Chronicles of Border Warfare
After the winter became so severe as to prevent the Indians from penetrating the country and committing farther aggressions, the inhabitants became assured of safety, and devoted much of their time to the erection of new forts, the strengthening of those which had been formerly established, and the making of other preparations, deemed necessary to prevent the repetition of those distressing occurrences, which had spread gloom and sorrow over almost every part of North Western Virginia. That the savages would early renew their exertions to destroy the frontier settlements, and harass their citizens, could not for an instant be doubted. – Revenge of the murder of Cornstalk, and the other chiefs killed in the fort by the whites, had operated to unite the warlike nation of the Shawanees in a league with the other Indians, against them; and every circumstance seemed to promise increased exertions on their part, to accomplish their purposes of blood and devastation.
Notwithstanding all which had been suffered during the preceding season; and all, which it was confidently anticipated would have to be undergone after the return of spring, yet did the whole frontier increase in population and in capacity to defend itself against the encroachments of s savage enemy, aided by British emissaries, and led on by American Tories. The accession to its strength, caused by the number of emigrants, who came into the different settlements, was indeed considerable; yet it was insufficient, to enable the inhabitants to purchase by offensive operations, exemption from invasion or security from the tomahawk and scalping knife. Assured of this, Virginia extended to them farther assistance; and a small body of regular troops, under the command of General McIntosh, was appropriated to their defence.
In the spring of 1778, General McIntosh, with the regulars and some militiamen, attached to his command, descended the Ohio river from Fort Pitt, to the mouth of Big Beaver – a creek discharging itself into that river from the north west. This was a favorable position, at which to station his troops to effect the partial security of the frontier, by intercepting parties of Indians on their way to the settlements on the opposite of the river, and by pursuing and punishing them while engaged, either in committing havoc, or in retreating to their towns, after the consummation of their horrid purposed. Fort McIntosh was accordingly erected here, and garrisoned; with a six pounder mounted for its defense.
From Wheeling to Point Pleasant, a distance of one hundred and eighty-six miles, there was then no obstacle whatever presented to the advance of Indian war parties, into the settlements on the East and West Forks of the Monongahela and their branches. The consequences of this exposure had been always severely felt; and never more so than after the establishment of Fort McIntosh. Every impediment to their invasion of one part of the country, caused more frequent irruptions into others, where no difficulties were interposed to check their progress, and brought heavier woes on them. – This had been already experienced, in the settlements on the upper branches of the Monongahela, and as they were the last the feel the effects of savage enmity in 1777, so were they first to become sacrificed to its fury in 1778.
Anticipating the commencement of hostilities at an earlier period of the season, than usual, several families retired into Harbert’s block-house at Ten Mile (a branch of the West Fork,) in the month of February. And notwithstanding the prudent caution manifested by them in the step thus taken; yet, the state of the weather lulling them into false security, they did not afterwards exercise the vigilance and provident care, which were necessary to ensure their future safety. On the third of March, some children, playing with a crippled crow, at a short distance from the yard, espied a number of Indians proceeding towards them; and running briskly to the house, told ""hat a number of red men were close by."
John Murphey stepped to the door to see if danger had really approached, when one of the Indians, turning the corner of the house, fired at him. The ball took effect, and Murphey fell back into the house. The Indian springing directly in, was grappled by Harbert, and thrown to the floor. A shot from without, wounded Harbert, yet he continued to maintain his advantage over the prostrate savage, striking him as effectually as he could with his tomahawk, when another gun was fired at him from without the house. The ball passed through his head and he fell lifeless. His antagonist then slipped out at the door, sorely wounded in the encounter.
Just after the first Indian had entered, an active young warrior, holding in his hand a tomahawk with a long spike at the end, also came in. Edward Cunningham instantly drew up his gun to shoot him; but it flashed, and they closed in doubtful strife. Both were active and athletic; and sensible of the high prize for which they were contending, each put forth his utmost strength, and strained his every nerve, to gain the ascendancy. For a while, the issue seemed doubtful. At length, by great exertion, Cunningham wrenched the tomahawk from the hand of the Indian, and buried the spike end to the handle, in his back. Mrs. Cunningham closed the contest. Seeing her husband struggling closely with the savage, she struck him with an axe. The edge wounding his face severely, he loosened his hold, and made his way out of the house.
