky led to the conquest of the British posts in Illinois and Indiana, in 1778, and eventually threw the wide valleys of the West under control of the American Union."
The settlers in Kentucky in 1775, were still acting under the belief that the claims purchased by Henderson and Company from the Cherokees were valid, and that "the Proprietors of the Colony of Transylvania" were really founding a political State. Under this impression they took leases from the Company, and in the course of the year, eighteen delegates assembled in convention at Boonesborough, and acknowledged the Company as lawful proprietors, "established courts of justice, and rules for proceeding therein; also a militia law, a law for the preservation of game, and for appointing civil and militia officers." This was the first political convention ever held in the Western Valley for the formation of a free government.
The winter and spring of 1776 were passed by the little colony of Boonesborough in hunting, fishing, clearing the lands immediately contiguous to the station, and putting in a crop of corn. The colonists were molested but once by their enemies during the winter, when one man was killed by a small band of marauding Indians, who suddenly appeared in the vicinity, and as suddenly departed.
In the middle summer month, an incident of a thrilling character occurred, which cast a deep but only momentary shadow upon the little society of Boonesborough. This was the capture, by some skulking Indians belonging to a numerous band who were now prowling through the woods and brakes of Kentucky, and occasionally approaching the settlements for the purpose of plunder, of three young females, members of the families of Boone and Callaway.
This incident, which has been taken as the ground-work of two or three western fictions, and also had thrown around it all the warm coloring of romance, by writers professing to deal only with the authentic, is thus briefly related in the papers of Colonel John Floyd, as quoted by Mr. Butler:
"On the 7th of July, 1776, the Indians took out of a canoe which was in the river, within sight of Boonesborough, Miss Betsey Callaway, her sister Frances, and a daughter of Daniel Boone. The last two were about thirteen or fourteen years of age, and the other grown.
"The affair happened late in the afternoon, and the spoilers left the canoe on the opposite side of the river from us, which prevented our getting over for some time to pursue them. Next morning by daylight we were on the track, but found they had totally prevented our following them by walking some distance apart through the thickest cane they could find. We observed their course, however, and on which side they had left their sign, and traveled upward of thirty miles. We then imagined that they would be less cautious in traveling, and made a turn in order to cross their trace, and had gone but a few miles before we found their tracks in a buffalo-path.
"Pursuing this for the distance of about ten miles, we overtook them just as they were kindling a fire to cook. Our study had been more to get the prisoners without giving their captors time to murder them after they should discover us, than to kill the Indians.
"We discovered each other nearly at the same time. Four of our party fired, and then all rushed upon them, which prevented their carrying any thing away except one shot-gun without any ammunition. Mr. Boone and myself had a pretty fair shot, just as they began to move off. I am well convinced I shot one through; the one he shot dropped his gun, mine had none."
"The place was very thick with cane; and being so much elated on recovering the three little broken-hearted girls, prevented our making any further search. We sent them off without moccasins, and not one of them with so much as a knife or a tomahawk."
Although the people of the little colony of Boonesborough were not aware of the fact at the time, the marauding Indians who thus captured Miss Boone and the Misses Callaway, as they were amusing themselves by paddling about the foot of the rock in the canoe, were one of the many scouting parties of Indians who were scattered about watching all the different settlements in Kentucky, and preparing to attack them. The incident of the capture of the girls spread an alarm, and guards were stationed to defend the hands who were engaged in cultivating the ground.
Toward autumn the alarm of Indian hostilities, and the knowledge that war was raging throughout the Colonies east of the mountains, excited so much alarm, that some three hundred land speculators and other adventurers deserted the Western country and returned to their old homes.
With the exception of the capture of the young girls mentioned above, no incident is recorded as having disturbed the tranquility of Boonesborough during the year 1776. An occasional immigrant added a new member to its little society, who assisted in the labors of the hardy colonists on the surrounding grounds. But its numbers received no considerable increase till the following summer, when (25th July, 1777,) a party of immigrants from North Carolina, consisting of forty-five men, arrived in the country, and took up their first abode in the wilderness at Boonesborough.
This was a fortunate circumstance for that station, and great cause of rejoicing among all the settlements, for there were none of them that had not been much molested by the Indians since the opening of spring, and one or two of them had undergone long and regular Indian sieges.
Boonesborough had been surrounded by about one hundred of the enemy, as early as the middle of April, 1777, and fiercely attacked. But the Indians were so warmly received by the garrison on this occasion, that they in a very little time withdrew, having killed one of the settlers, and wounded four others. Their own loss could not be ascertained.
Increased to two hundred warriors, this party had returned to the attack of Boonesborough on the fourth of July. On the present occasion, having sent detachments to alarm and annoy the neighboring settlements, in order that no reinforcements should be sent to Boonesborough, the Indians encamped about the place, with the object of attempting its reduction by a regular siege. After a close and vigorous attack for two days and nights, in which they succeeded in killing but one man and wounding four others, the Indians, losing all hope of success, suddenly, and with great clamor, raised the siege, and disappeared in the adjacent forest. Their own loss was seven warriors, whose fall was noted from the fort.
