"The fire was quickly communicated to the rest of the building, and it became necessary to abandon it or perish in the flames. In the one case there was a possibility that some might escape; in the other, their fate would be equally certain and terrible. The rapid approach of the flames cut short their momentary suspense. The door was thrown open, and the old lady, supported by her eldest son, attempted to cross the fence at one point, while her daughter, carrying her child in her arms, and attended by the younger of the brothers, ran in a different direction. The blazing roof shed a light over the yard but little inferior to that of day, and the savages were distinctly seen awaiting the approach of their victims. The old lady was permitted to reach the stile unmolested, but in the act of crossing received several balls in her breast and fell dead. Her son, providentially, remained unhurt, and by extraordinary agility effected his escape.
"The other party succeeded also in reaching the fence unhurt, but in the act of crossing, were vigorously assailed by several Indians, who, throwing down their guns, rushed upon them with their tomahawks. The young man defended his sister gallantly, firing upon the enemy as they approached, and then wielding the butt of his rifle with a fury that drew their whole attention upon himself, and gave his sister an opportunity of effecting her escape. He quickly fell, however, under the tomahawks of his enemies, and was found at daylight, scalped and mangled in a shocking manner. Of the whole family consisting of eight persons, when the attack commenced, only three escaped. Four were killed upon the spot, and one (the second daughter) carried off as a prisoner.
"The neighborhood was quickly alarmed, and by daylight about thirty men were assembled under the command of Colonel Edwards. A light snow had fallen during the latter part of the night, and the Indian trail could be pursued at a gallop. It led directly into the mountainous country bordering upon Licking, and afforded evidences of great hurry and precipitation on the part of the fugitives. Unfortunately a hound had been permitted to accompany the whites, and as the trail became fresh and the scent warm, she followed it with eagerness, baying loudly and giving the alarm to the Indians. The consequences of this imprudence were soon displayed. The enemy finding the pursuit keen, and perceiving that the strength of the prisoner began to fail, instantly sunk their tomahawks in her head and left her, still warm and bleeding, upon the snow."
As the whites came up, she retained strength enough to waive her hand in token of recognition, and appeared desirous of giving them some information, with regard to the enemy, but her strength was too far gone. Her brother sprung from his horse and knelt by her side, endeavoring to stop the effusion of blood, but in vain. She gave him her hand, muttered some inarticulate words, and expired within two minutes after the arrival of the party. The pursuit was renewed with additional ardor, and in twenty minutes the enemy was within view. They had taken possession of a steep narrow ridge and seemed desirous of magnifying their numbers in the eyes of the whites, as they ran rapidly from tree to tree, and maintained a steady yell in their most appalling tones. The pursuers, however, were too experienced to be deceived by so common an artifice, and being satisfied that the number of the enemy must be inferior to their own, they dismounted, tied their horses, and flanking out in such a manner as to enclose the enemy, ascended the ridge as rapidly as was consistent with a due regard to the shelter of their persons.
The firing quickly commenced, and now for the first time they discovered that only two Indians were opposed to them. They had voluntarily sacrificed themselves for the safety of the main body, and succeeded in delaying pursuit until their friends could reach the mountains. One of them was instantly shot dead, and the other was badly wounded, as was evident from the blood upon his blanket, as well as that which filled his tracks in the snow for a considerable distance. The pursuit was recommenced, and urged keenly until night, when the trail entered a running stream and was lost. On the following morning the snow had melted, and every trace of the enemy was obliterated. This affair must be regarded as highly honorable to the skill, address, and activity of the Indians; and the self-devotion of the rear guard, is a lively instance of that magnanimity of which they are at times capable, and which is more remarkable in them, from the extreme caution, and tender regard for their own lives, which usually distinguished their warriors.
From this time Simon Kenton's name became very prominent as a leader. This year, at the head of forty-six men, he pursued a body of Indians, but did not succeed in overtaking them, which he afterward regarded as a fortunate circumstance, as he ascertained that they were at least double the number of his own party. A man by the name of Scott, having been carried off by the Indians, Kenton followed them over the Ohio, and released him.
As early as January, 1783, the Indians entered Kentucky, two of them were captured near Crab Orchard by Captain Whitley. The same month, a party stole a number of horses from the Elkhorn settlements; they were pursued and surprised in their camp. Their leader extricated his hand, by a singular stratagem. Springing up before the whites could fire, he went through a series of the most extraordinary antics, leaping and yelling as if frantic. This conduct absorbing the attention of the whites, his followers took advantage of the opportunity to escape. As soon as they had all disappeared, the wily chief plunged into the woods and was seen no more. The attacks were continued in March. Several parties and families suffered severely. Lieutenant McClure, following the trail of a marauding party of Indians, fell in with an other body, and in the skirmish that ensued, was mortally wounded.
In 1789, a conference was held at the mouth of the Muskingum, with most of the northwestern tribes, the result of which was the conclusion of another treaty. The Shawanese were not included in this pacification. This tribe was the most constant in its enmity to the whites, of all the Western Indians. There was but little use in making peace with the Indians unless all were included; for as long as one tribe was at war, restless spirits among the others were found to take part with them, and the whites, on the other hand, were not particular to distinguish between hostile and friendly Indians.
Though the depredations continued this year, no affair of unusual interest occurred; small parties of the Indians infested the settlements, murdering and plundering the inhabitants. They were generally pursued, but mostly without success. Major McMillan was attacked by six or seven Indians, but escaped unhurt after killing two of his assailants.
A boat upon the Ohio was fired upon, five men killed, and a woman made prisoner. In their attacks upon boats, the Indians employed the stratagem of which the whites had been warned by Girty. White men would appear upon the shore, begging the crew to rescue them from the Indians, who were pursuing them. Some of these were renegades, and others prisoners compelled to act this part, under threats of death in its most dreadful form if they refused.
The warning of Girty is supposed to have saved many persons from this artifice; but too often unable to resist the many appeals, emigrants became victims to the finest feelings of our nature.
Thus in March, 1790, a boat descending the river was decoyed ashore, and no sooner had it reached the bank than it was captured by fifty Indians, who killed a man and a woman, and made the rest prisoners. An expedition was made against the Indians on the Sciota by General Harmer, of the United States army, and General Scott, of the Kentucky militia, but nothing of consequence was achieved. In May a number of people returning from Divine service, on Bear Grass Creek, were attacked, and one man killed, and a woman made prisoner, who was afterward tomahawked. Three days after, a boat containing six men and several families was captured by sixteen Indians without loss. The whites were all carried off by the Indians, who intended, it is said, to make them slaves; one of the men escaped and brought the news to the settlements.
In the fall Harmer made a second expedition, which was attended with great disasters. Several marauding attacks of the Indians ensued; nor was peace finally restored until after the treaty of Greenville, which followed the subjugation of the Indians by General Wayne in 1794.
[Footnote 53: McClung.]
[Footnote 54: "Western Annals."]
Colonel Boone meets with the loss of all his land in Kentucky, and emigrates to Virginia—Resides on the Kenhawas, near Point Pleasant—Hears of the fertility of Missouri, and the abundance of game there—Emigrates to Missouri—Is appointed commandant of a district under the Spanish Government—Mr. Audubon's narrative of a night passed with Boone, and the narratives made by him during the night—Extraordinary power of his memory.
A period of severe adversity for Colonel Boone now ensued. His aversion to legal technicalities and his ignorance of legal forms were partly the cause of defects in the titles to the lands which he had long ago acquired, improved, and nobly defended. But the whole system of land titles in Kentucky at that early period was so utterly defective, that hundreds of others who were better informed and more careful than the old pioneer, lost their lands by litigation and the arts and rogueries of land speculators, who made it their business to hunt up defects in land titles.
