Chronicles of Border Warfare
The revengeful feelings which had been engendered, by inevitable circumstances, towards the Moravian Indians, and which had given rise to the expedition of 1781, under Col. Williamson, were yet more deeply radicated by subsequent events. On the night after their liberation from Fort Pitt, the family of a Mr. Monteur were all killed or taken captive; and the outrage, occurring so immediately after they were set at liberty and in .the vicinity of where they were, was very generally attributed to them. An irruption was made too, in the fall of 1781, into the settlement on Buffalo creek, and some murders committed and prisoners taken. One of these, escaping from captivity and returning soon after, declared that the party committing the aggression, was headed by a Moravian warrior.
These circumstances operated to confirm many in the belief, that those Indians were secretly inimical to the whites, and not only furnished the savages with provisions and a temporary home, but likewise engaged personally in the war of extermination, which they were waging against the frontier. Events occurring towards the close of winter, dispelled all doubt, from the minds of those who had fondly cherished every suggestion which militated against the professed, and generally accredited, neutrality and pacific disposition of the Moravians.
On the 8th of February 1782, while Henry Fink and his son John, were engaged in sledding rails, on their farm in the Buchannon settlement, several guns were simultaneously discharged at them; and before John had time to reply to his father’s inquiry, whether he were hurt, another gun was fired and he fell lifeless. Having unlinked the chain which fastened the horse tot he sled, the old man galloped briskly away. He reached his home in safety, and immediately moved his family to the fort. On the next day the lifeless body of John, was brought into the for. – The first shot had sounded his arm; and the ball from the second passed through his heart, and he was afterwards scalped.
Near the latter part of the same month, some Indians invaded the country above Wheeling, and succeeded in killing a Mr. Wallace, and his family, consisting of his wife and five children, and in taking John Carpenter a prisoner. The early period of the year at which these enormities were perpetrated, the inclemency of the winter of 1781-2, and the distance of the towns of hostile Indians from the theatre of these outrages, caused many to exclaim, "the Moravians have certainly done this deed." The destruction of their villages was immediately resolved and preparations were made to carry this determination into effect.
There were then in the North Western wilderness, between three and four hundred of the Christian Indians, and who, until removed by the Wyandote and whites in 1784, as before mentioned, had resided on the Muskingum in the villages of Gnadenhutten, Salem and Shoenbrun. The society of which they were members, had been established in the province of Pennsylvania about the year 1752, and in a short time became distinguished for the good order and deportment of its members, both as men and as Christians. During the continuance of the French war, they nobly withstood every allurement which was practised to draw them within its vortex, and expressed their strong disapprobation of war in general; saying, that "it must be displeasing to the Great Being, who made man, not to destroy men, but to love and assist each other." In 1869 emigrants from their villages of Friedenshutten, Wyalusing and Shesheepuoa in Pennsylvania, began to make an establishment in the North Western wilderness, and in a few years, attained a considerable degree of prosperity, their towns increasing rapidly in population, and themselves, under the teaching of pious and beneficent missionaries, in civilization and Christianity. In the war of 1774, their tranquil and happy hours were interrupted, by reports of the ill intention of the whites along the frontier, towards them, and by frequent acts of annoyance, committed by war parties of the savages.
This state of things continued with but little, if any, intermission, occasionally assuming a more gloomy and portentous aspect, until the final destruction of their villages. In the spring of 1781, the principal war chief of the Delawares apprized the missionaries and them, of the danger which threatened them, as well from the whites as the savages, and advised them to remove to some situation, where they would be exempt from molestation by either. Conscious of the rectitude of their conduct as regarded both, and unwilling to forsake the comforts which their industry had procured for them, and the fields rendered productive by their labor, they disregarded the friendly monition, and continued in their villages, progressing in the knowledge and love of the Redeemer of men, and practising the virtues by His word.
This was their situation, at the time they were removed to Sandusky, early in the fall of 1781. When their missionaries and principal men were liberated by the governor of Detroit, they obtained leave of the Wyandot chiefs to return to the Muskingum to get the corn which had been left there, to prevent the actual starvation of their families. About one hundred and fifty of them, principally woman and children went thither for this purpose, and were thus engaged when the second expedition under Col. Williamson proceeded against them.
