Chronicles of Border Warfare
Neither the signal success of the expedition under General Scott, not the preparations which were being made by the general government, for the more rigorous prosecution of the war against them, caused the Indians to relax their exertions to harass the frontier inhabitants. The ease with which they had overcome the two armies sent against them under Harmar and St.Clair, inspired them with contempt for our troops, and induced a belief of their own invincibility, if practising the vigilance, they inscribed the success of Gen. Scott; and deeming it necessary only to exercise greater precaution to avoid similar results, they guarded more diligently the passes into their country, while discursive parties of their warriors would perpetrate their accustomed acts of aggression upon the persons and property of the whites.
About the middle of May 1792, a party of savages came upon a branch of Hacker’s creek, and approaching late in the evening a field recently cleared by John Wagggoner, found him seated on a log, resting himself after the labors of the day. In this company of Indians was the since justly celebrated General Tecumseh, who leaving his companions to make sure of those in the house, placed his gun on the fence and fired deliberately at Waggoner. The leaden messenger of death, failed of its errand, and passing through the sleeve of his shirt, left Waggoner uninjured, to try his speed with the Indian. Taking a direction opposite the house, to avoid coming in contact with the savages there, he outstripped his pursuer, and got safely off.
In the mean time, those who had been left to operate against those of the family who were at the house, finding a small boy in the yard, killed and scalped him; and proceeding on, made prisoners of Mrs. Waggoner and her six children, and departed immediately with them, lest the escape of her husband, should lead to their instant pursuit. They were disappointed in this expectation. A company of men was soon collected, who repaired to the then desolate mansion, and from thence followed on the trail of the savages. About a mile from the house one of the children was found where its brains had been beaten out with a club, and the scalp torn from its head. A small distance farther, lay Mrs. Waggoner and two others of her children, their lifeless bodies mangled in the most barbarous and shocking manner. Having thus freed themselves from the principal impediments to a rapid retreat, the savages hastened on; and the pursuit was unavailing. They reached their towns with the remaining prisoners – two girls and a boy—and avoided chastisement for the outrage. The elder of the two girls did not long remain with them; but escaping to the neighborhood of Detroit with another female prisoner, continued there until after the treaty of 1795. Her sister abided with her captors ‘til the close of the war; and the boy until during the war of 1812. He was then seen among some friendly Indians, and bearing a strong resemblance in features to his father, was recognizes as Waggoner’s captive son. He had married a squaw, by whom he had several children, was attached to his manner of life, and for a time resisted every importunity, to withdraw himself from among them. When his father visited him, it was with difficulty he was enticed to return to the haunts of his childhood, and the associates of his younger days, even on a temporary visit. When however, he did return to them ,the attention and kindly conduct of his friends, prevailed with him to remain, until he married and took up his permanent abode amid the habitations of civilized men. Still with the feelings, natural to a father, his heart yearns towards his children in the forest; and at time he seems to lament that he ever forsook them.
In the summer of this year, a parcel of horses were taken from the West Fork, and the Indians who had stolen them, being discovered as they were retiring, they were pursued by Captain Coburn, who was stationed at the mouth of Little Kenhawa with a party of men as scouts. Following them across the Ohio river, he overtook them some distance in the Indian country, and retaking the horses, returned to his station. Hitherto property recovered from the savages, had been invariably restored to those from whom it had been stolen; but on the present occasion a different course was pursued. Contending that they received compensation for services rendered by them in Virginia, and were not bound to treat without its limits in pursuit of the savages or to retake the property of which they had divested its rightful owners, they claimed the horses as plunder taken from the Indians, sold them, and divided the proceeds of sale among themselves—much to the dissatisfaction of those from whom the savages had taken them.
In the course of the ensuing fall, Henry Neal, William Triplett and Daniel Rowell, from Neal’s station ascended the Little Kenhawa in canoes to the mouth of the Burning Spring run, from whence they proceeded on a buffalo hunt in the adjoining woods. But they had been seen as they plied their canoes up the river, by a party of Indians, who no sooner saw them placed in a situation favoring the bloody purposes of their hearts and fires upon them. Neal and Triplett were killed and fell into the river,--Rowell was missed and escaped by swimming the Kenhawa, the Indians shooting at him as he swam. In a few days after the dead were found in a ripple and buried. The Indians had not been able to draw them from their watery grave, and obtain their scalps.
