Chronicles of Border Warfare
While expeditions were carrying on by the whites, against the Moravian and other Indians, the savages were prosecuting their accustomed predatory and exterminating war, against several of the settlements. Parties of Indians, leaving the towns to e defended by the united exertions of contiguous tribes, would still penetrate to the abode of the whites, and with various success, strive to avenge on them their real and fancied wrongs.
On the 8th of March as William White, Timothy Dorman and his wife, were going to, and in sight of Buchannon fort, some guns were discharged at them, and White being shot through the hip soon fell from his horse, and was tomahawked, scalped and lacerated in the most frightful manner.—Dorman and his wife were taken prisoners. The people in the fort heard the firing, and flew to arms; but the river being between them, the savages cleared themselves, while the whites were crossing over.
After the killing of White (one of their most active and vigilant warriors and spies) and the capture of Dorman, it was resolved to abandon the fort, and seek elsewhere, security from the greater ills which it was found would befall them if they remained. This apprehension arose from the fact, that Dorman was then with the savages, and that to gratify his enmity to particular individuals in the settlement, he would unite with the Indians, and from his knowledge of the country, be enabled to conduct them the more securely to blood and plunder. He was a man of sanguinary and revengeful disposition, prone to quarrelling, and had been known to say, that if he caught particular individuals with whom he was at variance, in the woods alone, he would murder them and attribute it to the savages. He had led, while in England, a most abandoned life, and after he was transported to this country, was so reckless of reputation and devoid of shame for his villainies, that he would often recount tales of theft and robbery in which he had been a conspicuous actor. The fearful apprehensions of increased and aggravated injuries after taking of him prisoner, were well founded; and subsequent events fully proved, that but for the evacuation of the fort, and the removal of the inhabitants, all would have fallen before the fury of savage warriors, with this abandoned miscreant at their lead.
While some of the inhabitants of that settlement were engaged in moving their property to a fort in Tygart’s Valley (the others were moving to Nutter’s fort and Clarksburg.) they were fired upon by a party of savages, and two of them, Michael Hagle and Elias Paynter fell. The horse on which John Bush was riding, was shot through; yet Bush succeeded in extricating himself from the falling animal, and escaped though closely pursued by one of the savages. Several times the Indian following him, would call out to him, "stop and you shall not be hurt.—If you do not, I will shoot you." And once Bush, nearly exhausted and in despair of getting off, actually relaxed his pace for the purpose of yielding himself a prisoner, when turning round he saw the savage stop also, and commence loading his gun. This inspired bush with fear for the consequences, and renewing his flight, he made his escape. Edward Tanner, a mere youth, was soon taken prisoner, and as he was being carried to their towns, met between twenty and thirty savages, headed by Timothy Dorman, proceeding to attack Buchannon fort. Learning from him that the inhabitants were moving from it, and that it would be abandoned in a few days, the Indians pursued their journey with so much haste, that Dorman had well night failed from fatigue. They arrived however, too late, for the accomplishment of their bloody purpose; the settlement was deserted, and the inhabitants safe within the walls of other fortresses.
A few days after the evacuation of the fort, some of its former inmates went from Clarksburg to Buchannon for grain which had been left there. When they came in sight, they beheld a heap of ashes where the fort had been; and proceeding on, became convinced that the savages were yet lurking about. They however, continued to go from farm to farm collecting the grain, but with the utmost vigilance and caution, and at night went to an outhouse, near where the fort had stood. Here they found a paper, with the name of Timothy Dorman attached to it, dated at the Indian towns, and containing information of those who had been taken captive in that district of country.
In the morning early, as some of the men went from the house to the mill, they saw the savages crossing the river, Dorman being with them. Thinking it best to impress them with a belief that they were able to encounter them in open conflict, the men advanced towards them, calling to their companions in the house, to come on. The Indians fled hastily to the woods, and the whites, not so rash as to pursue them, returned to the house, and secured themselves in it, as well as they could. At night, Captain George Jackson went privately forth from the house, and at great hazard of being discovered by the waylaying savages, proceeded to Clarksburg, where he obtained such a reinforcement as enabled him to return openly and escort his former companions in danger, from the place of its existence.
Disappointed in their hopes of involving the inhabitants of the Buchannon settlements in destruction the savages went on to the Valley. Here, between Westfall’s and Wilson’s forts, they came upon John bush and his wife, Jacob Stalnaker and his son Adam. The two latter being on horse back and riding behind Bush and his wife, were fired at, and Adam fell. The old gentleman rode briskly on, but some of the savages were before him and endeavored to catch the reins of his bridle, and thus stop his flight. He however, escaped them all. The horse from which Adam Stlnaker had fallen, was caught by Bush, and both he and Mrs. Bush got safely away on him.