In March 1782, between eighty and ninety men assembled themselves for the purpose of effecting the destruction of the Moravian towns. If they then had in contemplation the achieving of any other injury to those people, it was not promulgated in the settlements. They avowed their object to be the destruction of the houses and the laying waste the crops, in order to deprive the hostile savages of the advantage of obtaining shelter and provisions, so near to the frontier; and the removal of the Moravians to Fort Pitt, to preserve them from the personal injury which, it was feared, would be inflicted on them by the Warriors. Being merely a private expedition, each of the men took with him, his own arms, ammunition and provisions; and many of them, their horses. They took up the line of march from the Mingo Bottom, and on the second night thereafter, encamped within one mile of the village of Gnadenhutten; and in the morning proceeded towards it, in the order of attack prescribed by a council of the officers.
The village being built upon both sides of the river, and the scouts having discovered and reported that it was occupied on both sides, one half the men were ordered to cross over and bear down upon the town on the western bank, while the other half would possess themselves of that part of it which lay on the eastern shore. Upon the arrival of the first division at the river, no boat or other small craft was seen in which they could be transported across; and they were for a time, in some difficulty how they should proceed. What appeared to be a canoe was at length discovered on the opposite bank, and a young man by the name of Slaughter, plunging in swam to it. It proved to be a trough for containing sugar water, and capable of bearing only two persons at a time. To obviate the delay which, must have resulted from this tedious method of conveying themselves over, many of the men unclothed themselves, and placing their garments, arms and ammunition in the trough, swam by its sides, notwithstanding that ice was floating in the current and the water, consequently, cold and chilling.
When nearly half this division had thus reached the western bank, two sentinels, who on the first landing had been stationed a short distance in advance, discovered and fixed at, one of the Indians. The shot of one broke his arm,--the other killed him. Directions were then sent to the division which was to operate on the eastern side of the river, to move directly to the attack, lest the firing should alarm the inhabitants and they defeat the object, which seemed now to be had in view. The few who had crossed without awaiting for the others, marched immediately into the town on the western shore.
Arrived among the Indians, they offered no violence, but on the contrary, professing peace and good will, assured them, they had come for the purpose of escorting them safely to Fort Pitt, that they might no longer be exposed to molestation from the militia of the whites, or warriors of the savages. Sick of the sufferings which they had so recently endured, and rejoicing at the prospect of being delivered from farther annoyance, they gave up their arms, and with alacrity commenced making preparations for the journey, providing food as well for the whites, as for themselves. A party of whites and Indians was next dispatched to Salem, to bring in those who were there. They then shut up the Moravians left a Gnadenhutten, in two houses some distance apart, and had them well guarded. When the other arrived from Salem, they were treated in like manner, and shut up in the same houses with their brethren of Gnadenhutten.
The division which was to move into the town on the eastern side of the river, coming unexpectedly upon one of the Indian women, she endeavored to conceal herself in a bunch of bushes at the water edge, but being discovered, by some of the man, was quickly killed. She was the wife of Shabosh, who had been shot by the sentinels of the other division. Others, alarmed at the appearance of a party of armed men, and ignorant that a like force was on the opposite side of the river, attempted to escape thither. – They did not live to effect their object. Three were killed in the attempt; and the men then crossed over, with such as they had made prisoners, to join their comrades, in the western and main part of the town.
A council of war was then held to determine on the fate of the prisoners. Col. Williamson having been much censured for the lenity of his conduct towards those Indians in the expedition of the preceding year, the officers were unwilling to take upon themselves the entire responsibility of deciding upon their fate now, and agreed that it should be left to the men. The line was soon formed, and they were told it remained with them to say, whether the Moravian prisoners should be taken to Fort Pitt or murdered; and Col. Williamson requested that those who were inclined to mercy, should advance and form a second line, that it might be seen on which side was the majority. Alas! It required no scrutiny to determine. Only sixteen, or at most eighteen men, stepped forward to save the lives of this unfortunate people, and their doom became sealed.