During this year unsuccessful attempts were made by the general government to terminate Indian hostilities by negotiation. They were too much elated with their recent success, to think of burying their resentments in a treaty of peace, and so little did they fear the operation of the governmental forces, and such was their confidence in their own strength, that they not only refused to negotiate at all, but put to death two of those who were sent to them as messengers of peace. Major Truman and Col. Hardin, severally sent upon this mission, were murdered by them; and when commissioners to treat with them, were received by them, their only answer was, a positive refusal to enter into a treaty.
When this determination was made known to the President, every precaution which could be used, was taken by him to prevent the recurrence of those enormities which were daily committed on the frontier, and particularly in the new state of Kentucky. Gen. St. Clair, after having asked that a court of enquiry should be held, to consider of his conduct in the campaign of 1791, and finding that his request could not be granted, resigned the command of the army and was succeeded by Gen. Anthony Wayne. That the operations of the army might not be defeated as heretofore, by too great reliance on undisciplined militia, it was recommended to Congress to authorize the raising of three additional regiments of regular soldiers; and the bill for employing with this recommendation, notwithstanding it was strenuously opposed by a strong party hostile to the then administration, was finally passed.
The forts Hamilton and Jefferson, erected by Gen. St. Clair, continued to be well garrisoned; but there was some difficulty in supplying them with provisions—the Indians being always in readiness to intercept them on their way. As early as April 1792, they taught us the necessity of having a strong guard to escort supplies with safety, by a successful attack on Major Adair, who with one hundred and twenty volunteers from Kentucky, had charge of a number of pack horses laden with provisions. He was engaged by a body of savages, not much superior in number, and although he was under cover of Fort St. Clair, yet did they drive him into the fort, and carry off the provisions and pack horses. The courage and bold daring of the Indians, was eminently conspicuous on this occasion. They fought with nearly equal numbers, against a body of troops, better tutored in the science of open warfare, well mounted and equipped, armed with every necessary weapon, and almost under the guns of the fort. And they fought successfully,--killing one captain and ten privates, wounding several, and taking property estimated to be worth fifteen thousand dollars. Nothing seemed to abate their ardor for war. Neither the strong garrisons placed in the forts erected so far in advance of the settlements, nor the great preparations which were making for striking an effectual blow at them, caused them for an instant to slacken in hostilities, or check their movements against the frontier.
In the spring of 1793, a party of warriors proceeding towards the head waters of the Monongahela river, discovered a marked way, leading a direction which they did not know to be inhabited by whites. It led to a settlement which had recently been made on Elk river, by Jeremiah and Benjamin Carpenter and a few others from Bath county, and who had been particularly careful to make nor leave any path which might lead to a discovery of their situation, but Adam O’Brien moving into the same section of country in the spring of 1792, and being a rather indifferent woodsman, incautiously blazed the trees in several directions so as to enable him readily to find his home, when business or pleasure should have drawn him from it. It was upon one of these marked traces that the Indians chanced to fall; and pursuing it, came to the deserted cabin of O’Brien; he having returned to the interior, because of his not making a sufficiency of grain for the subsistence of his family. Proceeding from O’Brien’s they came to the house of Benjamin Carpenter, whom they found alone and killed. Mrs. Carpenter being discovered by them, before she was aware of their presence, was tomahawked and scalped, a small distance from the yard.
The burning of Benjamin Carpenter’s house, led to a discovery of these outrages; and the remaining inhabitants of that neighborhood, remote from any fort or populous settlement to which they could fly for security, retired to the mountains and remained for several days concealed in a cave. They then caught their horses and moved their families to the West Fork; and when they visited the place of their former habitancy, for the purpose of collecting their stock and carrying it off their other property, scarce a vestige of them was to be seen,--the Indians had been there after they left the cave, and burned the houses, pillaged their movable property, and destroyed the cattle and hogs.