After this attack, Boonesborough was disturbed no more by the Indians during the year. Had it been after the arrival of the immigrants above referred to, it would, in all probability, have taught its indefatigable enemies a lesson such as they had never then received at the hands of the Kentuckians.
But notwithstanding these two considerable attacks, and the "signs" of Indians in the surrounding forests for the whole summer, the men continued to clear the lands adjacent to the Station, and to cultivate corn and garden vegetables, some always keeping a vigilant look-out while the others labored. For supplies of meat they depended upon the forests, each of the men taking his turn as a hunter, at great hazard.
Meantime, the other settlements in Kentucky had suffered attacks from the Indians. Logan's Fort was invested by a force of one hundred Indians on the 20th of May, 1777, and after sustaining a vigorous siege for several days, was finally relieved by the timely arrival of a reinforcement commanded by Colonel Bowman. On the 7th of March, 1777, the fort at Harrodsburg, then called Harrodstown, was assailed by a body of Indians, but they were speedily driven off, one of their number being killed. The whites had four men wounded, one of whom afterward died of his wounds.
[Footnote 25: Peck. "Life of Daniel Boone."]
[Footnote 26: Butler. "History of Kentucky."]
[Footnote 27: Peck. "Life of Daniel Boone."]
[Footnote 28: Mr. Peck mentions the spring of 1776, as the date of the arrival at Boonesborough of Colonel Richard Callaway, and an intimate friend of Boone, with his family, and the family of Benjamin Logan, who had returned for them the preceding autumn.]
[Footnote 29: Peck.]
[Footnote 30: Gallagher.]
Arrival of George Rogers Clark in Kentucky—Anecdote of his conversation with Ray—Clark and Jones chosen as delegates for the Colonies to the Virginia Legislature—Clark's important services in obtaining a political organization for Kentucky, and an abundant supply of gunpowder from the government of Virginia—Great labor and difficulty in bringing the powder to Harrodstown—Clark's expedition against Kaskaskias—Surprise and capture of their fort—Perilous and difficult march to Vincennes—Surprise and capture of that place—Extension of the Virginian settlements—Erection of Fort Jefferson.
Among the most celebrated pioneers of the West, was General George Rogers Clark, who, at the time we are now writing of, bore the rank of Major. Anxious for the protection of the Western settlements, he was already planning his celebrated conquest of the British posts in the northwest.
He first came to Kentucky in 1775, and penetrated to Harrodsburg, which had been reoccupied by Colonel Harrod. In this visit, from his well known and commanding talents, he was voluntarily placed in command of the irregular troops then in Kentucky In the fall he returned to Virginia, and came back again to Kentucky in 1776. Mr. Butler relates the following anecdote, received from the lips of General Ray, as having occurred with General Clark upon his second visit: "I had come down," said General Ray, "to where I now live (about four miles north of Harrodsburg), to turn some horses in the range. I had killed a small blue-wing duck that was feeding in my spring, and had roasted it nicely on the brow of the hill, about twenty steps east of my house. After having taken it off to cool, I was much surprised on being suddenly accosted by a fine soldierly-looking man, who exclaimed, 'How do you do, my little fellow? What is your name? Ain't you afraid of being in the woods by yourself?' On satisfying his inquiries, I invited the traveler to partake of my duck, which he did, without leaving me a bone to pick, his appetite was so keen, though he should have been welcome to all the game I could have killed, when I afterward became acquainted with his noble and gallant soul." After satisfying his questions, he inquired of the stranger his own name and business in this remote region. "My name is Clark," he answered, "and I have come out to see what you brave fellows are doing in Kentucky, and to lend you a helping hand if necessary." General Ray, then a boy of sixteen, conducted Clark to Harrodsburg, where he spent his time in observation on the condition and prospects of the country, natural to his comprehensive mind, and assisting at every opportunity in its defense.
At a general meeting of the settlers at Harrodstown, on the 6th of June, 1775, General George Rogers Clark, and Gabriel John Jones, were chosen to represent them in the Assembly of Virginia.
This, however, was not precisely the thing contemplated by Clark. He wished that the people should appoint agents, with general powers to negotiate with the government of Virginia, and in the event that that commonwealth should refuse to recognize the colonists as within its jurisdiction and under its protection, he proposed to employ the lands of the country as a fund to obtain settlers and establish an independent State. The election had, however, gone too far to change its object when Clark arrived at Harrodstown, and the gentlemen elected, although aware that the choice could give them no seat in the legislature, proceeded to Williamsburg, at that time the seat of government. After suffering the most severe privations in their journey through the wilderness, the delegates found, on their arrival in Virginia, that the Legislature had adjourned, whereupon Jones directed his steps to the settlements on the Holston, and left Clark to attend to the Kentucky mission alone.