From the moment those ill fated beings were immured in houses they seemed to anticipate the horrid destiny which awaited them; and spent their time in holy and heartfelt devotion, to prepare them for the awful realities of another world. They sang, they prayed, they exhorted each other to a firm reliance on the Savior or men and soothed those in affliction with comfortable assurance, that although men might kill the body, they had no power over the soul, and that they might again meet in a better and happier world, "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary find rest." When told that they were doomed to die, they all affectionately embraced, and bedewing their bosoms with mutual tears, reciprocatedly sought, and obtained forgiveness for any offences which they might have given each other through life. Thus at peace with God, and reconciled with one another, they replied to those, who impatient for the slaughter had asked if they were not yet prepared, "Yes! We have commended our souls to God, and are ready to die."
What must have been the obduracy of those who could remain inflexible in their doom of death, amid such scenes as these? How ruthless and unrelenting their hearts, who unmoved by the awful spectacle of so many fellow creatures, preparing for the sudden and violent destruction of life and asking of their God, mercy for themselves and forgiveness for their enemies – could yet thirst for blood, and manifest impatience that its shedding was delayed for an instant? Did not the possibility of the innocence, which has been ever since so universally accorded to their victims, once occur to them; or were their minds so under the influence of exasperation and resentment, that they ceased to think of any thing, but the gratification of those feelings? Had they been about to avenge the murder of friends on its known authors somewhat might have been pardoned to retaliation and to vengeance, but involving all in one common ruin, for the supposed offences of a few, there can be no apology for their conduct – no excuse for their crime.
It were well, if all memory of the tragedy at Gnadenhutten, were effaced from the mind; but it yet lives in the recollection of many and stands recorded on the polluted page of history – Impartial truth requires, that it should be here set down.
A few of the prisoners, supposed to have been actively engaged in war, were the first to experience their doom. They were tied and taken some distance from the houses in which they had been confined; dispatched with spears and tomahawks and scalped. The remainder, of both sexes, from the hoary head of decrepitude, incapable of wrong, to helpless infancy, pillowed on its mother’s breast, were cruelly and shockingly murdered; and the different apartments of those houses of blood, exhibited their bleeding bodies, mangled by the tomahawk, scalping knife and spear, and disfigured by the war club and the mallet.
Thus perished ninety-six of the Marvin Indians, Of these, sixty-two were grown persons, one third of whom were women; the remaining thirty-four were children. Two youths alone, made their escape. One of them had been knocked down and scalped, but was not killed. He had the presence of mind to lie still among the dead, until nightfall, when he crept silently forth and escaped. The other, in the confusion of the shocking scene, slipped through a trap door into the cellar, and passing out at a small window, got off unnoticed and uninjured.
In the whole of this transaction the Moravians were passive and unresisting. They confided in the assurances of protection given them by the whites, and until pent up in the houses, continued cheerful and happy. If, when convinced of the murderous intent of their visitors, they had been disposed to violence and opposition, it would have availed them nothing. They had surrendered their arms (being requested to do so, as a guarantee for the security of the whites,) and were no longer capable of offering any effectual or available resistance and while the dreadful work of death was doing, "they were as lambs led to the slaughter; and as sheep before the shearers are dumb, so opened they not their mouths." There was but a solitary exception to this passiveness, and it was well night terminating in the escape of its author, and in the death of some whites.
As two of the men were leading forth one of the supposed warriors to death, a dispute arose between them, who should have the scalp of this victim to their barbarity. He was progressing after them with a silent dancing motion, and singing his death song. Seeing them occupied so closely with each other, he became emboldened to try an escape. Drawing a knife from its scabbard, he cut the cord which bound him; and springing forward, aimed a thrust at one of his conductors. The cutting of the rope had, however, drawn it so tightly, that he who held it became sensible that it was wrought upon in some way; and turning quickly round to ascertain the cause scarcely avoided the stab. The Indian then bounded from them, and as he fled towards the woods, dexterously removed the cord from his wrists. Several shots were discharged at him without effect, when the firing was stopped, lest in the hurry and confusion of the pursuit, some of their own party might suffer from it. A young man, mounting his horse was soon by the side of the Indian and springing off, his life had well night been sacrificed by his rashness. He was quickly thrown to the ground, and the uplifted tomahawk about to descend on his head, when a timely shot, directed with fatal precision, took effect on the Indian and save him.