Among the few interesting incidents which occurred in the upper country, during this year, was the captivity and remarkable escape of two brothers, John and Henry Johnson;--the former thirteen, the latter eleven years of age. They lived at a station on the west side of the Ohio river near above Indian Short creek; and being at some distance from the house, engaged in the sportive amusements of youth, became fatigued and seated themselves on an old log for the purpose of resting. They presently observed two men coming towards the, whom they believed to be white men from the station until they approached so close as to leave no prospect of escape by flight, when to their great grief they saw that two Indians were beside them. They were made prisoners, and taken about four miles, when after partaking of some roasted meat and parched corn given them by their captors, they were arranged for the night, by being placed between the two Indians and each encircled in the arms of the one next him.
Henry, the younger of the brothers, had grieved much at the idea of being carried off by the Indians, and during his short but sorrowful journey across the hills, had wept inordinately. John had in vain endeavored to comfort him with the hope that they should be enabled to elude the vigilance of the savages, and to return to the hearth of their parents and brethren. He refused to be comforted.—The ugly red man, with his tomahawk and scalping knife, which had been often called in to quiet the cries of his infancy, was not actually before him; and every scene of torture and of torment which had been depicted, by narration, to his youthful eye, was now present to his terrified imagination, heightened by the thought that they were about to be re-enacted on himself. In anticipation of this horrid doom, but for some time he wept in bitterness and affliction; but
"The tear down childhood’s cheek that flows,
Is like the dew drop on the rose; --
When next the summer breeze comes by
And waves the bush, the flower is dry."—
When the fire was kindled at night, the supper prepared and offered to him, all idea of his future fate was merged in their present kindness; and Henry soon sunk to sleep, though enclosed in horrid hug, by savages arms.
It was different with John. He felt the reality of their situation,--he was alive to the anguish which he knew would agitate the bosom of his mother, and he thought over the means of allaying it so intensely, that sleep was banished from his eyes. Finding the others all locked in deep repose, he disengaged himself from the embrace of the savage at his side, and walked to the fire. To test the soundness of their sleep, he rekindled the dying blaze, and moved freely about it. All remained still and motionless,--no suppressed breathing, betrayed a feigned repose. He gently twitched the sleeping Henry, and whispering softly in his ear bade him get up. Henry obeyed, and they both stood by the fire. "I think said John, "we had better go home nos." "Oh! Replied Henry, they will follow and catch us again." "Never fear that, rejoined John, we’ll kill them before we go." The idea was for some time opposed by Henry; but when he beheld the savages so soundly asleep, and listened to his brother’s plan of executing his wish, he finally consented to act the part prescribed him.
The only gun which the Indians had, was resting against a tree, at the foot of which lay their tomahawks. John placed it on a log, with the muzzle near to the head of one of the savages; cocked it, and leafing Henry with his finger to the trigger, ready to pull upon the signal being given, he repaired to his own station. Holding in his hand one of their tomahawks, he stood astride of the other Indian, and as he raised his arm to deal death to the sleeping savage, Henry fired, and shooting off the lower part of the Indian’s jaw, called to his brother, "lay on, for I’ve done for this one," seized up the gun and ran off. The first blow of the tomahawk took effect on the back of the neck, and was not fatal. The Indian attempted to spring up; but John repeated his strokes with such force and so quickly, that he soon brought him again to the ground; and leaving him dead, proceeded on after his brother.
They presently came to a path which they recollected to have traveled, the preceding evening, and keeping along it, arrived at the station awhile before day. The inhabitants were however, all up and in much uneasiness for the fate of the boys; and when they came near and heard a well known voice exclaim in accents of deep distress, "Poor little fellows, they are killed or taken prisoners," John replied aloud,--"No mother, we are here again."
When the tale of their captivity, and means by which their deliverance was effected, were told, they did not obtain full credence. Piqued at the doubts expressed by some, John observed, "you had better go and see." "But, can you again find the spot?" said one. "Yes, replied he, I hung my hat up at the turning out place and can soon show you the spot." Accompanied by several of the men, John returned to the theatre of his daring exploits; and the truth of his statement received ample confirmation. The savage who had been tomahawked was lying dead by the fire—the other had crawled some distance; but was tracked by his blood until found, when it was agreed to leave him "as he must die at any rate."
