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Pioneers of the Old Southwest by Constance Skinner

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to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, had leaked into the
Back Country; and in the winter of 1765 Boone set off southward
on horseback with, seven companions. Colonel James Grant, with
whose army Boone had fought in 1761, had been appointed Governor
of the new colony and was offering generous inducements to
settlers. The party traveled along the borders of South Carolina
and Georgia. No doubt they made the greater part of their way
over the old Traders' Trace, the "whitened" warpath; and they
suffered severe hardships. Game became scarcer as they proceeded.
Once they were nigh to perishing of starvation and were saved
from that fate only through chance meeting with a band of Indians
who, seeing their plight, made camp and shared their food with
them--according to the Indian code in time of peace.

Boone's party explored Florida from St. Augustine to Pensacola,
and Daniel became sufficiently enamored of the tropical south to
purchase there land and a house. His wife, however, was unwilling
to go to Florida, and she was not long in convincing the hunter
that he would soon tire of a gameless country. A gameless
country! Perhaps this was the very thought which turned the
wanderer's desires again towards the land of Kentucky.* The
silencing of the enemy's whisper in the Cherokee camps had opened
the border forests once more to the nomadic rifleman. Boone was
not alone in the desire to seek out what lay beyond. His
brother-in-law, John Stewart, and a nephew by marriage, Benjamin
Cutbirth, or Cutbird, with two other young men, John Baker and
James Ward, in 1766 crossed the Appalachian Mountains, probably
by stumbling upon the Indian trail winding from base to summit
and from peak to base again over this part of the great hill
barrier. They eventually reached the Mississippi River and,
having taken a good quantity of peltry on the way, they launched
upon the stream and came in time to New Orleans, where they made
a satisfactory trade of their furs.

* Kentucky, from Ken-ta-ke, an Iroquois word meaning "the place
of old fields." Adair calls the territory "the old fields." The
Indians apparently used the word "old," as we do in a sense of
endearment and possession as well as relative to age.

Boone was fired anew by descriptions of this successful feat, in
which two of his kinsmen had participated. He could no longer be
held back. He must find the magic door that led through the vast
mountain wall into Kentucky--Kentucky, with its green prairies
where the buffalo and deer were as "ten thousand thousand cattle
feeding" in the wilds, and where the balmy air vibrated with the
music of innumerable wings.

Accordingly, in the autumn of 1767, Boone began his quest of the
delectable country in the company of his friend, William Hill,
who had been with him in Florida. Autumn was the season of
departure on all forest excursions, because by that time the
summer crops had been gathered in and the day of the deer had
come. By hunting, the explorers must feed themselves on their
travels and with deerskins and furs they must on their return
recompense those who had supplied their outfit. Boone, the
incessant but not always lucky wanderer, was in these years ever
in debt for an outfit.

Boone and Hill made their way over the Blue Ridge and the
Alleghanies and crossed the Holston and Clinch rivers. Then they
came upon the west fork of the Big Sandy and, believing that it
would lead them to the Ohio, they continued for at least a
hundred miles to the westward. Here they found a buffalo trace,
one of the many beaten out by the herds in their passage to the
salt springs, and they followed it into what is now Floyd County
in eastern Kentucky. But this was not the prairie land described
by Findlay; it was rough and hilly and so overgrown with laurel
as to be almost impenetrable. They therefore wended their way
back towards the river, doubtless erected the usual hunter's camp
of skins or blankets and branches, and spent the winter in
hunting and trapping. Spring found them returning to their homes
on the Yadkin with a fair winter's haul.

Such urgent desire as Boone's, however, was not to be defeated.
The next year brought him his great opportunity. John Findlay
came to the Yadkin with a horse pack of needles and linen and
peddler's wares to tempt the slim purses of the Back Country
folk. The two erstwhile comrades in arms were overjoyed to
encounter each other again, and Findlay spent the winter of
1768-69 in Boone's cabin. While the snow lay deep outside and
good-smelling logs crackled on the hearth, they planned an
expedition into Kentucky through the Gap where Virginia,
Tennessee, and Kentucky touch one another, which Findlay felt
confident he could find. Findlay had learned of this route from
cross-mountain traders in 1753, when he had descended the Ohio to
the site of Louisville, whence he had gone with some Shawanoes as
a prisoner to their town of Es-kip-pa-ki-thi-ki or Blue Licks.*

* Hanna, "The Wilderness Trail," vol. II, pp. 215-16.

On the first day of May, 1769, Boone and Findlay, accompanied by
John Stewart and three other venturesome spirits, Joseph Holden,
James Mooney, and William Cooley, took horse for the fabled land.
Passing through the Cumberland Gap, they built their first camp
in Kentucky on the Red Lick fork of Station Camp Creek.

