As a Briton, Adair contributed to Priber's fate; and as such he approves it. As a scholar with philosophical and ethnological leanings, however, he deplores it, and hopes that Priber's valuable manuscripts may "escape the despoiling hands of military power." Priber had spent his leisure in compiling a Cherokee dictionary; Adair's occupation, while domiciled in his winter house in Great Telliko, was the writing of his Indian Appendix to the Pentateuch. As became brothers in science, they had exchanged notes, so we gather from Adair's references to conversations and correspondence. Adair's difficulties as an author, however, had been increased by a treacherous lapse from professional etiquette on the part of the Secretary: "He told them [the Indians] that in the very same manner as he was their great Secretary, I was the devil's clerk, or an accursed one who marked on paper the bad speech of the evil ones of darkness." On his own part Adair admits that his object in this correspondence was to trap the Secretary into something more serious than literary errata. That is, he admits it by implication; he says the Secretary "feared" it. During the years of their duel, Adair apparently knew that the scholarly compiler of the Cherokee dictionary was secretly inciting members of this particular Lost Tribe to tomahawk the discoverer of their biblical origin; and Priber, it would seem, knew that he knew!
Adair shows, inferentially, that land encroachment was not the sole cause of those Indian wars with which we shall deal in a later chapter. The earliest causes were the instigations of the French and the rewards which they offered for English scalps. But equally provocative of Indian rancor were the acts of sometimes merely stupid, sometimes dishonest, officials; the worst of these, Adair considered, was the cheapening of the trade through the granting of general licenses.
"Formerly each trader had a license for two [Indian] towns.... At my first setting out among them, a number of traders... journeyed through our various nations in different companies and were generally men of worth; of course they would have a living price for their goods, which they carried on horseback to the remote Indian countries at very great expences.... [The Indians] were kept under proper restraint, were easy in their minds and peaceable on account of the plain, honest lessons daily inculcated on them... but according to the present unwise plan, two and even three Arablike peddlars sculk about in one of those villages... who are generally the dregs and offscourings of our climes... by inebriating the Indians with their nominally prohibited and poisoning spirits, they purchase the necessaries of life at four and five hundred per cent cheaper than the orderly traders.... Instead of showing good examples of moral conduct, beside the other part of life, they instruct the unknowing and imitating savages in many diabolical lessons of obscenity and blasphemy."
In these statements, contemporary records bear him out. There is no sadder reading than the many pleas addressed by the Indian chiefs to various officials to stop the importation of liquor into their country, alleging the debauchment of their young men and warning the white man, with whom they desired to be friends, that in an Indian drink and blood lust quickly combined.
Adair's book was published in London in 1775. He wrote it to be read by Englishmen as well as Americans; and some of his reflections on liberty, justice, and Anglo-Saxon unity would not sound unworthily today. His sympathies were with "the principles of our Magna Charta Americana"; but he thought the threatened division of the English-speaking peoples the greatest evil that could befall civilization. His voluminous work discloses a man not only of wide mental outlook but a practical man with a sense of commercial values. Yet, instead of making a career for himself among his own caste, he made his home for over thirty years in the Chickasaw towns; and it is plain that, with the exception of some of his older brother traders, he preferred the Chickasaw to any other society.
The complete explanation of such men as Adair we need not expect to find stated anywhere—not even in and between the lines of his book. The conventionalist would seek it in moral obliquity; the radical, in a temperament that is irked by the superficialities that comprise so large a part of conventional standards. The reason for his being what he was is almost the only thing Adair did not analyze in his book. Perhaps, to him, it was self evident. We may let it be so to us, and see it most clearly presented in a picture composed from some of his brief sketches: A land of grass and green shade inset with bright waters, where deer and domestic cattle herded together along the banks; a circling group of houses, their white-clayed walls sparkling under the sun's rays, and, within and without, the movement of "a friendly and sagacious people," who "kindly treated and watchfully guarded" their white brother in peace and war, and who conversed daily with him in the Old Beloved Speech learned first of Nature. "Like towers in cities beyond the common size of those of the Indians" rose the winter and summer houses and the huge trading house which the tribe had built for their best beloved friend in the town's center, because there he would be safest from attack. On the rafters hung the smoked and barbecued delicacies taken in the hunt and prepared for him by his red servants, who were also his comrades at home and on the dangerous trail. "Beloved old women" kept an eye on his small sons, put to drowse on panther skins so that they might grow up brave warriors. Nothing was there of artifice or pretense, only "the needful things to make a reasonable life happy." All was as primitive, naive, and contented as the woman whose outline is given once in a few strokes, proudly and gayly penciled: "I have the pleasure of writing this by the side of a Chikkasah female, as great a princess as ever lived among the ancient Peruvians or Mexicans, and she bids me be sure not to mark the paper wrong after the manner of most of the traders; otherwise it will spoil the making good bread or homony!"
His final chapter is the last news of James Adair, type of the earliest trader. Did his bold attacks on corrupt officials and rum peddlers—made publicly before Assemblies and in print—raise for him a dense cloud of enmity that dropped oblivion on his memory? Perhaps. But, in truth, his own book is all the history of him we need. It is the record of a man. He lived a full life and served his day; and it matters not that a mist envelops the place where unafraid he met the Last Enemy, was "weighed on the path and made light."
Chapter IV. The Passing Of The French Peril
The great pile of the Appalachian peaks was not the only barrier which held back the settler with his plough and his rifle from following the trader's tinkling caravans into the valleys beyond. Over the hills the French were lords of the land. The frontiersman had already felt their enmity through the torch and tomahawk of their savage allies. By his own strength alone he could not cope with the power entrenched beyond the hills; so he halted. But that power, by its unachievable desire to be overlord of two hemispheres, was itself to precipitate events which would open the westward road.
The recurring hour in the cycle of history, when the issue of Autocracy against Democracy cleaves the world, struck for the men of the eighteenth century as the second half of that century dawned. In our own day, happily, that issue has been perceived by the rank and file of the people. In those darker days, as France and England grappled in that conflict of systems which culminated in the Seven Years' War, the fundamental principles at stake were clear to only a handful of thinking men.
But abstractions, whether clear or obscure, do not cause ambassadors to demand their passports. The declaration of war awaits the overt act. Behold, then, how great a matter is kindled by a little fire! The casus belli between France and England in the Seven Years' War—the war which humbled France in Europe and lost her India and Canada—had to do with a small log fort built by a few Virginians in 1754 at the Forks of the Ohio River and wrested from them in the same year by a company of Frenchmen from Canada.
The French claimed the valley of the Ohio as their territory; the English claimed it as theirs. The dispute was of long standing. The French claim was based on discovery; the English claim, on the seato-sea charters of Virginia and other colonies and on treaties with the Six Nations. The French refused to admit the right of the Six Nations to dispose of the territory. The English were inclined to maintain the validity of their treaties with the Indians. Especially was Virginia so inclined, for a large share of the Ohio lay within her chartered domain.
The quarrel had entered its acute phase in 1749, when both the rival claimants took action to assert their sovereignty. The Governor of Canada sent an envoy, Celoron de Blainville, with soldiers, to take formal possession of the Ohio for the King of France. In the same year the English organized in Virginia the Ohio Company for the colonization of the same country; and summoned Christopher Gist, explorer, trader, and guide, from his home on the Yadkin and dispatched him to survey the land.
Then appeared on the scene that extraordinary man, Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, erstwhile citizen of Glasgow. His correspondence from Virginia during his seven years' tenure of office (1751-58) depicts the man with a vividness surpassing paint. He was as honest as the day—as honest as he was fearless and fussy. But he had no patience; he wanted things done and done at once, and his way was THE way to do them. People who did not think as he thought didn't THINK at all. On this drastic premise he went to work. There was of course continuous friction between him and the House of Burgesses. Dinwiddie had all a Scot's native talent for sarcasm. His letters, his addresses, perhaps in particular his addresses to the House, bristled with satirical thrusts at his opponents. If he had spelled out in full all the words he was so eager to write, he would have been obliged to lessen his output; so he used a shorthand system of his own, peculiar enough to be remarkable even though abbreviations were the rule in that day. Even the dignity of Kings he sacrificed to speed, and we find "His Majesty" abbreviated to "H M'y"; yet a smaller luminary known as "His Honor" fares better, losing only the last letter—"His Hono." "Ho." stands for "house" and "yt" for "that," "what," "it," and "anything else," as convenient. Many of his letters wind up with "I am ve'y much fatig'd." We know that he must have been!
It was a formidable task that confronted Dinwiddie—to possess and defend the Ohio. Christopher Gist returned in 1751, having surveyed the valley for the Ohio Company as far as the Scioto and Miami rivers, and in the following year the survey was ratified by the Indians. The Company's men were busy blazing trails through the territory and building fortified posts. But the French dominated the territory. They had built and occupied with troops Fort Le Boeuf on French Creek, a stream flowing into the Allegheny. We may imagine Dinwiddie's rage at this violation of British soil by French soldiers and how he must have sputtered to the young George Washington, when he summoned that officer and made him the bearer of a letter to the French commander at Fort Le Boeuf, to demand that French troops be at once withdrawn from the Ohio.