Companies of rangers had been for several seasons stationed on the Ohio river, for the greater security of the persons and property of those who resided on and near the frontier. During this year a company which had been stationed at the mouth of Fishing creek, and had remained there until its term of service had expired, determined then on a scout into the Indian country; and crossing the river, marched on for some days before they saw any thing which indicated their nearness to Indians. Pursuing a path which seemed to be mush used, they came in view of an Indian camp, and observing another path, which likewise seemed to be much frequented, Ensign Levi Morgan was sent with a detachment of the men, to see if it would conduct them to where were others of the Indians, who soon returned with the information that he had seen another of their encampments close by. Upon receipt of this intelligence, the Lieutenant was sent forward with a party of men to attack the second encampment, while the Captain with the residue of the company should proceed against that which had been first discovered, and commence an assault on it, when he should hear the firing of the Lieutenant’s party at the camp which he was sent to assail.
When the second camp was approached and the men posted at intervals around it, awaiting the light of day to begin the assault, the Lieutenant discovered that there was a greater force of Indians with whom he would have to contend than was expected, and prudently resolved to withdraw his men without coming into collision with them. Orders for this movement were directly given, and the party immediately retired. There was however, one of the detachment, who had been posted some small distance in advance of the others with directions to fire as soon as the Indians should be seen stirring and who, unapprised of the withdrawal of the others, maintained his station, until he observed a squaw issuing from the camp, when he fired at her and rushed up, expecting to be supported by his comrades. He fell into the hands of those which he had thus assailed; but his fate was far different from what he had every reason to suppose it would be, under those circumstances. It was the hunting camp of Isaac Zane, and the female at whom he had shot was the daughter of Zane; the ball had slightly wounded her in the wrist. Her father, although he had been with the Indians ever since his captivity when only nine years of age, had not yet acquired the ferocity and vindictive passions of those with whom he had associated; but practising the forbearance and forgiveness of Christian and civilized man, generously conducted the wanton assailant so far upon his way, that he was enabled though alone to reach the settlement in safety. His fate was different from that of those, who had been taken prisoners by that part of the company which remained at the first camp with the Captain. When the Lieutenant with the detachment, rejoined the others, disappointment at the failure of the expedition under him, led some of the men to fall upon the Indian prisoners and inhumanly murder them.
Notwithstanding that preparations for an active campaign against the savages was fast ripening to their perfection, and that the troops of the general government had penetrated as far as to the field, on which had been fought the fatal battle of the forth of November, 1791, and erected there Fort Recovery, yet did they not cease from their accustomed inroads upon the settlements, even after the winter of 1793.—In March 1794, a party of them crossed the Ohio river, and as they were advancing towards the settlements on the upper branches of the Monongahela, met with Joseph Cox, then on his way to the mouth of Leading creek on Little Kenhawa, for a load of furs and skins which he had left there, at the close of his hunt the preceding fall. Cox very unexpectedly met them in a narrow pass, and instantly wheeled his horse to ride off. Endeavoring to stimulate the horse to greater speed by the application of the whip, the animal became stubborn and refused to go at all, when Cox was forced to dismount and seek safety on foot. His pursuers gained rapidly upon him, and he saw that one of them would soon overtake him. He faced the savage who was near, and raised his gun to fire; but nothing daunted, the Indian rushed forward. Cox’s gun missed fire, and he was instantly a prisoner. He was taken to their towns and detained in captivity for some time; but at length made his escape, and returned safely to the settlement.
On the 24th of July, six Indians visited the West Fork river, and at the mouth of Freeman’s creek, met with, and made prisoner, a daughter of John Runyan. She was taken off by two of the party of savages, but did not go more than ten or twelve miles, before she was put to death. The four Indians who remained, proceeded down the river and on the next day came to the house of William Carder, near below the mouth of Hacker’s creek. Mr. Carder discovered them approaching, in time to fasten his door; but in the confusion of the minute, shut out two of his children, who however ran off unperceived by the savages and arrived in safety at the house of a neighbor. He then commenced firing and hallooing, so as to alarm those who were near and to intimidate the Indians. Both objects were accomplished. The Indians contented themselves with shooting at the cattle, and then retreated; and Mr. Joseph Chevront, who lived hardby, hearing the report of the guns and the loud dries of Carder, sent his own family to a place of safety, and with nobleness of purpose, ran to the relief of his neighbor. He enabled Carder to remove his family to a place of greater security, although the enemy were yet near, and engaged in skinning one of the cattle that they might take with them a supply of meat. On the next day a company of men assembled, and went in pursuit; but they could not trail the savages far, because of the great caution with which they had retreated, and returned without accomplishing any thing.