The Indians then crossed the Allegheny mountains, and coming to the house of Mr. Gregg, (Dorman’s former master) made an attack on it. A daughter of that gentleman, alone fell a victim to their thirst for blood. When taken prisoner, she refused to go with them, and Dorman sunk his tomahawk into her head and then scalped her. She however, lived several days and related the circumstances above detailed.
After the murder of John Thomas and his family in 1781, the settlement on Booth’s creek was forsaken and its inhabitants went to Simpson’s creek, and proceeded to Booth’s creek for the purpose of threshing some wheat at his farm there.—While on a stack throwing down sheaves, several guns were fired at him by a party of twelve Indians, concealed not far off; Owens leapt from the stack, and the men caught up their guns. They could not however, discover one of the savages in their covert, and thought it best to retreat to Simpson’s creek and strengthen their force before they ventured in pursuit of their enemy. They accordingly did so, and when they came again to Booth’s creek, the Indians had decamped, taking with them the horses left at Owens’. The men however found their trail and followed it until night.—Early the next morning, crossing the West Fork at Shinnston, they went on in pursuit and came within sight of the Indian camp, and seeing some of the savages lying near their fires, fired at them but, as was believed without effect. The Indians again took to flight; and as they were hastening on, one of them suddenly wheeled and fired upon his pursuers. The ball passed through the hunting shirt of one of the men, and Benjamin Coplin (then an active, enterprising young man) returning the shot, an Indian was seen suddenly to spring into a laurel thicket. Not supposing that Coplin’s ball had taken effect, they followed the other savages some distance farther, and as they returned got the horses and plunder left at the camp. Some time afterwards a gun was found in the thicket, into which the Indian springs, and it was then believed that Coplin’s shot had done execution.
In the same spring the Indians made their appearance on Crooked run, in Monongalia county. Mr. Thomas Pindall, having been one day at Harrison’s fort, at a time when a greater part of the neighborhood had gone thither for safety, prevailed on three young men, (Harrison, Crawford and Wright, to return and spend the night with him.) some time after they had been abed, the females waked Mr. Pindall, telling him that they had heard several time a noise very much resembling the whistling on a charger, insisted on going directly to the fort. The men heard nothing, and being inclined to believe that the fears of the females had given to the blowing of the wind, that peculiar sound, insisted that there was no danger and that it would be unpleasant to turn out then, as the night was very dark. Hearing nothing after this, for which they could not readily account, the men rose in the morning unapprehensive of interruption; and the females, relieved of their fears of being molested by savages, during the night, continued in bed. Mr. Pindall walked forth to the woods to catch a horse, and the young men went to the spring hard by, for the purpose of washing. While thus engaged, three guns were fired at them, and Crawford and Wright were killed. Harrison fled and got safely to the fort.
The females alarmed at the report of the guns, sprang out of bed and hastened towards the fort, pursued by the Indians. Mrs. Pindall was overtaken and killed, but Rachael Pindall her sister-in-law, escaped safely to the fort.
In June some Indians came into the neighborhood of Clarksburg, and not meeting with an opportunity of killing or making prisoners any of the inhabitants without the town, one of them, more venturous than the rest, came so near as to shoot Charles Washburn as he was chopping a log of wood in the lot, and then running up with the axe, severed his skull, scalped him and fled safely away. Three of Washburn’s brothers had been previously murdered by the savages.
In August as Arnold and Paul Richards were returning to Richard’s fort, they were shot at by some Indians, lying hid in a cornfield adjoining the fort, and both fell from their horses. The Indians leaped over the fence immediately and tomahawked and scalped them.
These two men were murdered in full view of the fort, and the firing drew its inmates to the gate to ascertain its cause. When they saw that the two Richards were down, they rightly judged that Indians had done the deed; and Elias Hughes, ever bold and daring, taking down his gun, went out alone at the back gate, and entered the cornfield, into which the savages had again retired, to see if he could not avenge on one of them the murder of his friends. Creeping softly along, he came in view of them standing near the fence, reloading their guns, and looking intently at the people at the fort gate. Taking a deliberate aim at one of them, he touched the trigger. His gun flashed, and Indians alarmed ran speedily away.