The third Indian, which had entered before the door was closed, presented an appearance almost as frightful as the object which he had in view. He wore a cap made of the unshorn front of a buffalo, with the ears and horns still attached to it, and which hanging loosely about his head, gave to him a most hideous aspect. On entering the room, this infernal monster, aimed a blow with his tomahawk at a Miss Reece, which alighting on her head, wounded her severely. The mother of this girl, seeing the uplifted arm about to descend on her daughter, seized the monster by the horns; but his false head coming readily off, she did not succeed in changing the direction of the weapon. The father then caught hold of him; but far inferior in strength and agility, he was seen thrown on the floor, and must have been killed, but for the timely interference of Cunningham. Having succeeded in ridding the room of one Indian, he wheeled, and sank a tomahawk into the head of the other.
During all this time the door was kept by the women, though not without great exertion. The Indians from without endeavored several time to force it open and gain admittance; and would at one time have succeeded, but that, as it was yielding to their effort to open it, the Indian, who had been wounded by Cunningham and his wife, squeezing out at the aperture which had been made, caused a momentary relaxation of the exertions of those without, and enabled the women again to close it, and prevent the entrance of others. – Those were not however, unemployed. They were engaged in securing such of the children in the yard, as were capable of being carried away as prisoners, and in killing and scalping the others; and when they had effected this, despairing of being able to do farther mischief, they retreated to their towns.
Of the whites in the house, one only was killed and four were wounded; seven or eight children in the yard, were killed of taken prisoners. One Indian was killed, and two badly wounded. Had Reece engaged sooner in the conflict, the other two who had entered the house, would no doubt have been likewise killed; but being a Quaker, he looked on, without participating in the conflict, until his daughter was wounded. Having then to contend singly, with superior prowess, he was indebted for the preservation of his life, to the assistance of those whom he refused to aid in pressing need.
On the eleventh of April, some Indians visited the house of William Morgan, at the Dunkard bottom of Cheat river. They there killed a young man by the name of Brain, Mrs. Morgan, (the mother of William) and her grand daughter, and Mrs. Dillon and her two children; and took Mrs. Morgan (the wife) and her child prisoners. When, on their way home, they came near Pricket’s fort, they bound Mrs. Morgan to a bush, and went in quest of a horse for her to ride, leaving her child with her. She succeeded in untying with her teeth, the bands which confined her, and wandered the balance of that day and part of the next, before she came in sight of the fort. Here she was kindly treated and in a few days sent home. Some man going out from Pricket’s fort some short time after, found the spot where Mrs. Morgan had been left by the Indians, a fine mare stabbed to the heart. – Exasperated at the escape of Mrs. Morgan, they had no doubt vented their rage on the animal which they had destined to bear her weight.
In the last of April, a party of about twenty Indians came to the neighborhoods of Hacker’s creek and the West Fork. At this time the inhabitants of whose neighborhoods had removed to West’s fort, on the creek, and to Richards’ fort on the river; and leaving the women and children in them during the day, under the protection of a few men, the others were in the habit of performing the usual labors of their farms in companies, so as to preserve them from attacks of the Indians. A company of men, being thus engaged, the firs week of May, in a field, now owned by Minter Bailey, on Hacker’s creek, and being a good deal dispersed in various occupations, some fencing, other clearing, and a few plowing, they were unexpectedly fired upon by the Indians, and Thomas Hughes and Jonathan Lowther shot down: the others being incautiously without arms fled for safety. Two of the company, having the Indians rather between them and West’s fort, ran directly to Richards’, as well for their own security as to give the alarm there, but they had been already apprized that the enemy was a hand. Isaac Washburn, who had been to mill on Hacker’s creek the day before, on his return to Richards’ ford and near to where the Clement’s mill now stands, was shot from his horse, tomahawked and scalped. The finding of his body, thus cruelly mangled, had given them the alarm, and they were already on their guard, before the two men from Hacker’s creek arrived with the intelligence of what had been done there. The Indians then left the neighborhood without effecting more havoc; and the whites were too weak to go in pursuit, and molest them.
The determination of the Shawanees to revenge the death of their Sachem, had hitherto been productive of no very serious consequences. A while after his murder, a small band of them made their appearance near the fort at Point Pleasant; and Lieutenant Moore was dispatched from the garrison, with some men, to drive them off. Upon his advance, they commenced retreating; and the officer commanded the detachment, fearing they would escape, ordered a quick pursuit. He did not proceed far before he fell into an ambuscade. He and three of his men were killed at the first fire; -- the rest of the party saved themselves by a precipitate flight tot he fort.