Washington made the journey to Fort Le Boeuf in December, 1753, but the mission of course proved fruitless. Dinwiddie then wrote to London urging that a force be sent over to help the colonies maintain their rights and, under orders from the Crown, suggested by himself, he wrote to the governors of all the other colonies to join with Virginia in raising troops to settle the ownership of the disputed territory. From Governor Dobbs of North Carolina he received an immediate response. By means of logic, sarcasm, and the entire force of his prerogatives, Dinwiddie secured from his own balking Assembly 10,000 pounds with which to raise troops. From Maryland he obtained nothing. There were three prominent Marylanders in the Ohio Company, but—or because of this—the Maryland Assembly voted down the measure for a military appropriation. On June 18, 1754, Dinwiddie wrote, with unusually full spelling for him:
"I am perswaded had His Majesty's Com'ds to the other Colonies been duely obey'd, and the necessary Assistance given by them, the Fr. wou'd have long ago have been oblig'd entirely to have evacuated their usurp'd Possession of the King's Lands, instead of w'ch they are daily becoming more formidable, whilst every Gov't except No. Caro. has amus'd me with Expectations that have proved fruitless, and at length refuse to give any Supply, unless in such a manner as must render it ineffectual."
This saddened mood with its deliberate penmanship did not last long. Presently Dinwiddie was making a Round Robin of himself in another series of letters to Governors, Councilors, and Assemblymen, frantically beseeching them for "H. M'y's hono." and their own, and, if not, for "post'r'ty," to rise against the cruel French whose Indians were harrying the borders again and "Basely, like Virmin, stealing and carrying off the helpless infant"—as nice a simile, by the way, as any Sheridan ever put into the mouth of Mrs. Malaprop.
Dinwiddie saw his desires thwarted on every hand by the selfish spirit of localism and jealousy which was more rife in America in those days than it is today. Though the phrase "capitalistic war" had not yet been coined, the great issues of English civilization on this continent were befogged, for the majority in the colonies, by the trivial fact that the shareholders in the Ohio Company stood to win by a vigorous prosecution of the war and to lose if it were not prosecuted at all. The irascible Governor, however, proceeded with such men and means as he could obtain.
And now in the summer of 1754 came the "overt act" which precipitated the inevitable war. The key to the valley of the Ohio was the tongue of land at the Forks, where the Allegheny and the Monongahela join their waters in the Beautiful River. This site—today Pittsburgh—if occupied and held by either nation would give that nation the command of the Ohio. Occupied it was for a brief hour by a small party of Virginians, under Captain William Trent; but no sooner had they erected on the spot a crude fort than the French descended upon them. What happened then all the world knows: how the French built on the captured site their great Fort Duquesne; how George Washington with an armed force, sent by Dinwiddie to recapture the place, encountered French and Indians at Great Meadows and built Fort Necessity, which he was compelled to surrender; how in the next year (1755) General Braddock arrived from across the sea and set out to take Fort Duquesne, only to meet on the way the disaster called "Braddock's Defeat"; and how, before another year had passed, the Seven Years' War was raging in Europe, and England was allied with the enemies of France.
>From the midst of the debacle of Braddock's defeat rises the figure of the young Washington. Twenty-three he was then, tall and spare and hardbodied from a life spent largely in the open. When Braddock fell, this Washington appeared. Reckless of the enemy's bullets, which spanged about him and pierced his clothes, he dashed up and down the lines in an effort to rally the panic-stricken redcoats. He was too late to save the day, but not to save a remnant of the army and bring out his own Virginians in good order. Whether among the stay-at-homes and voters of credits there were some who would have ascribed Washington's conduct on that day to the fact that his brothers were large shareholders in the Ohio Company and that Fort Duquesne was their personal property or "private interest," history does not say. We may suppose so.
North Carolina, the one colony which had not "amus'd" the Governor of Virginia "with Expectations that proved fruitless," had voted 12,000 pounds for the war and had raised two companies of troops. One of these, under Edward Brice Dobbs, son of Governor Dobbs, marched with Braddock; and in that company as wagoner went Daniel Boone, then in his twenty-second year. Of Boone's part in Braddock's campaign nothing more is recorded save that on the march he made friends with John Findlay, the trader, his future guide into Kentucky; and that, on the day of the defeat, when his wagons were surrounded, he escaped by slashing the harness, leaping on the back of one of his horses, and dashing into the forest.
Meanwhile the southern tribes along the border were comparatively quiet. That they well knew a colossal struggle between the two white races was pending and were predisposed to ally themselves with the stronger is not to be doubted. French influence had long been sifting through the formidable Cherokee nation, which still, however, held true in the main to its treaties with the English. It was the policy of the Governors of Virginia and North Carolina to induce the Cherokees to enter strongly into the war as allies of the English. Their efforts came to nothing chiefly because of the purely local and suicidal Indian policy of Governor Glen of South Carolina. There had been some dispute between Glen and Dinwiddie as to the right of Virginia to trade with the Cherokees; and Glen had sent to the tribes letters calculated to sow distrust of all other aspirants for Indian favor, even promising that certain settlers in the Back Country of North Carolina should be removed and their holdings restored to the Indians. These letters caused great indignation in North Carolina, when they came to light, and had the worst possible effect upon Indian relations. The Indians now inclined their ear to the French who, though fewer than the English, were at least united in purpose.
Governor Glen took this inauspicious moment to hold high festival with the Cherokees. It was the last year of his administration and apparently he hoped to win promotion to some higher post by showing his achievements for the fur trade and in the matter of new land acquired. He plied the Cherokees with drink and induced them to make formal submission and to cede all their lands to the Crown. When the chiefs recovered their sobriety, they were filled with rage at what had been done, and they remembered how the French had told them that the English intended to make slaves of all the Indians and to steal their lands. The situation was complicated by another incident. Several Cherokee warriors returning from the Ohio, whither they had gone to fight for the British, were slain by frontiersmen. The tribe, in accordance with existing agreements, applied to Virginia for redress—but received none.
There was thus plenty of powder for an explosion. Governor Lyttleton, Glen's successor, at last flung the torch into the magazine. He seized, as hostages, a number of friendly chiefs who were coming to Charleston to offer tokens of good will and forced them to march under guard on a military tour which the Governor was making (1759) with intent to overawe the savages. When this expedition reached Prince George, on the upper waters of the Savannah, the Indian hostages were confined within the fort; and the Governor, satisfied with the result of his maneuver departed south for Charleston. Then followed a tragedy. Some Indian friends of the imprisoned chiefs attacked the fort, and the commander, a popular young officer, was treacherously killed during a parley. The infuriated frontiersmen within the fort fell upon the hostages and slew them all—twenty-six chiefs—and the Indian war was on.
If all were to be told of the struggle which followed in the Back Country, the story could not be contained in this book. Many brave and resourceful men went out against the savages. We can afford only a passing glance at one of them. Hugh Waddell of North Carolina was the most brilliant of all the frontier fighters in that war. He was a young Ulsterman from County Down, a born soldier, with a special genius for fighting Indians, although he did not grow up on the border, for he arrived in North Carolina in 1753, at the age of nineteen. He was appointed by Governor Dobbs to command the second company which North Carolina had raised for the war, a force of 450 rangers to protect the border counties; and he presently became the most conspicuous military figure in the colony. As to his personality, we have only a few meager details, with a portrait that suggests plainly enough those qualities of boldness and craft which characterized his tactics. Governor Dobbs appears to have had a special love towards Hugh, whose family he had known in Ireland, for an undercurrent of almost fatherly pride is to be found in the old Governor's reports to the Assembly concerning Waddell's exploits.
The terror raged for nearly three years. Cabins and fields were burned, and women and children were slaughtered or dragged away captives. Not only did immigration cease but many hardy settlers fled from the country. At length, after horrors indescribable and great toll of life, the Cherokees gave up the struggle. Their towns were invaded and laid waste by imperial and colonial troops, and they could do nothing but make peace. In 1761 they signed a treaty with the English to hold "while rivers flow and grasses grow and sun and moon endure."
In the previous year (1760) the imperial war had run its course in America. New France lay prostrate, and the English were supreme not only on the Ohio but on the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. Louisbourg, Quebec, Montreal, Oswego, Niagara, Duquesne, Detroit—all were in English hands.
Hugh Waddell and his rangers, besides serving with distinction in the Indian war, had taken part in the capture of Fort Duquesne. This feat had been accomplished in 1758 by an expedition under General Forbes. The troops made a terrible march over a new route, cutting a road as they went. It was November when they approached their objective. The wastes of snow and their diminished supplies caused such depression among the men that the officers called a halt to discuss whether or not to proceed toward Fort Duquesne, where they believed the French to be concentrated in force. Extravagant sums in guineas were named as suitable reward for any man who would stalk and catch a French Indian and learn from him the real conditions inside the fort. The honor, if not the guineas, fell to John Rogers, one of Waddell's rangers. From the Indian it was learned that the French had already gone, leaving behind only a few of their number. As the English drew near, they found that the garrison had blown up the magazine, set fire to the fort, and made off.