A most shocking scene was exhibited some time before this, on Muddy creed in Pennsylvania. On the 10th of May as the Reverend John Corbly, his wife and five children were going to meeting, (Mr. being a short distance behind) they were attacked by a party of savages waylaying the road. The shrieks of Mrs. Corbly and the children drew the husband and father to the fatal spot. As he was approaching, his wife called to him, "to fly." He knew that it was impossible for him to contend successfully against the fearful odds opposed to him, and supposing that his family would be carried away as prisoners and that he would be enabled either to recover them by raising a company and pursuing the savages, or to ransom them, if conducted to the Indian towns, he complied with her and got safely off though pursued by one of the savages. But it was not their intention to carry them into captivity. They delighted too much, to look upon the lifeblood flowing from the heart; and accordingly shed it most profusely. The infant in its mother’s arms was the first on whom their savage fury fell, -- it was tomahawked and scalped. The mother then received several severe blows, but not falling, was shot through the body, by the savage who chased her husband; and then scalped. Into the brains of a little son, six years old the hatchets were sunk to the heft. Two little girls, of two and four years of age, were tomahawked and scalped. The eldest child, also a daughter, had attempted to escape by concealing herself in a hollow log, a few rods from the scene of action. From her hiding place she beheld all that was done, and when the bleeding scalp was torn from the head of her last little sister, she beheld the savages retiring from the desolation which they had wrought, she crawled forth from concealment. It was too soon. One of the savages yet lingered near, to feast to satiety on the horrid spectacle. His eyes caught a glimpse of her as she crept from the log, and his tomahawk and scalping knife became red with her blood.
When Mr. Corbly returned, all his hopes vanished. Which ever way he turned, the mangled body of some one of his family was presented to his view. His soul sickened at the contemplation of the scene, and he fainted and fell. When he had revived, he was cheered with the hope that some of them might yet survive. Two of his daughters had manifested symptoms of returning to life, and with care and attention were restored to him.
Thus far in the year 1782, the settlements only suffered from the accustomed desultory warfare of the savages. No numerous collection of Indians had crossed their border, -- no powerful army of warriors, threatening destruction tot he forts,, those asylums of their safety, had appeared among them.—But the scene was soon to change.
In August, there was a grand council convened at Chilicothe, in which the Wyandots, the Shawanees, the Mingoes, the Tawas, Pottowatomies, and various other tribes were represented. Girty and McKee—disgraces to human nature—aided in their deliberations. The surrender of Cornwallis which had been studiously kept secret from the Indians, was now known to them, and the war between Great Britain and the United States, seemed to them to be verging to a close.—should a peace ensue, they feared that the concentrated strength of Virginia, would bear down upon them and crush them at once. In anticipation of this state of things, they had met to deliberate, what course it best became them to pursue. Girty addressed the council. He reminded them of the gradual encroachments of the whites; -- of the beauty of Kentucky and its value to them as a hunting ground. – He pointed out to them the necessity of greater efforts to regain possession of that country, and warned them that if they did not combine their strength to change the present state of things, the whites would soon leave them no hunting grounds; and they would consequently have no means of procuring rum to cheer their hearts, or blankets to warm their bodies. His advice was well received and they determined to continue the war.
When the council was adjourned, the warriors proceeded to execute its determinations. Two armies, one of six hundred, and the other three hundred and fifty men, prepared to march, each to its assigned station—the larger was destined to operate against Kentucky while the smaller, was to press upon North Western Virginia; and each was abundantly supplied with the munitions of war. Towards the last of August the warriors who were to act in Kentucky, appeared before Bryant’s station, south of Licking river, and placed themselves under covert during night, and in advantageous situations for firing upon the station, so soon as its doors should be thrown open.
There were at that time but few inhabitants occupying that station. William Bryant, its founder, and one in whose judgment, skill, and courage, many confidently reposed for security from savage enormity, had been unfortunately discovered by some Indians near the mouth of Cane run, and killed.—His death caused most of those who had come to that place from North Carolina, to forsake the station, and return to their own country. Emigrants from Virginia, arriving some short time before, and among whom was Robert Johnson, (the father of Richard M. Johnson) to a certain extent supplied this desertion; yet it was in respect to numbers so far inferior to the savage forces, that the most resolute shuddered in apprehension of the result.
The station too, was at that time, careless and inattentive to its own defense; not anticipating the appearance of a savage army before its gates. Indeed had the Indians delayed their attack a few hours, it would have been in almost an entirely defenseless condition; as the men were on that morning to have left it, for the purpose of aiding in the defense of another station, which was then understood to be assailed by an army of Indians. Fortunately however, for the inhabitants, as soon as the doors of some of the cabins were opened in the morning, the savages commenced the fire, and thus admonished them of danger, while it was not yet too late to provide against it.
The Indians in the attack on Bryant’s station, practiced their usual stratagem, to ensure their success. It was begun on the south-east angle of the station, by one hundred warriors, while the remaining five hundred were concealed in the woods on the opposite side, ready to take advantage of its unprotected situation when, as they anticipated, the garrison would concentrate its strength, to resist the assault on the south-east. But their purpose was fully comprehended by the garrison, and instead of returning the fire of the one hundred, they secretly sent an express to Lexington for assistance, and commenced repairing the palisades, and putting themselves in the best possible condition to withstand the fury of the assailants. Aware that the Indians were posted near the spring, and believing that they would not fire unless some of the men should be seen going thither, the women were sent to bring in water for the use of the garrison. The event justified their expectations. – The concealed Indians, still farther to strengthen the belief, that their whole force were engaged in the attack on the south-east , forbore to fire, or otherwise contradict the impression which they had studiously sought to make on the minds of its inmates.