He immediately waited on Governor Henry, then lying sick at his residence in Hanover County, to whom he stated the objects of his journey. These meeting the approbation of the governor, he gave Clark a letter to the Executive Council of the State. "With this letter in his hand he appeared before the council, and after acquainting them fully with the condition and circumstances of the colony, he made application for five hundred-weight of gunpowder for the defense of the various stations. But with every disposition to assist and promote the growth of these remote and infant settlements, the council felt itself restrained by the uncertain and indefinite state of the relations existing between the colonists and the state of Virginia, from complying fully with his demand. The Kentuckians had not yet been recognized by the Legislature as citizens, and the proprietary claimants, Henderson & Co., were at this time exerting themselves to obtain from Virginia, a relinquishment of her jurisdiction over the new territory. The council, therefore, could only afford to lend the gunpowder to the colonists as friends, not give it to them as fellow-citizens."
At the same time, they required Clark to be personally responsible for its value, in the event the Legislature should refuse to recognize the Kentuckians as citizens, and in the mean time to defray the expense of its conveyance to Kentucky. Upon these terms he did not feel at liberty to accept the proffered assistance. He represented to the Council, that the emissaries of the British were employing every means to engage the Indians in the war; that the people in the remote and exposed Stations of Kentucky might be exterminated for the want of a supply which he, a private individual, had at so much hazard and hardship, sought for their relief, and that when this frontier bulwark was thus destroyed, the fury of the savages would burst like a tempest upon the heads of their own citizens.
To these representations, however, the Council remained inexorable; the sympathy for the frontier settlers was deep, but the assistance already offered was a stretch of power, and they could go no further. The keeper of the public magazine was directed to deliver the powder to Clark; but having long reflected on the situation, prospects, and resources of the new country, his resolution to reject the assistance, on the proposed conditions, was made before he left the Council chamber.
He determined to repair to Kentucky, as he had at first contemplated, to exert the resources of the country for the formation of an independent State. He accordingly returned the order of the Council in a letter, setting forth his reasons for declining to accept their powder on these terms, and intimating his design of applying for assistance elsewhere, adding "that a country which was not worth defending was not worth claiming." On the receipt of this letter the Council recalled Clark to their presence, and an order was passed on the 23d of August, 1776, for the transmission of the gunpowder, to Pittsburg, to be there delivered to Clark, or his order, for the use of the people of Kentucky. This was the first act in that long and affectionate interchange of good offices which subsisted between Kentucky and her parent State for so many years; and obvious as the reflection is, it may not be omitted, that on the successful termination of this negotiation hung the connection between Virginia and the splendid domain she afterward acquired west of the Alleghany Mountains.
At the fall session of the Legislature of Virginia, Messrs. Jones and Clark laid the Kentucky memorial before that body. They were, of course, not admitted to seats, though late in the session they obtained, in opposition to the exertions of Colonels Henderson and Campbell, the formation of the territory, which now comprises the present State of that name, into the County of Kentucky. The first efficient political organization of Kentucky was thus obtained through the sagacity, influence, and exertions of George Rogers Clark, who must be ranked as the earliest founder of that Commonwealth. This act of the Virginia Legislature first gave it form and a political existence, and entitled it, under the constitution of Virginia, to a representation in the Assembly, as well as to a judicial and military establishment.
Having obtained these important advantages from their mission, they received the intelligence that the powder was still at Pittsburg, and they determined to take that point in their route home, and carry it with them. The country around Pittsburg swarmed with Indians, evidently hostile to the whites, who would no doubt seek to interrupt their voyage.
These circumstances created a necessity for the utmost caution as well as expedition in their movements, and they accordingly hastily embarked on the Ohio with only seven boatmen. They were hotly pursued the whole way by Indians, but succeeded in keeping in advance until they arrived at the mouth of Limestone Creek, at the spot where the city of Maysville now stands. They ascended this creek a short distance with their boat, and concealed their cargo at different places in the woods along its banks. They then turned their boat adrift, and directed their course to Harrodstown, intending to return with a sufficient escort to insure the safe transportation of the powder to its destination. This in a short time was successfully effected, and the colonists were thus abundantly supplied with the means of defense against the fierce enemies who beset them on all sides.
It was fortunate for Virginia, says a recent writer, that she had at this time, on her western borders, an individual of rare military genius, in the person of Colonel George Rogers Clarke, "the Hannibal of the West," who not only saved her back settlements from Indian fury, but planted her standard far beyond the Ohio. The Governor of the Canadian settlements in the Illinois country, by every possible method, instigated the Indians to annoy the frontier.
Virginia placed a small force of about 250 men under Clark, who, descending the Ohio, hid their boats, and marched northwardly, with their provisions on their backs. These being consumed, they subsisted for two days on roots, and, in a state of famine, appeared before Kaskaskias, unseen and unheard.