The Colonel lost all his land—even his beautiful farm near Boonesborough, which ought to have been held sacred by any men possessed of a particle of patriotism or honest feeling, was taken from him. He consequently left Kentucky and settled on the Kenhawa River in Virginia, not far from Point Pleasant. This removal appears to have taken place in the year 1790. He remained in this place several years, cultivating a farm, raising stock, and at the proper seasons indulging in his favorite sport of hunting.
Some hunters who had been pursuing their sport on the western shores of the Missouri River gave Colonel Boone a very vivid description of that country, expatiating on the fertility of the land, the abundance of game, and the great herds of buffalo ranging over the vast expanse of the prairies. They also described the simple manners of the people, the absence of lawyers and lawsuits, and the Arcadian happiness which was enjoyed by all in the distant region, in such glowing terms that Boone resolved to emigrate and settle there, leaving his fourth son Jesse in the Kenhawa valley, where he had married and settled, and who did not follow him till several years after.
Mr. Peck fixes the period of this emigration in 1795. Perkins, in his "Western Annals," places it in 1797. His authority is an article of Thomas J. Hinde in the "American Pioneer," who says: "I was 'neighbor to Daniel Boone, the first white man that fortified against the. Indians in Kentucky. In October, 1797, I saw him on pack-horses take up his journey for Missouri, then Upper Louisiana."
Mr. Peck says: "At that period, and for several years after, the country of his retreat belonged to the Crown of Spain. His fame had reached this remote region before him; and he received of the Lieutenant-Governor, who resided at St. Louis, 'assurance that ample portions of land should be given to him and his family.' His first residence was in the Femme Osage settlement, in the District of St. Charles, about forty-five miles west of St. Louis. Here he remained with his son Daniel M. Boone until 1804, when he removed to the residence of his youngest son, Nathan Boone, with whom he continued till about 1810, when he went to reside with his son-in-law, Flanders Callaway. A commission from Don Charles D. Delassus, Lieutenant-Governor, dated July 11th, 1800, appointing him commandant of the Femme Osage District, was tendered and accepted. He retained this command, which included both civil and military duties and he continued to discharge them with credit to himself, and to the satisfaction of all concerned, until the transfer of the government to the United States. The simple manners of the frontier people of Missouri exactly suited the peculiar habits and temper of Colonel Boone."
It was during his residence in Missouri that Colonel Boone was visited by the great naturalist, J.J. Audubon, who passed a night with him. In his Ornithological Biography, Mr. Audubon gives the following narrative of what passed on that occasion:
"Daniel Boone, or, as he was usually called in the Western country, Colonel Boone, happened to spend a night with me under the same roof, more than twenty years ago. We had returned from a shooting excursion, in the course of which his extraordinary skill in the management of the rifle had been fully displayed. On retiring to the room appropriated to that remarkable individual and myself for the night, I felt anxious to know more of his exploits and adventures than I did, and accordingly took the liberty of proposing numerous questions to him. The stature and general appearance of this wanderer of the Western forests approached the gigantic. His chest was broad and prominent; his muscular powers displayed themselves in every limb; his countenance gave indication of his great courage, enterprise, and perseverance; and when he spoke, the very motion of his lips brought the impression that whatever he uttered could not be otherwise than strictly true. I undressed, whilst he merely took off his hunting-shirt, and arranged a few folds of blankets on the floor, choosing rather to lie there, as he observed, than on the softest bed. When we had both disposed of ourselves, each after his own fashion, he related to me the following account of his powers of memory, which I lay before you, kind reader, in his own words, hoping that the simplicity of his style may prove interesting to you:"
"'I was once,' said he, 'on a hunting expedition on the banks of the Green River, when the lower parts of this State (Kentucky) were still in the hands of Nature, and none but the sons of the soil were looked upon as its lawful proprietors. We Virginians had for some time been waging a war of intrusion upon them, and I, amongst the rest, rambled through the woods in pursuit of their race, as I now would follow the tracks of any ravenous animal. The Indians outwitted me one dark night, and I was as unexpectedly as suddenly made a prisoner by them. The trick had been managed with great skill; for no sooner had I extinguished the fire of my camp, and laid me down to rest, in full security, as I thought, than I felt myself seized by an indistinguishable number of hands, and was immediately pinioned, as if about to be led to the scaffold for execution. To have attempted to be refractory would have proved useless and dangerous to my life; and I suffered myself to be removed from my camp to theirs, a few miles distant, without uttering even a word of complaint. You are aware, I dare say, that to act in this manner was the best policy, as you understand that by so doing I proved to the Indians at once that I was born and bred as fearless of death as any of themselves.
"'When we reached the camp, great rejoicings were exhibited. Two squaws and a few papooses appeared particularly delighted at the sight of me, and I was assured, by very unequivocal gestures and words, that, on the morrow, the mortal enemy of the Redskins would cease to live. I never opened my lips but was busy contriving some scheme which might enable me to give the rascals the slip before dawn. The women immediately fell a searching about my hunting-shirt for whatever they might think valuable, and, fortunately for me, soon found my flask tilled with Monongahela (that is, reader, strong whisky). A terrific grin was exhibited on their murderous countenances, while my heart throbbed with joy at the anticipation of their intoxication. The crew immediately began to beat their bellies and sing, as they passed the bottle from mouth to mouth. How often did I wish the flask ten times its size, and filled with aquafortis! I observed that the squaws drank more freely than the warriors, and again my spirits were about to be depressed, when the report of a gun was heard at a distance. The Indians all jumped on their feet. The singing and drinking were both brought to a stand, and I saw, with inexpressible joy, the men walk off to some distance and talk to the squaws. I knew that they were consulting about me, and I foresaw that in a few moments the warriors would go to discover the cause of the gun having been fired so near their camp. I expected that the squaws would be left to guard me. Well, sir, it was just so. They returned; the men took up their guns, and walked away. The squaws sat down again, and in less than five minutes had my bottle up to their dirty mouths, gurgling down their throats the remains of the whisky.
"'With what pleasure did I see them becoming more and more drunk, until the liquor took such hold of them that it was quite impossible for these women to be of any service. They tumbled down, rolled about, and began to snore; when I, having no other chance of freeing myself from the cords that fastened me, rolled over and over toward the fire, and, after a short time, burned them asunder. I rose on my feet, stretched my stiffened sinews, snatched up my rifle, and, for once in my life spared that of Indians. I now recollect how desirous I once or twice felt to lay open the skulls of the wretches with my tomahawk; but when I again thought upon killing beings unprepared and unable to defend themselves, it looked like murder without need, and I gave up the idea.
"'But, sir, I felt determined to mark the spot, and walking to a thrifty ash sapling I cut out of it three large chips, and ran off. I soon reached the river soon crossed it, and threw myself deep into the canebrakes, imitating the tracks of an Indian with my feet, so that no chance might be left for those from whom I had escaped to overtake me.
"'It is now nearly twenty years since this happened, and more than five since I left the whites' settlements, which I might probably never have visited again had I not been called on as a witness in a lawsuit that was pending in Kentucky, and which I really believe would never have been settled had I not come forward and established the beginning of a certain boundary line. This is the story, sir:
"'Mr. —— moved from Old Virginia into Kentucky, and having a large tract granted to him in the new State, laid claim to a certain parcel of land adjoining Green River, and, as chance would have it, took for one of his corners the very ash tree on which I had made my mark, and finished his survey of some thousands of acres, beginning, as it is expressed in the deed, at an ash marked by three distinct notches of the tomahawk of a white man."
