Chronicles of Border Warfare
In the year 1774, the peace, which had subsisted with but little violation since the treaty of 1765, received an interruption, which checked for a while the emigration to the North Western frontier; and involved its infant settlements in a war with the Indians. This result has been attributed to various causes. Some have asserted that it had its origin in the murder of some Indians on the Ohio river both above and below Wheeling, in the spring of that year. Others suppose it to have been produced by the instigation of British emissaries, and the influence of Canadian traders.
That it was not caused by the murders of at Captina* and opposite the mouth of Yellow creek, if fairly inferable from the fact, that several Indians had been previously murdered by the whites in a period of the most profound tranquillity, without having led to a similar issue; or even given rise to any act of retaliation, on the part of the friends or countrymen of those, who had been thus murdered.
At different periods of time, between the peace of 1765, and the renewal of hostilities in 1774, three Indians were unprovokedly killed by John Ryan, on the Ohio, Monongahela and Cheat rivers. The first who suffered from the unrestrained licentiousness of this man, was an Indian of distinction in his tribe, and Known by the name of Capt. Peter; the other two were private warriors. And but that Governor Dunmore from the representations made to him, was induced to offer a reward for his apprehension, which caused him to leave the country. Ryan would probably have continued to murder every Indian, with whom he should have chance to meet, wandering through the settlements.
Several Indians were likewise killed on the South Branch, while on a friendly visit to that country, in the interval of peace. This deed is said to have been done by Henry Judah, Nicholas Harpold and their associates; and when Judah was arrested for the offense, so great was the excitement among those who had suffered from savage enmity, that he was rescued from confinement by upwards of two hundred men, collected for that especial purpose.
The Bald Eagle was an Indian of notoriety, not only among his own nation, but also with the inhabitants of the North Western frontier, with whom h was in the habit of associating and hunting. In one of his visits among them, he was discovered alone by Jacob Scott, William Hacker and Elijah Runner, who, reckless of the consequences murdered him, solely to gratify a most wanton thirst for Indian blood. After the commission of this most outrageous enormity, they seated him in the stern of a canoe, and with a piece of journey-cake thrust into his mouth, set him afloat in the Monongahela. In this situation he was seen descending the river, by several, who supposed him to be as usual, returning from a friendly hunt with the whites in the supper settlements, and who expressed some astonishment that he did not stop to see them. The canoe floating hear to the shore below the mouth of George’s creek, was observed by a Mrs. Province, who had it brought to the bank, and the friendly, but unfortunate old Indian decently buried.
Not long after the murder of Bald Eagle, another outrage of a similar nature was committed on a peaceable Indian, by William White; and for which he was apprehended and taken to Winchester for trial. But the fury of the populace did not suffer him to remain there awaiting that event.—The prison doors were forced, the irons knocked off him and he again set at liberty.
But still another atrocious act is said to have been soon after perpetrated. Until then the murders committed, were only on such as were found within the limits of white settlements, and on men and warriors. In 1772, there is every reason to believe, that women and children likewise became victims to the exasperated feelings of our own citizens; and this too, while quietly enjoying the comforts of their own huts, in their own village.
* Mr. Jefferson, in his notes on Virginia, represents this as happening at Grave creek, which empties into the Ohio from the south eastern, or Virginia side of this river, twelve miles below Wheeling. Those who lived near at the time and are supposed to have had the best opportunity of ascertaining the fact, way that it happened near the mouth of Capina, a creek sixteen miles below Wheeling, and on the Ohio side.
There was at that time an Indian town on the Little Kenhawa (called Bulltown) inhabited by five families, who were in habits of Social and friendly intercourse with the whites on Buchannon and on Hacker’s creek; frequently visiting and hunting with them. – There was likewise residing on Gauley river, the family of a German by the name of Stroud. In the summer of that year, Mr. Stroud being from home, his family were all murdered, his house plundered, and his cattle driven off. The trail made by these leading in the direction of Bulltown, induced the supposition that the Indians of that village had been the authors of the outrage, and caused several to resolve on avenging it upon them.