At midnight they surprised and took the town and fort, which had resisted a much larger force; then seizing the golden moment, sent a detachment who with equal success surprised three other towns. Rocheblave, the obnoxious Governor, was sent to Virginia. On his person were found written instructions from Quebec to excite the Indians to hostilities, and reward them for the scalps of the Americans.
The settlers transferred their allegiance to Virginia, and she, as the territory belonged to her by conquest and charter, in the autumnal session of 1778 erected it into a county to be called Illinois. Insulated in the heart of the Indian country, in the midst of the most ferocious tribes, few men but Clark could have preserved this acquisition.
Hamilton, the Governor of Detroit, a bold and tyrannical personage, determined, with an overwhelming force of British and Indians, to penetrate up the Ohio to Fort Pitt to sweep all the principal settlements in his way, and besiege Kaskaskias. Clark despaired of keeping possession of the country, but he resolved to preserve this post, or die in its defense. While he was strengthening the fortifications, he received information that Hamilton, who was at Fort St. Vincent (Vincennes,) had weakened his force by sending some Indians against the frontiers.
This information, to the genius of Clark, disclosed, with the rapidity of an electric flash, not only safety but new glory. To resolve to attack Hamilton before he could collect the Indians was the work of a moment—the only hope of saving the country. With a band of 150 gallant and hardy comrades, he marched across the country. It was in February, 1779. When within nine miles of the enemy, it took these intrepid men five days to cross the drowned lands of the Wabash, having often to wade up to their breasts in water. Had not the weather been remarkably mild, they must have perished.
On the evening of the 23d, they landed in sight of the fort, before the enemy knew any thing of their approach. After a siege of eighteen hours it surrendered, without the loss of a man to the besiegers. The Governor was sent prisoner to Williamsburg, and considerable stores fell into the possession of the conqueror.
Other auspicious circumstances crowned this result. Clark, intercepting a convoy from Canada, on their way to this post, took the mail, forty prisoners, and goods to the value of $45,000; and to crown all, his express from Virginia arrived with the thanks of the Assembly to him and his gallant band for their reduction of the country about Kaskaskias. This year Virginia extended her western establishments through the agency of Colonel Clark, and had several fortifications erected, among which was Fort Jefferson, on the Mississippi.
[Footnote 31: Collins.]
[Footnote 32: Collins.]
[Footnote 33: Collins. "Historical Sketches of Kentucky."]
[Footnote 34: Howe. "Historical Collections of Virginia."]
[Footnote 35: Howe.]
Scarcity of salt at Boonesborough—Boone goes to Blue Licks to make salt, and is captured by the Indians—Taken to Chillicothe—Affects contentment, and deceives the Indians—Taken to Detroit—Kindess of the British officers to him—Returns to Chillicothe—Adopted into an Indian family—Ceremonies of adoption—Boone sees a large force of Indians destined to attack Boonesborough—Escapes, and gives the alarm, and strengthens the fortifications at Boonesborough—News of delay by the Indians on account of Boone's escape—Boone goes on an expedition to the Scioto—Has a fight with a party of Indians—Returns to Boonesborough, which is immediately besieged by Captain Duquesne with five hundred Indians—Summons to surrender—Time gained—Attack commenced—Brave defense—Mines and countermines—Siege raised—Boone brings his family once more back to Boonesborough, and resumes farming.
While George Rogers Clark was engaged in his campaign against the British posts in the northwest, Daniel Boone was a prisoner among the Indians. The people at Boonesborough were suffering for want of salt. It could not be obtained conveniently from the Atlantic Colonies, but it could be manufactured at a place called the Blue Licks, from salt water, which abounded there.
In January, 1778, accompanied by thirty men, Boone went to the Blue Licks to make salt for the different Stations; and on the 7th of February following, while out hunting, he fell in with one hundred and two Indian warriors, on their march to attack Boonesborough. He instantly fled, but being upward of fifty years old, he was unable to outstrip the fleet young men who pursued him, and was a second time taken prisoner. As usual, he was treated with kindness until his final fate should be determined, and was led back to the Licks, where his party were still encamped. Here Boone surrendered his whole party, to the number of twenty-seven, upon a promise on the part of the Indians of life and good treatment, both of which conditions were faithfully observed. This step was apparently unnecessary; but the result showed that it was a master-stroke of policy on Boone's part. He knew the nature of the Indians, and foresaw that they would forthwith return home with their prisoners, and thus save Boonesborough from attack.
Had the Indians gone on to that place, by showing their prisoners and threatening to put them to the torture, they might have obtained important results. But they did nothing of the kind. As Boone had calculated, they went home with their prisoners and booty.
Captain Boone has been censured for the surrender of his men, which he made at his own capture, and at a subsequent period was tried by court-martial and acquitted. This was a just decision. The surrender caused the Indians to return home with their prisoners instead of attacking Boonesborough, which would almost certainly have been taken and destroyed if this surrender had not been made.