"'The tree had grown much, and the bark had covered the marks; but, somehow or other, Mr. —— heard from some one all that I have already said to you, and thinking that I might remember the spot alluded to in the deed, but which was no longer discoverable, wrote for me to come and try at least to find the place or the tree. His letter mentioned that all my expenses should be paid, and not caring much about once more going back to Kentucky I started and met Mr. ——. After some conversation, the affair with the Indians came to my recollection. I considered for a while, and began to think that after all I could find the very spot, as well as the tree, if it was yet standing.
"'Mr. —— and I mounted our horses, and off we went to the Green River Bottoms. After some difficulties—for you must be aware, sir, that great changes have taken place in those woods—I found at last the spot where I had crossed the river, and, waiting for the moon to rise, made for the course in which I thought the ash tree grew. On approaching the place, I felt as if the Indians were there still, and as if I was still a prisoner among them. Mr. —— and I camped near what I conceived the spot, and waited until the return of day.
"'At the rising of the sun I was on foot, and, after a good deal of musing, thought that an ash tree then in sight must be the very one on which I had made my mark, I felt as if there could be no doubt of it, and mentioned my thought to Mr. ——. 'Well, Colonel Boone,' said he, 'if you think so, I hope it may prove true, but we must have some witnesses; do you stay here about, and I will go and bring some of the settlers whom I know.' I agreed. Mr. —— trotted off, and I, to pass the time, rambled about to see if a deer was still living in the land. But ah! sir, what a wonderful difference thirty years make in the country! Why, at the time when I was caught by the Indians, you would not have walked out in any direction for more than a mile without shooting a buck or a bear. There were then thousands of buffaloes on the hills in Kentucky; the land looked as if it never would become poor: and to hunt in those days was a pleasure indeed. But when I was left to myself on the banks of Green River, I dare say for the last time in my life, a few signs only of deer were to be seen, and, as to a deer itself, I saw none.
"'Mr. —— returned, accompanied by three gentlemen. They looked upon me as if I had been Washington himself, and walked to the ash tree which I now called my own, as if in quest of a long-lost treasure. I took an axe from one of them, and cut a few chips off the bark. Still no signs were to be seen. So I cut again until I thought it was time to be cautious, and I scraped and worked away with my butcher-knife until I did come to where my tomahawk had left an impression in the wood. We now went regularly to work, and scraped at the tree with care until three hacks, as plain as any three notches ever were, could be seen. Mr. —— and the other gentlemen were astonished, and I must allow I was as much surprised as pleased myself. I made affidavit of this remarkable occurrence in presence of these gentlemen. Mr. —— gained his cause. I left Green River forever, and came to where we now are; and sir I wish you a good-night.'"
[Footnote 55: Peck.]
[Footnote 56: Life of Boone.]
[Footnote 57: This would be about the year 1810.]
Colonel Boone receives a large grant of land from the Spanish Government of Upper Louisiana—He subsequently loses it by neglecting to secure the formal title—His law suits in his new home—Character of the people—Sketch of the history of Missouri—Colonel Boone's hunting—He pays his debts by the sale of furs—Hunting excursions continued—In danger from the Indians—Taken sick in his hunting camp—His relatives settled in his neighborhood—Colonel Boone applies to Congress to recover his land—The Legislature of Kentucky supports his claim—Death of Mrs. Boone—Results of the application to Congress—He receives one-eleventh part of his just claim—He ceases to hunt—Occupations of his declining years—Mr. Harding paints his portrait.
In consideration of his official services as Syndic, ten thousand arpents of excellent land were given to Colonel Boone by the Government. Under the special law, in order to make his title good, he should have obtained a confirmation of his grant from the immediate representative of the Crown, then residing in New Orleans. But his friend, the Commandant at St. Louis, undertook to dispense with his residence on the land which was another condition to a sound title, and Boone probably supposed that "all would be right" without attending to any of the formalities, and neglected to take the necessary steps for holding his land securely.
It is probable that he foresaw that Missouri would soon become a part of the United States, and expected justice from that quarter. But in this he was disappointed, for when that event took place, the commissioners of the United States appointed to decide on confirmed claims felt constrained by their instructions and rejected Colonel Boone's claims for want of legal formalities.
Thus was the noble pioneer a second time deprived of the recompense of his inestimable services by his inattention to the precautions necessary for securing his rights. This second misfortune came upon him some time after the period of which we are now writing.
Meantime Colonel Boone found his residence in Missouri agreeable, and in every respect congenial to his habits and tastes. His duties as Syndic were light; and he was allowed ample time for the cultivation of his land, and for occasional tours of hunting, in which he so greatly delighted. Trapping beaver was another of his favorite pursuits, and in this new country he found abundance of this as well as other species of game.
A greater part of the people of Missouri were emigrants from the United States, pioneers of the West, who had already resisted Indian aggressions, and were welcomed by the French and Spanish settlers as a clear accession to their military strength,
A brief notice of the history of this State, showing how the different kinds of population came there, will be not inappropriate in this place.
Though the French were the first settlers, and for a long time the principal inhabitants of Missouri, yet a very small portion of her present population is of that descent. A fort was built by that people as early as 1719, near the site of the present capital, called Fort Orleans, and its lead mines worked to some extent the next year. St. Genevieve, the oldest town in the State, was settled in 1755, and St. Louis in 1764. At the treaty of 1763 it was assigned, with all the territory west of the Mississippi, to Spain. "In 1780, St. Louis was besieged and attacked by a body of British troops and Indians, fifteen hundred and forty strong." During the siege, sixty of the French were killed. The siege was raised by Colonel George Rogers Clark, who came with five hundred men to the relief of the place. At the close of the American Revolution, the territory west of the Mississippi remained with Spain till it was ceded to France, in 1801. In 1803, at the purchase of Louisiana, it came into the possession of the United States, and formed part of the territory of Louisiana, until the formation of the State of that name in 1812, when the remainder of the territory was named Missouri, from which (after a stormy debate in Congress as to the admission of slavery) was separated the present State of Missouri in 1721.
The office of Syndic, to which Colonel Boone had been appointed, is similar to that of justice of the peace under our own government: but it is more extensive, as combining military with civil powers. Its exercise in Colonel Boone's district did not by any means occupy the whole of his time and attention. On the contrary, he found sufficient time for hunting in the winter months—the regular hunting season. At first he was not very successful in obtaining valuable furs; but after two or three seasons, he was able to secure a sufficient quantity to enable him, by the proceeds of their sale, to discharge some outstanding debts in Kentucky; and he made a journey thither for that purpose. When he had seen each creditor, and paid him all he demanded, he returned home to Missouri, and on his arrival he had but half a dollar remaining. "To his family," says Mr. Peck, "and a circle of friends who had called to see him, he said, 'Now I am ready and willing to die. I am relieved from a burden that has long oppressed me. I have paid all my debts, and no one will say, when I am gone, 'Boone was a dishonest man.' I am perfectly willing to die.'"
Boone still continued his hunting excursions, attended sometimes by some friend: but most frequently by a black servant boy. On one of these occasions these two had to resist an attack of Osage Indians, whom they speedily put to flight. At another time, when he was entirely alone, a large encampment of Indians made its appearance in his neighborhood; and he was compelled to secrete himself for twenty days in his camp, cooking his food only in the middle of the night, so that the smoke of his fire would not be seen. At the end of this long period of inaction the Indians went off.
At another time, while in his hunting camp, with only a negro boy for his attendant, he fell sick and lay a long time unable to go out. When sufficiently recovered to walk out, he pointed out to the boy a place where he wished to be buried if he should die in camp, and also gave the boy very exact directions about his burial, and the disposal of his rifle, blankets and peltry.
Among the relations of Colonel Boone, who were settled in his neighborhood, were Daniel Morgan Boone, his eldest son then living, who had gone out before his father; Nattra, with his wife, who had followed in 1800; and Flanders Callaway, his son-in-law, who had come out about the time that Missouri, then Upper Louisiana, became a part of the United States territory.