In May following this transaction, a few Indians again came in view of the fort. But as the garrison had been very much reduced by the removal of Captain Arbuckle’s company, and the experience of the last season, had taught them prudence, Captain McKee forbore to detach any of his men in pursuit of them. Disappointed, in their expectations of enticing others to destruction, as they had Lieutenant Moore in the winter, the Indians suddenly rose from their covert, and presented an unbroken line, extending from the Ohio to the Kenhawa river; and in front of the fort. A demand for the surrender of the garrison was then made; and Captain McKee asked ‘till next morning to consider of it. In the course of the night, the men were busily employed in bringing water from the river, expecting that the Indians would continue before the fort for some time.
In the morning, Captain McKee sent his answer, by the grenadier squaw, (sister to Cornstalk, and who notwithstanding the murder of her brother and nephew, was still attached to the whites, and was remaining at the fort in the capacity of interpreter) that he could not comply with their demand. – The Indians immediately began the attack, and for one week, kept the garrison closely besieged. Finding however, that they made no impression on the fort, they collected the cattle about it and instead of returning towards their own country with the plunder, proceeded up the Kenhawa river towards the Greenbrier settlement.
Believing their object to be the destruction of that settlement, and knowing from their great force that they would certainly accomplish it, if the inhabitants were unadvised of their approach, Captain McKee dispatched two men to Col. Andrew Donnelley’s (then the frontier house,) with the intelligence. These men soon came in view of the Indians; but finding that they were advancing in detached groups, and dispersed in hunting parties, through the woods, they despaired of being able to pass them, and returned to the fort. Captain McKee then made an appeal to the chivalry of the garrison, and asked, "who would risk his life to save the people of Greenbrier." John Pryor and Philip Hammond, at once stepped forward, and replies, "WE WILL". They then habited after the Indian Manner, and painted in Indian style by the Grenadier Squaw, and departed on their hazardous, but noble and generous undertaking. Travelling, night and day, with great rapidity, they passed the Indians at Meadow river, and arrived, about sun set of that day at Donnelly’s fort, twenty miles further on.
As soon as the intelligence of the approach of the Indians was communicated by these men, Col. Donnelly had the neighbors all advised of it; and in the course of the night, they collected at his house. He also dispatched a messenger to Capt. John Stuart, to acquaint him with the fact; and made every preparation to resist attack and ensure their safety, of which his situation admitted, Pryor and Hammond told them how, by the precaution of Captain McKee the garrison at Point Pleasant had been saved from suffering by the want of water; and advised them to lay in a plentiful supply, of that necessary article. A hogshead was accordingly filled and rolled behind the door of the kitchen, which adjoined the dwelling house.
Early the next morning, John Pritchet (a servant to Col. Donnelly) went out for some firewood, and while thus engaged, was fired at and killed. The Indians then ran into the yard, and endeavored to force open the kitchen door; but Hammond and Dick Pointer (a negro belonging to Col. Donnelly) who were the only persons within aided by the hogshead of water, prevented their accomplishing this object. They next proceeded to cut it in pieces, with their tomahawks. Hammond seeing that they would soon succeed in this way, with the assistance of dick, rolled the hogshead to one side and letting the door suddenly fly open, killed the Indian at the threshold, and the others who were near gave way. Dick then fired among them, with a musket heavily charged with swan shot, and no doubt with effect, as the yard was crowded with the enemy; a war club with a swan shot in it, was afterwards picked up near the door.
The men in the house, who were asleep at the commencement of the attack, being awakened at the firing of Hammond and Dick, now opened a galling fire upon the Indians. Being chiefly up stairs they were enabled to do greater execution, and fired with such effect that, about one o’clock, the enemy retired a small distance from the house. Before they retired however, some of them succeeded in getting under the floor, when they were aided by the whites below, in raising some of the puncheons of which it was made. It was to their advantage to do this; and well did they profit by it. Several of the Indians were killed in this attempt to gain admittance, while only one of the whites received a wound, which but slightly injured his hand.
When intelligence was conveyed to Capt. Stuart of the approach of so large a body of savages, Col. Samuel Lewis was with him; and they both exerted themselves to save the settlement from destruction, by collecting the inhabitants at a fort where Lewisburg now stands. Having succeeded in this, they sent two men to Donnelley’s to learn whether the Indians had advanced that far. As they approached, the firing became distinctly audible, and they returned with the tidings. Capt. Stuart and Col. Lewis proposed marching to the relief of Donnelly’s fort, with as many men as were willing to accompany them; and in a brief space of time, commenced their march at the head of sixty six men. Pursuing the most direct route, without regarding the road, they approached the house on the back side; and thus escaped an ambuscade of Indians placed near the road to intercept and cut off any assistance which might be sent from the upper settlements.