Elated with their unexpected success, the Indians now returned at once to old Chilicothe, the principal town of the Shawnees, on the Little Miami, treating their prisoners, during a march of three days in very cold and inclement weather, as well as they fared themselves, as regarded fire and provisions. Boone and his companions were kept in captivity by the Indians, and closely watched for several weeks, when the old pioneer and ten of his men were conducted to Detroit, then a British garrison, and all but Boone presented to the commandant, by whom they were all well treated. For the old pioneer himself, the Indians had conceived a particular liking; and they stubbornly refused to give him up, though several gentlemen of Detroit were very anxious they should leave him, and the commandant offered to ransom him by a liberal sum. He was therefore compelled to accompany them back to Chillicothe, their town on the Little Miami, which they reached after a march of fifteen days.
Boone was now formally adopted as a son in one of the Indian families. "The forms of the ceremony of adoption," says Mr. Peck, "were often severe and ludicrous. The hair of the head is plucked out by a painful and tedious operation, leaving a tuft, some three or four inches in diameter, on the crown, for the scalp-lock, which is cut and dressed up with ribbons and feathers. The candidate is then taken into the river in a state of nudity, and there thoroughly washed and rubbed, 'to take all his white blood out.' This ablution is usually performed by females. He is then taken to the council-house, where the chief makes a speech, in which he expatiates upon the distinguished honors conferred on him. His head and face are painted in the most approved and fashionable style, and the ceremony is concluded with a grand feast and smoking."
After undergoing after this fashion what was not inaptly termed the Indian toilette, Boone was considered a regular member of the tribe, and by judiciously accommodating himself to his new condition, he rapidly won upon the regards of the Indians, and soon secured their confidence. They challenged him to a trial of skill at their shooting-matches—in which he took care not to excel them—invited him to accompany them on their hunting excursions, bestowed particular notice upon him in various ways, and always treated him with much consideration. As regarded merely his physical comfort, Boone's situation was, at this time, rather enviable than otherwise; but he felt a depressing anxiety with regard to his wife and children, and doubted the safety and prosperity of the Station, without his own watchfulness and superintendence. He therefore determined to escape from his captors at the earliest possible period, and very impatiently waited an opportunity for accomplishing this purpose.
Early in June, a party of Indians went to the Scioto Licks to make salt. Boone was taken with them, but kept so constantly employed at the kettles, that he found no chance of escaping. Having sufficiently supplied themselves with the desired article, the party returned; and at the Chillicothe town, Boone found four hundred and fifty Indian warriors, armed well and painted in a most frightful manner, ready to march against Boonesborough: this was on the fifteenth or sixteenth of the month.
Boone now saw the absolute necessity of escaping at once, and determined to make the attempt without delay. He rose at the usual time the next morning, and went out upon a hunt. His object was to give his wary masters the slip, in such a manner as would be least likely to excite their suspicions, and be the longest in determining them upon a pursuit.
No sooner was he at such a distance from the town as would prevent observations of his movements, than he struck out rapidly in the direction of Boonesborough. So great was his anxiety, that he stopped not to kill any thing to eat; but performed his journey—a distance of one hundred and sixty miles—in less than five days, upon one meal, which, before starting, he had concealed in his basket. On arriving at Boonesborough, he found the fort, as he feared he should, in a bad state for defense; but his activity soon strengthened it, and his courage at once reinspired the sinking hearts of the garrison. Every thing was immediately put in proper condition for a vigorous defense, and all became impatient for intelligence of the movements of the enemy.
A few days after Boone's escape from the Indians, one of his fellow-prisoners succeeded likewise in eluding their vigilance, and made his way safely and expeditiously to Boonesborough. This man arrived at the Station at a time when the garrison were hourly expecting the appearance of the enemy, and reported that, on account of Boone's elopement, the Indians had postponed their meditated invasion of the settled regions for three weeks. It was discovered, however, that they had their spies in the country, watching the movements of the different garrisons; and this rendered the settlers wary and active, and gave all the Stations time and opportunity to strengthen themselves, and make every preparation for a powerful resistance of what, they could not but believe, was to be a long and great effort to drive them from the land, and utterly destroy their habitations.
Week passed after week, but no enemy appeared. The state of anxiety and watchfulness in which the garrison at Boonesborough had, for so long a time, been kept, was becoming irksome, and the men were beginning to relax in their vigilance. This Boone observed, and it determined him to undertake an expedition, which he had been probably meditating for some time. On the 1st of August, therefore, with a company of nineteen of the brave spirits by whom he was surrounded, he left the fort with the intention of marching against and surprising one of the Indian towns on the Scioto. He advanced rapidly, but with great caution, and had reached a point within four or five miles of the town destined to taste of his vengeance, when he met its warriors, thirty in number, on their way to join the main Indian force, then on its march toward Boonesborough.