We have already stated that the land granted to Colonel Boone, in consideration of his performing the duties of Syndic, was lost by his omission to comply with the legal formalities necessary to secure his title.
In addition to the ten thousand arpents of land thus lost, he had been entitled as a citizen to one thousand arpents of land according to the usage in other cases; but he appears not to have complied with the condition of actual residence on this land, and it was lost in consequence.
In 1812, Colonel Boone sent a petition to Congress, praying for a confirmation of his original claims. In order to give greater weight to his application, he presented a memorial to the General Assembly of Kentucky, on the thirteenth of January, 1812, soliciting the aid of that body in obtaining from Congress the confirmation of his claims.
The Legislature, by a unanimous vote, passed the following preamble and resolutions.
"The Legislature of Kentucky, taking into view the many eminent services rendered by Col. Boone, in exploring and settling the western country, from which great advantages have resulted, not only to this State, but to his country in general; and that from circumstances over which he had no control, he is now reduced to poverty, not having, so far as appears, an acre of land out of the vast territory he has been a great instrument in peopling; believing, also, that it is as unjust as it is impolitic, that useful enterprise and eminent services should go unrewarded by a government where merit confers the only distinction; and having sufficient reason to believe that a grant of ten thousand acres of land, which he claims in Upper Louisiana, would have been confirmed by the Spanish government, had not said territory passed, by cession, into the hands of the general government: wherefore.
"Resolved, by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,—That our Senators in Congress be requested to make use of their exertions to procure a grant of land in said territory to said Boone, either the ten thousand acres to which he appears to have an equitable claim, from the grounds set forth to this Legislature, by way of confirmation, or to such quantity in such place as shall be deemed most advisable, by way of donation."
Notwithstanding this action of the Legislature of Kentucky, Colonel Boone's appeal, like many other just and reasonable claims presented to Congress, was neglected for some time. During this period of anxious suspense, Mrs. Boone, the faithful and affectionate wife of the venerable pioneer, who had shared his toils and anxieties, and cheered his home for so many years, was taken from his side. She died in March, 1813, at the age of seventy-six. The venerable pioneer was now to miss her cheerful companionship for the remainder of his life; and to a man of his affectionate disposition this must have been a severe privation.
Colonel Boone's memorial to Congress received the earnest and active support of Judge Coburn, Joseph Vance, Judge Burnett, and other distinguished men belonging to the Western country. But it was not till the 24th of December, 1813, that the Committee on Public Lands made a report on the subject.
The report certainly is a very inconsistent one, as it fully admits the justice of his claim to eleven thousand arpents of land, and recommends Congress to give him the miserable pittance of one thousand arpents, to which he was entitled in common with all the other emigrants to Upper Louisiana! The act for the confirmation of the title passed on the 10th of February, 1814.
For ten years before his decease, Colonel Boone gave up his favorite pursuit of hunting. The infirmities of age rendered it imprudent for him to venture alone in the woods.
The closing years of Colonel Boone's life were passed in a manner entirely characteristic of the man. He appears to have considered love to mankind, reverence to the Supreme Being, delight in his works and constant usefulness, as the legitimate ends of life. After the decease of Mrs. Boone, he divided his time among the different members of his family, making his home with his eldest daughter, Mrs. Callaway, visiting his other children, and especially his youngest son, Major Nathan Boone, for longer or shorter periods, according to his inclination and convenience. He was greatly beloved by all his descendants, some of whom were of the fifth generation; and he took great delight in their society.
"His time at home," says Mr. Peck, "was usually occupied in some useful manner. He made powder-horns for his grandchildren, neighbors, and friends, many of which were carved and ornamented with much taste. He repaired rifles, and performed various descriptions of handicraft with neatness and finish." Making powder-horns—repairing rifles—employments in pleasing unison with old pursuits, and by the associations thus raised in his mind, always recalling the pleasures of the chase, the stilly whispering hum of the pines, the fragrance of wild flowers, and the deep solitude of the primeval forest.
In the summer of 1820, Chester Harding, who of American artists is one of the most celebrated for the accuracy of his likenesses, paid a visit to Colonel Boone for the purpose of taking his portrait. The Colonel was quite feeble, and had to be supported by a friend, the Rev. J.E. Welsh, while sitting to the artist.
This portrait is the original from which most of the engravings of Boone have been executed. It represents him in his hunting-dress, with his large hunting-knife in his belt. The face is very thin and pale, and the hair perfectly white; the eyes of a bright blue color, and the expression of the countenance mild and pleasing.
[Footnote 58: An arpent of land is eighty-five-hundredths of an acre.]
[Footnote 59: Lippincott's Gazetteer.]
[Footnote 60: The owners of the money of which he was robbed on his journey to Virginia, as already related, had voluntarily relinquished all claims on him. This was a simple act of justice.]
[Footnote 61: Peck.]
[Footnote 62: Ibid.]
[Footnote 63: Peck. Life of Boone.]
Last illness, and death of Colonel Boone—His funeral—Account of his family—His remains and those of his wife removed from Missouri, and reinterred in the new cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky—Character of Colonel Boone.
In September, 1820, Colonel Boone had an attack of fever, from which he recovered so as to make a visit to the house of his son, Major Nathan Boone. Soon after, from an indiscretion in his diet, he had a relapse; and after a confinement to the house of only three days, he expired on the 26th of September, in the eighty-sixth year of his age.
He was buried in a coffin which he had kept ready for several years. His remains were laid by the side of those of his deceased wife. The great respect and reverence entertained toward him, attracted a large concourse from the neighboring country to the funeral. The Legislature of Missouri, then in session, passed a resolution that the members should wear the badge of mourning usual in such cases for twenty days; and an adjournment for one day took place.
Colonel Boone had five sons and four daughters The two oldest sons, as already related, were killed by the Indians. His third, Colonel Daniel Morgan Boone, resided in Missouri, and died about 1842, past the age of eighty. Jesse Boone, the fourth son, settled in Missouri about 1805, and died at St. Louis a few years after. Major Nathan Boone, the youngest child, resided for many years in Missouri, and received a commission in the United States Dragoons. He was still living at a recent date. Daniel Boone's daughters, Jemima, Susannah, Rebecca, and Lavinia, were all married, lived and died in Kentucky.
In 1845 the citizens of Frankfort, Kentucky, having prepared a rural cemetery, resolved to consecrate it by interring in it the remains of Daniel Boone and his wife. The consent of the family being obtained, the reinterment took place on the 20th of August of that year.
The pageant was splendid and deeply interesting. A few survivors of Boone's contemporaries were present, gathered from all parts of the State, and a numerous train of his descendants and relatives led the van of the procession escorting the hearse, which was decorated with forest evergreens and white lilies, an appropriate tribute to the simple as well as glorious character of Boone, and a suitable emblem of his enduring fame. The address was delivered by Mr. Crittenden, and the concourse of citizens from Kentucky and the neighboring States was immense.
The reader of the foregoing pages will have no difficulty in forming a correct estimate of Boone's character. He was one of the purest and noblest of the pioneers of the West. Regarding himself as an instrument in the hands of Providence for accomplishing great purposes, he was nevertheless always modest and unassuming, never seeking distinction, but always accepting the post of duty and danger.
As a military leader he was remarkable for prudence, coolness, bravery, and imperturbable self-possession. His knowledge of the character of the Indians enabled him to divine their intentions and baffle their best laid plans; and notwithstanding his resistance of their inroads, he was always a great favorite amongst them. As a father, husband, and citizen, his character seems to have been faultless; and his intercourse with his fellow-men was always marked by the strictest integrity and honor.