When a sufficiency of water had been provided, and the station placed in a condition of defense, thirteen men were sent out in the direction from which the assault was made. They were fired upon by the assailing party of one hundred, but without receiving any injury; and retired again within the palisades. Instantly the savages rushed to the assault of what they deemed, the unprotected side of the station, little doubting their success. A steady, well directed fire, put them quickly to flight. Some of the more desperate and daring however, approached near enough to fire the houses, some of which were consumed; but a favorable wind drove the flames from the mass of the buildings and the station escaped conflagration.
Disappointed of the expected success of their first stratagem, the assailants withdrew a short distance, and concealed themselves under the bank of the creek, to await the arrival of the assistance, which was generally sent to a besieged fort or station, arranging themselves in ambushment to intercept its approach.
When the express from Bryant station reached Lexington, the male inhabitants had left there to aid in the defense of Holder’s station, which was reported to be attacked. Following on their route, they overtook them at Boonesborough, and sixteen mounted, and thirty footmen were immediately detached to aid the inhabitants of Bryant’s station. When this reinforcement came near, the firing had entirely ceased, no enemy was visible, and they approached in the confidence that all was well. A sudden discharge of shot from the savages in ambush, dispelled that hope. The horsemen however, passed safely by. The cloud of dust produced by the galloping horses, obscured the view and hindered the otherwise deadly aim of the Indians. The footmen were less fortunate. Two of them were killed, and four wounded; and but for the luxuriant growth of corn in the field through which they passed, nearly all must have fallen, before the overwhelming force of the enemy.
Thus reinforced, the garrison did not for an instant doubt of safety; while the savages became hopeless of success by force of arms and resorted to another expedient to gain possession of the station. In the twilight of evening, Simon Girty covertly drew near, and mounting on a stump from which he could be distinctly heard, demanded the surrender of the place. He told the garrison, that a reinforcement, with cannon, would arrive that night, and that this demand was suggested by his humanity, as the station must ultimately fall, and he could assure them of protection if they surrendered, but could not if the Indians succeeded by storm; and then demanded, if "they knew who was addressing them." A young man by the name of Reynolds, (fearing that the effect which the threat of cannon might have upon the garrison, as the fate of Ruddle’s and Martin’s stations was yet fresh in their recollections,) replied that he "knew him well, and held him such contempt, that he had named a worthless dog which he had SIMON GIRTY; that his reinforcements and threats, were not heeded by the garrison, who expected to receive before morning, such an auxiliary force as would enable them to give a good account of the cowardly wretches that followed him, whom he held in such contempt that he had prepared a number of switches with which to drive them out of the country if they remained there ‘till day."
Affecting to deplore their obstinance, Girty retired, and during the night, the main body of the Indian army marched off, having a few warriors to keep up an occasional firing and the semblance of a siege.
Shortly after the retreat of the savages, one hundred and sixty men, from Lexington, Harrodsburg and Boonesborough, assembled at Bryant’s station, and determined to pursue them. Prudence should have prevailed with them to await the arrival of Colonel Logan, who was known to be collecting additional forces from the other stations; but brave and fearless, well equipped, and burning with ardent desire to chastise their savage invaders, they rather indiscreetly chose to march on, unaided, sooner than risk suffering the enemy to retire, by delaying for other troops. But the Indians had no wish to retire, to avoid the whites. The trail left by them, to the experience eye of Daniel Boone, furnished convincing evidence, that they were only solicitous to conceal their numbers, in reality to tempt pursuit.
When the troops arrived at the Lower Blue Licks, they saw the only Indians, which had met their eye on the route. These were slowly ascending the ridge on the opposite side of the river. The party was halted, and Boone consulted as to what course it would be best to pursue. He was of opinion that the savage force was much greater, than most had been led to believe by the appearance of the trail, and anticipating pursuit, were then in ambush on the ravines; and he advised that the force be divided into two equal parts, the one marching up the river, to cross it at the mouth of Elk creek, above the upper ravine, while the other party should take a position below for the purpose of co-operating whenever occasion might require; but that neither party should by any means cross the river, until spies were sent out to learn the position and strength of the enemy, The officers generally were inclined to follow the counsel of Boone, but Major McGary, remarkable for impetuosity, exclaiming, "Let all who are not cowards, follow me," spurred his horse into the river. The whole party caught the contagious rashness, -- all rushed across the river. There was no order, -- no arrangement – no unity or concert. None "paused in their march of terror lest "we should hover o’er the path," but each, following his own counsel, moved madly towards the sheltered ravines and wooded ground, where Boone had predicted the savages lay hid. The event justified the prediction, and showed the wisdom of his counsel.