An action immediately commenced, which terminated in the flight of the Indians, who lost one man and had two others wounded.
Boone received no injury, but took three horses, and all the "plunder" of the war party. He then dispatched two spies to the Indian town, who returned with the intelligence that it was evacuated. On the receipt of this information, he started for Boonesborough with all possible haste hoping to reach the Station before the enemy, that he might give warning of their approach, and strengthen its numbers. He passed the main body of the Indians on the sixth day of his march, and on the seventh reached Boonesborough.
On the eighth day, the enemy's force marched up, with British colors flying, and invested the place. The Indian army was commanded by Captain Duquesne, with eleven other Canadian Frenchmen and several distinguished chiefs, and was the most formidable force which had yet invaded the settlements. The commander summoned the garrison to surrender "in the name of his Britannic Majesty."
Boone and his men, perilous as was their situation, received the summons without apparent alarm, and requested a couple of days for the consideration of what should be done. This was granted; and Boone summoned his brave companions to council: but fifty men appeared! Yet these fifty, after a due consideration of the terms of capitulation proposed, and with the knowledge that they were surrounded by savage and remorseless enemies to the number of about five hundred, determined, unanimously, to "defend the fort as long as a man of them lived!"
The two days having expired, Boone announced this determination from one of the bastions, and thanked the British commander for the notice given of his intended attack, and the time allowed the garrison for preparing to defend the Station. This reply to his summons was entirely unexpected by Duquesne, and he heard it with evident disappointment. Other terms were immediately proposed by him, which "sounded so gratefully in the ears" of the garrison that Boone agreed to treat; and, with eight of his companions, left the fort for this purpose. It was soon manifest, however, by the conduct of the Indians, that a snare had been laid for them; and escaping from their wily foes by a sudden effort, they re-entered the palisades, closed the gates, and betook themselves to the bastions.
A hot attack upon the fort now instantly commenced; but the fire of the Indians was returned from the garrison with such unexpected briskness and fatal precision that the besiegers were compelled to fall back. They then sheltered themselves behind the nearest trees and stumps, and continued the attack with more caution. Losing a number of men himself, and perceiving no falling off in the strength or the marksmanship of the garrison, Duquesne resorted to an expedient which promised greater success.
The fort stood upon the bank of the river, about sixty yards from its margin; and the purpose of the commander of the Indians was to undermine this, and blow up the garrison. Duquesne was pushing the mine under the fort with energy when his operations were discovered by the besieged. The miners precipitated the earth which they excavated into the river; and Boone, perceiving that the water was muddy below the fort, while it was clear above, instantly divined the cause, and at once ordered a deep trench to be cut inside the fort, to counteract the work of the enemy.
As the earth was dug up, it was thrown over the wall of the fort, in the face of the besieging commander. Duquesne was thus informed that his design had been discovered; and being convinced of the futility of any further attempts of that kind he discontinued his mining operations, and once more renewed the attack upon the Station in the manner of a regular Indian siege. His success, however, was no better than it had been before; the loss appeared to be all upon his side; his stock of provisions was nearly exhausted; having for nine days tried the bravery of his savage force, and tasked his own ingenuity to its utmost, he raised the siege, and abandoned the grand object of the expedition.
During this siege, "the most formidable," says Mr. Marshall, "that had ever taken place in Kentucky from the number of Indians, the skill of the commanders, and the fierce countenances and savage dispositions of the warriors," only two men belonging to the Station were killed, and four others wounded.
Duquesne lost thirty-seven men, and had many wounded, who, according to the invariable usage of the Indians, were immediately borne from the scene of action.
Boonesborough was never again disturbed by any formidable body of Indians. New Stations were springing up every year between it and the Ohio River, and to pass beyond these for the purpose of striking a blow at an older and stronger enemy, was a piece of folly of which the Indians were never known to be guilty.
During Boone's captivity among the Shawnees, his family, supposing that he had been killed, had left the Station and returned to their relatives and friends in North Carolina; and as early in the autumn as he could well leave, the brave and hardy warrior started to move them out again to Kentucky. He returned to the settlement with them early the next summer, and set a good example to his companions by industriously cultivating his farm, and volunteering his assistance, whenever it seemed needed, to the many immigrants who were now pouring into the country, and erecting new Stations in the neighborhood of Boonesborough. He was a good as well as a great man in his sphere, says Mr. Gallagher, (our chief authority for the foregoing incidents); and for his many and important services in the early settlements of Kentucky, he well deserved the title of Patriarch which was bestowed upon him during his life, and all the praises that have been sung to his memory since his death.
[Footnote 36: "Life of Daniel Boone."]
[Footnote 37: Gallagher.]
[Footnote 38: W.D. Gallagher, in "Hesperian."]