This camp was their base of operations. From it, usually in
couples, we infer, the explorers branched out to hunt and to take
their observations of the country. Here also they prepared the
deer and buffalo meat for the winter, dried or smoked the geese
they shot in superabundance, made the tallow and oil needed to
keep their weapons in trim, their leather soft, and their kits
waterproof. Their first ill luck befell them in December when
Boone and Stewart were captured by a band of Shawanoes who were
returning from their autumn hunt on Green River. The Indians
compelled the two white men to show them the location of their
camp, took possession of all it contained in skins and furs and
also helped themselves to the horses. They left the explorers
with just enough meat and ammunition to provide for their journey
homeward, and told them to depart and not to intrude again on the
red men's hunting grounds. Having given this pointed warning, the
Shawanoes rode on northward towards their towns beyond the Ohio.
On foot, swiftly and craftily, Boone and his brother-in-law
trailed the band for two days. They came upon the camp in dead of
night, recaptured their horses, and fled. But this was a game in
which the Indians themselves excelled, and at this date the
Shawanoes had an advantage over Boone in their thorough knowledge
of the territory; so that within fortyeight hours the white men
were once more prisoners. After they had amused themselves by
making Boone caper about with a horse bell on his neck, while
they jeered at him in broken English, "Steal horse, eh?" the
Shawanoes turned north again, this time taking the two
unfortunate hunters with them. Boone and Stewart escaped, one day
on the march, by a plunge into the thick tall canebrake. Though
the Indians did not attempt to follow them through the mazes of
the cane, the situation of the two hunters, without weapons or
food, was serious enough. When they found Station Camp deserted
and realized that their four companions had given them up for
dead or lost and had set off on the trail for home, even such
intrepid souls as theirs may have felt fear. They raced on in
pursuit and fortunately fell in not only with their party but
with Squire Boone, Daniel's brother, and Alexander Neely, who had
brought in fresh supplies of rifles, ammunition, flour, and

After this lucky encounter the group separated. Findlay was ill,
and Holden, Mooney, and Cooley had had their fill of Kentucky;
but Squire, Neely, Stewart, and Daniel were ready for more
adventures. Daniel, too, felt under the positive necessity of
putting in another year at hunting and trapping in order to
discharge his debts and provide for his family. Near the mouth of
Red River the new party built their station camp. Here, in idle
hours, Neely read aloud from a copy of "Gulliver's Travels" to
entertain the hunters while they dressed their deerskins or
tinkered their weapons. In honor of the "Lorbrulgrud" of the
book, though with a pronunciation all their own, they christened
the nearest creek; and as "Lulbegrud Creek" it is still known.

Before the end of the winter the two Boones were alone in the
wilderness. Their brother-in-law, Stewart, had disappeared; and
Neely, discouraged by this tragic event, had returned to the
Yadkin. In May, Squire Boone fared forth, taking with him the
season's catch of beaver, otter, and deerskins to exchange in the
North Carolinian trading houses for more supplies; and Daniel was
left solitary in Kentucky.

Now followed those lonely explorations which gave Daniel Boone
his special fame above all Kentucky's pioneers. He was by no
means the first white man to enter Kentucky; and when he did
enter, it was as one of a party, under another man's guidance--if
we except his former disappointing journey into the laurel
thickets of Floyd County. But these others, barring Stewart, who
fell there, turned back when they met with loss and hardship and
measured the certain risks against the possible gains. Boone, the
man of imagination, turned to wild earth as to his kin. His
genius lay in the sense of oneness he felt with his wilderness
environment. An instinct he had which these other men, as
courageous perhaps as he, did not possess.

Never in all the times when he was alone in the woods and had no
other man's safety or counsel to consider, did he suffer ill
fortune. The nearest approach to trouble that befell him when
alone occurred one day during this summer when some Indians
emerged from their green shelter and found him, off guard for the
moment, standing on a cliff gazing with rapture over the vast
rolling stretches of Kentucky. He was apparently cut off from
escape, for the savages were on three sides, advancing without
haste to take him, meanwhile greeting him with mock amity. Over
the cliff leaped Boone and into the outspread arms of a friendly
maple, whose top bloomed green about sixty feet below the cliff's
rim, and left his would-be captors on the height above, grunting
their amazement.

During this summer Boone journeyed through the valleys of the
Kentucky and the Licking. He followed the buffalo traces to the
two Blue Licks and saw the enormous herds licking up the salt
earth, a darkly ruddy moving mass of beasts whose numbers could
not be counted. For many miles he wound along the Ohio, as far as
the Falls. He also found the Big Bone Lick with its mammoth

In July, 1770, Daniel returned to the Red River camp and there
met Squire Boone with another pack of supplies. The two brothers
continued their hunting and exploration together for some months,
chiefly in Jessamine County, where two caves still bear Boone's
name. In that winter they even braved the Green River ground,
whence had come the hunting Shawanoes who had taken Daniel's
first fruits a year before. In the same year (1770) there had
come into Kentucky from the Yadkin another party of hunters,
called, from their lengthy sojourn in the twilight zone, the Long
Hunters. One of these, Gasper Mansker, afterwards related how the
Long Hunters were startled one day by hearing sounds such as no
buffalo or turkey ever made, and how Mansker himself stole
silently under cover of the trees towards the place whence the
strange noises came, and descried Daniel Boone prone on his back
with a deerskin under him, his famous tall black hat beside him
and his mouth opened wide in joyous but apparently none too
tuneful song. This incident gives a true character touch. It is
not recorded of any of the men who turned back that they sang
alone in the wilderness.