Thus, while New France was already tottering, but nearly two years before the final capitulation at Montreal, the English again became masters of the Ohio Company's land—masters of the Forks of the Ohio. This time they were there to stay. Where the walls of Fort Duquesne had crumbled in the fire Fort Pitt was to rise, proudly bearing the name of England's Great Commoner who had directed English arms to victory on three continents.
With France expelled and the Indians deprived of their white allies, the westward path lay open to the pioneers, even though the red man himself would rise again and again in vain endeavor to bar the way. So a new era begins, the era of exploration for definite purpose, the era of commonwealth building. In entering on it, we part with the earliest pioneer—the trader, who first opened the road for both the lone home seeker and the great land company. He dwindles now to the mere barterer and so—save for a few chance glimpses—slips out of sight, for his brave days as Imperial Scout are done.
Chapter V. Boone, The Wanderer
What thoughts filled Daniel Boone's mind as he was returning from Braddock's disastrous campaign in 1755 we may only conjecture. Perhaps he was planning a career of soldiering, for in later years he was to distinguish himself as a frontier commander in both defense and attack. Or it may be that his heart was full of the wondrous tales told him by the trader, John Findlay, of that Hunter's Canaan, Kentucky, where buffalo and deer roamed in thousands. Perhaps he meant to set out ere long in search of the great adventure of his dreams, despite the terrible dangers of trail making across the zones of war into the unknown.
However that may be, Boone straightway followed neither of these possible plans on his return to the Yadkin but halted for a different adventure. There, a rifle shot's distance from his threshold, was offered him the oldest and sweetest of all hazards to the daring. He was twenty-two, strong and comely and a whole man; and therefore he was in no mind to refuse what life held out to him in the person of Rebecca Bryan. Rebecca was the daughter of Joseph Bryan, who had come to the Yadkin from Pennsylvania some time before the Boones; and she was in her seventeenth year.
Writers of an earlier and more sentimental period than ours have endeavored to supply, from the saccharine stores of their fancy, the romantic episodes connected with Boone's wooing which history has omitted to record. Hence the tale that the young hunter, walking abroad in the spring gloaming, saw Mistress Rebecca's large dark eyes shining in the dusk of the forest, mistook them for a deer's eyes and shot—his aim on this occasion fortunately being bad! But if Boone's rifle was missing its mark at ten paces, Cupid's dart was speeding home. So runs the story concocted a hundred years later by some gentle scribe ignorant alike of game seasons, the habits of hunters, and the way of a man with a maid in a primitive world.
Daniel and Rebecca were married in the spring of 1756. Squire Boone, in his capacity as justice of the peace, tied the knot; and in a small cabin built upon his spacious lands the young couple set up housekeeping. Here Daniel's first two sons were born. In the third year of his marriage, when the second child was a babe in arms, Daniel removed with his wife and their young and precious family to Culpeper County in eastern Virginia, for the border was going through its darkest days of the French and Indian War. During the next two or three years we find him in Virginia engaged as a wagoner, hauling tobacco in season; but back on the border with his rifle, after the harvest, aiding in defense against the Indians. In 1759 he purchased from his father a lot on Sugar Tree Creek, a tributary of Dutchman's Creek (Davie County, North Carolina) and built thereon a cabin for himself. The date when he brought his wife and children to live in their new abode on the border is not recorded. It was probably some time after the close of the Indian War. Of Boone himself during these years we have but scant information. We hear of him again in Virginia and also as a member of the pack-horse caravan which brought into the Back Country the various necessaries for the settlers. We know, too, that in the fall of 1760 he was on a lone hunting trip in the mountains west of the Yadkin; for until a few years ago there might be seen, still standing on the banks of Boone's Creek (a small tributary of the Watauga) in eastern Tennessee, a tree bearing the legend, "D Boon cilled A BAR on this tree 1760." Boone was always fond of carving his exploits on trees, and his wanderings have been traced largely by his arboreal publications. In the next year (1761) he went with Waddell's rangers when they marched with the army to the final subjugation of the Cherokee.
That Boone and his family were back on the border in the new cabin shortly after the end of the war, we gather from the fact that in 1764 he took his little son James, aged seven, on one of his long hunting excursions. From this time dates the intimate comradeship of father and son through all the perils of the wilderness, a comradeship to come to its tragic end ten years later when, as we shall see, the seventeen-year-old lad fell under the red man's tomahawk as his father was leading the first settlers towards Kentucky. In the cold nights of the open camp, as Daniel and James lay under the frosty stars, the father kept the boy warm snuggled to his breast under the broad flap of his hunting shirt. Sometimes the two were away from home for months together, and Daniel declared little James to be as good a woodsman as his father.
Meanwhile fascinating accounts of the new land of Florida, ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, had leaked into the Back Country; and in the winter of 1765 Boone set off southward on horseback with, seven companions. Colonel James Grant, with whose army Boone had fought in 1761, had been appointed Governor of the new colony and was offering generous inducements to settlers. The party traveled along the borders of South Carolina and Georgia. No doubt they made the greater part of their way over the old Traders' Trace, the "whitened" warpath; and they suffered severe hardships. Game became scarcer as they proceeded. Once they were nigh to perishing of starvation and were saved from that fate only through chance meeting with a band of Indians who, seeing their plight, made camp and shared their food with them—according to the Indian code in time of peace.
Boone's party explored Florida from St. Augustine to Pensacola, and Daniel became sufficiently enamored of the tropical south to purchase there land and a house. His wife, however, was unwilling to go to Florida, and she was not long in convincing the hunter that he would soon tire of a gameless country. A gameless country! Perhaps this was the very thought which turned the wanderer's desires again towards the land of Kentucky. * The silencing of the enemy's whisper in the Cherokee camps had opened the border forests once more to the nomadic rifleman. Boone was not alone in the desire to seek out what lay beyond. His brother-in-law, John Stewart, and a nephew by marriage, Benjamin Cutbirth, or Cutbird, with two other young men, John Baker and James Ward, in 1766 crossed the Appalachian Mountains, probably by stumbling upon the Indian trail winding from base to summit and from peak to base again over this part of the great hill barrier. They eventually reached the Mississippi River and, having taken a good quantity of peltry on the way, they launched upon the stream and came in time to New Orleans, where they made a satisfactory trade of their furs.
* Kentucky, from Ken-ta-ke, an Iroquois word meaning "the place of old fields." Adair calls the territory "the old fields." The Indians apparently used the word "old," as we do in a sense of endearment and possession as well as relative to age.
Boone was fired anew by descriptions of this successful feat, in which two of his kinsmen had participated. He could no longer be held back. He must find the magic door that led through the vast mountain wall into Kentucky—Kentucky, with its green prairies where the buffalo and deer were as "ten thousand thousand cattle feeding" in the wilds, and where the balmy air vibrated with the music of innumerable wings.
Accordingly, in the autumn of 1767, Boone began his quest of the delectable country in the company of his friend, William Hill, who had been with him in Florida. Autumn was the season of departure on all forest excursions, because by that time the summer crops had been gathered in and the day of the deer had come. By hunting, the explorers must feed themselves on their travels and with deerskins and furs they must on their return recompense those who had supplied their outfit. Boone, the incessant but not always lucky wanderer, was in these years ever in debt for an outfit.
Boone and Hill made their way over the Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies and crossed the Holston and Clinch rivers. Then they came upon the west fork of the Big Sandy and, believing that it would lead them to the Ohio, they continued for at least a hundred miles to the westward. Here they found a buffalo trace, one of the many beaten out by the herds in their passage to the salt springs, and they followed it into what is now Floyd County in eastern Kentucky. But this was not the prairie land described by Findlay; it was rough and hilly and so overgrown with laurel as to be almost impenetrable. They therefore wended their way back towards the river, doubtless erected the usual hunter's camp of skins or blankets and branches, and spent the winter in hunting and trapping. Spring found them returning to their homes on the Yadkin with a fair winter's haul.
Such urgent desire as Boone's, however, was not to be defeated. The next year brought him his great opportunity. John Findlay came to the Yadkin with a horse pack of needles and linen and peddler's wares to tempt the slim purses of the Back Country folk. The two erstwhile comrades in arms were overjoyed to encounter each other again, and Findlay spent the winter of 1768-69 in Boone's cabin. While the snow lay deep outside and good-smelling logs crackled on the hearth, they planned an expedition into Kentucky through the Gap where Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky touch one another, which Findlay felt confident he could find. Findlay had learned of this route from cross-mountain traders in 1753, when he had descended the Ohio to the site of Louisville, whence he had gone with some Shawanoes as a prisoner to their town of Es-kip-pa-ki-thi-ki or Blue Licks. *
* Hanna, "The Wilderness Trail," vol. II, pp. 215-16.