At the head of a chose band of warriors, Girty advanced with fierceness upon the whites, from the advantageous position which he covertly occupied and "madness, despair and death succeed, the conflict’s gathering wrath." The Indians had greatly the advantage in numbers, as well as position, and the disorderly front of the whites, gave them still greater superiority. The bravery of the troops for a while withstood the onset, and the contest was fierce and sanguinary ‘till their right wing being turned, a retreat became inevitable. All pressed towards the ford, but a division of the savage army, foreseeing this, had been placed so as to interpose between them and it; and they were driven to a point on the river, where it could only be crossed by swimming. Here was indeed a scene of blood and carnage. Many were killed on the bank; others in swimming over, and some were tomahawked in the edge of the water. Some of those who had been foremost in getting across the river, wheeled and opened a steady fire upon the pursuers. Others, animated by the example, as soon as they reached the bank discharged their guns upon the savages, and checking them for a while enabled many to escape death. Buy for this stand, the footmen would have been much harassed, and very many of them entirely cut off. As it was, the loss in slain was great. Of one hundred and seventy-six (the number of whites) sixty one were killed and eight taken prisoners. Cols. Todd and Trigg, -- Majors Harland and Bulger, -- Capts. Gordon, McBride, and a son of Daniel Boone, were among those who fell. the loss of the savages was never known; -- they were left in possession of the battle ground and leisure to conceal or carry off their dead, and when it was next visited by the whites, none were found.
A most noble and generous act, performed by one of the whites, deserves to be forever remembered. While they were flying before the closely pursuing savages, Reynolds (who was at Bryant’s station had so cavalierly replied to Girth’s demand of its surrender) seeing Col. Robert Patterson, unhorsed and considerably disabled by his wounds, painfully struggling to reach the river, sprang from his saddle, and assisting him to occupy the relinquished seat, enabled that veteran officer to escape, and fell himself into the hands of the savages. He was not long however, detained a prisoner by them. He was taken by a party of only three Indians; and two whites passing hurriedly on towards the river, just after, two of his captors hastened in pursuit of them, and he was left guarded by only one. Reynolds was cool and collected, and only awaited the semblance of an opportunity to attempt an escape. Presently the savage in whose custody he was, stopped to tie his moccasin. Suddenly he sprang to one side, and being fleet of foot, got safely off.
The battle of the Blue licks was fought on the 19th of August. On the next day Col. Logan, with three hundred men, met the remnant of the troops retreating to Bryant’s station; and learning the fatal result of the contest, hurried on to the scene of action to bury the dead and avenge their fall—if the enemy could be found yet hovering near. On his arrival not a savage was to be seen., Flushed with victory and exulting in their revenge, they had retired to their towns, to feast the eyes of their brethren, with the scalps of the slain. The field of battle presented a miserable spectacle. All was stillness. Where so lately had arisen the shout of the impetuous, but intrepid whites, and the whoop and yell of the savages, as they closed in deadly conflict, not a sound was to be heard but the hoarse cry of the vulture, flapping her wings and mounting into the air alarmed at the intrusion of man. Those countenances, which had so lately beamed with daring and defiance, were unmeaning and inexpressive; and what with the effect produced on the dead bodies, by the excessive heat and mangling and disfiguration of the tomahawk and scalping knife, scarcely one could be distinguished from another. Friends tortured themselves in vain, to find friends, in the huge mass of slain,--fathers to recognize their sons. The mournful gratification, of bending over the lifeless bodies of dear relations and gazing with intense anxiety on their pallid features, was denied them. Undistinguished, though not unmarked, all were alike consigned to the silent grave, amid sighs of sorrow and denunciations of revenge.
An expedition against the Indian towns was immediately resolved upon; and in September, Gen. Clarke marched towards them, at the head of nearly one thousand men. Being discovered on their route and the intelligence soon spreading that an army from Kentucky was penetrating the country, the savages deserted their villages and fled; and the expedition was thus hindered of its purpose of chasing them. The towns however were burned, and on a skirmish with a party of Indians, five of them were killed and seven made prisoners, with the loss of only one man.
The Indian forces which were to operate against North Western Virginia, for some time delayed their purpose, and did not set out on their march, until a while before the return of those who had been sent into Kentucky. On their way, a question arose among them—against what part of the country they should direct their movements—and their division on this subject, rising by degrees ‘till it assumed a serious aspect, led many of the chiefs to determine on abandoning the expedition; but a runner arriving with intelligence of the great success which had crowned the exertion of the army in Kentucky, they changed that determination, and proceeded hastily towards Wheeling.