In March, 1771, the two Boones started homeward, their horses
bearing the rich harvest of furs and deerskins which was to clear
Daniel of debt and to insure the comfort of the family he had not
seen for two years. But again evil fortune met them, this time in
the very gates--for in the Cumberland Gap they were suddenly
surrounded by Indians who took everything from them, leaving them
neither guns nor horses.

Chapter VI. The Fight For Kentucky

When Boone returned home he found the Back Country of North
Carolina in the throes of the Regulation Movement. This movement,
which had arisen first from the colonists' need to police their
settlements, had more recently assumed a political character. The
Regulators were now in conflict with the authorities, because the
frontier folk were suffering through excessive taxes,
extortionate fees, dishonest land titles, and the corruption of
the courts. In May, 1771, the conflict lost its quasi-civil
nature. The Regulators resorted to arms and were defeated by the
forces under Governor Tryon in the Battle of the Alamance.

The Regulation Movement, which we shall follow in more detail
further on, was a culmination of those causes of unrest which
turned men westward. To escape from oppression and to acquire
land beyond the bounds of tyranny became the earnest desire of
independent spirits throughout the Back Country. But there was
another and more potent reason why the country east of the
mountains no longer contented Boone. Hunting and trapping were
Boone's chief means of livelihood. In those days, deerskins sold
for a dollar a skin to the traders at the Forks or in
Hillsborough; beaver at about two dollars and a half, and otter
at from three to five dollars. A pack-horse could carry a load of
one hundred dressed deerskins, and, as currency was scarce, a
hundred dollars was wealth. Game was fast disappearing from the
Yadkin. To Boone above all men, then, Kentucky beckoned. When he
returned in the spring of 1771 from his explorations, it was with
the resolve to take his family at once into the great game
country and to persuade some of his friends to join in this
hazard of new fortunes.

The perils of such a venture, only conjectural to us at this
distance, he knew well; but in him there was nothing that shrank
from danger, though he did not court it after the rash manner of
many of his compeers. Neither reckless nor riotous, Boone was
never found among those who opposed violence to authority, even
unjust authority; nor was he ever guilty of the savagery which
characterized much of the retaliatory warfare of that period when
frenzied white men bettered the red man's instruction. In him,
courage was illumined with tenderness and made equable by
self-control. Yet, though he was no fiery zealot like the
Ulstermen who were to follow him along the path he had made and
who loved and revered him perhaps because he was so different
from themselves, Boone nevertheless had his own religion. It was
a simple faith best summed up perhaps by himself in his old age
when he said that he had been only an instrument in the hand of
God to open the wilderness to settlement.

Two years passed before Boone could muster a company of colonists
for the dangerous and delectable land. The dishonesty practiced
by Lord Granville's agents in the matter of deeds had made it
difficult for Daniel and his friends to dispose of their acreage.
When at last in the spring of 1773 the Wanderer was prepared to
depart, he was again delayed; this time by the arrival of a
little son to whom was given the name of John. By September,
however, even this latest addition to the party was ready for
travel; and that month saw the Boones with a small caravan of
families journeying towards Powell's Valley, whence the Warrior's
Path took its way through Cumberland Gap. At this point on the
march they were to be joined by William Russell, a famous
pioneer, from the Clinch River, with his family and a few
neighbors, and by some of Rebecca Boone's kinsmen, the Bryans,
from the lower Yadkin, with a company of forty men.

Of Rebecca Boone history tells us too little--only that she was
born a Bryan, was of low stature and dark eyed, that she bore her
husband ten children, and lived beside him to old age. Except on
his hunts and explorations, she went with him from one cabined
home to another, always deeper into the wilds. There are no
portraits of her. We can see her only as a shadowy figure moving
along the wilderness trails beside the man who accepted his
destiny of God to be a way-shower for those of lesser faith.

"He tires not forever on his leagues of march
Because her feet are set to his footprints,
And the gleam of her bare hand slants across his shoulder."