On the first day of May, 1769, Boone and Findlay, accompanied by John Stewart and three other venturesome spirits, Joseph Holden, James Mooney, and William Cooley, took horse for the fabled land. Passing through the Cumberland Gap, they built their first camp in Kentucky on the Red Lick fork of Station Camp Creek.
This camp was their base of operations. From it, usually in couples, we infer, the explorers branched out to hunt and to take their observations of the country. Here also they prepared the deer and buffalo meat for the winter, dried or smoked the geese they shot in superabundance, made the tallow and oil needed to keep their weapons in trim, their leather soft, and their kits waterproof. Their first ill luck befell them in December when Boone and Stewart were captured by a band of Shawanoes who were returning from their autumn hunt on Green River. The Indians compelled the two white men to show them the location of their camp, took possession of all it contained in skins and furs and also helped themselves to the horses. They left the explorers with just enough meat and ammunition to provide for their journey homeward, and told them to depart and not to intrude again on the red men's hunting grounds. Having given this pointed warning, the Shawanoes rode on northward towards their towns beyond the Ohio. On foot, swiftly and craftily, Boone and his brother-in-law trailed the band for two days. They came upon the camp in dead of night, recaptured their horses, and fled. But this was a game in which the Indians themselves excelled, and at this date the Shawanoes had an advantage over Boone in their thorough knowledge of the territory; so that within forty-eight hours the white men were once more prisoners. After they had amused themselves by making Boone caper about with a horse bell on his neck, while they jeered at him in broken English, "Steal horse, eh?" the Shawanoes turned north again, this time taking the two unfortunate hunters with them. Boone and Stewart escaped, one day on the march, by a plunge into the thick tall canebrake. Though the Indians did not attempt to follow them through the mazes of the cane, the situation of the two hunters, without weapons or food, was serious enough. When they found Station Camp deserted and realized that their four companions had given them up for dead or lost and had set off on the trail for home, even such intrepid souls as theirs may have felt fear. They raced on in pursuit and fortunately fell in not only with their party but with Squire Boone, Daniel's brother, and Alexander Neely, who had brought in fresh supplies of rifles, ammunition, flour, and horses.
After this lucky encounter the group separated. Findlay was ill, and Holden, Mooney, and Cooley had had their fill of Kentucky; but Squire, Neely, Stewart, and Daniel were ready for more adventures. Daniel, too, felt under the positive necessity of putting in another year at hunting and trapping in order to discharge his debts and provide for his family. Near the mouth of Red River the new party built their station camp. Here, in idle hours, Neely read aloud from a copy of "Gulliver's Travels" to entertain the hunters while they dressed their deerskins or tinkered their weapons. In honor of the "Lorbrulgrud" of the book, though with a pronunciation all their own, they christened the nearest creek; and as "Lulbegrud Creek" it is still known.
Before the end of the winter the two Boones were alone in the wilderness. Their brother-in-law, Stewart, had disappeared; and Neely, discouraged by this tragic event, had returned to the Yadkin. In May, Squire Boone fared forth, taking with him the season's catch of beaver, otter, and deerskins to exchange in the North Carolinian trading houses for more supplies; and Daniel was left solitary in Kentucky.
Now followed those lonely explorations which gave Daniel Boone his special fame above all Kentucky's pioneers. He was by no means the first white man to enter Kentucky; and when he did enter, it was as one of a party, under another man's guidance—if we except his former disappointing journey into the laurel thickets of Floyd County. But these others, barring Stewart, who fell there, turned back when they met with loss and hardship and measured the certain risks against the possible gains. Boone, the man of imagination, turned to wild earth as to his kin. His genius lay in the sense of oneness he felt with his wilderness environment. An instinct he had which these other men, as courageous perhaps as he, did not possess.
Never in all the times when he was alone in the woods and had no other man's safety or counsel to consider, did he suffer ill fortune. The nearest approach to trouble that befell him when alone occurred one day during this summer when some Indians emerged from their green shelter and found him, off guard for the moment, standing on a cliff gazing with rapture over the vast rolling stretches of Kentucky. He was apparently cut off from escape, for the savages were on three sides, advancing without haste to take him, meanwhile greeting him with mock amity. Over the cliff leaped Boone and into the outspread arms of a friendly maple, whose top bloomed green about sixty feet below the cliff's rim, and left his would-be captors on the height above, grunting their amazement.
During this summer Boone journeyed through the valleys of the Kentucky and the Licking. He followed the buffalo traces to the two Blue Licks and saw the enormous herds licking up the salt earth, a darkly ruddy moving mass of beasts whose numbers could not be counted. For many miles he wound along the Ohio, as far as the Falls. He also found the Big Bone Lick with its mammoth fossils.
In July, 1770, Daniel returned to the Red River camp and there met Squire Boone with another pack of supplies. The two brothers continued their hunting and exploration together for some months, chiefly in Jessamine County, where two caves still bear Boone's name. In that winter they even braved the Green River ground, whence had come the hunting Shawanoes who had taken Daniel's first fruits a year before. In the same year (1770) there had come into Kentucky from the Yadkin another party of hunters, called, from their lengthy sojourn in the twilight zone, the Long Hunters. One of these, Gasper Mansker, afterwards related how the Long Hunters were startled one day by hearing sounds such as no buffalo or turkey ever made, and how Mansker himself stole silently under cover of the trees towards the place whence the strange noises came, and descried Daniel Boone prone on his back with a deerskin under him, his famous tall black hat beside him and his mouth opened wide in joyous but apparently none too tuneful song. This incident gives a true character touch. It is not recorded of any of the men who turned back that they sang alone in the wilderness.
In March, 1771, the two Boones started homeward, their horses bearing the rich harvest of furs and deerskins which was to clear Daniel of debt and to insure the comfort of the family he had not seen for two years. But again evil fortune met them, this time in the very gates—for in the Cumberland Gap they were suddenly surrounded by Indians who took everything from them, leaving them neither guns nor horses.
Chapter VI. The Fight For Kentucky
When Boone returned home he found the Back Country of North Carolina in the throes of the Regulation Movement. This movement, which had arisen first from the colonists' need to police their settlements, had more recently assumed a political character. The Regulators were now in conflict with the authorities, because the frontier folk were suffering through excessive taxes, extortionate fees, dishonest land titles, and the corruption of the courts. In May, 1771, the conflict lost its quasi-civil nature. The Regulators resorted to arms and were defeated by the forces under Governor Tryon in the Battle of the Alamance.
The Regulation Movement, which we shall follow in more detail further on, was a culmination of those causes of unrest which turned men westward. To escape from oppression and to acquire land beyond the bounds of tyranny became the earnest desire of independent spirits throughout the Back Country. But there was another and more potent reason why the country east of the mountains no longer contented Boone. Hunting and trapping were Boone's chief means of livelihood. In those days, deerskins sold for a dollar a skin to the traders at the Forks or in Hillsborough; beaver at about two dollars and a half, and otter at from three to five dollars. A pack-horse could carry a load of one hundred dressed deerskins, and, as currency was scarce, a hundred dollars was wealth. Game was fast disappearing from the Yadkin. To Boone above all men, then, Kentucky beckoned. When he returned in the spring of 1771 from his explorations, it was with the resolve to take his family at once into the great game country and to persuade some of his friends to join in this hazard of new fortunes.
The perils of such a venture, only conjectural to us at this distance, he knew well; but in him there was nothing that shrank from danger, though he did not court it after the rash manner of many of his compeers. Neither reckless nor riotous, Boone was never found among those who opposed violence to authority, even unjust authority; nor was he ever guilty of the savagery which characterized much of the retaliatory warfare of that period when frenzied white men bettered the red man's instruction. In him, courage was illumined with tenderness and made equable by self-control. Yet, though he was no fiery zealot like the Ulstermen who were to follow him along the path he had made and who loved and revered him perhaps because he was so different from themselves, Boone nevertheless had his own religion. It was a simple faith best summed up perhaps by himself in his old age when he said that he had been only an instrument in the hand of God to open the wilderness to settlement.
Two years passed before Boone could muster a company of colonists for the dangerous and delectable land. The dishonesty practiced by Lord Granville's agents in the matter of deeds had made it difficult for Daniel and his friends to dispose of their acreage. When at last in the spring of 1773 the Wanderer was prepared to depart, he was again delayed; this time by the arrival of a little son to whom was given the name of John. By September, however, even this latest addition to the party was ready for travel; and that month saw the Boones with a small caravan of families journeying towards Powell's Valley, whence the Warrior's Path took its way through Cumberland Gap. At this point on the march they were to be joined by William Russell, a famous pioneer, from the Clinch River, with his family and a few neighbors, and by some of Rebecca Boone's kinsmen, the Bryans, from the lower Yadkin, with a company of forty men.
Of Rebecca Boone history tells us too little—only that she was born a Bryan, was of low stature and dark eyed, that she bore her husband ten children, and lived beside him to old age. Except on his hunts and explorations, she went with him from one cabined home to another, always deeper into the wilds. There are no portraits of her. We can see her only as a shadowy figure moving along the wilderness trails beside the man who accepted his destiny of God to be a way-shower for those of lesser faith.