Two days afterward, when it was believed that the Indians had left the neighborhood, they came on Hacker’s creek near to the farm of Jacob Cozad, and finding four of his sons bathing, took three of them prisoners, and killed the fourth, by repeatedly stabbing him with a bayonet attached to a staff. The boys, of whom they made prisoners, were immediately taken to the Indian towns and kept in captivity until the treaty of Greenville in 1795. Two of them were then delivered up to their father, who attended to enquire for them,--the third was not heard of for some time after, but was at length found at Sandusky, by his elder brother and brought home.
After the victory obtained by General Wayne over the Indians, Jacob Cozad, Jr., was doomed to be burned to death, in revenge of the loss then sustained by the savages. Every preparation for carrying into execution this dreadful determination was quickly made. The wood was piled, the intended victim was apprized of his approaching fate, and before the flaming torch was applied to the faggots, he was told to take leave of those who were assembled to witness the awful spectacle. The crowd was great, and the unhappy youth could with difficulty press his way through them. Amid the jeers and taunts of those whom he would address, he was proceeding to discharge the last sad act of his life, when a female, whose countenance beamed with benignity, beckoned him to follow her. He did not hesitate. He approached, as if to bid her farewell, and she succeeded in taking him off unobserved by the many eyes gazing around, and concealed him in a wigwam among some trunks and covered loosely with a blanket. He was presently missed, and a search immediately made for him. Many passed near in quest of the devoted victim, and he could hear their steps and note their disappointment. After awhile the uproar ceased, and he felt more confident of security. In a few minutes more he heard approaching footsteps and felt that the blanket was removed from him. He turned to surrender himself to his pursuers, and meet a dreadful death.—But no! they were two of his master’s sons who had been directed where to find him, and they conducted him securely to the Old Delaware town, where he remained until carried to camp upon the conclusion of a treaty of peace.
In a short time after the happening of the events at Cozad’s, a party of Indians made an irruption upon Tygart’s Valley. For some time the inhabitants of that settlement had enjoyed a more fortunate exemption from savage molestation; and although they had somewhat relaxed in vigilance, they did not however omit to pursue a course calculated to ensure a continuance of their tranquility and repose. Instead of flying for security, as they had formerly, to the neighboring forts upon the return of spring, the increase of population and the increased capacity of the communion to repel aggression, caused them to neglect other acts of precaution, and only to assemble at particular homes, when danger was believed to be instant and at hand. In consequence of the savages upon the West Fork, several families collected at the reports which reached them of the injuries lately committed by the house of Mr. Joseph Canaan for mutual security, and while thus assembled, were visited by a party of Indians, when perfectly unprepared for resistance. The savages entered the house while after dark and approaching the bed on which Mr. Canaan was lolling, one of them addressed him with the familiarity of an old acquaintance saying "how d’ye do, how d’ye do," presented his hand. Mr. Canaan was rising to reciprocate the greeting when he was pierced by a ball discharged at him from another savage, and fell dead. The report of the gun at once told who were the visitors, and put them upon using immediate exertions to effect their safety by flight. A young man who was near when Canaan was shot, aimed at the murderer a blow with a drawing knife, which took effect on the head of the savage and brought him to the ground. Ralston then escaped through the door, and fled in safety, although fired at as he fled.
When the Indians entered the house, there was a Mrs. Ward sitting in the room. So soon as she observed that the intruders were savages, she passed into another apartment with two of the children, and going out with them through a window, got safely away. Mr. Lewis (brother to Mrs. Canaan) likewise escaped from a back room, in which he had been asleep at the firing of the gun. Three children were tomahawked and scalped.—Mrs. Canaan made prisoner, and the savages withdrew. The severe wound inflicted on the head of the Indian by Ralston, made it necessary that they should delay their return to their towns, until his recover; and they accordingly remained near the head of the middle fork of Buchannon, for several weeks. Their extreme caution in travelling, rendered any attempt to discover them unavailing; and when their companion was restored they proceeded on, uninterruptedly. On the close of the war, Mrs. Canaan was redeemed from captivity by a brother from Brunswick in New Jersey, and restored to her surviving friends.