In the first of September, John Lynn (a celebrated spy and the same who had been with Capt. Foreman at the time of the fatal ambuscade as Grave creek) being engaged in watching the warriors paths, northwest of the Ohio, discovered the Indians marching with great expedition for Wheeling, and hastening to warn the inhabitants of the danger which was threatening them, swam the river, and reached the village, but a little while before the savage army made its appearance. The fort was at this time without any regular garrison, and depended for defense exclusively, on the exertions of those who sought security within its walls. The brief space of time which elapsed between the alarm by Lynn, and the arrival of the Indians, permitted only those who were immediately present to retire into it, and when the attack was begun to be made, there were not within its palisades, twenty effective men to oppose the assault. The dwelling house of Col. Ebenezer Zane, standing about forty yards from the fort, contained the military stores which had been furnished by the government of Virginia; and as it was admirably situated as an outpost from which to annoy the savages, in their onsets, he resolved on maintaining possession of it, as well to aid in the defense of the fort, as for the preservation of the ammunition. Andrew Scott, George Green, Mrs. Zane, Molly Scott and Miss McCullough, were all who remained with him. The kitchen (adjoining) was occupied by Sam (a Negro belonging to Col. Zane) and Kate, his wife.—Col. Silas Zane commanded in the fort.
When the savage army approached, the British colors were waving over them; and before a shot was discharged at the fort, they demanded the surrender of the garrison. No answer was deigned to this demand, but the firing of several shot (by order of Silas Zane) at the standard which they bore; and the savages rushed to the assault. A well directed and brisk fire opened upon them from Col. Zane’s house and the fort, soon drove them back. Again, they rushed forward; and again were they repulsed. The number of arms in the house and fort, and the great exertions of the women in molding bullets, loading guns and handing them to the men, enabled them to fire so briskly, yet so effectively, as to cause the savages to recoil from every charge. The darkness of night soon suspended their attacks, and afforded a temporary repose to the besieged. Yet were the assailants not wholly inactive. Having suffered severely by the galling fire poured upon them from the house, they determined on reducing it to ashes. For this purpose, when all was quietness and silence, a savage with a fire brand in his hand, crawled to the kitchen, and raising himself from the ground, waving the torch to and fro to rekindle its flame, and about to apply it to the building, received a shot which forced him to let fall the engine of destruction and hobble howling away. The vigilance of Sam had detected him, in time to thwart his purpose.
On the return of light, the savages were seen yet environing the fort, and although for some time they delayed to renew their suspended assault, yet it was evident they had not given over its contemplated reduction. They were engaged in making such preparations, as they were confident would ensure success to their exertions.
Soon after the firing of the preceding day had subsided, a small boat, proceeding from Fort Pitt to the Fall of Ohio with cannon balls for the use of the troops there, put to shore at Wheeling; and the man who had charge of her, although discovered and slightly wounded by the savages, reached the postern and was admitted to the fort. The boat of course fell into the hands of the enemy, and they resolved on using the balls aboard, for the demolition of the fortress. To this end they procured a log, with a cavity as nearly corresponding with the size of the ball, as they could; and binding it closely with some chains taken from a shop hard by, charged it heavily, and pointing it towards the fort, in imagination beheld its walls tumbling into ruin, and the garrison bleeding under the strokes and gashes of their tomahawks and scalping knives. All things being ready, the match was applied. —A dreadful explosion ensued. Their cannon burst;--its slivers flew in every direction; and instead of being the cause of ruin to the fort, was the source of injury only to themselves. Several were killed, many wounded, and all, dismayed by the event. Recovering from the shock, they presently returned with redoubled animation to the charge. Furious from disappointment, exasperated with the unforeseen yet fatal result, they pressed to the assault with the blindness of frenzy. Still they were received with a fire so constant and deadly, that they were again forced to retire; and most opportunely for the garrison.
When Lynn gave the alarm that an Indian army was approaching, the fort having been for some time unoccupied by a garrison and Col. Zane’s house being use as a magazine, those who retired into the fortress had to take with them a supply of ammunition for its defense. The supply of powder, deemed ample at the time, by reason of the long continuance of the savages, and the repeated endeavors made by them to storm the fort, was now almost entirely exhausted, a few loads only, remaining. In this emergency, it became necessary to replenish their stock, from the abundance of that article in Col. Zane’s house. During the continuance of the last assault, apprized of its security, and aware of the danger which would inevitably ensue, should the savages after being again driven back, return to the assault before a fresh supply could be obtained, it was proposed that one of their fleetest men should endeavor to reach the house, obtain a keg and return with it to the fort. It was an enterprise full of danger, but many of the chivalric spirits, they pent up within the fortress, were willing to encounter them all.