"He tires not forever on his leagues of march Because her feet are set to his footprints, And the gleam of her bare hand slants across his shoulder."
Boone halted his company on Walden Mountain over Powell's Valley to await the Bryan contingent and dispatched two young men under the leadership of his son James, then in his seventeenth year, to notify Russell of the party's arrival. As the boys were returning with Russell's son, also a stripling, two of his slaves, and some white laborers, they missed the path and went into camp for the night. When dawn broke, disclosing the sleepers, a small war band of Shawanoes, who had been spying on Boone and his party, fell upon them and slaughtered them. Only one of Russell's slaves and a laborer escaped. The tragedy seems augmented by the fact that the point where the boys lost the trail and made their night quarters was hardly three miles from the main camp—to which an hour later came the two survivors with their gloomy tidings. Terror now took hold of the little band of emigrants, and there were loud outcries for turning back. The Bryans, who had arrived meanwhile, also advised retreat, saying that the "signs" about the scene of blood indicated an Indian uprising. Daniel carried the scalped body of his son, the boy-comrade of his happy hunts, to the camp and buried it there at the beginning of the trail. His voice alone urged that they go on.
Fortunately indeed, as events turned out, Boone was overruled, and the expedition was abandoned. The Bryan party and the others from North Carolina went back to the Yadkin. Boone himself with his family accompanied Russell to the Clinch settlement, where he erected a temporary cabin on the farm of one of the settlers, and then set out alone on the chase to earn provision for his wife and children through the winter.
Those who prophesied an Indian war were not mistaken. When the snowy hunting season had passed and the "Powwowing Days" were come, the Indian war drum rattled in the medicine house from the borders of Pennsylvania to those of Carolina. The causes of the strife for which the red men were making ready must be briefly noted to help us form a just opinion of the deeds that followed. Early writers have usually represented the frontiersmen as saints in buckskin and the Indians as fiends without the shadow of a claim on either the land or humanity. Many later writers have merely reversed the shield. The truth is that the Indians and the borderers reacted upon each other to the hurt of both. Paradoxically, they grew like enough to hate one another with a savage hatred—and both wanted the land.
Land! Land! was the slogan of all sorts and conditions of men. Tidewater officials held solemn powwows with the chiefs, gave wampum strings, and forthwith incorporated. * Chiefs blessed their white brothers who had "forever brightened the chain of friendship," departed home, and proceeded to brighten the blades of their tomahawks and to await, not long, the opportunity to use them on casual hunters who carried in their kits the compass, the "land-stealer." Usually the surveying hunter was a borderer; and on him the tomahawk descended with an accelerated gusto. Private citizens also formed land companies and sent out surveyors, regardless of treaties. Bold frontiersmen went into No Man's Land and staked out their claims. In the very year when disaster turned the Boone party back, James Harrod had entered Kentucky from Pennsylvania and had marked the site of a settlement.
* The activities of the great land companies are described in Alvord's exhaustive work, "The Mississippi Valley in British Politics."
Ten years earlier (1763), the King had issued the famous and much misunderstood Proclamation restricting his "loving subjects" from the lands west of the mountains. The colonists interpreted this document as a tyrannous curtailment of their liberties for the benefit of the fur trade. We know now that the portion of this Proclamation relating to western settlement was a wise provision designed to protect the settlers on the frontier by allaying the suspicions of the Indians, who viewed with apprehension the triumphal occupation of that vast territory from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico by the colonizing English. By seeking to compel all land purchase to be made through the Crown, it was designed likewise to protect the Indians from "whisky purchase," and to make impossible the transfer of their lands except with consent of the Indian Council, or full quota of headmen, whose joint action alone conveyed what the tribes considered to be legal title. Sales made according to this form, Sir William Johnson declared to the Lords of Trade, he had never known to be repudiated by the Indians. This paragraph of the Proclamation was in substance an embodiment of Johnson's suggestions to the Lords of Trade. Its purpose was square dealing and pacification; and shrewd men such as Washington recognized that it was not intended as a final check to expansion. "A temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians," Washington called it, and then himself went out along the Great Kanawha and into Kentucky, surveying land.
It will be asked what had become of the Ohio Company of Virginia and that fort at the Forks of the Ohio; once a bone of contention between France and England. Fort Pitt, as it was now called, had fallen foul of another dispute, this time between Virginia and Pennsylvania. Virginia claimed that the far western corner of her boundary ascended just far enough north to take in Fort Pitt. Pennsylvania asserted that it did nothing of the sort. The Ohio Company had meanwhile been merged into the Walpole Company. George Croghan, at Fort Pitt, was the Company's agent and as such was accused by Pennsylvania of favoring from ulterior motives the claims of Virginia. Hotheads in both colonies asseverated that the Indians were secretly being stirred up in connection with the boundary disputes. If it does not very clearly appear how an Indian rising would have settled the ownership of Fort Pitt, it is evident enough where the interests of Virginia and Pennsylvania clashed. Virginia wanted land for settlement and speculation; Pennsylvania wanted the Indians left in possession for the benefit of the fur trade. So far from stirring up the Indians, as his enemies declared, Croghan was as usual giving away all his substance to keep them quiet. * Indeed, during this summer of 1774, eleven hundred Indians were encamped about Fort Pitt visiting him.
* The suspicion that Croghan and Lord Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, were instigating the war appears to have arisen out of the conduct of Dr. John Connolly, Dunmore's agent and Croghan's nephew. Croghan had induced the Shawanoes to bring under escort to Fort Pitt certain English traders resident in the Indian towns. The escort was fired on by militiamen under command of Connolly, who also issued a proclamation declaring a state of war to exist. Connolly, however, probably acted on his own initiative. He was interested in land on his own behalf and was by no means the only man at that time who was ready to commit outrages on Indians in order to obtain it. As Croghan lamented, there was "too great a spirit in the frontier people for killing Indians."
Two hundred thousand acres in the West—Kentucky and West Virginia—had been promised to the colonial officers and soldiers who fought in the Seven Years' War. But after making the Proclamation the British Government had delayed issuing the patents. Washington interested himself in trying to secure them; and Lord Dunmore, who also had caught the "land-fever," * prodded the British authorities but won only rebuke for his inconvenient activities. Insistent, however, Dunmore sent out parties of surveyors to fix the bounds of the soldiers' claims. James Harrod, Captain Thomas Bullitt, Hancock Taylor, and three McAfee brothers entered Kentucky, by the Ohio, under Dunmore's orders. John Floyd went in by the Kanawha as Washington's agent. A bird's-eye view of that period would disclose to us very few indeed of His Majesty's loving subjects who were paying any attention to his proclamation. Early in 1774, Harrod began the building of cabins and a fort, and planted corn on the site of Harrodsburg. Thus to him and not to Boone fell the honor of founding the first permanent white settlement in Kentucky.
* See Alvord, "The Mississippi Valley in British Politics," vol. II, pp. 191-94.
When summer came, its thick verdure proffering ambuscade, the air hung tense along the border. Traders had sent in word that Shawanoes, Delawares, Mingos, Wyandots, and Cherokees were refusing all other exchange than rifles, ammunition, knives, and hatchets. White men were shot down in their fields from ambush. Dead Indians lay among their own young corn, their scalp locks taken. There were men of both races who wanted war and meant to have it—and with it the land.
Lord Dunmore, the Governor, resolved that, if war were inevitable, it should be fought out in the Indian country. With this intent, he wrote to Colonel Andrew Lewis of Botetourt County, Commander of the Southwest Militia, instructing him to raise a respectable body of troops and "join me either at the mouth of the Great Kanawha or Wheeling, or such other part of the Ohio as may be most convenient for you to meet me." The Governor himself with a force of twelve hundred proceeded to Fort Pitt, where Croghan, as we have seen, was extending his hospitality to eleven hundred warriors from the disaffected tribes.
On receipt of the Governor's letter, Andrew Lewis sent out expresses to his brother Colonel Charles Lewis, County Lieutenant of Augusta, and to Colonel William Preston, County Lieutenant of Fincastle, to raise men and bring them with all speed to the rendezvous at Camp Union (Lewisburg) on the Big Levels of the Greenbrier (West Virginia). Andrew Lewis summoned these officers to an expedition for "reducing our inveterate enemies to reason." Preston called for volunteers to take advantage of "the opportunity we have so long wished for... this useless People may now at last be oblidged to abandon their country." These men were among not only the bravest but the best of their time; but this was their view of the Indian and his alleged rights. To eliminate this "useless people," inveterate enemies of the white race, was, as they saw it, a political necessity and a religious duty. And we today who profit by their deeds dare not condemn them.