A party of five men, (two of whom were William White and William Hacker, who had been concerned in previous murders) expressed a determination to proceed immediately to Bulltown. The remonstrance of the settlement generally, could not operate to effect a change in that determination. They went; and on their return circumstances justified the belief that the pre-apprehensions of those who knew the temper and feelings of White and Hacker, had been well founded; and that there had been some fighting between them and the Indians. And notwithstanding that they denied ever having seen an Indian in their absence, yet it was the prevailing opinion that they destroyed all the men, women and children, as Bulltown and threw their bodies into the river. Indeed, one of the party is said to have, inadvertently, used expressions, confirmatory of this opinion; and to have then justified the deed, by saying that the clothes and other things known to have belonged to the Stroud’s family, were found in the possession of the Indians. The village was seen after visited, and found to be entirely desolated, and nothing being ever after being heard of its former inhabitants, there can remain no doubt but that the murder of Stroud’s family, was requited on them.
Here then was a fit time for the Indians to commence a system of retaliation and war, if they were disposed to engage in hostilities, for offences of this kind along. Yet no such event was the consequence of the killing of the Bulltown Indians, or of those other murders which preceded that outrage; and it may be hence rationally concluded, that the murders on the Ohio river did not lead to such an event. If however, a doubt should still remain, that doubt is surely removed by the declaration of Logan himself. It was his family that was killed opposite Yellow creek, about the last of April; and the following July (after the expedition against the Wappatonica towns, under Col. McDonald) he says, "the Indians are not angry on account of these murders, but only myself." The fact is, that the hostilities had commenced before the happening of the affair at Capina, or that near Yellow creek; and these, instead of having produced that event, were the consequence of the previous hostile movements of the Indians.
Those who lived more immediately in the neighborhood of the scene of action at that time, were generally of opinion, that the Indians were urged to war by the instigation of emissaries from Great Britain and of the Canadian traders; and, independently of any knowledge which they may have had of the conduct of these circumstances of a general nature would seem to justify that opinion.
The relative situation of the American colonies and the mother country, is matter of general history, and too well known to require being repeated here. It is equally well known too that from the first establishment of a colony in Canada, the Canadians obtained an influence over the Natives, greater than the Anglo Americans were ever able to acquire; and that this influence was frequently exercised by them, to the great annoyance, and manifest injury of the latter. France and England have been long considered as natural enemies; and the inhabitants of their respective plantations in America, entertained strong feelings of jealousy towards each other. When by the treaty of Paris, the French possessions in North America (which had not been ceded to Spain.) were transferred to Great Britain, these feelings were not subdued. The Canadians still regarded themselves as a different people. Their national prejudices were too great to be extinguished by an union under the same prince. Under the influences of those prejudices, and the apprehension, that the lucrative commerce of the natives might, by the competition of the English traders, be diverted from its accustomed channels, they may have exerted themselves to excite the Indians to war; but that alone would hardly have produced this result. There is in man an inherent partiality for self, which leads him to search for the causes of any evil, elsewhere than in his own conduct; and under the practice of this propensity to assign the burden of wrong to be borne by others, the Jesuits from Canada and Louisiana were assured for the continuation of the war on the part of the Indians, after it had been terminated with their allies by the treaty of 1763. Yet that event was, no doubt, justly attributable to the erection of forts and the location of land, in the district of country claimed by the natives, in the province of Pennsylvania. And in like manner, the origin of the war of 1774 may fairly be charged to the encroachments which were then being made on the Indian territory. To be convinced of this, it is necessary to advert to the promptitude of resistance on the part of the Natives, by which those encroachments were invariably met; and to recur to events happening in other sections of the country. -- Events, perhaps no otherwise connected with the history of North Western Virginia, than as they are believed to have been the proximate causes of an hostility, eventuating in the effusion of much of its blood; and pregnant with other circumstances, having an important bearing on its prosperity and advancement.