Thus far in the year 1794, the army of the United States had not been organized for efficient operations. Gen. Wayne had been actively employed in the discharge of every preparatory duty devolving on him; and those distinguishing characteristics of uncommon daring and bravery, which had acquired for him the appellation of "Mad Anthony," and which so eminently fitted him for the command of an army warring against savages, gave promise of success to his arms.
Before the troops marched from Fort Washington, it was deemed advisable to have an abundant supply of provisions in the different forts in advance of this, as well for the supply of their respective garrisons, as for the subsistence of the general army, in the event of its being driven into them, by untoward circumstances. With this view, three hundred pack horses, laden with flour, were sent on to Fort Recovery; and as it was known that considerable bodies of the enemy were constantly hovering about the forts, and awaiting opportunities of cutting off any detachments from the main army, Major McMahon, with eight riflemen under Capt. Hartshorn, and fifty dragoons, under Capt. Taylor, was ordered on as an escort. This force was too great to justify the savages in making an attack, until they could unite the many war parties which were near; and before this could be effected, Major McMahon reached his destination.
On the 30th of July, as the escort was about leaving Fort Recovery, it was attacked by an army of one thousand Indians, in the immediate vicinity of the fort. Captain Hartshorn had advanced only three four hundred yards, at the head of the riflemen, when he was unexpectedly beset on every side. With the most consummate bravery and good conduct, he maintained the unequal conflict, until Major McMahon, placing himself at the head of the cavalry, charged upon the enemy, and was repulsed with considerable loss. Maj. McMahon, Capt. Taylor and Cornet Terry fell upon the first onset, and many6 of the privates were killed or wounded. The whole savage force being now brought to press on Capt. Hartshorn, that brave officer was forced to try and regain the fort; but the enemy interposed its strength, to prevent this movement. Lieutenant Drake and Ensign Dodd, with twenty volunteers, marched from Fort Recovery and forcing a passage through a column of the enemy at the point of the bayonet, joined the rifle corps, at the instant that Capt. Hartshorn received a shot which broke his thigh. Lieut. Craig being killed and Lieut. Marks taken prisoner, Lieut. Drake conducted the retreat; and while endeavoring for an instant to hold the enemy in check, so as to enable the soldiers to bring off their wounded captain, himself received a shot in the groin, and retreat was resumed, leaving Capt. Hartshorn on the field.
When the remnant of the troops came within the wall of the Fort, Lieut. Michael, who had been early detached by Capt. .Hartshorn to the flank of the enemy, was found to be missing, and was given up as lost. But while his friends were deploring his unfortunate fate, he and Lieut. Marks, who had been early taken prisoner, were seen rushing through the enemy, from opposite directions towards the Fort. They gained it safely, notwithstanding they were actively pursued, and many shots fired at them. Lieut. Marks had got off by knocking down the Indian who held him prisoner; and Lieut. Michael had lost all of his party, but three men. The entire loss of the
Americans was twenty-three killed, and forty wounded. The riflemen brought in ten scalps which were taken early in the action; beyond this the enemy’s loss was never ascertained. Many of them were do doubt killed and wounded, as they advanced in solid columns up to the very muzzles of the guns, and were afterwards seen carrying off many of their warriors on pack horses.
At length Gen. Wayne put the army, over which he had been given the command, in motion; and upon its arrival at the confluence of the Au Glaize and the Miami of the Lakes, another effort was made for the attainment of peace, without the effusion of blood. Commissioners were sent forward to the Indians to effect this desirable object; who exhorted them to listen to their propositions for terminating the war, and no longer to be deluded by the counsels of white emissaries, who had not the power to afford them protection; but only sought to involve the frontier of the united States in a war, from which much evil, but no good could possibly result to either party. The savages however felt confident that success would again attend their arms, and deriving additional incentives to war from their proximity to the British fort, recently erected at the foot of the rapids, declined the overture for peace, and seemed ardently to desire the battle, which they knew must soon be fought.