Fervor less solemn was aroused in other quarters by Dunmore's call to arms. At Wheeling, some eighty or ninety young adventurers, in charge of Captain Michael Cresap of Maryland, were waiting for the freshets to sweep them down the Ohio into Kentucky. When the news reached them, they greeted it with the wild monotone chant and the ceremonies preliminary to Indian warfare. They planted the war pole, stripped and painted themselves, and starting the war dance called on Cresap to be their "white leader." The captain, however, declined; but in that wild circling line was one who was a white leader indeed. He was a sandy-haired boy of twenty—one of the bold race of English Virginians, rugged and of fiery countenance, with blue eyes intense of glance and deep set under a high brow that, while modeled for power, seemed threatened in its promise by the too sensitive chiseling of his lips. With every nerve straining for the fray, with thudding of feet and crooning of the blood song, he wheeled with those other mad spirits round the war pole till the set of sun closed the rites. "That evening two scalps were brought into camp," so a letter of his reads. Does the bold savage color of this picture affright us? Would we veil it? Then we should lose something of the true lineaments of George Rogers Clark, who, within four short years, was to lead a tiny army of tattered and starving backwoodsmen, ashamed to quail where he never flinched, through barrens and icy floods to the conquest of Illinois for the United States.
Though Cresap had rejected the role of "white leader," he did not escape the touch of infamy. "Cresap's War" was the name the Indians gave to the bloody encounters between small parties of whites and Indians, which followed on that war dance and scalping, during the summer months. One of these encounters must be detailed here because history has assigned it as the immediate cause of Dunmore's War.
Greathouse, Sapperton, and King, three traders who had a post on Yellow Creek, a tributary of the Ohio fifty miles below Pittsburgh, invited several Indians from across the stream to come and drink with them and their friends. Among the Indians were two or three men of importance in the Mingo tribe. There were also some women, one of whom was the Indian wife of Colonel John Gibson, an educated man who had distinguished himself as a soldier with Forbes in 1768. That the Indians came in amity and apprehended no treachery was proved by the presence of the women. Gibson's wife carried her halfcaste baby in her shawl. The disreputable traders plied their guests with drink to the point of intoxication and then murdered them. King shot the first man and, when he fell, cut his throat, saying that he had served many a deer in that fashion. Gibson's Indian wife fled and was shot down in the clearing. A man followed to dispatch her and her baby. She held the child up to him pleading, with her last breath, that he would spare it because it was not Indian but "one of yours." The mother dead, the child was later sent to Gibson. Twelve Indians in all were killed.
Meanwhile Croghan had persuaded the Iroquois to peace. With the help of David Zeisberger, the Moravian missionary, and White Eyes, a Delaware chief, he and Dunmore had won over the Delaware warriors. In the Cherokee councils, Oconostota demanded that the treaty of peace signed in 1761 be kept. The Shawanoes, however, led by Cornstalk, were implacable; and they had as allies the Ottawas and Mingos, who had entered the council with them.
A famous chief of the day and one of great influence over the Indians, and also among the white officials who dealt with Indian affairs, was Tachnech-dor-us, or Branching Oak of the Forest, a Mingo who had taken the name of Logan out of compliment to James Logan of Pennsylvania. Chief Logan had recently met with so much reproach from his red brothers for his loyalty to the whites that he had departed from the Mingo town at Yellow Creek. But, learning that his tribe had determined to assist the Shawanoes and had already taken some white scalps, he repaired to the place where the Mingos were holding their war council to exert his powers for peace. There, in presence of the warriors, after swaying them from their purpose by those oratorical gifts which gave him his influence and his renown, he took the war hatchet that had already killed, and buried it in proof that vengeance was appeased. Upon this scene there entered a Mingo from Yellow Creek with the news of the murders committed there by the three traders. The Indian whose throat had been slit as King had served deer was Logan's brother. Another man slain was his kinsman. The woman with the baby was his sister. Logan tore up from the earth the bloody tomahawk and, raising it above his head, swore that he would not rest till he had taken ten white lives to pay for each one of his kin. Again the Mingo warriors declared for war and this time were not dissuaded. But Logan did not join this red army. He went out alone to wreak his vengeance, slaying and scalping.
Meanwhile Dunmore prepared to push the war with the utmost vigor. His first concern was to recall the surveying parties from Kentucky, and for so hazardous an errand he needed the services of a man whose endurance, speed, and woodcraft were equal to those of any Indian scout afoot. Through Colonel Preston, his orders were conveyed to Daniel Boone, for Boone's fame had now spread from the border to the tidewater regions. It was stated that "Boone would lose no time," and "if they are alive, it is indisputable but Boone must find them."
So Boone set out in company with Michael Stoner, another expert woodsman. His general instructions were to go down the Kentucky River to Preston's Salt Lick and across country to the Falls of the Ohio, and thence home by Gaspar's Lick on the Cumberland River. Indian war parties were moving under cover across "the Dark and Bloody Ground" to surround the various groups of surveyors still at large and to exterminate them. Boone made his journey successfully. He found John Floyd, who was surveying for Washington; he sped up to where Harrod and his band were building cabins and sent them out, just in time as it happened; he reached all the outposts of Thomas Bullitt's party, only one of whom fell a victim to the foe *; and, undetected by the Indians, he brought himself and Stoner home in safety, after covering eight hundred miles in sixty-one days.
* Hancock Taylor, who delayed in getting out of the country and was cut off.
Harrod and his homesteaders immediately enlisted in the army. How eager Boone was to go with the forces under Lewis is seen in the official correspondence relative to Dunmore's War. Floyd wanted Boone's help in raising a company: "Captain Bledsoe says that Boone has more [influence] than any man now disengaged; and you know what Boone has done for me... for which reason I love the man." Even the border, it would seem, had its species of pacifists who were willing to let others take risks for them, for men hung back from recruiting, and desertions were the order of the day. Major Arthur Campbell hit upon a solution of the difficulties in West Fincastle. He was convinced that Boone could raise a company and hold the men loyal. And Boone did.
For some reason, however, Daniel's desire to march with the army was denied. Perhaps it was because just such a man as he—and, indeed, there was no other—was needed to guard the settlement. Presently he was put in command of Moore's Fort in Clinch Valley, and his "diligence" received official approbation. A little later the inhabitants of the valley sent out a petition to have Boone made a "captain" and given supreme command of the lower forts. The settlers demanded Boone's promotion for their own security.
"The land it is good, it is just to our mind, Each will have his part if his Lordship be kind, The Ohio once ours, we'll live at our ease, With a bottle and glass to drink when we please."
So sang the army poet, thus giving voice, as bards should ever do, to the theme nearest the hearts of his hearers—in this case, Land! Presumably his ditty was composed on the eve of the march from Lewisburg, for it is found in a soldier's diary.
On the evening of October 9,1774, Andrew Lewis with his force of eleven hundred frontiersmen was encamped on Point Pleasant at the junction of the Great Kanawha with the Ohio. Dunmore in the meantime had led his forces into Ohio and had erected Fort Gower at the mouth of the Hockhocking River, where he waited for word from Andrew Lewis. *
* It has been customary to ascribe to Lord Dunmore motives of treachery in failing to make connections with Lewis; but no real evidence has been advanced to support any of the charges made against him by local historians. The charges were, as Theodore Roosevelt says, "an afterthought." Dunmore was a King's man in the Revolution; and yet in March, 1775, the Convention of the Colony of Virginia, assembled in opposition to the royal party, resolved: "The most cordial thanks of the people of this colony are a tribute justly due to our worthy Governor Lord Dunmore, for his truly noble, wise, and spirited conduct which at once evinces his Excellency's attention to the true interests of this colony, and a real in the executive department which no dangers can divert, or difficulties hinder, from achieving the most important services to the people who have the happiness to live under his administration." (See "American Archives," Fourth Series, vol. II, p. 170.) Similar resolutions were passed by his officers on the march home from Ohio; at the same time, the officers passed resolutions in sympathy with the American cause. Yet it was Andrew Lewis who later drove Dunmore from Virginia. Well might Dunmore exclaim, "That it should ever come to this!"
The movements of the two armies were being observed by scouts from the force of red warriors gathered in Ohio under the great leader of the Shawanoes. Cornstalk purposed to isolate the two armies of his enemy and to crush them in turn before they could come together. His first move was to launch an attack on Lewis at Point Pleasant. In the dark of night, Cornstalk's Indians crossed the Ohio on rafts, intending to surprise the white man's camp at dawn. They would have succeeded but for the chance that three or four of the frontiersmen, who had risen before daybreak to hunt, came upon the Indians creeping towards the camp. Shots were exchanged. An Indian and a white man dropped. The firing roused the camp. Three hundred men in two lines under Charles Lewis and William Fleming sallied forth expecting to engage the vanguard of the enemy but encountered almost the whole force of from eight hundred to a thousand Indians before the rest of the army could come into action. Both officers were wounded, Charles Lewis fatally. The battle, which continued from dawn until an hour before sunset, was the bloodiest in Virginia's long series of Indian wars. The frontiersmen fought as such men ever fought—with the daring, bravery, swiftness of attack, and skill in taking cover which were the tactics of their day, even as at a later time many of these same men fought at King's Mountain and in Illinois the battles that did so much to turn the tide in the Revolution. *
* With Andrew Lewis on this day were Isaac Shelby and William Campbell, the victorious leaders at King's Mountain, James Robertson, the "father of Tennessee," Valentine Sevier, Daniel Morgan, hero of the Cowpens, Major Arthur Campbell, Benjamin Logan, Anthony Bledsoe, and Simon Kenton. With Dunmore's force were Adam Stephen, who distinguished himself at the Brandywine, George Rogers Clark, John Stuart, already noted through the Cherokee wars, and John Montgomery, later one of Clark's four captains in Illinois. The two last mentioned were Highlanders. Clark's Illinois force was largely recruited from the troops who fought at Point Pleasant.