In the whole history of America, from the time when its first became apparent that the occupancy of the country was the object of the whites, up to the present period, is there perhaps to be found a solitary instance, in which an attempt, made by the English to effect a settlement in a wilderness claimed by the Natives, was not succeeded by immediate acts of hostility on the part of the latter. Every advance of the kind was regarded by them, as tending to effect their expulsion from a country, which they had long considered as their own, and as leading, must probably to their entire extinction as a people. This excited in them feelings of the most dire resentment; stimulating to deeds of cruelty and murder, at once to repel the encroachment and to punish its authors. Experience of the utter futility of those means to accomplish these purposes, has never availed to repress their use, or to produce an acquiescence in the wrong. Even attempts to extend jurisdiction over a country, the right of soil in which, was never denied them, have ever given rise to the most lively apprehensions of their fatal consequences, and prompted to the employment of means to thwart that aim. As Indian sees no difference between the right of empire and the right of domain; and just as little can he discriminate between the right of property, acquired by the actual cultivation of the earth, and that which arises from its appropriation to other uses.
Among themselves they have lines of demarcation, which distinguish the territory of one nation from that of another; and these are of such binding authority, that a transgression of them by neighboring Indians, leads invariably to war. In treaties of purchase, and other conventional arrangements, made with them by the whites, the validity of their rights to land, have been repeatedly recognized; and an infraction of those rights by the Anglo-Americans, encounters opposition at its threshold. The history of every attempt to settle a wilderness, to which the Indian title was not previously extinguished, has consequently been a history of plunder, conflagration and massacre.
That extension of white settlements into the Indian country was the cause of the war of 1774, will be abundantly manifested by a recurrence to the early history of Kentucky; and a brief review of the circumstances connected with he first attempts to explore and make establishments in it. For several reasons, these circumstances merit a passing notice in this place. Redstone and Fort Pitt (now Brownsville and Pittsburgh) were for some time, the principal points of embarkation for emigrants to that country; many of whom were from the establishments which had been then not long made, on the Monongahela. The Indians, regarding the settlements of North Western Virginia as the line from which swarmed the adventurers to Kentucky, directed their operations to prevent the success of these adventurers, as well against the inhabitants of the upper country, as against them. While at the same time, in the efforts which were made to compel the Indians to desist from farther opposition, the North Western Virginians frequently combined their forces, and acted in conjunction, the more certainly to accomplish that object. In truth the war, which was then commenced and carried on with but little intermission up to the treaty of Fort Greenville in 1795 was a war in which they were equally interested, having for its aim the indiscriminate destruction of the inhabitants of both those sections of country, as the means of preventing the farther extension of settlements by the whites.
When Kentucky was first begun to be explored, it is said not to have been claimed in individual property by any nation of Indians. Its extensive forests, grassy plains and thick cane brakes abounding with every variety of game common to such latitudes, were used as common hunting grounds, and considered by them, as open for all who chose to resort to them. The Cherokees, the Chicasaws, the Catanbas and the Chicamungas, from the south east; and the Illinois, the Peorias, the Delawares, the Mingoes and Shawanees from the west, claimed and exercised equal rights and privileges within its limits. When the tribes of those different nations would however meet there, frequent collisions would arise between them; and so deadly were the conflicts ensuing upon these, that, in conjunction with the gloom of its dense forests, they acquired for it the impressive appellation of "the dark and bloody ground." But frequent and deadly as may have been those conflicts, they sprang from some other cause, than a claim to exclusive property in it.
In the summer of 1769, Daniel Boone, in company with John Finley (who had previously hunted through the country) and a few other men, entered Kentucky, and traveled over much of its surface, without meeting with an Indian, until the December following. At this time Boone and John Steward (one of his companions,) while on a hunting excursion, were discovered by a party of Indians, who succeeded in making them prisoners. After a detention of but a few days, these men effected their escape; and returning to their old camp, found that it had been plundered, and their associates, either killed or taken into captivity. They were shortly after joined by a brother of Daniel Boone and another man, from North Carolina, who were so fortunate in wandering through the wilderness, as to discover the only, though temporary residence of civilized man within several hundred miles. But the Indians had become alarmed for the possession of that country; and fearing that if Boone and Steward should be suffered to escape to the settlements, they might induce others to attempt its permanent occupancy, they sought with vigilance to discover and murder them. They succeeded in killing Steward, but Daniel Boone, and his brother, then the only persons lift, the man who came out with the younger Boone having been killed by a wolf,) escaped from them, and soon after returned to North Carolina.