Captain Boone tried by court-martial—Honorably acquitted and promoted—Loses a large sum of money—His losses by lawsuits and disputes about land—Defeat of Colonel Rogers's party—Colonel Bowman's expedition to Chillicothe—Arrival near the town—Colonel Logan attacks the town—Ordered by Colonel Bowman to retreat—Failure of the expedition—Consequences to Bowman and to Logan.
Some complaint having been made respecting Captain Boone's surrender of his party at the Blue Licks, and other parts of his military conduct, his friends Colonel Richard Callaway and Colonel Benjamin Logan, exhibited charges against him which occasioned his being tried by court-martial. This was undoubtedly done with a view to put an end to the calumny by disproving or explaining the charges. The result of the trial was an honorable acquittal increased popularity of the Captain among his fellow citizens, and his promotion to the rank of Major.
While Boone had been a prisoner among the Indians, his wife and family, supposing him to be dead, had returned to North Carolina. In the autumn of 1778 he went after them to the house of Mrs. Boone's father on the Yadkin.
In 1779, a commission having been opened by the Virginia Legislature to settle Kentucky land claims, Major Boone "laid out the chief of his little property to procure land warrants, and having raised about twenty thousand dollars in paper money, with which he intended to purchase them, on his way from Kentucky to Richmond, he was robbed of the whole, and left destitute of the means of procuring more. This heavy misfortune did not fall on himself alone. Large sums had been entrusted to him by his friends for similar purposes, and the loss was extensively felt."
Boone must have suffered much anxiety in consequence of this affair. Little is known respecting it, excepting that it did not impair the confidence of his friends in his perfect integrity.
This appears in the following extract of a letter from Colonel Thomas Hart, late of Lexington, Kentucky, to Captain Nathaniel Hart, dated Grayfields, August 3d, 1780.
"I observe what you say respecting our losses by Daniel Boone. [Boone had been robbed of funds in part belonging to T. and N. Hart.] I had heard of the misfortune soon after it happened, but not of my being partaker before now. I feel for the poor people who, perhaps, are to lose even their pre-emptions: but I must say, I feel more for Boone, whose character, I am told, suffers by it. Much degenerated must the people of this age be, when amongst them are to be found men to censure and blast the reputation of a person so just and upright, and in whose breast is a seat of virtue too pure to admit of a thought so base and dishonorable. I have known Boone in times of old, when poverty and distress had him fast by the hand: and in these wretched circumstances, I have ever found him of a noble and generous soul, despising every thing mean; and therefore I will freely grant him a discharge for whatever sums of mine he might have been possessed of at the time."
Boone's ignorance of legal proceedings, and his aversion to lawsuits, appear to have occasioned the loss of his real estate; and the loose manner in which titles were granted, one conflicting with another, occasioned similar losses to much more experienced and careful men at the same period.
During the year 1779 the emigration to Kentucky was much greater than any previous one. The settlers do not seem to have been so much annoyed by the Indians as formerly. Yet this year is distinguished in the annals of Kentucky for the most bloody battle ever fought between the whites and Indians within her borders, with the single exception of that of the Blue Licks.
It took place opposite to Cincinnati. Colonel Rogers had been down to New Orleans to procure supplies for the posts on the Upper Mississippi and Ohio. Having obtained them, he ascended these rivers until he reached the place mentioned above. Here he found the Indians in their canoes coming out of the mouth of the Little Miami, and crossing to the Kentucky side of the Ohio. He conceived the plan of surprising them as they landed. The Ohio was very low on the Kentucky side, so that a large sand-bar was laid bare, extending along the shore. Upon this Rogers landed his men, but, before they could reach the spot where they expected to attack the enemy, they were themselves attacked by such superior numbers that the issue of the contest was not doubtful for a single moment. Rogers and the greater part of his men were instantly killed. The few who were left fled toward the boats. But one of them was already in the possession of the Indians, whose flanks were extended in advance of the fugitives, and the few men remaining in the other pushed off from shore without waiting to take their comrades on board. These last now turned around upon their pursuers, and, furiously charging them, a small number broke through their ranks and escaped to Harrodsburg. The loss in this most lamentable affair was about sixty men, very nearly equal to that at Blue Licks.
The Kentuckians resolved to invade the Indian country, and Chillicothe was selected as the point to feel the weight of their vengeance. Colonel Bowman issued a call, inviting all those who were willing to accompany him in the expedition to rendezvous at Harrodsburg. This was the manner of organizing such expeditions in Kentucky. An officer would invite volunteers to participate with him in an incursion into the Indian country. All who joined were expected to submit to his direction.
On this occasion there was no want of zeal among the people. Bowman's reputation as a soldier was good, and three hundred men were soon collected, among whom were Logan and Harrod; both holding the rank of captain. It does not appear that either Boone or Kenton engaged in this enterprise. Indeed, the first is said to have been absent in North Carolina his family having returned there after his capture in the preceding year, supposing him to be dead.