Had the Moravians been disposed for war, they could easily have ensured their own safety, and dealt destruction to the whites. If, when their town was entered by a party of only sixteen, their thirty men, aided by the youths of the village, armed and equipped as all were, had gone forth in battle array, they could have soon cut off those few; and by stationing some gunners on the bank of the river, have prevented the landing of the others of the expedition. But their faith in the sincerity of the whites – their love of peace and abhorrence of war, forbade it; and the confidence of those who first rushed into the town, in these feelings and dispositions of the Indians, no doubt prompted them to that act of temerity, while an unaffordable stream was flowing between them and their only support.
During the massacre at Gnandenhutten, a detachment of the whites was ordered to Shoenbrun to secure the Moravians who were there. Fortunately however, two of the inhabitants of this village had discovered the dead body of Shabosh in time to warn their brethren of danger, and they all moved rapidly off. When the detachment arrived, nothing was left for them but plunder.—This was secured, and they returned to their comrades. Gnandenhutten was then pillaged of every article of value which could be easily removed; its houses—even those which contained the dead bodies of the Moravians—were burned to ashes, and the men set out on their return to the settlements.
The expedition against the Moravian towns on the Muskingum, was projected and carried on by inhabitants of the western counties of Pennsylvania—a district of country which had long been the theatre of Indian hostilities. Its result (strange as it may now appear was highly gratifying to many; and the ease with which so much Indian blood had been made to flow, coupled with an ardent desire to avenge the injuries which had been done them by the savages, led to immediate preparations for another, to be conducted on a more extensive scale, and requiring the cooperation of more men. And although the completion of the work of destruction, which had been so successfully begun, of the Moravian Indians, was the principal inducement of some, yet many attached themselves to the expedition, from the more noble and commendable motives.
The residence of the Moravians ever since they were removed to the plains of Sandusky, was in the immediate vicinity of the Wyandot villages, and the warriors from these had been particularly active and untiring in their hostility to the frontier settlements of Pennsylvania. The contemplated campaign against the Moravians, was viewed by many as affording a fit opportunity to punish those savages for their many aggressions, as it would require that they should proceed but a short distance beyond the point proposed, in order to arrive at their towns; and they accordingly engages in it for that purpose.
Other causes too, conspired to fill the ranks and form an army for the accomplishment of the contemplated objects.—The commandants of the militia of Washington and Westmoreland counties (Cols. Williamson and Marshall) encouraged the inhabitants to volunteer on this expedition, and made it known, that every militia man who accompanied it, finding his own horse and gun, and provisions for a month, should be exempt from two tours of militia duty; and that all horses unavoidably lost in the service, should be replaced from those taken in the Indian country. From the operation of these different causes, an army of nearly five hundred men was soon raised, who being supplied with ammunition by the Lieutenant colonel of Washington county, proceeded to the Old Mingo towns, the place of general rendezvous—where an election was held to fill the office of commander of the expedition. The candidates were Colonel Williamson and Colonel Crawford; and the latter gentleman being chosen, immediately organized the troops, and prepared to march.
On the 25th of May, the arm left the Mingo towns, and pursuing "Williamson’s trail," arrived at the upper Moravian town on the Muskingum (Shoenbrun,) where (finding plenty of corn of the preceding year’s crops, yet on the stalk) they halted to refresh their horses. While here, Captains Brenton and Bean, discovered and fired upon two Indians; and the report of the guns being heard in camp, the men, in despite of the exertions of their officers, rushed towards the source of alarm, in the most tumultuous and disorderly manner.—Colonel Crawford, used to the discipline of continental soldiers, saw the impetuosity and insubordination of the troops under his command, enough to excite the liveliest apprehensions for the event of the expedition. He had volunteered to go on the campaign, only in compliance with the general wish of the troops that he should head them, and when chosen commander in chief of the forces assembled at the Mingo towns, he is said to have accepted the office with reluctance, not only sensible of the impracticability of controlling men unused to restraint, but opposed to some of the objects of the expedition, and the frequently expressed determination of the troops, to spare no Indian whom accident of the fortune of war should place in their power.
From Shoenbrun the army proceeded as expeditiously as was practicable to the site of the Moravian village, near the Upper Sandusky; but instead of meeting with this oppressed and persecuted tribe, or having gained an opportunity of plundering their property, they saw nothing which manifested that it had been the residence of man, save a few desolate and deserted huts,--the people, whom it was their intention to destroy, had some time before, most fortunately for themselves, moved to the Scioto.