The Indians were not disappointed in their expectations. The description given of the country by the Boones, soon led others to attempt its settlement; and in 1773, six families and about forty men, all under the guidance of Daniel Boone, commenced their journey to Kentucky with the view, of remaining there. Before they proceeded far, they were attacked in the rear by a party of Indians who had been observing their movements; and who in the first fire killed six of the emigrants and dispersed their cattle. Notwithstanding that, in the engagement which ensued upon this attack, the assailants were repulsed, yet the adventurers were so afflicted at the loss of their friends, and dispirited by such serious and early opposition, that they abandoned their purpose for a time, and returned to the inhabited parts of Tennessee.
The Indians elated with their success in defeating this first attempt at the settlement of Kentucky, and supposing that the route pursued by the party which they had driven back, would be the pass for future adventurers, determined on guarding it closely, and checking, if possible, every similar enterprise. But while their attention was directed to this point, others found their way into the country by a different route and from a different direction.
About the same time too, General Thompson of Pennsylvania, commenced an extensive course of surveys, of the rich land on the North Fork of Licking; and other individuals following his example in the ensuing winter the country swarmed with land adventurers and surveyors. So sensible were they all, that these attempts to appropriate those lands to their own use, would produce acts of hostility, that they went prepared to resist those acts; and the first party who took up their abode in Kentucky, no sooner selected a situation for their residence, than they proceeded to erect a fort for their security.* The conduct of the
*This was done by a party of men from the Monongahela, under the guidance of James Harrod; by whom was built the first cabin for human inhabitance ever erected in Kentucky. This was on the present site of Harrodsburg.
Indians soon convinced them, that their apprehensions were not ill founded; and many of them, in consequence of the hostile movements which were being made, and the robberies which were committed, ascended the Ohio river to Wheeling.
It is not known that any murders were done previously to this, and subsequently to the attack and repulse of the emigrants who were led on by Boone in 1773. This event happened on the tenth day of October; and it was in April of the ensuing year, that the land adventurers retired to Wheeling. In this interval of time, nothing could, perhaps, be done by the Indians, but make preparation for hostilities in the spring. In deed it very rarely happens, that the Indians engage in active war during the winter; and there is, moreover, a strong presumption, that they were for some time ignorant of the fact that there were adventurers in the country; and consequently, they knew of no object thee, on which their hostile intentions could operate. – the Indians at the close of winter, the belief was general, that they were assuming a warlike attitude, and meditating a continuance of hostilities. War was certainly begun on their part, when Boone and his associates, were attacked and driven back to the settlements; and if it abated for a season, that abatement was attributable to other causes, than a disposition to remain quiet and peaceable, while the country was being occupied by the whites.
If other evidence were wanting, to prove the fact that the war of 1774 had its origin in a determination of the Indians to repress the extension of white settlements, it could be found in the circumstance, that although it was terminated by the treaty with lord Dunmore, yet it revived as soon as attempts were again made to occupy Kentucky, and was continued with increased ardor, ‘till the victory obtained over them by General Wayne. For, notwithstanding that in the struggle for American liberty, those Indians became the allies of Great Britain, yet when independence was acknowledged, and the English forces with drawn from the colonies, hostilities were still carried on by them; and, as was then well understood, because of the continued operation of those causes, which produced the war of 1774. That the Canadian traders and British emissaries, prompted the Indians to aggression, and extended to them every aid which they could, to render that aggression more effectual oppressive and overwhelming, is readily admitted. Yet this would not have led to a war, but for the encroachments which have been mentioned. French influence, united to the known jealousy of the Natives, would have been unavailingly exerted to array the Indians against Virginia, at the commencement of Braddock’s war, but for the proceedings of the Ohio company, and the fact that the Pennsylvania traders represented the object of the association to be purely territorial. And equally fruitless would have been their endeavor to involve them in a contest with Virginians at a later period, but for a like manifestation of an intention to encroach on their domain.