The expedition moved in the month of July—its destination well known—and its march so well conducted that it approached its object without discovery. From this circumstances, it would seem that the Indians were but little apprehensive of an invasion from those who had never before ventured on it, and whom they were in the habit of invading annually; or else so secure in their own courage that they feared no enemy, for no suspecting spy was out to foresee approaching danger. Arrived within a short distance of the town, night approached, and Colonel Bowman halted. Here it was determined to invest and attack the place just before the ensuing day, and several dispositions were then made very proper for the occasion, indicating a considerable share of military skill and caution, which gave reasonable promise of a successful issue. At a proper hour the little army separated, after a movement that placed it near the town the one part, under the command of Bowman in person—the other, under Captain Logan; to whom precise orders had been given to march, on the one hand, half round the town; while the Colonel, passing the other way, was to meet him, and give the signal for an assault. Logan immediately executed his orders, and the place was half enveloped. But he neither saw nor heard the commander-in-chief. Logan now ordered his men to conceal themselves in the grass and weeds, and behind such other objects as were present, as the day began to show itself, and he had not yet received the expected order to begin the attack nor had he been able, though anxious, to ascertain what had intercepted or delayed his superior officer. The men, on shifting about for hiding-places, had alarmed one of the Indians' dogs, who forthwith set to barking with the agitation of apparent fright. This brought out an Indian warrior, who proceeded with caution on the way that the dog seemed to direct his own attention, and in a short time, if he had continued his progress, might have been made a prisoner; but, at this critical moment, one of the party with the Colonel fired his gun; which the Indian, well understanding as coming from an enemy, gave an instantaneous and loud whoop, and ran immediately to his cabin. The alarm was instantly spread through the town, and preparation made for defense. The party with Logan was near enough to hear the bustle and to see the women and children escaping to the cover of the woods by a ridge which ran between them and where Colonel Bowman with his men had halted.
In the mean time, the warriors equipped themselves with their military habiliments, and repaired to a strong cabin; no doubt, designated in their councils for the like occurrences. By this time daylight had disclosed the whole scene, and several shots were discharged on the one side, and returned from the other, while some of Logan's men took possession of a few cabins, from which the Indians had retreated—or rather perhaps it should be said, repaired to their stronghold, the more effectually to defend themselves. The scheme was formed by Logan, and adopted by his men in the cabins, of making a movable breastwork out of the doors and floors—and of pushing it forward as a battery against the cabin in which the Indians had taken post; others of them had taken shelter from the fire of the enemy behind stumps, or logs, or the vacant cabins, and were waiting orders; when the Colonel finding that the Indians were on their defense, dispatched orders for a retreat. This order, received with astonishment, was obeyed with reluctance; and what rendered it the more distressing, was the unavoidable exposure which the men must encounter in the open field, or prairie, which surrounded the town: for they were apprized that from the moment they left their cover, the Indians would fire on them, until they were beyond the reach of their balls. A retreat, however, was deemed necessary, and every man was to shift for himself. Then, instead of one that was orderly, commanding, or supported—a scene of disorder, unmilitary and mortifying, took place: here a little squad would rush out of, or break from behind a cabin—there individuals would rise from a log, or start up from a stump, and run with all speed to gain the neighboring wood.
At length, after the loss of several lives, the remnant of the invading force was reunited, and the retreat continued in tolerable order, under the painful reflection that the expedition had failed, without any adequate cause being known. This was, however, but the introduction to disgrace, if not of misfortune still more extraordinary and distressing. The Indian warriors, commanded by Blackfish, sallied from the town, and commenced a pursuit of the discomfited invaders of their forests and firesides, which they continued for some miles, harassing and galling the rear of the fugitives without being checked, notwithstanding the disparity of numbers. There not being more than thirty of the savages in pursuit. Bowman, finding himself thus pressed, at length halted his men in a low piece of ground covered with brush; as if he sought shelter from the enemy behind or among them. A situation more injudiciously chosen, if chosen at all, cannot be easily imagined—since of all others, it most favored the purposes of the Indians. In other respects the commander seems also to have lost his understanding—he gave no orders to fire—made no detachment to repulse the enemy, who, in a few minutes, by the whoops, yells, and firing, were heard on all sides—but stood as a mark to be shot at, or one panic struck. Some of the men fired, but without any precise object, for the Indians were scattered, and hid by the grass and bushes. What would have been the final result it is difficult to conjecture, if Logan, Harrod, Bulger, and a few others, had not mounted some of the pack-horses and scoured the woods, first in one direction then in another; rushing on the Indians wherever they could find them, until very fortunately Blackfish was killed; and this being soon known, the rest fled. It was in the evening when this event occurred, which being reported to the colonel, he resumed his march at dark—taking for his guide a creek near at hand, which he pursued all night without any remarkable occurrence—and in quiet and safety thence returned home, with the loss of nine men killed and another wounded: having taken two Indian scalps: which, however, was thought a trophy of small renown.