Discontent and dissatisfaction ensued upon the disappointment. The guides were ignorant of there being any Indian towns nearer than those on Lower Sandusky, and the men became impatient to return home. In this posture of affairs, a council of war, consisting of the field officers and captains, was held, and it was resolved to move forward, and if no enemy appeared that day, to retrace their steps. Just after this determination was made known, an express arrived, from a detachment of mounted men, which had been sent forward to reconnoiter, with the information that about three miles in advance a large body of Indians had been discovered hastening rapidly to meet them. The fact was, that Indian spies had watched and reported the progress of the expedition ever after it left the Mingo towns; and when satisfied of its destination, every arrangement which they could make to defeat its object and involve the troops in the destruction, to which it was their purpose to consign others, was begun by he savages. Having perfected these, they were marching on to give battle to the whites.
Immediately upon the reception of this intelligence, the army moved forward, and meeting the reconnoitering party coming in, had proceeded but a short distance farther, when they came in view of the Indians hastening to occupy a small body of woods, in the midst of an extensive plain. The battle was then begun by a heavy fire from both sides, and the savages prevented gaining possession of the woods. A party of them having however, taken post in them before the whites came up, continued much to annoy the troops, until some of them, alighting from their horses, bravely rushed forward and dislodged them. The Indians then attempted to gain a small skirt of woods on Colonel Crawford’s right; but the vigilance of the commanding officer of the right wing, (Major Leet) detected the movement, and the bravery of his men defeated it. The action now became general and severe and was warmly contested until dark, when it ceased for a time without having been productive of much advantage to either side. During the night, both armies lay on their arms; adopting a wise policy of kindling large fires along the line of battle, and retreating some distance behind them, to prevent being surprised by a night attack.
Early in the morning a few shots were fired, but at too great distance for execution. The Indians were hourly receiving reinforcements, and seemed busily engaged in active preparations for a decisive conflict. The whites became uneasy at their increasing strength; and a council of the officers deemed it expedient to retreat. As it would be difficult to effect this in open day, in the presence of an enemy of superior force, it was resolved to postpone it until night, making in the mean time every arrangement to ensure its success.—The killed were buried, and fires burned over the graves to prevent discovery,--litters were made for bearing the wounded, and the army was formed into three lines with them in the centre.
The day passed, without an attack being made by the Indians. They were still seen to traverse the plains in every direction, and in large bodies; and not until the troops were about forming the line of retreat, did they seem to have any idea that such a movement was intended. They then commenced firing a few shots, and in a little while it became apparent that they had occupies every pass, leaving open only that this led to Sandusky. Along this way, the guides conducted the main army, until they had passed the Indian lines about a mile; when wheeling to the left, they marched around and gained the trail of their outward march. Continuing in this they proceeded to the settlements without any interruption.—The savage warriors thinking it better to follow detached parties than the main army.
The few shots which were fired by the Indians as the whites were forming the line of retreat, were viewed by many as evidence that their purpose had been discovered, and that these were signal guns preceding a general attack. Under these impressions, the men in front hurried off and others following the example, at least one third of the army were to be seen flying in detached parties, and in different directions from that taken by the main body, supposing that the attention of the Indians would be wholly turned to this point. They were not permitted to proceed far under this delusive supposition. Instead of following the main army, the Indians pursued those small parties with such activity, that not many of those composing them were able to escape;--one company of forty men under a Captain Williamson, was the only party detached from the principal body of the troops, fortunate enough to get with the main army on its retreat. Late in the night they broke through the Indian lines under a heavy fire and with some loss, and on the morning of the second day of the retreat, again joined their comrades in the expedition, who had marched off in a body; in compliance with the orders of the commander-in-chief.