Adjoining the yard, there was a field of well grown rye, into which the relief from Lewisburg, entered about two o’clock; but as the Indians had withdrawn to a distance from the house, there was no firing heard. They soon however, discovered the savages in the field, looking intently towards Donnelly’s; and it was resolved to pass them. Capt. Stuart and Charles Gatliff fired at them, and the whole party rushed forward into the yard, amid a heavy discharge of balls from the savage forces. The people in the fort hearing the firing in the rear of the house, soon presented themselves at the port holes, to resist, what they supposed was a fresh attack on them; but quickly discovering the real cause, they opened the gates, and all the party led by Stuart and Lewis, safely entered.
The Indians then resumed the attack, and maintained a constant fire at the house, until near dark, when one of them approached, and in broken English called out, "we want peace." He was told to come in and he should have it; but he declined the invitation to enter, and they all retreated, dragging off those of their slain, who lay not too near the fort.
Of the whites, four only were killed by the enemy. Pritchet, before the attack commenced, -- James Burns and Alexander Ochiltree, as they were coming to the house early in the morning, -- and James Graham while in the fort. It was impossible to ascertain the entire loss of the Indians. Seventeen lay dead in the yard; and they were known to carry off others of their slain. Perhaps the disparity of the killed, equaled, if it did not exceed the disparity of the numbers engaged. There were twenty one men at Donnelly’s fort, before the arrival of the reinforcement under Stuart and Lewis; and the brunt of the battle was over before they came. The Indian force exceeded two hundred men.
It was believed, that the invasion of the Greenbrier country had been projected, some time before it actually was made. During the preceding season, an Indian, calling himself John Hollis, had been very much through the settlement; and was observed to take particular notice of the different forts, which he entered under the garb of friendship. He was with the Indians in the attack on Donnelly’s fort; and was recognized as one of those who were left dead in the yard,
On the morning after the Indians departed, Capt. Hamilton went in pursuit of them with seventy men; but following two days, without perceiving that he gained on them, he abandoned the chase and returned.
About the middle of June, three women went out from West’s fort to gather greens in a field adjoining; and while thus engaged were attacked by four Indians, lying in wait. One gun only was fired, and the ball from it, passed through the bonnet of Mrs. Hacker, who screamed aloud and ran with the others towards the fort. An Indian, having in his hand a long staff, with a spear on one end, pursuing closely after them, thrust it at Mrs. Freeman with such violence that, entering her back just below the shoulder, it came out at their left breast. With his tomahawk, he cleft the upper part of her head, and carried it off to save the scalp.
The screams of the women alarmed the men in the fort; and seizing their guns, they ran out, just as Mrs. Freeman fell. Several guns were fired at the Indian while he was getting her scalp, but with no effect. They served however, to warn the men who were out, that danger was a hand; and they quickly came in.
Jesse Hughes and John Schoolcraft who were out) in making their way to the fort, came very near two Indians standing by the fence looking towards the men at West’s, so intently, that they did not perceive any one near them. They however, were observed by Hughes and Schoolcraft, who, avoiding them, made their way in, safely. Hughes immediately took up his gun, and learning the fate of Mrs. Freeman, went with some others to bring in the corpse. While there, he proposed to go and show them, how near he had approached the Indians after the alarm had been given, before he saw them. Charles and Alexander West, Elias Hughs, James Brown and John Sleeth, went with him. Before they had arrived at the place, one of the Indians was heard to howl like a wolf; and the men with Hughs moved on in the direction from which the sound proceeded. Supposing that they were then near the spot, Jesse Hughs howled in like manner, and being instantly answered, they ran to a point of the hill looking over it, saw two Indians coming towards them. Hughs fired and one of them fell. The other took flight. Being pursued by the whites, he sought shelter in a thicket of brush; and while they were proceeding to intercept him at his coming out, he returned by the way he had entered, and made his escape. The wounded Indian likewise got off. When the whites were in pursuit of the one who took to flight, they passed near to him who had fallen, and one of the men was for stopping and finishing him; but Hughs called to him, "he is safe—let us have the other," and they all pressed forward. On their return, however, he was gone; and although his free bleeding enabled them to pursue his track readily for a while, yet a heavy shower of rain soon falling, all trace of him was quickly lost and could not be afterwards regained.