Colonel Preston wrote to Patrick Henry that the enemy behaved with "inconceivable bravery," the head men walking about in the time of action exhorting their men to "lie close, shoot well, be strong, and fight." The Shawanoes ran up to the muzzles of the English guns, disputing every foot of ground. Both sides knew well what they were fighting for—the rich land held in a semicircle by the Beautiful River.
Shortly before sundown the Indians, mistaking a flank movement by Shelby's contingent for the arrival of reinforcements, retreated across the Ohio. Many of their most noted warriors had fallen and among them the Shawano chief, Puck-e-shin-wa, father of a famous son, Tecumseh. * Yet they were unwilling to accept defeat. When they heard that Dunmore was now marching overland to cut them off from their towns, their fury blazed anew. "Shall we first kill all our women and children and then fight till we ourselves are slain?" Cornstalk, in irony, demanded of them; "No? Then I will go and make peace."
* Thwaites, "Documentary History of Dunmore's War."
By the treaty compacted between the chiefs and Lord Dunmore, the Indians gave up all claim to the lands south of the Ohio, even for hunting, and agreed to allow boats to pass unmolested. In this treaty the Mingos refused to join, and a detachment of Dunmore's troops made a punitive expedition to their towns. Some discord arose between Dunmore and Lewis's frontier forces because, since the Shawanoes had made peace, the Governor would not allow the frontiersmen to destroy the Shawano towns.
Of all the chiefs, Logan alone still held aloof. Major Gibson undertook to fetch him, but Logan refused to come to the treaty grounds. He sent by Gibson the short speech which has lived as an example of the best Indian oratory:
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry and he gave him not meat: if ever he came cold and naked and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed as they passed and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white men.' I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There remains not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it; I have killed many; I have fully glutted my vengeance: for my country I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one." *
* Some writers have questioned the authenticity of Logan's speech, inclining to think that Gibson himself composed it, partly because of the biblical suggestion in the first few lines. That Gibson gave biblical phraseology to these lines is apparent, though, as Adair points out there are many examples of similitude in Indian and biblical expression. But the thought is Indian and relates to the first article of the Indian's creed, namely, to share his food with the needy. "There remains not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature" is a truly Indian lament. Evidently the final four lines of the speech are the most literally translated, for they have the form and the primitive rhythmic beat which a student of Indian poetry quickly recognizes. The authenticity of the speech, as well as the innocence of Cresap, whom Logan mistakenly accused, was vouched for by George Rogers Clark in a letter to Dr. Samuel Brown dated June 17, 1798. See Jefferson papers, Series 6, quoted by English, "Conquest of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio." vol. II. p. 1029.
By rivers and trails, in large and small companies, started home the army that had won the land. The West Fincastle troops, from the lower settlements of the Clinch and Holston valleys, were to return by the Kentucky River, while those from the upper valley would take the shorter way up Sandy Creek. To keep them in provisions during the journey it was ordered that hunters be sent out along these routes to kill and barbecue meat and place it on scaffolds at appropriate spots.
The way home by the Kentucky was a long road for weary and wounded men with hunger gnawing under their belts. We know who swung out along the trail to provide for that little band, "dressed in deerskins colored black, and his hair plaited and bobbed up." It was Daniel Boone—now, by popular demand, Captain Boone—just "discharged from Service," since the valley forts needed him no longer. Once more only a hunter, he went his way over Walden Mountain—past his son's grave marking the place where HE had been turned back—to serve the men who had opened the gates.
Chapter VII. The Dark And Bloody Ground
With the coming of spring Daniel Boone's desire, so long cherished and deferred, to make a way for his neighbors through the wilderness was to be fulfilled at last. But ere his ax could slash the thickets from the homeseekers' path, more than two hundred settlers had entered Kentucky by the northern waterways. Eighty or more of these settled at Harrodsburg, where Harrod was laying out his town on a generous plan, with "in-lots" of half an acre and "out-lots" of larger size. Among those associated with Harrod was George Rogers Clark, who had surveyed claims for himself during the year before the war.
While over two hundred colonists were picking out home sites wherever their pleasure or prudence dictated, a gigantic land promotion scheme—involving the very tracts where they were sowing their first corn—was being set afoot in North Carolina by a body of men who figure in the early history of Kentucky as the Transylvania Company. The leader of this organization was Judge Richard Henderson. * Judge Henderson dreamed a big dream. His castle in the air had imperial proportions. He resolved, in short, to purchase from the Cherokee Indians the larger part of Kentucky and to establish there a colony after the manner and the economic form of the English Lords Proprietors, whose day in America was so nearly done. Though in the light of history the plan loses none of its dramatic features, it shows the practical defects that must surely have prevented its realization. Like many another Caesar hungering for empire and staking all to win it, the prospective lord of Kentucky, as we shall see, had left the human equation out of his calculations.
* Richard Henderson (1734-1785) was the son of the High Sheriff of Granville County. At first an assistant to his father, he studied law and soon achieved a reputation by the brilliance of his mind and the magnetism of his personality. As presiding Judge at Hillsborough he had come into conflict with the violent element among the Regulators, who had driven him from the court and burned his house and barns. For some time prior to his elevation to the bench, he had been engaged in land speculations. One of Boone's biographers suggests that Boone may have been secretly acting as Henderson's agent during his first lonely explorations of Kentucky. However this may be, it does not appear that Boone and his Yadkin neighbors were acting with Henderson when in September, 1773, they made their first attempt to enter Kentucky as settlers.
Richard Henderson had known Daniel Boone on the Yadkin; and it was Boone's detailed reports of the marvelous richness and beauty of Kentucky which had inspired him to formulate his gigantic scheme and had enabled him also to win to his support several men of prominence in the Back Country. To sound the Cherokees regarding the purchase and to arrange, if possible, for a conference, Henderson dispatched Boone to the Indian towns in the early days of 1775.
Since we have just learned that Dunmore's War compelled the Shawanoes and their allies to relinquish their right to Kentucky, that, both before and after that event, government surveyors were in the territory surveying for the soldiers' claims, and that private individuals had already laid out town sites and staked holdings, it may be asked what right of ownership the Cherokees possessed in Kentucky, that Henderson desired to purchase it of them. The Indian title to Kentucky seems to have been hardly less vague to the red men than it was to the whites. Several of the nations had laid claim to the territory. As late as 1753, it will be remembered, the Shawanoes had occupied a town at Blue Licks, for John Findlay had been taken there by some of them. But, before Findlay guided Boone through the Gap in 1769, the Shawanoes had been driven out by the Iroquois, who claimed suzerainty over them as well as over the Cherokees. In 1768, the Iroquois had ceded Kentucky to the British Crown by the treaty of Fort Stanwix; whereupon the Cherokees had protested so vociferously that the Crown's Indian agent, to quiet them, had signed a collateral agreement with them. Though claimed by many, Kentucky was by common consent not inhabited by any of the tribes. It was the great Middle Ground where the Indians hunted. It was the Warriors' Path over which they rode from north and south to slaughter and where many of their fiercest encounters took place. However shadowy the title which Henderson purposed to buy, there was one all-sufficing reason why he must come to terms with the Cherokees: their northernmost towns in Tennessee lay only fifty or sixty miles below Cumberland Gap and hence commanded the route over which he must lead colonists into his empire beyond the hills.
The conference took place early in March, 1775, at the Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga River. Twelve hundred Indians, led by their "town chiefs"—among whom were the old warrior and the old statesman of their nation, Oconostota and Attakullakulla—came to the treaty grounds and were received by Henderson and his associates and several hundred white men who were eager for a chance to settle on new lands. Though Boone was now on his way into Kentucky for the Transylvania Company, other border leaders of renown or with their fame still to win were present, and among them James Robertson, of serious mien, and that blond gay knight in buckskin, John Sevier.