Boone halted his company on Walden Mountain over Powell's Valley
to await the Bryan contingent and dispatched two young men under
the leadership of his son James, then in his seventeenth year, to
notify Russell of the party's arrival. As the boys were returning
with Russell's son, also a stripling, two of his slaves, and some
white laborers, they missed the path and went into camp for the
night. When dawn broke, disclosing the sleepers, a small war band
of Shawanoes, who had been spying on Boone and his party, fell
upon them and slaughtered them. Only one of Russell's slaves and
a laborer escaped. The tragedy seems augmented by the fact that
the point where the boys lost the trail and made their night
quarters was hardly three miles from the main camp--to which an
hour later came the two survivors with their gloomy tidings.
Terror now took hold of the little band of emigrants, and there
were loud outcries for turning back. The Bryans, who had arrived
meanwhile, also advised retreat, saying that the "signs" about
the scene of blood indicated an Indian uprising. Daniel carried
the scalped body of his son, the boy-comrade of his happy hunts,
to the camp and buried it there at the beginning of the trail.
His voice alone urged that they go on.

Fortunately indeed, as events turned out, Boone was overruled,
and the expedition was abandoned. The Bryan party and the others
from North Carolina went back to the Yadkin. Boone himself with
his family accompanied Russell to the Clinch settlement, where he
erected a temporary cabin on the farm of one of the settlers, and
then set out alone on the chase to earn provision for his wife
and children through the winter.

Those who prophesied an Indian war were not mistaken. When the
snowy hunting season had passed and the "Powwowing Days" were
come, the Indian war drum rattled in the medicine house from the
borders of Pennsylvania to those of Carolina. The causes of the
strife for which the red men were making ready must be briefly
noted to help us form a just opinion of the deeds that followed.
Early writers have usually represented the frontiersmen as saints
in buckskin and the Indians as fiends without the shadow of a
claim on either the land or humanity. Many later writers have
merely reversed the shield. The truth is that the Indians and the
borderers reacted upon each other to the hurt of both.
Paradoxically, they grew like enough to hate one another with a
savage hatred--and both wanted the land.

Land! Land! was the slogan of all sorts and conditions of men.
Tidewater officials held solemn powwows with the chiefs, gave
wampum strings, and forthwith incorporated.* Chiefs blessed their
white brothers who had "forever brightened the chain of
friendship," departed home, and proceeded to brighten the blades
of their tomahawks and to await, not long, the opportunity to use
them on casual hunters who carried in their kits the compass, the
"land-stealer." Usually the surveying hunter was a borderer; and
on him the tomahawk descended with an accelerated gusto. Private
citizens also formed land companies and sent out surveyors,
regardless of treaties. Bold frontiersmen went into No Man's Land
and staked out their claims. In the very year when disaster
turned the Boone party back, James Harrod had entered Kentucky
from Pennsylvania and had marked the site of a settlement.

* The activities of the great land companies are described in
Alvord's exhaustive work, "The Mississippi Valley in British

Ten years earlier (1763), the King had issued the famous and much
misunderstood Proclamation restricting his "loving subjects" from
the lands west of the mountains. The colonists interpreted this
document as a tyrannous curtailment of their liberties for the
benefit of the fur trade. We know now that the portion of this
Proclamation relating to western settlement was a wise provision
designed to protect the settlers on the frontier by allaying the
suspicions of the Indians, who viewed with apprehension the
triumphal occupation of that vast territory from Canada to the
Gulf of Mexico by the colonizing English. By seeking to compel
all land purchase to be made through the Crown, it was designed
likewise to protect the Indians from "whisky purchase," and to
make impossible the transfer of their lands except with consent
of the Indian Council, or full quota of headmen, whose joint
action alone conveyed what the tribes considered to be legal
title. Sales made according to this form, Sir William Johnson
declared to the Lords of Trade, he had never known to be
repudiated by the Indians. This paragraph of the Proclamation was
in substance an embodiment of Johnson's suggestions to the Lords
of Trade. Its purpose was square dealing and pacification; and
shrewd men such as Washington recognized that it was not intended
as a final check to expansion. "A temporary expedient to quiet
the minds of the Indians," Washington called it, and then himself
went out along the Great Kanawha and into Kentucky, surveying

It will be asked what had become of the Ohio Company of Virginia
and that fort at the Forks of the Ohio; once a bone of contention
between France and England. Fort Pitt, as it was now called, had
fallen foul of another dispute, this time between Virginia and
Pennsylvania. Virginia claimed that the far western corner of her
boundary ascended just far enough north to take in Fort Pitt.
Pennsylvania asserted that it did nothing of the sort. The Ohio
Company had meanwhile been merged into the Walpole Company.
George Croghan, at Fort Pitt, was the Company's agent and as such
was accused by Pennsylvania of favoring from ulterior motives the
claims of Virginia. Hotheads in both colonies asseverated that
the Indians were secretly being stirred up in connection with the
boundary disputes. If it does not very clearly appear how an
Indian rising would have settled the ownership of Fort Pitt, it
is evident enough where the interests of Virginia and
Pennsylvania clashed. Virginia wanted land for settlement and
speculation; Pennsylvania wanted the Indians left in possession
for the benefit of the fur trade. So far from stirring up the
Indians, as his enemies declared, Croghan was as usual giving
away all his substance to keep them quiet.* Indeed, during this
summer of 1774, eleven hundred Indians were encamped about Fort
Pitt visiting him.