On the 16th of June, as Capt. James Booth and Nathaniel Cochran, were at work in a field on Booth’s creek, they were fired at by the Indians. Booth fell, but Cochran, being very slightly wounded, took to flight. He was however, overtaken, and carried into captivity to their towns. From thence he was taken to Detroit, where he remained some time; and endeavoring to escape from that place, unfortunately took a path which led him immediately to the Maumee old towns. Here he was detained a while, and then sent back to Detroit, where he was exchanged, and from whence he made his way home, after having had to endure much suffering and many hardships. The loss of Booth was severely felt by the inhabitants in that settlement. He was not only an active and enterprising man, but was endowed with superior talents and a better education, then most of those who had settled in the country; and on these accounts was very much missed.
In a few days after this transaction, Benjamin Shinn, Wm. Grundy and Benjamin Washburn, returning from a lick on the head of Booth’s creek, were fired on by Indians, when near to Baxter’s run. Washburn and Shinn escaped unhurt, but Grundy was killed; he was brother to Felix Grundy of Tennessee, whose father was then residing at Simpson’ creek, at a farm afterwards owned by Colonel Benjamin Wilson, Sen.
This party of Indians, continued for some days to prowl about the neighborhood, seeking opportunities of committing murder on the inhabitants; fortunately however, with but little success. James Owens, a youth of sixteen years of age, was the only one whom they succeeded in killing after the murder of Grundy. Going from Powers’ fort on Simpson’s creek to Booth’s creek, his saddle girth gave way, and while he was down mending it, a ball was discharged at him, which killed both him and the horse.
Seeing that the whites, in that neighborhood, had all retired to the fort; and being too weak, openly to attack it, they crossed over to Bartlett’s run, and came to the house of Gilbert Hustead, who was then alone, and engaged in fixing his gun lock. Hearing a noise in the yard, for which he was unable to account, he slipped to the door, to ascertain from whence it proceeded. The Indians were immediately round it, and there was no chance for escape. Walking out, with an air of utmost pleasantry, he held forth his hand, to the one nearest him, and asked them all to walk in. While in the house he affected great cheerfulness, and by his tale won their confidence and friendship. He told them that he was a King’s man and unwilling to live among the rebels; for which reason when others retired into the fort, he preferred staying at his own house, anxiously hoping for the arrival of some of the British Indians, to afford him an opportunity of getting among English friends. Learning upon inquiry, that they would be glad to have something to eat, he asked one of them to shoot a fat hog which was in the yard, that they might regale on it that night, and have some on which to subsist while traveling to their towns. In the morning, still farther to maintain the deception he was practicing, he broke his furniture to pieces, saying "the rebels shall never have the good of you." He then accompanied them to their towns, acting in the same, apparently, contented and cheerful manner, ‘till his sincerity was believed by all, and he obtained leave to return for his family. He succeeded in making his way home, where he remained, sore at the destruction of his property, but exulting in the success of his artifice.
While this party of Indians were thus engaged, on Booth’s creek and in the circumjacent country, a more numerous body had invaded the settlements lower down, and were employed in the work of destruction there. They penetrated to Coburn’s creek unperceived, and were making their way (as was generally supposed) to a fort not far from Morgantown, when they fell in with a party of whites, returning from the labors of the cornfield, and then about a mile from Coburn’s fort. The Indians had placed themselves on each side of the road leading to the fort, and from their covert fired on the whites, before they were aware of danger. John Woodfin being on horseback, had his thigh broken by a ball; which killed his horse and enabled them to catch him easily; -- Jacob Miller was shot through the abdomen, and soon overtaken, tomahawked and scalped. – The others escaped to the fort.
Woodfin was afterwards found on a considerable eminence overlooking the fort, tomahawked and scalped. The Indians had, most probably, taken him there, that he might point out to them the lest impregnable part of the fortress, and in other respects give them such information, as would tend to ensure success to their mediated attack on it; but when they heard its strength and the force with which it was garrisoned, despairing of being able to reduce it, in a fit of disappointed fury, they murdered him on the spot.