COLONEL BOONE'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
[The following pages were dictated by Colonel Boone to John Filson, and published in 1784. Colonel Boone has been heard to say repeatedly since its publication, that "it is every word true."]
Curiosity is natural to the soul of man, and interesting objects have a powerful influence on our affections. Let these influencing powers actuate, by the permission or disposal of Providence, from selfish or social views, yet in time the mysterious will of Heaven is unfolded, and we behold our conduct, from whatsoever motives excited, operating to answer the important designs of Heaven. Thus we behold Kentucky, lately a howling wilderness, the habitation of savages and wild beasts, become a fruitful field; this region, so favorably distinguished by nature, now become the habitation of civilization, at a period unparalleled in history, in the midst of a raging war, and under all the disadvantages of emigration to a country so remote from the inhabited parts of the continent. Here, where the hand of violence shed the blood of the innocent; where the horrid yells of savages and the groans of the distressed sounded in our ears, we now hear the praises and adorations of our Creator; where wretched wigwams stood, the miserable abodes of savages, we behold the foundations of cities laid, that, in all probability, will equal the glory of the greatest upon earth. And we view Kentucky, situated on the fertile banks of the great Ohio, rising from obscurity to shine with splendor, equal to any other of the stars of the American hemisphere.
The settling of this region well deserves a place in history. Most of the memorable events I have myself been exercised in; and, for the satisfaction of the public, will briefly relate the circumstance of my adventures, and scenes of life from my first movement to this country until this day.
It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucky, in company with John Finley, John Stewart, Joseph Holden, James Monay, and William Cool. We proceeded successfully, and after a long and fatiguing journey through a mountainous wilderness, in a westward direction. On the 7th of June following we found ourselves on Red River, where John Finley had formerly been trading with the Indians, and, from the top of an eminence, saw with pleasure the beautiful level of Kentucky. Here let me observe that for some time we had experienced the most uncomfortable weather, as a pre-libation of our future sufferings. At this place we encamped, and made a shelter to defend us from the inclement season, and began to hunt and reconnoitre the country. We found everywhere abundance of wild beasts of all sorts, through this vast forest. The buffalo were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the herbage on those extensive plains, fearless, because ignorant of the violence of man. Sometimes we saw hundreds in a drove, and the numbers about the salt springs were amazing. In this forest, the habitation of beasts of every kind natural to America, we practiced hunting with great success until the 22d day of December following.
This day John Steward and I had a pleasing ramble, but fortune changed the scene in the close of it. We had passed through a great forest, on which stood myriads of trees, some gay with blossoms, and others rich with fruits. Nature was here a series of wonders, and a fund of delight. Here she displayed her ingenuity and industry in a variety of flowers and fruits, beautifully colored, elegantly shaped, and charmingly flavored; and we were diverted with innumerable animals presenting themselves perpetually to our view. In the decline of the day, near Kentucky River, as we ascended the brow of a small hill, a number of Indians rushed out of a thick canebrake upon us, and made us prisoners. The time of our sorrow was now arrived, and the scene fully opened. The Indians plundered us of what we had, and kept us in confinement seven days, treating us with common savage usage. During this time we discovered no uneasiness or desire to escape, which made them less suspicious of us; but in the dead of night, as we lay in a thick canebrake by a large fire, when sleep had locked-up their senses, my situation not disposing me for rest, I touched my companion, and gently awoke him. We improved this favorable opportunity and departed, leaving them to take their rest, and speedily directed our course toward our old camp, but found it plundered, and the company dispersed and gone home. About this time my brother, Squire Boone, with another adventurer, who came to explore the country shortly after us, was wandering through the forest, determined to find me if possible, and accidentally found our camp. Notwithstanding the unfortunate circumstances of our company, and our dangerous situation, as surrounded with hostile savages, our meeting so fortunately in the wilderness made us reciprocally sensible of the utmost satisfaction. So much does friendship triumph over misfortune, that sorrows and sufferings vanish at the meeting not only of real friends, but of the most distant acquaintances, and substitute happiness in their room.
Soon after this, my companion in captivity, John Stewart, was killed by the savages, and the man that came with my brother returned home by himself. We were then in a dangerous, helpless situation, exposed daily to perils and death among savages and wild beasts—not a white man in the country but ourselves.
Thus situated, many hundred miles from our families in the howling wilderness, I believe few would have equally enjoyed the happiness we experienced. I often observed to my brother, "You see now how little nature requires to be satisfied. Felicity, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things; and I firmly believe it requires but a little philosophy to make a man happy in whatsoever state he is. This consists in a full resignation to the will of Providence; and a resigned soul finds pleasure in a path strewed with briers and thorns."
We continued not in a state of indolence, but hunted every day, and prepared a little cottage to defend us from the winter storms. We remained there undisturbed during the winter, and on the first day of May, 1770, my brother returned home to the settlement by himself, for a new recruit of horses and ammunition, leaving me by myself, without bread, salt, or sugar, without company of my fellow-creatures, or even a horse or dog. I confess I never before was under greater necessity of exercising philosophy and fortitude. A few days I passed uncomfortably. The idea of a beloved wife and family, and their anxiety upon the account of my absence and exposed situation, made sensible impressions on my heart. A thousand dreadful apprehensions presented themselves to my view, and had undoubtedly disposed me to melancholy, if further indulged.
One day I undertook a tour through the country, and the diversity and beauties of nature I met with in this charming season, expelled every gloomy and vexatious thought. Just at the close of day the gentle gales retired, and left the place to the disposal of a profound calm. Not a breeze shook the most tremulous leaf. I had gained the summit of a commanding ridge, and, looking round with astonishing delight, beheld the ample plains, the beauteous tracts below. On the other hand, I surveyed the famous river Ohio, that rolled in silent dignity, marking the western boundary of Kentucky with inconceivable grandeur. At a vast distance I beheld the mountains lift their venerable brows, and penetrate the clouds. All things were still. I kindled a fire near a fountain of sweet water, and feasted on the loin of a buck, which a few hours before I had killed. The sullen shades of night soon overspread the whole hemisphere, and the earth seemed to gasp after the hovering moisture. My roving excursion this day had fatigued my body, and diverted my imagination. I laid me down to sleep, and I awoke not until the sun had chased away the night. I continued this tour, and in a few days explored a considerable part of the country, each day equally pleased as the first. I returned again to my old camp, which was not disturbed in my absence. I did not confine my lodging to it, but often reposed in thick canebrakes, to avoid the savages, who, I believe, often visited my camp, but, fortunately for me, in my absence. In this situation I was constantly exposed to danger and death. How unhappy such a situation for a man tormented with fear, which is vain if no danger comes, and if it does, only augments the pain! It was my happiness to be destitute of this afflicting passion, with which I had the greatest reason to be affected. The prowling wolves diverted my nocturnal hours with perpetual howlings; and the various species of animals in this vast forest, in the daytime, were continually in my view.
Thus I was surrounded by plenty in the midst of want. I was happy in the midst of dangers and inconveniences. In such a diversity, it was impossible I should be disposed to melancholy. No populous city, with all the varieties of commerce and stately Structures, could afford so much pleasure to my mind as the beauties of nature I found here.
Thus, through an uninterrupted scene of sylvan pleasures, I spent the time until the 27th day of July following, when my brother, to my great felicity, met me, according to appointment, at our old camp. Shortly after, we left this place, not thinking it safe to stay there longer, and proceeded to Cumberland River, reconnoitering that part of the country until March, 1771, and giving names to the different waters.
Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune.