* The suspicion that Croghan and Lord Dunmore, the Governor of
Virginia, were instigating the war appears to have arisen out of
the conduct of Dr. John Connolly, Dunmore's agent and Croghan's
nephew. Croghan had induced the Shawanoes to bring under escort
to Fort Pitt certain English traders resident in the Indian
towns. The escort was fired on by militiamen under command of
Connolly, who also issued a proclamation declaring a state of war
to exist. Connolly, however, probably acted on his own
initiative. He was interested in land on his own behalf and was
by no means the only man at that time who was ready to commit
outrages on Indians in order to obtain it. As Croghan lamented,
there was "too great a spirit in the frontier people for killing

Two hundred thousand acres in the West--Kentucky and West
Virginia--had been promised to the colonial officers and soldiers
who fought in the Seven Years' War. But after making the
Proclamation the British Government had delayed issuing the
patents. Washington interested himself in trying to secure them;
and Lord Dunmore, who also had caught the "land-fever,"* prodded
the British authorities but won only rebuke for his inconvenient
activities. Insistent, however, Dunmore sent out parties of
surveyors to fix the bounds of the soldiers' claims. James
Harrod, Captain Thomas Bullitt, Hancock Taylor, and three McAfee
brothers entered Kentucky, by the Ohio, under Dunmore's orders.
John Floyd went in by the Kanawha as Washington's agent. A
bird's-eye view of that period would disclose to us very few
indeed of His Majesty's loving subjects who were paying any
attention to his proclamation. Early in 1774, Harrod began the
building of cabins and a fort, and planted corn on the site of
Harrodsburg. Thus to him and not to Boone fell the honor of
founding the first permanent white settlement in Kentucky

* See Alvord, "The Mississippi Valley in British Politics," vol.
II, pp. 191-94.

When summer came, its thick verdure proffering ambuscade, the air
hung tense along the border. Traders had sent in word that
Shawanoes, Delawares, Mingos, Wyandots, and Cherokees were
refusing all other exchange than rifles, ammunition, knives, and
hatchets. White men were shot down in their fields from ambush.
Dead Indians lay among their own young corn, their scalp locks
taken. There were men of both races who wanted war and meant to
have it--and with it the land.

Lord Dunmore, the Governor, resolved that, if war were
inevitable, it should be fought out in the Indian country. With
this intent, he wrote to Colonel Andrew Lewis of Botetourt
County, Commander of the Southwest Militia, instructing him to
raise a respectable body of troops and "join me either at the
mouth of the Great Kanawha or Wheeling, or such other part of the
Ohio as may be most convenient for you to meet me." The Governor
himself with a force of twelve hundred proceeded to Fort Pitt,
where Croghan, as we have seen, was extending his hospitality to
eleven hundred warriors from the disaffected tribes.

On receipt of the Governor's letter, Andrew Lewis sent out
expresses to his brother Colonel Charles Lewis, County Lieutenant
of Augusta, and to Colonel William Preston, County Lieutenant of
Fincastle, to raise men and bring them with all speed to the
rendezvous at Camp Union (Lewisburg) on the Big Levels of the
Greenbrier (West Virginia). Andrew Lewis summoned these officers
to an expedition for "reducing our inveterate enemies to reason."
Preston called for volunteers to take advantage of "the
opportunity we have so long wished for...this useless People
may now at last be oblidged to abandon their country." These men
were among not only the bravest but the best of their time; but
this was their view of the Indian and his alleged rights. To
eliminate this "useless people," inveterate enemies of the white
race, was, as they saw it, a political necessity and a religious
duty. And we today who profit by their deeds dare not condemn

Fervor less solemn was aroused in other quarters by Dunmore's
call to arms. At Wheeling, some eighty or ninety young
adventurers, in charge of Captain Michael Cresap of Maryland,
were waiting for the freshets to sweep them down the Ohio into
Kentucky. When the news reached them, they greeted it with the
wild monotone chant and the ceremonies preliminary to Indian
warfare. They planted the war pole, stripped and painted
themselves, and starting the war dance called on Cresap to be
their "white leader." The captain, however, declined; but in that
wild circling line was one who was a white leader indeed. He was
a sandy-haired boy of twenty--one of the bold race of English
Virginians, rugged and of fiery countenance, with blue eyes
intense of glance and deep set under a high brow that, while
modeled for power, seemed threatened in its promise by the too
sensitive chiseling of his lips. With every nerve straining for
the fray, with thudding of feet and crooning of the blood song,
he wheeled with those other mad spirits round the war pole till
the set of sun closed the rites. "That evening two scalps were
brought into camp," so a letter of his reads. Does the bold
savage color of this picture affright us? Would we veil it? Then
we should lose something of the true lineaments of George Rogers
Clark, who, within four short years, was to lead a tiny army of
tattered and starving backwoodsmen, ashamed to quail where he
never flinched, through barrens and icy floods to the conquest of
Illinois for the United States.