Colonel Crawford himself proceeded at the head of the army for some short distance, when missing his son, his son-in-law (Major Harrison and two nephews, he stopped to enquire for them. Receiving no satisfactory information regarding either of them, he was induced through anxiety for their fate to continue still, until all had passed on, when he resumed his flight, in company with doctor Knight and two others. For their greater security, they traveled some distance apart, but from the jaded and exhausted condition of their horses could proceed but slowly. One of the two men in company with Colonel and doctor Knight, would frequently fall some distance behind the others and as frequently call aloud for them to wait for him. Near the Sandusky creek he hallooed to them to halt, but the yell of a savage being heard close to him, they went on and never again was he heard of. About day Colonel Crawford’s horse gave out and he was forced to proceed on foot, as was also the other of the two who had left the field with him and Knight. They continued however to travel together, and soon overtook Captain Biggs, endeavoring to secure the safety of himself and Lieutenant Ashly, who had been so badly wounded that he was unable to ride alone. A heavy fall of rain induced them to halt, and stripping the bark from some trees, they formed a tolerable shelter from the storm, and remained there all night. In the morning they were joined by another of the troops, when their company consisted of six—Colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight, who kept about an hundred yards in front.—Captain Biggs and Lieutenant Ashly, in the centre; and the other two men in the rear. They proceeded in this way about two miles, when a party of Delawares suddenly sprang from their hiding places into the road and making prisoners of Colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight, carried them to the Indian camp near to where they then were. On the next day the scalps of Captain Biggs and Lieutenant Ashly, were brought in by another party of Indians who had been likewise watching the road. From this encampment, they were led, in company with nine other prisoners, to the old Wyandot town, from which place they were told they would be taken to the new town, not far off. Before setting out from this place, Colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight were painted black by Captain Pipe, a Delaware chief, who told the former, that he intended to have him shaved when he arrived among his friends, and the latter that he was to be carried to the Shawanee town, to see some of his old acquaintance. The nine prisoners were then marched off in front of colonel Crawford and Doctor Knight, who were brought on by Pipe and Wingenim, another of the Delaware chiefs. As they went on, they passed the bodies of four of the captives, who had been tomahawked and scalped on the way, and came to where the remaining five were, in time to see them suffer the same fate from the hands of squaws and boys. The head of one of them (John McKinley, formerly an officer in one of the Virginia regiments) was cut off, and for some time kicked about on the ground. A while afterwards they met Simon Girty and several Indians on horseback; when Col. Crawford was stripped naked, severely beaten with clubs and sticks, and made to sit down near a post which had been planted for the purpose, and around which a fire of poles was burning briskly. His hands were then pinioned behind him, and a rope attached to the band around his wrist and fastened to the foot of a post about fifteen feet high, allowing him liberty only to sit down, or walk once or twice around it, and return the same way. Apprehensive that he was doomed to be burned to death, he asked Girty if it were possible that he had been spared from the milder instruments of the tomahawk and scalping knife, only to suffer the more cruel death by fire. "Yes, said Girty composedly, you must be burned Colonel."
It is dreadful, replied Crawford, but I will endeavor to bear it patiently." Captain Pipe then addressed the savages in an animated speech, at the close of which, they rent the air with hideous yells, and immediately discharged a number of loads of powder at the naked body of their victim. His ears were then cut off, and while the men would apply the burning ends of the poles to his flesh, the squaws threw coals and hot embers upon him, so that in a little time he had too, to walk on fire. In the midst of these sufferings, he begged of the infamous Girty to shoot him. That worse then savage monster, tauntingly replied, "how can I? You see I have no gun," and laughed heartily at the scene.
For three hours Col. Crawford endured the most excruciating agonies with the utmost fortitude, when faint and almost exhausted, he commended his soul to God, and laid down on his face. He was then scalped, and burning coals laid on his head and back, by one of the squaws, he again rose and attempted to walk; but strength failed him and he sank into the welcome arms of death. His body was then thrown into the fire and consumed to ashes.*
*Colonel Crawford was then about fifty years of age, and had been an active warrior against the savages for a great while. During the French war, he distinguished himself by his bravery and good conduct, and was much noticed by General Washington, who obtained for him an ensigncy.