I returned safe to my old habitation, and found my family in happy circumstances. I sold my farm on the Yadkin, and what goods we could not carry with us; and on the 25th day of September, 1773, bade a farewell to our friends, and proceeded on our journey to Kentucky, in company with five families more, and forty men that joined us in Powel's Valley, which is one hundred and fifty miles from the now settled parts of Kentucky, This promising beginning was soon overcast with a cloud of adversity; for, upon the 10th day of October, the rear of our company was attacked by a number of Indians, who killed six, and wounded one man. Of these, my eldest son was one that fell in the action. Though we defended ourselves and repulsed the enemy, yet this unhappy affair scattered our cattle, brought us into extreme difficulty, and so discouraged the whole company, that we retreated forty miles, to the settlement on Clinch River. We had passed over two mountains, viz, Powel's and Walden's, and were approaching Cumberland mountain when this adverse fortune overtook us. These mountains are in the wilderness, as we pass from the old settlements in Virginia to Kentucky, are ranged in a southwest and northeast direction, are of a great length and breadth, and not far distant from each other. Over these, nature hath formed passes that are less difficult than might be expected, from a view of such huge piles. The aspect of these cliffs is so wild and horrid, that it is impossible to behold them without terror. The spectator is apt to imagine that nature has formerly suffered some violent convulsion, and that these are the dismembered remains of the dreadful shock; the ruins, not of Persepolis or Palmyra, but of the world!
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 settlements 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 days.
Soon after I returned home, I was ordered to take the command of three garrisons during the campaign which Governor Dunmore carried on against the Shawanese Indians; after the conclusion of which, 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 from the settlement 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 20th 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 first 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 employed in building this fort until the fourteenth day of June following, without any further opposition from the Indians; and having finished the works, I returned to my family on Clinch.
In a short time I proceeded to remove my family from Clinch to this garrison, where we arrived safe, without any other difficulties than such as are common to this passage; my wife and daughter being the first white women that ever stood on the banks of Kentucky River.
On the 24th day of December following, we had one man killed, and one wounded by the Indians, who seemed determined to persecute us for erecting this fortification.
On the fourteenth day of July, 1776, two of Colonel Calaway's daughters, and one of mine, were taken prisoners near the fort. I immediately pursued the Indians with only eight men, and on the 16th overtook them, killed two of the party, and recovered the girls. The same day on which this attempt was made, the Indians divided themselves into different parties, and attacked several forts, which were shortly before this time erected, doing a great deal of mischief. This was extremely distressing to the new settlers. The innocent husbandman was shot down, while busy in cultivating the soil for his family's supply. Most of the cattle around the stations were destroyed. They continued their hostilities in this manner until the 15th of April, 1777, when they attacked Boonesborough with a party of above one hundred in number, killed one man, and wounded four. Their loss in this attack was not certainly known to us.
On the 4th day of July following, a party of about two hundred Indians attacked Boonesborough, killed one man and wounded two. They besieged us forty-eight hours, during which time seven of them were killed, and, at last, finding themselves not likely to prevail, they raised the siege and departed.
The Indians had disposed their warriors in different parties at this time, and attacked the different garrisons, to prevent their assisting each other, and did much injury to the distressed inhabitants.
On the 19th day of this month, Colonel Logan's fort was besieged by a party of about two hundred Indians. During this dreadful siege they did a great deal of mischief, distressed the garrison, in which were only fifteen men, killed two, and wounded one. The enemy's loss was uncertain, from the common practice which the Indians have of carrying off their dead in time of battle. Colonel Harrod's fort was then defended by only sixty-five men, and Boonesborough by twenty-two, there being no more forts or white men in the country, except at the Falls, a considerable distance from these; and all, taken collectively, were but a handful to the numerous warriors that were everywhere dispersed through the country, intent upon doing all the mischief that savage barbarity could invent. Thus we passed through a scene of sufferings that exceeds description.
On the 25th of this month, a reinforcement of forty-five men arrived from North Carolina, and about the 20th of August following, Colonel Bowman arrived with one hundred men from Virginia. Now we began to strengthen; and hence, for the space of six weeks, we had skirmishes with Indians, in one quarter or another, almost every day.
The savages now learned the superiority of the Long Knife, as they call the Virginians, by experience; being out-generalled in almost every battle. Our affairs began to wear a new aspect, and the enemy, not daring to venture on open war, practiced secret mischief at times.
On the 1st day of January, 1778, I went with a party of thirty men to the Blue Licks, on Licking River, to make salt for the different garrisons in the country.
On the 7th day of February, as I was hunting to procure meat for the company, I met with a party of one hundred and two Indians, and two Frenchmen, on their march against Boonesborough, that place being particularly the object of the enemy. They pursued, and took me; and brought me on the 8th day to the Licks, where twenty-seven of my party were, three of them having previously returned home with the salt. I, knowing it was impossible for them to escape, capitulated with the enemy, and, at a distance, in their view, gave notice to my men of their situation, with orders not to resist, but surrender themselves captives.
The generous usage the Indians had promised before in my capitulation, was afterward fully complied with, and we proceeded with them as prisoners to Old Chilicothe, the principal Indian Town on Little Miami, where we arrived, after an uncomfortable journey, in very severe weather, on the 18th day of February, and received as good treatment as prisoners could expect from savages. On the 10th day of March following, I and ten of my men were conducted by forty Indians to Detroit, where we arrived the 30th day, and were treated by Governor Hamilton, the British commander at that post, with great humanity.
During our travels, the Indians entertained me well, and their affection for me was so great, that they utterly refused to leave me there with the others, although the Governor offered them one hundred pounds sterling for me, on purpose to give me a parole to go home. Several English gentlemen there, being sensible of my adverse fortune, and touched with human sympathy, generously offered a friendly supply for my wants, which I refused, with many thanks for their kindness—adding, that I never expected it would be in my power to recompense such unmerited generosity.
The Indians left my men in captivity with the British at Detroit, and on the 10th day of April brought me toward Old Chilicothe, where we arrived on the 25th day of the same month. This was a long and fatiguing march, through an exceedingly fertile country, remarkable for fine springs and streams of water. At Chilicothe I spent my time as comfortably as I could expect; was adopted, according to their custom, into a family, where I became a son, and had a great share in the affection of my new parents, brothers, sisters, and friends. I was exceedingly familiar and friendly with them, always appearing as cheerful and satisfied as possible, and they put great confidence in me. I often went a hunting with them, and frequently gained their applause for my activity at our shooting-matches. I was careful not to exceed many of them in shooting; for no people are more envious than they in this sport. I could observe, in their countenances and gestures, the greatest expressions of joy when they exceeded me; and, when the reverse happened, of envy. The Shawanese king took great notice of me, and treated me with profound respect and entire friendship, often entrusting me to hunt at my liberty. I frequently returned with the spoils of the woods, and as often presented some of what I had taken to him, expressive of duty to my sovereign. My food and lodging were in common with them; not so good, indeed, as I could desire, but necessity makes every thing acceptable.
I now began to meditate an escape, and carefully avoided their suspicions, continuing with them at Old Chilicothe until the 1st day of June following, and then was taken by them to the salt springs on Scioto, and kept there making salt ten days. During this time I hunted some for them, and found the land, for a great extent about this river, to exceed the soil of Kentucky, if possible, and remarkably well watered.
When I returned to Chilicothe, alarmed to see four hundred and fifty Indians, of their choicest warriors, painted and armed in a fearful manner, ready to march against Boonesborough, I determined to escape the first opportunity.
On the 16th, before sunrise, I departed in the most secret manner, and arrived at Boonesborough on the 20th, after a journey of one hundred and sixty miles, during which I had but one meal.