The Indian army at this time, amounted to about two thousand warriors and when reconnoitered on the 19th of August were found encamped in a thick bush wood and near to the British Fort. The Army of Gen. Wayne was equal in number to that of the enemy; and when on the morning of the 20th, it took up the line of march, the troops were so disposed as to avoid being surprised, and to come into action on the shortest notice, and under the most favorable circumstances. A select battalion of mounted volunteers commanded by Major Price, moving in advance of the main army, had proceeded but a few miles, when a fire so severe, was aimed at it by the savages concealed, as usual, that it was forced to fall back. The enemy had chosen their ground with great judgement, taking a position behind the fallen timber which had been prostrated by a tornado, and in a woods so thick as to render it impracticable for the cavalry to act with effect. They were formed into three regular lines, much extended in front, within supporting distance of each other, and reaching about two miles; and their first effort was to turn the left flank of the American army.
Gen. Wayne ordered the first line of his army to advance with trailed arms, to rouse the enemy from their covert at the point of the bayonet, and when u to deliver a close and well directed fire, to be followed by a charge so brisk as not to allow them time to reload or form their lines. The second line was ordered to the support of the first; and Capt. Campbell at the head of the cavalry, and Gen. Scott at the head of the mounted volunteers were sent forward to turn the left and right wings of the enemy. All these complicated orders were promptly executed; but such was the impetuosity of the charge made by the first line of infantry, so completely and entirely was the enemy broken by it, and so rapid the pursuit, that only a small part of the second line and of the mounted volunteers were in time to participate in the action, notwithstanding the great exertions of their respective officers to cooperate in the engagement; and in less than one hour, the savages were driven more than two miles and within gunshot of the British Fort, by less than one half their numbers.
Gen. Wayne remained three days on the banks of the Miami, in front of the field of battle left to the full and quiet possession of his army, by the flight and dispersion of the savages. In this time, all the houses and cornfields, both above and below the British Fort, and among the rest, the houses and stores of Col. McKee, an English trader of great influence among the Indians and which had been invariably exerted to prolong the war, were consumed by fire or otherwise entirely destroyed. On the 27th, the American army returned to its headquarters, laying waste the cornfields and villages on each side of the river for about fifth miles; and this too in the most populous and best improved part of the Indian country.
The loss sustained by the American army, in obtaining this brilliant victory, over the savage enemy flushed with former successes, amounted to thirty-three killed and one hundred wounded; that of the enemy was never ascertained. In his official account of the action, Gen. Wayne says, "The woods were strewed for a considerable distance, with the dead bodies of the Indians, and their white auxiliaries;" and at a council held a few days after, when British agents endeavored to prevail on them to risk another engagement, they expressed a determination to "bury the bloody hatchet" saying, that they had just lost more than two hundred of their warriors.
Some events occurred during this engagement, which are deemed worthy of being recorded here, although not of general interest. While Capt. Campbell was engaged in turning the left flank of the enemy, three of them plunged into the river, and endeavored to escape the fury of the conflict, by swimming to the opposite shore. They were seen by two Negroes, who were on the bank to which the Indians were aiming, and who concealed themselves behind a log for the purpose of intercepting them. When within shooting distance one of the Negroes fired and killed one of the Indians. The other two took hold of him to drag him to shore, when one of them was killed, by the fire of the other Negro. The remaining Indian being now in shoal water, endeavored to draw both the dead to the bank; but before he could effect this, the Negro who had first fired, had reloaded, and again discharging his gun, killed him also, and the three floated down the river.
Another circumstance is related, which shows the obstinacy with which the contest was maintained by individuals in both armies. A soldier and an Indian came in collision, the one having an unloaded gun,--the other a tomahawk. After the action was over, they were both found dead; the soldier with his bayonet in the body of the Indian,--and the Indian with his tomahawk in the head of the soldier.