In the latter end of April 1774, a party of land adventurers , who had fled from the dangers which threatened them below, came in collision with some Indians, near the mouth of Captina, sixteen miles below Wheeling. A slight skirmish ensued, which terminated in the discomfiture of the whites, notwithstanding they had only one man wounded, and one or two of the enemy were killed. About the same time, happened the affair opposite the mouth of Yellow creek; a stream emptying into the Ohio river from the north west, nearly midway between Pittsburgh and Wheeling.
In consequence of advice received of the menacing conduct of the Indians, Joshua Baker (who lived at this place) was preparing, together with his neighbors to retire for safety, into some of the nearer forts, to go to their older and more populous settlements, remote from danger. There was at that time a large party of Indians, encamped on both sides of Yellow creek, at its entrance into the river; and although in their intercourse at Baker’s, they had not manifested an intention of speedily commencing depredations, yet he deemed his situation in the immediate contiguity of them, as being far from secure, and was on the eve of abandoning it, when a party of whites, who had just collected at his house; fired upon and killed some Indians, who were likewise there.—Among them were the bother and daughter of the celebrated chief, Logan.*
*There is some difficulty in fixing the precise time when these occurrences happened. Col. Ebenezer Zane says that they took place in the
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In justification of this conduct it has been said, that on the preceding evening a squaw came over from the encampment and informed Mrs. Baker that the Indians meditated the murder of her family on the next day; and that before the firing at Baker’s, two canoes, containing Indians painted and armed for war, were seen to leave the opposite shore. Under these circumstances, an apparently slight provocation, and one, which would not perhaps have been, otherwise heeded, produced the fatal result. As the canoes approached the shore, the party from Baker’s commenced firing on them, and notwithstanding the opposition made by the Indians, forced them to retire.
An interval of quite succeeded the happening of these events; but it was as the solemn stillness which precedes the eruption of an earthquake, when a volcanic explosion has given notice of its approach; --rendered more awful by the uncertainty where its desolating influence would be felt. It was however, a stillness of but short duration. The gathering storm soon burst over the devoted heads of those, who had neglected to seek a shelter from its wrath. The traders in the Indian country were the first victims sacrificed on the altar of savage ferocity; and a general massacre of all the whites found among them, quickly followed. A young man, discovered near the falls of Muskingum, and within sight of White Eyes town, was murdered, scalped; literally cut to pieces, and the mangled members of his body, hung up on trees. White Eyes, a chief of the friendly Delawares, hearing the scalp halloo when out with a party of his men; and seeing what had been done, collected the scattered limbs of the young man, and buried them. On the next day, they were torn from the ground, severed into small pieces, and thrown dispersedly at greater distances from each other.
Apprized of impending danger, many of the inhabitants on the frontiers of North Western Virginia, retired into the interior, before any depredations were committed, in the upper country; some took refuge in forts which had been previously built; while others, collecting together at particular houses, converted them into temporary fortresses, answering well the purposes of protection, to those who sought shelter in them. Fort Redstone, which had been erected after the successful expedition of General Forbes; and
Fort Pitt, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers afforded an asylum to many. Several private forts were likewise established in various parts of the country;** and everything which individual exertion could effect, to ensure protection to the border inhabitants, was done.