Though Cresap had rejected the role of "white leader," he did not
escape the touch of infamy. "Cresap's War" was the name the
Indians gave to the bloody encounters between small parties of
whites and Indians, which followed on that war dance and
scalping, during the summer months. One of these encounters must
be detailed here because history has assigned it as the immediate
cause of Dunmore's War.

Greathouse, Sapperton, and King, three traders who had a post on
Yellow Creek, a tributary of the Ohio fifty miles below
Pittsburgh, invited several Indians from across the stream to
come and drink with them and their friends. Among the Indians
were two or three men of importance in the Mingo tribe. There
were also some women, one of whom was the Indian wife of Colonel
John Gibson, an educated man who had distinguished himself as a
soldier with Forbes in 1768. That the Indians came in amity and
apprehended no treachery was proved by the presence of the women.
Gibson's wife carried her halfcaste baby in her shawl. The
disreputable traders plied their guests with drink to the point
of intoxication and then murdered them. King shot the first man
and, when he fell, cut his throat, saying that he had served many
a deer in that fashion. Gibson's Indian wife fled and was shot
down in the clearing. A man followed to dispatch her and her
baby. She held the child up to him pleading, with her last
breath, that he would spare it because it was not Indian but "one
of yours." The mother dead, the child was later sent to Gibson.
Twelve Indians in all were killed.

Meanwhile Croghan had persuaded the Iroquois to peace. With the
help of David Zeisberger, the Moravian missionary, and White
Eyes, a Delaware chief, he and Dunmore had won over the Delaware
warriors. In the Cherokee councils, Oconostota demanded that the
treaty of peace signed in 1761 be kept. The Shawanoes, however,
led by Cornstalk, were implacable; and they had as allies the
Ottawas and Mingos, who had entered the council with them.

A famous chief of the day and one of great influence over the
Indians, and also among the white officials who dealt with Indian
affairs, was Tachnech-dor-us, or Branching Oak of the Forest, a
Mingo who had taken the name of Logan out of compliment to James
Logan of Pennsylvania. Chief Logan had recently met with so much
reproach from his red brothers for his loyalty to the whites that
he had departed from the Mingo town at Yellow Creek. But,
learning that his tribe had determined to assist the Shawanoes
and had already taken some white scalps, he repaired to the place
where the Mingos were holding their war council to exert his
powers for peace. There, in presence of the warriors, after
swaying them from their purpose by those oratorical gifts which
gave him his influence and his renown, he took the war hatchet
that had already killed, and buried it in proof that vengeance
was appeased. Upon this scene there entered a Mingo from Yellow
Creek with the news of the murders committed there by the three
traders. The Indian whose throat had been slit as King had served
deer was Logan's brother. Another man slain was his kinsman. The
woman with the baby was his sister. Logan tore up from the earth
the bloody tomahawk and, raising it above his head, swore that he
would not rest till he had taken ten white lives to pay for each
one of his kin. Again the Mingo warriors declared for war and
this time were not dissuaded. But Logan did not join this red
army. He went out alone to wreak his vengeance, slaying and

Meanwhile Dunmore prepared to push the war with the utmost vigor.
His first concern was to recall the surveying parties from
Kentucky, and for so hazardous an errand he needed the services
of a man whose endurance, speed, and woodcraft were equal to
those of any Indian scout afoot. Through Colonel Preston, his
orders were conveyed to Daniel Boone, for Boone's fame had now
spread from the border to the tidewater regions. It was stated
that "Boone would lose no time," and "if they are alive, it is
indisputable but Boone must find them."

So Boone set out in company with Michael Stoner, another expert
woodsman. His general instructions were to go down the Kentucky
River to Preston's Salt Lick and across country to the Falls of
the Ohio, and thence home by Gaspar's Lick on the Cumberland
River. Indian war parties were moving under cover across "the
Dark and Bloody Ground" to surround the various groups of
surveyors still at large and to exterminate them. Boone made his
journey successfully. He found John Floyd, who was surveying for
Washington; he sped up to where Harrod and his band were building
cabins and sent them out, just in time as it happened; he reached
all the outposts of Thomas Bullitt's party, only one of whom fell
a victim to the foe*; and, undetected by the Indians, he brought
himself and Stoner home in safety, after covering eight hundred
miles in sixty-one days.

* Hancock Taylor, who delayed in getting out of the country and
was cut off.

Harrod and his homesteaders immediately enlisted in the army. How
eager Boone was to go with the forces under Lewis is seen in the
official correspondence relative to Dunmore's War. Floyd wanted
Boone's help in raising a company: "Captain Bledsoe says that
Boone has more [influence] than any man now disengaged; and you
know what Boone has done for me...for which reason I love the
man." Even the border, it would seem, had its species of
pacifists who were willing to let others take risks for them, for
men hung back from recruiting, and desertions were the order of
the day. Major Arthur Campbell hit upon a solution of the
difficulties in West Fincastle. He was convinced that Boone could
raise a company and hold the men loyal. And Boone did.