Notwithstanding the signal victory, obtained by General Wayne over the Indians, yet did their hostility to the whites lead them to acts of occasional violence, and kept them for some time from acceding to the proposals for peace. In consequence of this, their whole country was laid waste, and forts erected in the hearts of their settlements at once to starve and awe them into quiet. The desired effect was produced. Their crops being laid waste their villages burned, fortresses erected in various parts of their country and kept well garrisoned, and a victorious army ready to bear down upon them at any instant, there was no alternative left them but to sue for peace. When the Shawanees made known their wish to bury the bloody hatchet, Gen. Wayne refused to treat singly with them, and declared that all the different tribes of the North Western Indians should be parties to any treaty which he should make. This required some time as they had been much dispersed after the defeat of the 20th of August, and the great devastation committed on their crops and provisions by the American army, had driven many to the woods, to procure a precarious subsistence by hunting. Still however, to such abject want and wretchedness were they reduced, that exertions were immediately made to collect them in general council; and as this was the work of some time, it was not effected until midsummer of 1795.
In this interval of time, there was but a solitary interruption, caused by savage aggression, to the general repose and quiet of North Western Virginia; and that interruption occurred in a settlement which had been exempt from invasion since the year 1782. In the summer of 1795, the trail of a large party of Indians was discovered on Leading creek, and proceeding directly towards the settlements on the head of the West Fork, those on Buchannon river or in Tygart’s Valley. In consequence of the uncertainty against which of them, the savages would direct their operations, intelligence of the discovery which had been made, was sent by express to all; and measures, to guard against the happening of any unpleasant result, were taken by all, save the inhabitants on Buchannon. They had so long been exempt from the murderous incursions of the savages, while other settlements not remote from them, were yearly deluged with blood, that a false security was engendered, in the issue, fatal to the lives and happiness of some of them, by causing them to neglect the use of such precautionary means, as would warn them of the near approach of danger, and ward it when it came.
Pursuing their usual avocations in despite of the warning which had been given them, on the day after the express had sounded an alarm among the, as Jon Bozarth, sen. and his sons George and John were busied in drawing grain from the field to the barn, the agonizing shrieks of those at the house rent the air around them; and they hastened to ascertain, and if practicable avert the cause. The elasticity of young enabled George to approach the house some few paces in advance of his father, but the practised eye of the old gentleman, first discovered an Indian, only a small distance from his son, and with his gun raised to fire upon him. With parental solicitude he exclaimed, "See George, an Indian is going to shoot you." George was then too near the savage, to think of escaping by flight. He looked at him steadily, and when he supposed the fatal aim was taken and the finger just pressing on the trigger, he fell, and the ball whistled by him. Not doubting but that the youth had fallen in death, the savage passed by him and pressed in pursuit of the father.
Mr. Bozarth had not attained to that age when the sinews become too much relaxed for active exertion, but was yet springy and agile, and was enabled to keep ahead of his pursuer. Despairing of overtaking him, by reason of his great speed, the savage hurled a tomahawk at his head. It passed harmless by; and the old gentleman got safely off.
When George Bozarth fell as the Indian fired, he lay still as if dead, and supposing the scalping knife would be next applied to his head, determined on seizing the savage by the legs as he would stoop over him, and endeavor to bring him to the ground; when he hoped to be able to gain the mastery over him. Seeing him pass on in pursuit of his father, he arose and took to flight also. On his way he overtook a younger brother, who had become alarmed and was hobbling slowly away on a sore foot. George gave him every aid in his power to facilitate his flight, until he discovered that another of the savages was pressing close upon them. Knowing that if he remained with his brother, both must inevitably perish, he was reluctantly forced to leave him to his fate. Proceeding on, he came up with his father, who not doubting but he was killed, when the savage fired at him, broke forth with the exclamation, "Why George, I thought you were dead," and manifested, even in that sorrowful moment, a joyful feeling at his mistake.
The Indians who were at the house, wrought their work of blood upon such as would have been impediments to their retreat; and killing two or three smaller children, took Mrs. Bozarth and two boys prisoners. With these they made their way to their towns and arrived in time to surrender their captives to Gen. Wayne.
This was the last mischief done by the Indians in North Western Virginia. For twenty years, the inhabitants of that section of country, had suffered all the horrors of savage warfare and all the woes which spring from the uncurbed indulgence of those barbarous and vindictive passions, which bear sway in the savage breasts. The treaty of Greenville, concluded on the 3rd of August 1795, put a period to the war, and with it, to those acts of devastation and death which had so long spread dismay and gloom throughout the land
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