Nor did the colonial government of Virginia neglect the security of her frontier citizens. When intelligence of the hostile
latter part of April, and the affair at Captina, preceded the one at Yellow creek a few days. John Sappington who was of the party at Baker’s, and is said to be the one who killed Logan’s brother, says, the murders at that place occurred on the he 24th of May, and that the skirmish at Captina was on the day before (23rd May.) Col. Andrew Swearingen, a presbyterian gentleman of much respectability, one of the early settlers near the Ohio above Wheeling, and afterwards intimate with those engaged at both places, says that the disturbance opposite Yellow creek preceded the engagement of Captina; and that the latter, as was then generally understood, was caused by the conduct of the Indians, who had been at Yellow creek and were descending the river, exasperated at the murder of their friends at Baker’s. Mr. Benjamin Tomlinson, who was the brother-in-law of Baker and living with him at the time, says that this circumstance happened in May, but is silent as to the one at Captina. These gentlemen all agree in the fact that Logan’s people were murdered at Baker’s. Indeed Logan himself charges it as having been done there. The statement of Sappington, that the murders were caused by the abusive epithets of Logan’s brother and his taking the hat and coat of Baker’s brother-in-law is confirmed by Col. Swearingen and others; who also say that for some days previous, the neighborhood generally had been engaged in preparing to leave the country, in consequence of the menacing conduct of the Indians
** It was then that Westfall’s and Casinoe’s forts were erected in Tygart’s valley, --Pricket’s, on Prickets creek, --- Jackson’s on Ten Mile, and Shepherd’s on Wheeling creek, a few miles above its mouth. There were also others established on various parts of the country and on the Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Nutter’s fort near to Clarksburg, afforded protection to the inhabitants on the West Fork, from its source, to its confluence with the Valley river; and to those who lived on Buchannon and on Hacker’s creek, as well as to the residents of its immediate vicinity.
disposition of the Natives, reached Williamsburg, the house of Burgesses was in session; and measures were immediately adopted, to prevent massacres, and to restore tranquility. That these objects might be the more certainly accomplished, it was proposed from Bottetourt,) to organize a force, sufficient to overcome all intermediate opposition, and to carry the war into the enemy’s country In accordance to this proposition, orders were issued by Governor Dunmore for raising the requisite number of troops, and for making other necessary preparations for the contemplated campaign; the plan of which was concerted by the Governor, Gen. Lewis and Colonel Charles Lewis (then a delegate from Augusta.) But as some time must necessarily have elapsed before the consummation of the preparations which were being made; and as much individual suffering might result from the delays unavoidably incident to the raising, equipping and organizing a large body of troops, it was deemed advisable to take some previous and immediate steps to prevent the invasion of exposed and defenseless portions of the country. The best plan for the accomplishment of this object was believed to be, the sending of an advance army into the Indian country, of sufficient strength to act offensively, before confederacy could be formed of the different tribes, and their combined forces be brought into the field. A sense of the exposed situation of their towns in the presence of an hostile army, requiring the entire strength of every village for its defense, would, it was supposed, call home those straggling parties of warriors, by which destruction is so certainly dealt to the helpless and unprotected. In conformity with this part of the plan of operations, four hundred men, to be detailed from the militia west of the mountains, were ordered to assemble at Wheeling as soon as practicable. And in the mean time, lest surveyors and land adventurers, who were then in Kentucky, might be discovered and fall a prey to the savages, Daniel Boone was sent by the Governor to the falls of Ohio, to conduct them home from thence, through the wilderness; the only practicable road to safety, the Ohio river being so effectually guarded as to preclude the hope of escaping up it.
Early in June, the troops destined to make an incursion into the Indian country, assembled at Wheeling, and being placed under the command of Colonel Angus McDonald, descended the Ohio to the mouth of Captina. Debarking, at this place, from their boats and canoes, they took up their march to Wappatomica, an Indian town on the Muskingum. The country through which the army had to pass, was one unbroken forest, presenting many obstacles to its speedy advance; not the least of which was the difficulty of proceeding directly to the point proposed. To obviate this, however, they were accompanied by three persons in the capacity of guides; * whose knowledge of the woods, and familiarity with those natural indices, which so unerringly mark the direction of the principal points, enabled them to pursue the direct course. When they had approached within six miles of the town, the army encountered an opposition from a party of fifth or sixty Indians lying in ambush; and before these could be dislodged, two whites were killed, and eight or ten wounded; one Indian was killed, and several wounded. They then proceeded to Wappatomica without further molestation.