For some reason, however, Daniel's desire to march with the army
was denied. Perhaps it was because just such a man as he--and,
indeed, there was no other--was needed to guard the settlement.
Presently he was put in command of Moore's Fort in Clinch Valley,
and his "diligence" received official approbation. A little later
the inhabitants of the valley sent out a petition to have Boone
made a "captain" and given supreme command of the lower forts.
The settlers demanded Boone's promotion for their own security.

"The land it is good, it is just to our mind,
Each will have his part if his Lordship be kind,
The Ohio once ours, we'll live at our ease,
With a bottle and glass to drink when we please."

So sang the army poet, thus giving voice, as bards should ever
do, to the theme nearest the hearts of his hearers--in this case,
Land! Presumably his ditty was composed on the eve of the march
from Lewisburg, for it is found in a soldier's diary.

On the evening of October 9,1774, Andrew Lewis with his force of
eleven hundred frontiersmen was encamped on Point Pleasant at the
junction of the Great Kanawha with the Ohio. Dunmore in the
meantime had led his forces into Ohio and had erected Fort Gower
at the mouth of the Hockhocking River, where he waited for word
from Andrew Lewis.*

* It has been customary to ascribe to Lord Dunmore motives of
treachery in failing to make connections with Lewis; but no real
evidence has been advanced to support any of the charges made
against him by local historians. The charges were, as Theodore
Roosevelt says, "an afterthought." Dunmore was a King's man in
the Revolution; and yet in March, 1775, the Convention of the
Colony of Virginia, assembled in opposition to the royal party,
resolved: "The most cordial thanks of the people of this colony
are a tribute justly due to our worthy Governor Lord Dunmore, for
his truly noble, wise, and spirited conduct which at once evinces
his Excellency's attention to the true interests of this colony,
and a real in the executive department which no dangers can
divert, or difficulties hinder, from achieving the most important
services to the people who have the happiness to live under his
administration." (See "American Archives," Fourth Series, vol.
II, p. 170.) Similar resolutions were passed by his officers on
the march home from Ohio; at the same time, the officers passed
resolutions in sympathy with the American cause. Yet it was
Andrew Lewis who later drove Dunmore from Virginia. Well might
Dunmore exclaim, "That it should ever come to this!"

The movements of the two armies were being observed by scouts
from the force of red warriors gathered in Ohio under the great
leader of the Shawanoes. Cornstalk purposed to isolate the two
armies of his enemy and to crush them in turn before they could
come together. His first move was to launch an attack on Lewis at
Point Pleasant. In the dark of night, Cornstalk's Indians crossed
the Ohio on rafts, intending to surprise the white man's camp at
dawn. They would have succeeded but for the chance that three or
four of the frontiersmen, who had risen before daybreak to hunt,
came upon the Indians creeping towards the camp. Shots were
exchanged. An Indian and a white man dropped. The firing roused
the camp. Three hundred men in two lines under Charles Lewis and
William Fleming sallied forth expecting to engage the vanguard of
the enemy but encountered almost the whole force of from eight
hundred to a thousand Indians before the rest of the army could
come into action. Both officers were wounded, Charles Lewis
fatally. The battle, which continued from dawn until an hour
before sunset, was the bloodiest in Virginia's long series of
Indian wars. The frontiersmen fought as such men ever
fought--with the daring, bravery, swiftness of attack, and skill
in taking cover which were the tactics of their day, even as at a
later time many of these same men fought at King's Mountain and
in Illinois the battles that did so much to turn the tide in the

* With Andrew Lewis on this day were Isaac Shelby and William
Campbell, the victorious leaders at King's Mountain, James
Robertson, the "father of Tennessee," Valentine Sevier, Daniel
Morgan, hero of the Cowpens, Major Arthur Campbell, Benjamin
Logan, Anthony Bledsoe, and Simon Kenton. With Dunmore's force
were Adam Stephen, who distinguished himself at the Brandywine,
George Rogers Clark, John Stuart, already noted through the
Cherokee wars, and John Montgomery, later one of Clark's four
captains in Illinois. The two last mentioned were Highlanders.
Clark's Illinois force was largely recruited from the troops who
fought at Point Pleasant.

Colonel Preston wrote to Patrick Henry that the enemy behaved
with "inconceivable bravery," the head men walking about in the
time of action exhorting their men to "lie close, shoot well, be
strong, and fight." The Shawanoes ran up to the muzzles of the
English guns, disputing every foot of ground. Both sides knew
well what they were fighting for--the rich land held in a
semicircle by the Beautiful River.

Shortly before sundown the Indians, mistaking a flank movement by
Shelby's contingent for the arrival of reinforcements, retreated
across the Ohio. Many of their most noted warriors had fallen and
among them the Shawano chief, Puck-e-shin-wa, father of a famous
son, Tecumseh.* Yet they were unwilling to accept defeat. When
they heard that Dunmore was now marching overland to cut them off
from their towns, their fury blazed anew. "Shall we first kill
all our women and children and then fight till we ourselves are
slain?" Cornstalk, in irony, demanded of them; "No? Then I will
go and make peace."