They next made their appearance on Dunkard creek, and near to Stadler’s fort. Here, as on Coburn’s creek, they lay in ambush on the road side, awaiting the return of the men who were engaged at work, in some of the neighboring fields. Towards evening the men came on, carrying with them some hogs which they had killed for the use of the fort people, and on approaching where the Indians lay concealed, were fired on and several fell. Those who escaped injury from the first fire, returned the shot, and a severe action ensued. But so many of the whites had been killed before the savages exposed themselves to view, that the remainder were unable long to sustain the unequal contest. Overpowered by numbers, the few, who were still unhurt, fled precipitately to the fort, leaving eighteen of their companions dead in the road. These were scalped and mangled by the Indians in a most shocking manner, and lay some time, before the men in the fort, assured of the departure of the enemy, went out and buried them.
Weakened by the severe loss sustained in this bloody skirmish, had the Indians pushed forward to attack the fort, in all human probability, it would have fallen before them. There were at that day very sew settlements which could have maintained possession of a garrison for any length of time, after having suffered so great a diminution of the number of their inhabitants, against the onsets of one hundred savages, exercising their wonted energy; and still less would be able to leave their strong holds, and cope with such superior force, in open battle. Nor were the settlements, as yet, sufficiently contiguous to each other, to admit of their acting in concert, and combining their strength, to operate effectively against their invaders. When alarmed by the approach of the foe, all that they could generally do, was, retire to a fort, and endeavor to defend it from assault. If the savages, coming in numbers, succeeded in committing any outrage, it usually went unpunished. Sensible of their want of strength, the inhabitants rarely ventured in pursuit, to harass or molest the retiring foe. When, however, they would hazard to hang on their retreat, the many precautions which they were compelled to exercise, to prevent falling into ambuscades and to escape the entangling artifices of their wiley enemies, frequently rendered their enterprises abortive, and their exertions inefficient.
The frequent visits paid by the Indians to the country on the West Fork, and the mischief which they would effect at these times, led several of the inhabitants to resolve on leaving a place so full of dangers, as soon as they could make the necessary preparations. A family of Washburns particularly, having several times very narrowly escaped destruction, commenced making arrangements and fitting up for their departure. But while two of them were engaged in procuring pine knots, from which to make wax for shoemaking, they were discovered and shot by the Indians. Stephen fell dead, and James was taken prisoner and carried to their towns. – He was there forced to undergo repeated and intense suffering before death closed the scene of his miseries.
According to the account given by Nathaniel Cochran on his return from captivity, Washburn was most severely beaten, on the first evening of his arrival at their village, while running the gauntlet; and although he succeeded in getting into the council house, where Cochran was, yet he was so disfigured and mutilated, that he could not be recognized by his old acquaintance; and so stunned and stupefied, that he remained nearly all night in a state of insensibility. Being somewhat revived in the morning, he walked to where Cochran sat by the fire, and being asked if he were not James Washburn, replied with a smile—as if a period had been put to his sufferings by the sympathetic tone in which the question was proposed—that he was. The gleam of hope which flashed over his countenance, was transient and momentary. In a few minutes he was again led forth, that the barbarities which had been suspended by the interposition of night, might be revived; and he made to endure a repetition of their cruelties. He was not feeble and too much exhausted to save himself from the clubs and sticks, even of the aged of both sexes. The old men and the old women, who followed him, had strength and activity enough to keep pace with his fleetest progress, and inflict on him the severest blows. Frequently he was beaten to the ground, and as frequently, as if invigorated by the extremity of anguish, he rose to his feet. Hobbling before his tormentors, with no hope but in death, an old savage passed a knife across his ham, which cutting the tendons, disabled him from proceeding farther. Still they repeated their unmerciful blows with all their energy. He was next scalped, though alive, and struggling to regain his feet. Even this did not operate to suppress their enmity. They continued to beat him, until the height of suffering he again exhibited symptoms of life, and exerted himself to move. His head was then severed from his shoulders, attached to a pole, and it placed in he most public situation in the village
After the attack on the Washburns, there were but few other outrages committed in the upper country during that season. The cessation of the part of the savages, of hostile incursions, induced an abandonment of the forts, and the people returned to their several homes, and respective occupations. But aggression was only suspended for a time. In October, two Indians appeared near the house of Conrad Richards, and finding in the yard, a little girl at play, with an infant in her arms, they scalped her, and rushed to the door. For some time they endeavored to force it open; but it was so securely fastened within, that Richards was a liberty to use his gun for its defense. A fortunate aim wounded one of the assailants severely, and the other retreated, helping off his companion. The girl who had been scalped in the yard, as soon as she observed the Indians going away, ran with the infant still in her arms and uninjured, and entered the house—a spectacle of most heard rending wretchedness.