I found our fortress in a bad state of defense; but we proceeded immediately to repair our flanks, strengthen our gates and posterns, and form double bastions, which we completed in ten days. In this time we daily expected the arrival of the Indian army; and at length, one of my fellow-prisoners, escaping from them, arrived, informing us that the enemy had, on account of my departure, postponed their expedition three weeks. The Indians had spies out viewing our movements, and were greatly alarmed with our increase in number and fortifications. The grand council of the nations were held frequently, and with more deliberation than usual. They evidently saw the approaching hour when the Long Knife would dispossess them of their desirable habitations; and, anxiously concerned for futurity, determined utterly to extirpate the whites out of Kentucky. We were not intimidated by their movements, but frequently gave them proofs of our courage.
About the first of August, I made an incursion into the Indian Country with a party of nineteen men, in order to surprise a small town up Scioto, called Paint Creek Town. We advanced within four miles thereof, when we met a party of thirty Indians on their march against Boonesborough, intending to join the others from Chilicothe. A smart fight ensued between us for some time; at length the savages gave way and fled. We had no loss on our side; the enemy had one killed, and two wounded. We took from them three horses, and all their baggage; and being informed by two of our number that went to their town, that the Indians had entirely evacuated it, we proceeded no further, and returned with all possible expedition to assist our garrison against the other party. We passed by them on the sixth day, and on the seventh we arrived safe at Boonesborough.
On the 8th, the Indian army arrived, being four hundred and forty-four in number, commanded by Captain Duquesne, eleven other Frenchmen, and some of their own chiefs, and marched up within view of our fort, with British and French colors flying; and having sent a summons to me, in his Britannic Majesty's name, to surrender the fort, I requested two days consideration, which was granted.
It was now a critical period with us. We were a small number in the garrison—a powerful army before our walls, whose appearance proclaimed inevitable death, fearfully painted, and marking their footsteps with desolation. Death was preferable to captivity; and if taken by storm, we must inevitably be devoted to destruction. In this situation we concluded to maintain our garrison, if possible. We immediately proceeded to collect what we could of our horses and other cattle, and bring them through the posterns into the fort; and in the evening of the 9th, I returned answer that we were determined to defend our fort while a man was living. "Now," said I to their commander, who stood attentively hearing my sentiments, "we laugh at your formidable preparations; but thank you for giving us notice and time to provide for our defense. Your efforts will not prevail; for our gates shall forever deny you admittance." Whether this answer affected their courage or not I cannot tell; but contrary to our expectations, they formed a scheme to deceive us, declaring it was their orders, from Governor Hamilton, to take us captives, and not to destroy us; but if nine of us would come out and treat with them, they would immediately withdraw their forces from our walls, and return home peaceably. This sounded grateful in our ears; and we agreed to the proposal.
We held the treaty within sixty yards of the garrison, on purpose to divert them from a breach of honor, as we could not avoid suspicions of the savages. In this situation the articles were formally agreed to, and signed; and the Indians told us it was customary with them on such occasions for two Indians to shake hands with every white man in the treaty, as an evidence of entire friendship. We agreed to this also, but were soon convinced their policy was to take us prisoners. They immediately grappled us; but, although surrounded by hundreds of savages, we extricated ourselves from them, and escaped all safe into the garrison, except one that was wounded, through a heavy fire from their army. They immediately attacked us on every side, and a constant heavy fire ensued between us, day and night, for the space of nine days.
In this time the enemy began to undermine our fort, which was situated sixty yards from Kentucky River. They began at the water-mark, and proceeded in the bank some distance, which we understood by their aking the water muddy with the clay; and we immediately proceeded to disappoint their design, by cutting a trench across their subterranean passage. The enemy, discovering our countermine by the clay we threw out of the fort, desisted from that stratagem; and experience now fully convincing them that neither their power nor policy could effect their purpose, on the 20th day of August they raised the siege and departed.
During this siege, which threatened death in every form, we had two men killed, and four wounded, besides a number of cattle. We killed of the enemy thirty-seven, and wounded a great number. After they were gone, we picked up one hundred and twenty-five pounds weight of bullets, besides what stuck in the logs of our fort, which certainly is a great proof of their industry. Soon after this, I went into the settlement, and nothing worthy of a place in this account passed in my affairs for some time.
During my absence from Kentucky, Colonel Bowman carried on an expedition against the Shawanese, at Old Chilicothe, with one hundred and sixty men, in July, 1779. Here they arrived undiscovered, and a battle ensued, which lasted until ten o'clock, A.M., when Colonel Bowman, finding he could not succeed at this time, retreated about thirty miles. The Indians, in the meantime, collecting all their forces, pursued and overtook him, when a smart fight continued near two hours, not to the advantage of Colonel Bowman's party.
Colonel Harrod proposed to mount a number of horse, and furiously to rush upon the savages, who at this time fought with remarkable fury. This desperate step had a happy effect, broke their line of battle, and the savages fled on all sides. In these two battles we had nine killed, and one wounded. The enemy's loss uncertain, only two scalps being taken.
On the 22d day of June, 1780, a large party of Indians and Canadians, about six hundred in number, commanded by Colonel Bird, attacked Riddle's and Martin's stations, at the forks of Licking River, with six pieces of artillery. They carried this expedition so secretly, that the unwary inhabitants did not discover them until they fired upon the forts; and, not being prepared to oppose them, were obliged to surrender themselves miserable captives to barbarous savages, who immediately after tomahawked one man and two women, and loaded all the others with heavy baggage, forcing them along toward their towns, able or unable to march. Such as were weak and faint by the way, they tomahawked. The tender women and helpless children fell victims to their cruelty. This, and the savage treatment they received afterward, is shocking to humanity and too barbarous to relate.
The hostile disposition of the savages and their allies caused General Clarke, the commandant at the Falls of the Ohio, immediately to begin an expedition with his own regiment, and the armed force of the country, against Pecaway, the principal town of the Shawanese, on a branch of Great Miami, which he finished with great success, took seventeen scalps, and burnt the town to ashes, with the loss of seventeen men.
About this time I returned to Kentucky with my family; and here, to avoid an inquiry into my conduct, the reader being before informed of my bringing my family to Kentucky, I am under the necessity of informing him that, during my captivity with the Indians, my wife, who despaired of ever seeing me again—expecting the Indians had put a period to my life, oppressed with the distresses of the country, and bereaved of me, her only happiness—had, before I returned, transported my family and goods on horses through the wilderness, amid a multitude of dangers, to her father's house in North Carolina.
Shortly after the troubles at Boonesborough, I went to them, and lived peaceably there until this time. The history of my going home, and returning with my family, forms a series of difficulties, an account of which would swell a volume; and, being foreign to my purpose, I shall purposely omit them.
I settled my family in Boonesborough once more; and shortly after, on the 6th day of October, 1780, I went in company with my brother to the Blue Licks; and, on our return home, we were fired upon by a party of Indians. They shot him and pursued me, by the scent of their dog, three miles; but I killed the dog, and escaped. The winter soon came on, and was very severe, which confined the Indians to their wigwams.
The severities of this winter caused great difficulties in Kentucky. The enemy had destroyed most of the corn the summer before. This necessary article was scarce and dear, and the inhabitants lived chiefly on the flesh of buffalo. The circumstances of many were very lamentable; however, being a hardy race of people, and accustomed to difficulties and necessities, they were wonderfully supported through all their sufferings, until the ensuing autumn, when we received abundance from the fertile soil.
Toward spring we were frequently harassed by Indians; and in May, 1782, a party assaulted Ashton's station, killed one man, and took a negro prisoner. Captain Ashton, with twenty-five men, pursued and overtook the savages, and a smart fight ensued, which lasted two hours; but they, being superior in number, obliged Captain Ashton's party to retreat, with the loss of eight killed, and four mortally wounded; their brave commander himself being numbered among the dead.