Among those who volunteered to go on this emprise, was Elizabeth, the younger sister of Colonel Zane. She was then young, active and athletic;--with precipitancy to dare danger, and fortitude to sustain her in the midst of it. Disdaining to weigh the hazard of her own life, against the risk of that of others, when told that a man would encounter less danger by reason of his greater fleetness, she replied –"and should he fall, his loss will be more severely felt. You have not one man to spare; -- a woman will not be missed in the defense of the fort." Her services were accepted. Divesting herself of some of her garments, as tending to impede her progress, she stood prepared for the hazardous adventure; and when the gate was opened she bounded forth with the buoyancy of hope, and in the confidence of success. Rapt in amazement, the Indians beheld her spring forward; and only exclaiming, "a squaw, a squat," no attempt was made to interrupt her progress. Arrived at the door, she proclaimed her embassy. Colonel Zane fastened a table cloth around her waist, and emptying into it a keg of powder, again she ventured forth. The Indians were no longer passive. Ball after ball passed whizzing and innocuous by.
She reached the gate and entered the fort in safety.*
Another instance of heroic daring, deserves to be recorded here. When intelligence of the investiture of Wheeling by the savages, reached Shepherd’s fort, a party was immediately detached from it, to try and gain admission into the besieged fortress, and aid in its defense. Upon arriving in view, it was found that the attempt would be hopeless and unavailing; and the detachment consequently prepared to return. Francis Duke, (son-in-law to Colonel Shepherd) was unwilling to turn his back on a people, straitened as he knew the besieged must be, and declared his intention of endeavoring to reach the fort, that he might contribute to its defense. It was useless to dissuade him from the attempt;--he knew its danger, but he also knew their weakness, and putting spurs to his horse, rode briskly forward, calling aloud, "open the gate,--open the gate." He was seen from the fort, and the gate was loosed for his admission; but he did not live to reach it.—Pierced by the bullets of the savages, he fell, to the regret of all. Such noble daring, deserved a better fate.
During that night and the next day, the Indians still maintained the siege, and made frequent attempts to take the fort by storm; but they were invariably repulsed by the deadly fire of the garrison and the few brave men in Colonel Zane’s house. On the third night, despairing of success, they resolved on raising the siege; and leaving one hundred chose warriors to scour and lay waste the country, the remainder of their army retreated across the Ohio, and encamped at the Indian Spring,--five miles from the river. Their loss in the various assaults upon the fort, could not be ascertained; but was doubtless very considerable. Of the garrison, none were killed and only two wounded,--the heroic Francis Duke was the only white, who fell during the siege. The gallantry displayed by all, both men and women, in the defense of the fort, cannot be too highly commended; but to the caution and good conduct of those few brave individuals who occupied Colonel Zane’s house, its preservation has been mainly attributed.
In the evening preceding the departure of the savages from before Wheeling, two white men, who had been among them for several years, and then held commands in the army, deserted from them, and on the next morning early were taken prisoners by Colonel Swearingen, who, with ninety-five men, was on his way to aid in the defense of Wheeling fort, and the chastisement of its assailants. Learning from them the determination of the savages to withdraw from Wheeling, and detach a portion of their force to operate in the country, he dispatched runners in every direction to alarm the country and apprize the inhabitants of danger. The intelligence was received by Jacob Miller when some distance from home, but apprehensive that the mediated blow would be aimed at the fort where he resided, he hastened thither, and arrived in time to aid in preparing for its defense.
The place against which the savages directed their operations, was situated on Buffalo creek twelve or fifteen miles from its entrance into the Ohio and was known as rice’s fort. Until Miller’s return, there were in it only five men; the others having gone to Hagerstown to exchange their peltries, for salt, iron and ammunition. They immediately set about making preparations to withstand an assault; and in a little while, seeing the savages approaching from every direction, forsook the cabins and repaired to the blockhouse. The Indians perceived that they were discovered, and thinking to take the station by storm, shouted forth the war whoop and rushed to the assault. They were answered by the fire of the six brave and skilful riflemen in the house, and forced to take refuge behind trees and fallen timber. Till they continued the firing; occasionally calling on the whites to "give up, give up. Indian too many. Indian too big. Give up. Indian no kill." The men had more faith in the efficacy of their guns to purchase their safety, than in the proffered mercy of the savages; and instead of complying with their demand, called on them, "as cowards skulking behind logs to leave their coverts, and shew but their yellow hides, and they would make holes in them."
*This heroine had but recently returned from Philadelphia, where she had received her education, and was totally unused to such scenes as were daily exhibiting on the frontier. She afterwards became the wife of a Mr. McGlanlin; and he dying she married a Mr. Clarke, and is yet living in Ohio.
The firing was kept up by the savages from t heir protected situation, until night, and whenever even a remote prospect of galling them was presented to the whites, they did not fail to avail themselves of it. The Indian shots in the evening, were directed principally against the stock as it came up as usual to the station, and the field was strewed with its dead carcasses. About ten o’clock of the night, they fired a large barn (thirty or forty yards from the blockhouse) filled with grain and hay, and the flames from which seemed for awhile to endanger the fort; but being situated on higher ground, and the current of air flowing in a contrary direction, it escaped conflagration. Collecting on the side of the fort opposite to the fire, the Indians took advantage of the light it afforded them to renew the attack; and kept it up until about two o’clock, when they departed. Their ascertained loss was four warriors,--three of whom were killed by the first firing of the whites,--the other about sun down. George Felebaum was the only white who suffered. Early in the attack, he was shot in the forehead, through a port-hole, and instantly expired; leaving Jacob Miller, George Leffler, Peter Funnenwieder, Daniel Rice and Jacob Leffler, junior, sole defenders of the fort; and bravely and efficiently did they preserve it from the furious assaults of one hundred chosen savage warriors.