Soon afterward David Edwards, returning from Winchester with salt, was shot near the Valley river, tomahawked and scalped; in which situation he lay for some time before he was discovered. He was the last person who fell a victim to savage vengeance, in Northern Western Virginia in the year 1778.
The repeated irruptions of the Indians during the summer of that year; the frequent murders and great devastation committed by them, induced government to undertake two expeditions into the Indian country. One thousand men were placed under the command of General McIntosh, some time in he fall, and he received orders to proceed forthwith against the Sandusky towns. Between two and three hundred soldiers were likewise placed under Colonel Clarke, to operate against the Canadian settlements in Illinois. It was well known, that the governor of those settlements was an indefatigable agent of British cruelty, stimulating the savages to aggression, and paying them well for scalps, torn alike from the heads of aged matron and helpless infant.
The settlements in Kentucky, were constantly the theatre of outrage and murder; and to preserve these from entire destruction, it was necessary that a blow should be aimed, at the hives from which the savages swarmed, and if possible, that those holds, into which they would retire to reap the rewards of their cruelties and receive the price of blood, should be utterly broken up. The success of those two expeditions could not fail to check savage encroachments, and give quiet and security to the frontier; and although the armies destined to achieve it, were not altogether adequate to the service required, yet the known activity and enterprise of the commanding officers, joined to their prudence and good conduct, and the bravery and indefatigable perseverance and hardiness of the troops, gave promise of a happy result.
The success of the expedition under Colonel Clarke, fully realized the most sanguine expectations of those, who were acquainted with the adventurous and enterprising spirit of its commander; and was productive of essential benefit to the state, as well as of comparative security to the border settlements. Descending the Ohio river, from Fort Pitt to the Falls, he there landed his troops, and concealing his boats, marched directly towards Kaskaskias. Their provisions, which were carried on their backs, were soon exhausted; and for two days, the army subsisted entirely on roots. This was the only circumstance, which occurred during their march, calculated to damp the ardor of the troops. No band of savage warriors, had interposed to check their progress,--no straggling Indian, had discovered their approach. These fortunate omens inspired them with flattering hopes; and they pushed forward, with augmented energy. Arriving before Kaskaskias in the night, they entered it, unseen and unheard, and took possession of the town and fort, without opposition. Relying on the thick and wide extended forests which interposed between them and the American settlements, the inhabitants had been lulled to repose by fancied security, and were unconscious of danger until it had become too late to be avoided. Not a single individual escaped, to spread the alarm in the adjacent settlements.
But there still remained other towns, higher up the Mississippi, which, if unconquered, would still afford shelter to the savages and furnish them the means of annoyance and of ravage. Against these, Colonel Clarke immediately directed operations. Mounting a detachment of men, on horses found at Kaskaskias, and sending them forward, three other towns were reduced with equal success. The obnoxious governor at Kaskaskias, was sent directly to Virginia, with the written instructions which he had received from Quebec, Detroit and Michilimacanac, for exciting the Indians to war, and remuneration them for the blood which they might shed.
Although the country within which, Colonel Clarke had so successfully carried on operations, was considered to be within the limits of Virginia; yet as it was occupied by savages and those who were but little, if any, less hostile than they; and being so remote from her settlements, Virginia had as yet exercised no act of jurisdiction over it. But as it now belonged to her, by conquest as well as charter, the General Assembly created it into a distinct county, to be called Illinois; a temporary government was likewise established in it, and a regiment of infantry and a troop of cavalry, ordered to be enlisted for its defence, and placed under the command of its intrepid and enterprising conqueror.
The expedition directed under General McIntosh, was not equally successful. The difficulty of raising, equipping, and organizing, so large a force as was placed under his command, at so great distance from the populous district of the state, caused the consumption of so much time, that the season for carrying on effective operations had well night passed, before he was prepared to commence his march. Anxious however, to achieve, as much as could then be expected for the security of the frontier, he penetrated the enemy’s country, as far as Tuscarawa, when it was resolved to build and garrison a fort, and delay farther operations ‘till the ensuing spring. For Laurens was accordingly erected on the banks of the Tuscarawa, a garrison of one hundred and fifty men, under the command of Colonel John Gibson, left for its preservation, and the main army returned to Fort Pitt.
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