Of the whole of this shocking scene, Doctor Knight was an unwilling spectator; and in the midst of it was told by Girty, that it should be his fate too, when he arrive at the Shawanee towns. These were about forty miles distant; and he was committed to the care of a young warrior to be taken there. On the first day they traveled about twenty-five miles, and when they stopped for the night, the Doctor was securely fastened. In vain did he anxiously watch for an opportunity to endeavor to release himself from the cords which bound him. The Indian was vigilant and slept none. About daylight they arose, and while the Indian was kindling a fire, the gnats were so troublesome that he untied his prisoner, and se him likewise to making a fire to relieve them from the annoyance. The doctor took a burning coal between two sticks, and going behind the Indian towards the spot at which he was directed to excite a smoke, turned suddenly around, and struck the savage with all his force. The Indian fell forward, but quickly recovering and seeing his gun in the hands of his assailant, ran off, howling hideously.—The anxiety of Doctor Knight, saved the life of the savage.—When he seized the gun, he drew back the cock in such haste and with so much violence as to break the main spring and render it useless to him; but as the Indian was ignorant of this circumstance, he continued his flight and the doctor was then enabled to escape. After a toilsome travel of twenty-one days, during which time he subsisted altogether on wild gooseberries, young nettles, a raw terrapin and two young birds, he arrived safely at Fort McIntosh—meager, emaciated and almost famished.
Another instance of great good-fortune occurred in the person of John Slover, who was also made prisoner after having traveled more than half the distance from the fatal scene of action to Fort Pitt. When only eight years of age he had been taken by some Indians on New river, and detained in captivity for twelve years. In this time he became well acquainted with their manners and customs, and attached to their mode of living so strongly, that when ransomed by his friends, he left his Indian companions with regret. He had become too, while with them, familiar with he country north west of the Ohio, and an excellent woodsman; and in consequence of these attainments was selected a principal guide to the army on its outward march. When a retreat was prematurely begun to be made by detached parties, he was some distance from camp, and having to equip himself for flight was left a good way in the rear. It was not long however, before he came up with a party, whose horses were unable to extricate themselves from a deep morass, over which they had attempted to pass. Solver was soon placed in the same unpleasant situation, and they all alighting from them, proceeded on foot. In this manner they traveled on until they had nearly reached the Tuscarawa, when a party of savages from the wayside, fired upon them. One of the men was killed, Slover and two others made prisoners, and the fifth escaped to Wheeling.
Those taken captive were carried first to Wachatomakah (a small town of the Mingoes and Shawanees,) from whence after having been severely beaten, they were conducted to a larger town two miles farther. On their arrival here, they had all to pass through the usual ceremonies of running the gauntlet; and one of them who had been stripped of his clothes and painted black, was most severely beaten, mangled, and killed, and his body cut in pieces and placed on poles outside the town. Here too Slover saw the dead bodies of Col., McClelland, Major Harrison and John Crawford; and learned that they had all been put to death but a little while before his arrival there; and although he was spared for some time, yet every thing which he saw acted towards other prisoners, led him to fear that he was reserved for a more cruel fate, whenever the whim of the instant should suggest its consummation. At length an express arrived from Detroit with a speech for the warriors, which decided his doom. Being deciphered from the belt of wampum which contained it, the speech began
* At the commencement of the revolution, he raised a regiment by his own exertions, and at the period of this unfortunate expedition, bore the commission of Colonel in the Continental army. He possessed a sound judgment, was a man of singular good nature and great humanity, and remarkable for his hospitality. His melancholy sufferings and death spread a gloom over the countenances of all who knew him. His son John Crawford, and his son-in-law, Major Harrison, were taken prisoners, carried to the Shawanee towns and murdered.
by inquiring why they continued to take prisoners, and said, "Provisions are scarce and when you send in prisoners, we have them to feed, and still some of them are getting off, and carrying tidings of our affairs. When any of your people are taken by the rebels, they show no mercy. Shy then should you? My children, take no more prisoners of any sort, men, women, or children." Two days after the arrival of the express with this speech, a council of the different tribes of Indians near, was held, and it was determined to attain conformity with the advice of the Governor of Detroit. Slover was then the only white prisoner at this town; and on the morning after the council was dissolved, about forty warriors came to the house where he was, and tying a rope around his neck, led him off to another village, five miles distant. Here again he was severely beaten with clubs and the pipe end of the tomahawk, and then tied to a post, around which were piles of wood. These were soon kindled, but a violent rain falling unexpectedly, extinguished the flames, before they had affected him. It was then agreed to postpone his execution until the next day, and being again beaten and much wounded y their blows he was taken to a block house, his hands tied, the rope about his neck fastened to a beam of the building and three warriors left to guard him for the night.