Soon after the Indians left Rice’s fort, they moved across the hills in different directions and in detached parties. One of these, observing four men proceeding towards the fort which they had lately left, waylaid the path and killed two of them on the first fire. The remaining two fled hastily; and one of them swift of foot, soon made his escape. The other, closely pursued by one of the savages, and in danger of being overtaken, wheeled to fire. His gun snapped, and he again took to flight. Yet more closely pressed by his pursuer, he once more attempted to shoot. Again his gun snapped, and the savage being now near enough, hurled a tomahawk at his head. It missed its object, and both strained every nerve for the chase. The Indian gained rapidly upon him; and reaching forth his arm, caught hold of the end of his belt. It had been tied in a bow-knot, and came loose, -- Sensible that the race must soon terminate to his disadvantage unless he could kill his pursuer, the white man once more tried his gun. It fired; and the savage fell dead at his feet.
Some time in the summer of this year, a party of Wyandots, consisting of seven warriors, (five of whom were, one of the most distinguished chiefs of that nation, and his four brothers) came into one of the intermediate settlements between Fort Pitt and Wheeling, killed an old man whom they found alone, robbed his cabin, and commenced retreating with the plunder. They were soon discovered by spies; and eight men, two of whom were Adam and Andrew Poe (brothers, remarkable for uncommon size, great activity, and undaunted bravery) went in pursuit of them. Coming on their trail not far from the Ohio, Adam Poe, fearing an ambuscade, left his companions to follow it, while he moved across to the river under cover of high weeds and bushes, with the view to attack them in the rear should he find them situated as he expected.—Presently he espied an Indian raft at the water’s edge, but seeing nothing of the savages, moved cautiously down the bank; and when near the foot, discovered the large Wyandot chief and a small Indian standing near and looking intently towards the party of whites, then in some distance lower down the bottom. Poe raised his gun, and aiming surely at the chief, pulled trigger. It missed fire, and the snap betrayed his presence. Too near to retreat, he spring forward; and seizing the large Indian by the breast, and at the same instant encircling his arms around the neck of the smaller one, threw them both to the ground. Extricating himself from the grasp of Poe, the small savage raised his tomahawk; but as he aimed the blow, a vigorous and well directed kick, staggered him back, and he let fall the hatchet. Recovering quickly, he aimed several blows in defiance and exultation,--the vigilance of Poe distinguished the real from the feigned stroke, and suddenly throwing up his arm, averted it from his head, but received a wound in his wrist. By a violent effort, he freed himself from the grip of the chief, and snatching up a gun, shot his companion through the breast, as he advanced the third time with the tomahawk.
In this time the large chief had regained his feet; and seizing Poe by the shoulder and let threw him to the ground.-—Poe however, soon got up, and engaged with the savage in a close struggle, which terminated in the fall of both into the water. Now it became the object of each to drown his antagonist, and the efforts to accomplish this were continued for some time with alternate success;--first one and then the other, being under water. At length, catching hold of the long tuft of hair which had been suffered to grow on the head of the chief, Poe held him under water, until he supposed him dead; but relaxing his hold too soon, the gigantic savage was again on his feet and ready for another grapple. In this both were carried beyond their depth, and had to swim for safety. Both sought the shore, and each, with all his might, strained every nerve to reach it first that he might end the conflict with one of the guns lying on the beach. The Indian was the more expert swimmer, and Poe, outstripped by him, turned and swam farther into the river in the hope of avoiding being shot by diving. Fortunately his antagonist laid hold on the gun which had been discharged at the little Indian, and he was enabled to get some distance into the river.
At this juncture, two others of the whites came up; and one of them mistaking Poe for a wounded savage attempting to escape, shot and wounded him in the shoulder. He then turned to make for shore and seeing his brother Andrew on the bank, called to him to "shoot the big Indian." Having done this, Andrew plunged into the river to assist Adam in getting out; and the sounded savage, to preserve his scalp, rolled himself into the water, and struggling onward, sunk and could not be found.
During the continuance of this contest, the whites had overtaken the other five Indians, and after a desperate conflict, succeeded in killing all but one; with the loss of three of their companions.—A great loss, when the number engaged is taken into consideration.
© This electronic version is created & copyrighted by the Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants, Inc., Route 1 Box 238, Jane Lew, WV 26378 - 1997.