When the army arrived at the town, it was found to be entirely deserted. Supposing that it would cross the river, the Indians had retreated to the opposite bank, and concealing themselves behind trees and fallen timber, were awaiting the movement in joyful anticipation of a successful surprise. Their own anxiety and the prudence of the commanding officer, however, frustrated that expectation. Several were discovered peeping from their covert, watching the motion of the army; and Colonel McDonald, suspecting their object and apprehensive that they would recross the river and attack him in the rear, stationed videttes above and below, to detect any such purpose and to apprise him of the first movement towards effecting it. Foiled by these prudent and precautionary measures and seeing their town in possession of the enemy, with no prospect of wresting it from them, ‘till destruction would have done its work, the Indians sued for peace; and the commander of the expedition consenting to negotiate with them, if he could be assured of their sincerity, five chiefs were sent over as
* They were Jonathan Zane, Thomas Nicholson and Tady Kelly. A better woodsman than the first named of these three, perhaps never lived.
hostages, and the army then crossed the river, with these in front.
When a negotiation was begun, the Indians asked, that one of the hostages might be permitted to go and convoke the other chiefs, whose presence, it was alleged, would be necessary to the ratification of a peace.
One was accordingly released and not returning at the time specified, another was sent, who in like manner failed to return. Colonel McDonald, suspecting some treachery, marched forward to the next town, above Wappatomica, where another slight engagement took place, in which one Indian was killed and one white man wounded. It was
then ascertained, that the time which should have been spent in collecting the other chiefs, preparatory to negotiation, had been employed in removing their old men, their women and children, together with what property could be readily taken off, and for making preparations for a combined attack on the Virginia troops. To punish this duplicity and to render peace really desirable, Col. McDonald burned their towns and destroyed their crops; and being then in want of provisions retraced his steps to Wheeling, taking with him the three remaining hostages, who were then sent on to Williamsburg. *
The inconvenience of supplying provisions to an army in the wilderness, was a serious obstacle to the success of expeditions undertaken against the Indians. The want of roads, at that early period, which would admit of transportation in wagons, rendered it necessary to resort to pack horses; and such was at times the difficulty of procuring these that, not unfrequently, each soldier had to be the bearer of his entire stock of subsistence for the whole campaign. When this was exhausted, a degree of suffering ensued, often attended with consequences fatal to individuals, and destructive to the objects of the expedition. In the present case, the army being without provisions before they left the Indian towns, their only sustenance consisted of weeds, an ear of corn each day, and occasionally, a small quantity of venison; it being impracticable to hunt game in small parties, because of the vigilance and success of the Indians, in watching and cutting off detachments of this kind, before they could accomplish their purpose and regain the main army.
No sooner had the troops retired from the Indian country, than the savages, in small parties, invaded the settlements in different directions, seeking opportunities of gratifying their insatiable thirst for blood. And although the precautions which had been taken, lessened the frequency of their success, yet they did not always prevent it. Persons leaving the forts on any occasion, were almost always either murdered or carried into captivity, -- a lot sometimes worse than death itself.
Perhaps the first of these incursions into North Western Virginia, after the destruction of the towns on the Muskingum, was that made by a party of eight Indians, at the head of which was the Cayuga chief Logan. ** This very celebrated Indian is represented as having hitherto, observed towards the whites, a course of conduct by no means in accordance with the malignity and steadfast implacability which influenced his red brethren generally; but was, on the contrary, distinguished by some sense of humanity, and a just abhorrence of those cruelties so frequently inflicted on the innocent and unoffending, as well as upon those who were really obnoxious to savage enmity. Such indeed were the acts of beneficence which characterized him, and so great his partiality for the English, that the finger of his brethren would point to his cabin as the residence of Logan, "the friend of white men." "In the course of the French war, he remained at home, idle
*John Hargus, a private in Capt. Cresap’s company, while stationed as a vidette below the main army, observed an Indian several times, raising his head above his blind, and looking over the river. Charging his rifle with a second ball, he fired, and both bullets passed through the neck of the Indian, who was found next day and scalped by Hargus.