If the feelings of Slover would have permitted him to enjoy sleep, the conduct of the guard would have prevented it. They delighted in keeping alive in his mind the shocking idea of the suffering which he would have to endure, and frequently asking him "how he would like to eat fire," tormented him nearly all night. Awhile before day however, they fell asleep, and Slover commenced untying himself. Without much difficulty he loosened the cord from his arms, but the ligature around his neck, of undressed buffalo-hide, seemed to defy his exertions to remove it; and while he was endeavoring to gnaw it in twain, one of the sleeping Indians, rose up and going near to him, sat and smoked his pipe for some time. Slover lay perfectly still, apprehensive that all chance of escape was now lost to him. But no—the Indian again composed himself to sleep, and the first effort afterwards made, to loose the band from his neck by slipping it over his head, resulted in leaving Slover entirely unbound. He then crept softly from the house and leaping a fence, gained the cornfield. Passing on, as he approached a tree, he espied a squaw with several children lying at its root; and fearing that some of them might discover him and give the alarm of his escape, he changed his course. He soon after reached a glade in which were several horses, one of which he caught; and also found a piece of an old rug, which afforded him his only covering until he reached Wheeling. This he was enabled to do in a few days, being perfectly acquainted with the country.
The town, from which Slover escaped, was the one to which Dr. Knight was to have been taken. The Indian who had him in charge, came in while Slover was there, and reported his escape—magnifying the Doctor’s stature to gigantic size and attributing to him Herculean strength. When Slover acquainted the warriors with the fact, that Doctor Knight was diminutive and effeminate, they laughed heartily at the Indian, and mocked at him for suffering the escape. He however bore a mark which showed that, weak and enfeebled as he was, the Doctor had not played booty when he aimed the blow at his conductor.—It had penetrated to the skull and made a gash of full four inches length.
These are but a few of the many incidents which no doubt occurred, to individuals who endeavored to effect an escape by detaching themselves from the main army. The number of those, thus separated from the troops, who had the good fortune to reach the settlements, was small indeed; and of the many of them who fell into the hands of the savages, Knight and Slover are believed to be the only persons, who were so fortunate as to make an escape. The precise loss sustained in the expedition was never ascertained, and is variously represented from ninety to one hundred and twenty.
Among those of the troops who went out under Col. Crawford, that came into Wheeling, was a man by the name of Mills. Having rode very fast, and kept his horse almost continually traveling, he was forced to leave him, near to the present town of St. Clairsville in Ohio. Not liking the idea of loosing him altogether, upon his arrival at Wheeling he prevailed on Lewis Wetsel to go with him to the place where his horse gave out, to see if they could not find him. Apprehensive that the savages would pursue the fugitives to the border of the settlements, Wetsel advised Mills that their path would not be free from dangers, and counseled him to "prepare for fighting."
When they came near to the place where the horse had been left, they met a party of about forty Indians going towards the Ohio river and who discovered Mills and Wetsel as soon as these saw them. Upon the first fire from the Indians Mills was wounded in the heel, and soon overtaken and killed. Wetsel singled out his mark, shot, and seeing an Indian fall, wheeled and ran. He was immediately followed by four of the savages, who laid aside their guns that they might the more certainly overtake him. Having by practice, acquired the art of loading his gun as he ran, Wetsel was indifferent how near the savages approached him, if he were out of reach of the rifles of the others. Accordingly keeping some distance ahead of his pursuers whilst reloading his gun, he relaxed his speed until the foremost Indian had got within ten or twelve steps of him. He then wheeled, shot him dead, and again took to flight. He had now to exert his speed to keep in advance of the savages ‘till he should again load, and when this was accomplished and he turned to fire, the second Indian was near enough to catch hold of the gun, when as Wetsel expressed it, "they had a severe wring." At length he succeeded in raising the muzzle to the breast of his antagonist, and killed him also.
In this time both the pursuers and the pursued had become much jaded; and although Wetsel had consequently a better opportunity of loading quickly, yet taught wariness by the fate of their companions, the two remaining savages would spring behind trees whenever he made a movement like turning towards them. Taking advantage of a more open piece of ground, he was enabled to fire upon one of them who had sought protection behind a sapling too small to screen his body. The ball fractured his thigh, and produced death. The other, instead of pressing upon Wetsel, uttered a shrill yell, and exclaiming, "no catch him, gun always loaded," returned to his party.
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