The Indians continued their hostilities; and, about the 10th of August following, two boys were taken from Major Hoy's station. This party was pursued by Captain Holder and seventeen men, who were also defeated, with the loss of four men killed, and one wounded. Our affairs became more and more alarming. Several stations which had lately been erected in the country were continually infested with savages, stealing their horses and killing the men at every opportunity. In a field, near Lexington, an Indian shot a man, and running to scalp him, was himself shot from the fort, and fell dead upon his enemy.
Every day we experienced recent mischiefs. The barbarous savage nations of Shawanese, Cherokees, Wyandots, Tawas, Delawares, and several others near Detroit, united in a war against us, and assembled their choicest warriors at Old Chilicothe, to go on the expedition, in order to destroy us, and entirely depopulate the country. Their savage minds were inflamed to mischief by two abandoned men, Captains McKee and Girty. These led them to execute every diabolical scheme, and on the 15th day of August, commanded a party of Indians and Canadians, of about five hundred in number, against Bryant's station, five miles from Lexington. Without demanding a surrender, they furiously assaulted the garrison, which was happily prepared to oppose them; and, after they had expended much ammunition in vain, and killed the cattle round the fort, not being likely to make themselves masters of this place, they raised the siege, and departed in the morning of the third day after they came, with the loss of about thirty killed, and the number of wounded uncertain. Of the garrison, four were killed, and three wounded.
On the 18th day, Colonel Todd, Colonel Trigg, Major Harland, and myself, speedily collected one hundred and seventy-six men, well armed, and pursued the savages. They had marched beyond the Blue Licks, to a remarkable bend of the main fork of Licking River, about forty-three miles from Lexington, where we overtook them on the 19th day. The savages observing us, gave way; and we, being ignorant of their numbers, passed the river. When the enemy saw our proceedings, having greatly the advantage of us in situation, they formed the line of battle from one bend of Licking to the other, about a mile from the Blue Licks. An exceeding fierce battle immediately began, for about fifteen minutes, when we being overpowered by numbers, were obliged to retreat, with the loss of sixty-seven men, seven of whom were taken prisoners. The brave and much-lamented Colonels Todd and Trigg, Major Harland, and my second son, were among the dead. We were informed that the Indians, numbering their dead, found they had four killed more than we; and therefore four of the prisoners they had taken were, by general consent, ordered to be killed in a most barbarous manner by the young warriors, in order to train them up to cruelty; and then they proceeded to their towns.
On our retreat we were met by Colonel Logan, hastening to join us, with a number of well-armed men. This powerful assistance we unfortunately wanted in the battle; for, notwithstanding the enemy's superiority of numbers, they acknowledged that, if they had received one more fire from us, they should undoubtedly have given way. So valiantly did our small party light, that to the memory of those who unfortunately fell in the battle, enough of honor cannot be paid. Had Colonel Logan and his party been with us, it is highly probable we should have given the savages a total defeat.
I cannot reflect upon this dreadful scene, but sorrow fills my heart. A zeal for the defense of their country led these heroes to the scene of action, though with a few men to attack a powerful army of experienced warriors. When we gave way, they pursued us with the utmost eagerness, and in every quarter spread destruction. The river was difficult to cross, and many were killed in the flight—some just entering the river, some in the water, others after crossing, in ascending the cliffs. Some escaped on horseback, a few on foot; and, being dispersed everywhere in a few hours, brought the melancholy news of this unfortunate battle to Lexington. Many widows were now made. The reader may guess what sorrow filled the hearts of the inhabitants, exceeding any thing that I am able to describe. Being reinforced, we returned to bury the dead, and found their bodies strewed everywhere, cut and mangled in a dreadful manner. This mournful scene exhibited a horror almost unparalleled; some torn and eaten by wild beasts; those in the river eaten by fishes; all in such a putrefied condition, that no one could be distinguished from another.
As soon as General Clark, then at the Falls of the Ohio—who was ever our ready friend, and merits the love and gratitude of all his countrymen—understood the circumstances of this unfortunate action, he ordered an expedition, with all possible haste, to pursue the savages, which was so expeditiously effected, that we overtook them within two miles of their towns; and probably might have obtained a great victory, had not two of their number met us about two hundred poles before we came up. These returned quick as lightning to their camp, with the alarming news of a mighty army in view. The savages fled in the utmost disorder, evacuated their towns, and reluctantly left their territory to our mercy. We immediately took possession of Old Chilicothe without opposition, being deserted by its inhabitants. We continued our pursuit through five towns on the Miami River, Old Chilicothe, Pecaway, New Chilicothe, Will's Towns, and Chilicothe—burnt them all to ashes, entirely destroyed their corn, and other fruits, and everywhere spread a scene of desolation in the country. In this expedition we took seven prisoners and five scalps, with the loss of only four men, two of whom were accidentally killed by our own army.
This campaign in some measure damped the spirits of the Indians, and made them sensible of our superiority. Their connections were dissolved, their armies scattered, and a future invasion put entirely out of their power; yet they continued to practice mischief secretly upon the inhabitants, in the exposed parts of the country.
In October following, a party made an incursion into that district called the Crab Orchard; and one of them, being advanced some distance before the others, boldly entered the house of a poor defenseless family, in which was only a negro man, a woman, and her children, terrified with the apprehensions of immediate death. The savage, perceiving their defenseless condition, without offering violence to the family, attempted to capture the negro, who happily proved an over-match for him, threw him on the ground, and in the struggle, the mother of the children drew an axe from a corner of the cottage, and cut his head off, while her little daughter shut the door. The savages instantly appeared, and applied their tomahawks to the door. An old rusty gun-barrel, without a lock, lay in a corner, which the mother put through a small crevice, and the savages, perceiving it, fled. In the meantime, the alarm spread through the neighborhood; the armed men collected immediately, and pursued the ravagers into the wilderness. Thus Providence, by the means of this negro, saved the whole of the poor family from destruction. From that time until the happy return of peace between the United States and Great Britain, the Indians did us no mischief. Finding the great king beyond the water disappointed in his expectations, and conscious of the importance of the Long Knife, and their own wretchedness, some of the nations immediately desired peace; to which, at present , they seem universally disposed, and are sending ambassadors to General Clarke, at the Falls of the Ohio, with the minutes of their councils.
To conclude, I can now say that I have verified the saying of an old Indian who signed Colonel Henderson's deed. Taking me by the hand, at the delivery thereof—"Brother," said he, "we have given you a fine land, but I believe you will have much trouble in settling it." My footsteps have often been marked with blood, and therefore I can truly subscribe to its original name. Two darling sons and a brother have I lost by savage hands, which have also taken from me forty valuable horses, and abundance of cattle. Many dark and sleepless nights have I been a companion for owls, separated from the cheerful society of men, scorched by the summer's sun, and pinched by the winter's cold—an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness. But now the scene is changed: peace crowns the sylvan shade.
What thanks, what ardent and ceaseless thanks are due to that all-superintending Providence which has turned a cruel war into peace, brought order out of confusion, made the fierce savages placid, and turned away their hostile weapons from our country! May the same Almighty Goodness banish the accursed monster, war, from all lands, with, her hated associates, rapine and insatiable ambition! Let peace, descending from her native heaven, bid her olives spring amid the joyful nations; and plenty, in league with commerce, scatter blessings from her copious hand!
This account of my adventures will inform the reader of the most remarkable events of this country. I now live in peace and safety, enjoying the sweets of liberty, and the bounties of Providence, with my once fellow-sufferers, in this delightful country, which I have seen purchased with a vast expense of blood and treasure: delighting in the prospect of its being, in a short time, one of the most opulent and powerful States on the continent of North America; which, with the love and gratitude of my countrymen, I esteem a sufficient reward for all my toil and dangers.
Fayette County, KENTUCKY.