It is a dramatic picture we evolve for ourselves from the meager narratives of this event—a mass of painted Indians moving through the sycamores by the bright water, to come presently into a tense, immobile semicircle before the large group of armed frontiersmen seated or standing about Richard Henderson, the man with the imperial dream, the ready speaker whose flashing eyes and glowing oratory won the hearts of all who came under their sway. What though the Cherokee title be a flimsy one at best and the price offered for it a bagatelle! The spirit of Forward March! is there in that great canvas framed by forest and sky. The somber note that tones its lustrous color, as by a sweep of the brush, is the figure of the Chickamaugan chief, Dragging Canoe, warrior and seer and hater of white men, who urges his tribesmen against the sale and, when they will not hearken, springs from their midst into the clear space before Henderson and his band of pioneers and, pointing with uplifted arm, warns them that a dark cloud hangs over the land the white man covets which to the red man has long been a bloody ground. *
* This utterance of Dragging Canoe's is generally supposed to be the origin of the descriptive phrase applied to Kentucky—"the Dark and Bloody Ground." See Roosevelt, "The Winning of the West," vol. I, p.229.
The purchase, finally consummated, included the country lying between the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers almost all the present State of Kentucky, with the adjacent land watered by the Cumberland River and its tributaries, except certain lands previously leased by the Indians to the Watauga Colony. The tract comprised about twenty million acres and extended into Tennessee.
Daniel Boone's work was to cut out a road for the wagons of the Transylvania Company's colonists to pass over. This was to be done by slashing away the briers and underbrush hedging the narrow Warriors' Path that made a direct northward line from Cumberland Gap to the Ohio bank, opposite the mouth of the Scioto River. Just prior to the conference Boone and "thirty guns" had set forth from the Holston to prepare the road and to build a fort on whatever site he should select.
By April, Henderson and his first group of tenants were on the trail. In Powell's Valley they came up with a party of Virginians Kentucky bound, led by Benjamin Logan; and the two bands joined together for the march. They had not gone far when they heard disquieting news. After leaving Martin's Station, at the gates of his new domain, Henderson received a letter from Boone telling of an attack by Indians, in which two of his men had been killed, but "we stood on the ground and guarded our baggage till the day and lost nothing." * These tidings, indicating that despite treaties and sales, the savages were again on the warpath, might well alarm Henderson's colonists. While they halted, some indecisive, others frankly for retreat, there appeared a company of men making all haste out of Kentucky because of Indian unrest. Six of these Henderson persuaded to turn again and go in with him; but this addition hardly offset the loss of those members of his party who thought it too perilous to proceed. Henderson's own courage did not falter. He had staked his all on this stupendous venture and for him it was forward to wealth and glory or retreat into poverty and eclipse. Boone, in the heart of the danger, was making the same stand. "If we give way to them [the Indians] now," he wrote, "it will ever be the case."
* Bogart, "Daniel Boone and the Hunters of Kentucky." p. 121.
Signs of discord other than Indian opposition met Henderson as he resolutely pushed on. His conversations with some of the fugitives from Kentucky disclosed the first indications of the storm that was to blow away the empire he was going in to found. He told them that the claims they had staked in Kentucky would not hold good with the Transylvania Company. Whereupon James McAfee, who was leading a group of returning men, stated his opinion that the Transylvania Company's claim would not hold good with Virginia. After the parley, three of McAfee's brothers turned back and went with Henderson's party, but whether with intent to join his colony or to make good their own claims is not apparent. Benjamin Logan continued amicably with Henderson on the march but did not recognize him as Lord Proprietor of Kentucky. He left the Transylvania caravan shortly after entering the territory, branched off in the direction of Harrodsburg, and founded St. Asaph's Station, in the present Lincoln County, independently of Henderson though the site lay within Henderson's purchase.
Notwithstanding delays and apprehensions, Henderson and his colonists finally reached Boone's Fort, which Daniel and his "thirty guns"—lacking two since the Indian encounter—had erected at the mouth of Otter Creek.
An attractive buoyancy of temperament is revealed in Henderson's description in his journal of a giant elm with tall straight trunk and even foliage that shaded a space of one hundred feet. Instantly he chose this "divine elm" as the council chamber of Transylvania. Under its leafage he read the constitution of the new colony. It would be too great a stretch of fancy to call it a democratic document, for it was not that, except in deft phrases. Power was certainly declared to be vested in the people; but the substance of power remained in the hands of the Proprietors.
Terms for land grants were generous enough in the beginning, although Henderson made the fatal mistake of demanding quitrents—one of the causes of dissatisfaction which had led to the Regulators' rising in North Carolina. In September he augmented this error by more than doubling the price of land, adding a fee of eight shillings for surveying, and reserving to the Proprietors one-half of all gold, silver, lead, and sulphur found on the land. No land near sulphur springs or showing evidences of metals was to be granted to settlers. Moreover, at the Company's store the prices charged for lead were said to be too high—lead being necessary for hunting, and hunting being the only means of procuring food—while the wages of labor, as fixed by the Company, were too low. These terms bore too heavily on poor men who were risking their lives in the colony.
Hence newcomers passed by Boonesborough, as the Transylvania settlement was presently called, and went elsewhere. They settled on Henderson's land but refused his terms. They joined in their sympathies with James Harrod, who, having established Harrodsburg in the previous year at the invitation of Virginia, was not in the humor to acknowledge Henderson's claim or to pay him tribute. All were willing to combine with the Transylvania Company for defense, and to enforce law they would unite in bonds of brotherhood in Kentucky, even as they had been one with each other on the earlier frontier now left behind them. But they would call no man master; they had done with feudalism. That Henderson should not have foreseen this, especially after the upheaval in North Carolina, proves him, in spite of all his brilliant gifts, to have been a man out of touch with the spirit of the time.
The war of the Revolution broke forth and the Indians descended upon the Kentucky stations. Defense was the one problem in all minds, and defense required powder and lead in plenty. The Transylvania Company was not able to provide the means of defense against the hordes of savages whom Henry Hamilton, the British Governor at Detroit, was sending to make war on the frontiers. Practical men like Harrod and George Rogers Clark—who, if not a practical man in his own interests, was a most practical soldier—saw that unification of interests within the territory with the backing of either Virginia or Congress was necessary. Clark personally would have preferred to see the settlers combine as a freemen's state. It was plain that they would not combine and stake their lives as a unit to hold Kentucky for the benefit of the Transylvania Company, whose authority some of the most prominent men in the territory had refused to recognize. The Proprietary of Transylvania could continue to exist only to the danger of every life in Kentucky.
While the Proprietors sent a delegate to the Continental Congress to win official recognition for Transylvania, eighty-four men at Harrodsburg drew up a petition addressed to Virginia stating their doubts of the legality of Henderson's title and requesting Virginia to assert her authority according to the stipulations of her charter. That defense was the primary and essential motive of the Harrodsburg Remonstrance seems plain, for when George Rogers Clark set off on foot with one companion to lay the document before the Virginian authorities, he also went to plead for a load of powder. In his account of that hazardous journey, as a matter of fact, he makes scant reference to Transylvania, except to say that the greed of the Proprietors would soon bring the colony to its end, but shows that his mind was seldom off the powder. It is a detail of history that the Continental Congress refused to seat the delegate from Transylvania. Henderson himself went to Virginia to make the fight for his land before the Assembly. *
* In 1778 Virginia disallowed Henderson's title but granted him two hundred thousand acres between the Green and Kentucky rivers for his trouble and expense in opening up the country.
The magnetic center of Boonesborough's life was the lovable and unassuming Daniel Boone. Soon after the building of the fort Daniel had brought in his wife and family. He used often to state with a mild pride that his wife and daughters were the first white women to stand on the banks of the Kentucky River. That pride had not been unmixed with anxiety; his daughter Jemima and two daughters of his friend, Richard Galloway, while boating on the river had been captured by Shawanoes and carried off. Boone, accompanied by the girls' lovers and by John Floyd (eager to repay his debt of life-saving to Boone) had pursued them, tracing the way the captors had taken by broken twigs and scraps of dress goods which one of the girls had contrived to leave in their path, had come on the Indians unawares, killed them, and recovered the three girls unhurt.
In the summer of 1776, Virginia took official note of "Captain Boone of Boonesborough," for she sent him a small supply of powder. The men of the little colony, which had begun so pretentiously with its constitution and assembly, were now obliged to put all other plans aside and to concentrate on the question of food and defense. There was a dangerous scarcity of powder and lead. The nearest points at which these necessaries could be procured were the Watauga and Holston River settlements, which were themselves none too well stocked. Harrod and Logan, some time in 1777, reached the Watauga fort with three or four packhorses and filled their packs from Sevier's store; but, as they neared home, they were detected by red scouts and Logan was badly wounded before he and Harrod were able to drive their precious load safely through the gates at Harrodsburg. In the autumn of 1777, Clark, with a boatload of ammunition, reached Maysville on the Ohio, having successfully run the gauntlet between banks in possession of the foe. He had wrested the powder and lead from the Virginia Council by threats to the effect that if Virginia was so willing to lose Kentucky—for of course "a country not worth defending is not worth claiming"—he and his fellows were quite ready to take Kentucky for themselves and to hold it with their swords against all comers, Virginia included. By even such cogent reasoning had he convinced the Council—which had tried to hedge by expressing doubts that Virginia would receive the Kentucky settlers as "citizens of the State"—that it would be cheaper to give him the powder.