** Logan was the son of Shilkellemus, a celebrated chief of the Cayuga nation, who dwelt at Shamokin, and always attached to the English, was of much service to them on many occasions. After the close of Dunmore’s war, Logan became gloomy and melancholy, drank freely and manifested symptoms of mental derangement. He remained some time at Detroit, and while there, his conduct and expressions evinced a weariness of the world. Life he said, had become a burden to him, he knew no more what pleasure was, and thought it had been better if he had never existed. In this desponding and disconsolate condition he left Detroit, and on his way between that place and Miami, is said to have been murdered.
and inactive;" opposed to the interference of his nation, "an advocate for peace." When his family fell before the fury of exasperated men, he felt himself impelled to avenge their deaths; and exchanging the pipe of peace, for the tomahawk of war, became active in seeking opportunities to glut his vengeance. With this object in view, at the head of the party which has been mentioned, he traversed the country From the Ohio to the West Fork, before an opportunity was presented him of achieving any mischief. Their distance from what was supposed would be the theatre of war, had rendered the inhabitants of that section of country, comparatively inattentive to their safety. Relying on the expectation that the first blow would be struck on the Ohio, and that they would have sufficient notice of this to prepare for their own security, before danger could reach them, many had continued to perform the ordinary business of their farms.
On the 12th day of July, as William Robinson, Thomas Hellen and Coleman Brown were pulling flax in a field opposite the mouth of Simpson’s creek, Logan and his party approached unperceived and fired at them. Brown fell instantly; his body perforated by several balls; and Hellen and Robinson unscathed, sought safety in flight. Hellen being then an old man, was soon overtaken and made captive; but Robinson, with the elasticity of youth, ran a considerable distance before he was taken; and but for an untoward accident might have effected an escape. Believing that he was outstripping his pursuers and anxious to ascertain the fact, he looked over his shoulder before he discovered the Indian giving chase, he ran with such violence against a tree, that he fell, stunned by the shock and lay powerless and insensible. In this situation he was secured with a cord; and when he revived, was taken back to the place where the Indians had Hellen in confinement, and where lay the lifeless body of Brown. They then set off to their towns, taking with them a horse which belonged to Hellen.
When they had approached near enough to be distinctly heard, Logan (as is usual with them after a successful scout,) gave the scalp halloo, and several warriors came out to meet them, and conducted the prisoners into the village. Here they passed through the accustomed ceremony of running the gauntlet; but with far different fortunes. Robinson, having been previously instructed by Logan (who from the time he made him his prisoner, manifested a kindly feeling towards him,) made his way, with but little interruption, to the council house; but poor Hellen, from the decrepitude of age, and his ignorance of the fact that it was a place of refuge, was sadly beaten before he arrived at it; and when he at length, came near enough, he was knocked down with a war club, before he could enter. After he had fallen, they continued to beat and strike him with such unmerciful severity, that he would assuredly have fallen a victim to their barbarous usage, but that Robinson (at some peril for the interference) reached forth his hand and drew him within the sanctuary. When he had however, recovered from the effects of the violent beating which he had received, he was relieved from the apprehension of farther suffering, by being adopted into an Indian family.
A council was next convoked to resolve on the fate of Robinson; and then arose in his breast, feelings of the most anxious inquietude. Logan assured him, that he should not be killed; but the council appeared determined that he should die, and he was tied to the stake. Logan then addressed them, and with much vehemence, insisted that Robinson too should be spared; and had the eloquence displayed on that occasion been less than Logan is believed to have possessed, it is by no means wonderful that he appeared to Robinson (as he afterwards said) the most powerful orator he ever heard. But commanding as his eloquence might have been, it seems not to have prevailed with the council; for Logan had to interpose otherwise than by argument or entreaty to succeed in the attainment of his object. Enraged at the pertinacity with which the life of Robinson was sought to be taken, and reckless of the consequences, he drew the tomahawk from his belt, and severing the cords which bound the devoted victim to the stake, led him in triumph to the cabin of an old squaw, by whom he was immediately adopted.
After this, so long as Logan remained in the town where Robinson was, he was kind and attentive to him; and when preparing to go again to war, got him to write the letter which was afterwards found on Holstein at the house of a Mr. Robertson, whose family were all murdered by the Indians. Robinson remained with his adopted mother, until he was redeemed under the treaty concluded at the close of the Dunmore campaign.
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