* Thwaites, "Documentary History of Dunmore's War."

By the treaty compacted between the chiefs and Lord Dunmore, the
Indians gave up all claim to the lands south of the Ohio, even
for hunting, and agreed to allow boats to pass unmolested. In
this treaty the Mingos refused to join, and a detachment of
Dunmore's troops made a punitive expedition to their towns. Some
discord arose between Dunmore and Lewis's frontier forces
because, since the Shawanoes had made peace, the Governor would
not allow the frontiersmen to destroy the Shawano towns.

Of all the chiefs, Logan alone still held aloof. Major Gibson
undertook to fetch him, but Logan refused to come to the treaty
grounds. He sent by Gibson the short speech which has lived as an
example of the best Indian oratory:

"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's
cabin hungry and he gave him not meat: if ever he came cold and
naked and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long
and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for
peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed
as they passed and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white men.'
I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of
one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and
unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing
my women and children. There remains not a drop of my blood in
the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge.
I have sought it; I have killed many; I have fully glutted my
vengeance: for my country I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do
not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never
felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is
there to mourn for Logan? Not one."*

* Some writers have questioned the authenticity of Logan's
speech, inclining to think that Gibson himself composed it,
partly because of the biblical suggestion in the first few lines.
That Gibson gave biblical phraseology to these lines is apparent,
though, as Adair points out there are many examples of similitude
in Indian and biblical expression. But the thought is Indian and
relates to the first article of the Indian's creed, namely, to
share his food with the needy. "There remains not a drop of my
blood in the veins of any living creature" is a truly Indian
lament. Evidently the final four lines of the speech are the most
literally translated, for they have the form and the primitive
rhythmic beat which a student of Indian poetry quickly recognizes.
The authenticity of the speech, as well as the innocence
of Cresap, whom Logan mistakenly accused, was vouched for by
George Rogers Clark in a letter to Dr. Samuel Brown dated June
17, 1798. See Jefferson papers, Series 6, quoted by English,
"Conquest of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio." vol. II.
p. 1029.

By rivers and trails, in large and small companies, started home
the army that had won the land. The West Fincastle troops, from
the lower settlements of the Clinch and Holston valleys, were to
return by the Kentucky River, while those from the upper valley
would take the shorter way up Sandy Creek. To keep them in
provisions during the journey it was ordered that hunters be sent
out along these routes to kill and barbecue meat and place it on
scaffolds at appropriate spots.

The way home by the Kentucky was a long road for weary and
wounded men with hunger gnawing under their belts. We know who
swung out along the trail to provide for that little band,
"dressed in deerskins colored black, and his hair plaited and
bobbed up." It was Daniel Boone--now, by popular demand, Captain
Boone--just "discharged from Service," since the valley forts
needed him no longer. Once more only a hunter, he went his way
over Walden Mountain--past his son's grave marking the place
where HE had been turned back--to serve the men who had opened
the gates.

Chapter VII. The Dark And Bloody Ground

With the coming of spring Daniel Boone's desire, so long
cherished and deferred, to make a way for his neighbors through
the wilderness was to be fulfilled at last. But ere his ax could
slash the thickets from the homeseekers' path, more than two
hundred settlers had entered Kentucky by the northern waterways.
Eighty or more of these settled at Harrodsburg, where Harrod was
laying out his town on a generous plan, with "in-lots" of half an
acre and "out-lots" of larger size. Among those associated with
Harrod was George Rogers Clark, who had surveyed claims for
himself during the year before the war.

While over two hundred colonists were picking out home sites
wherever their pleasure or prudence dictated, a gigantic land
promotion scheme--involving the very tracts where they were
sowing their first corn--was being set afoot in North Carolina by
a body of men who figure in the early history of Kentucky as the
Transylvania Company. The leader of this organization was Judge
Richard Henderson.* Judge Henderson dreamed a big dream. His
castle in the air had imperial proportions. He resolved, in
short, to purchase from the Cherokee Indians the larger part of
Kentucky and to establish there a colony after the manner and the
economic form of the English Lords Proprietors, whose day in
America was so nearly done. Though in the light of history the
plan loses none of its dramatic features, it shows the practical
defects that must surely have prevented its realization. Like
many another Caesar hungering for empire and staking all to win
it, the prospective lord of Kentucky, as we shall see, had left
the human equation out of his calculations.

* Richard Henderson (1734-1785) was the son of the High Sheriff
of Granville County. At first an assistant to his father, he
studied law and soon achieved a reputation by the brilliance of
his mind and the magnetism of his personality. As presiding Judge
at Hillsborough he had come into conflict with the violent
element among the Regulators, who had driven him from the court
and burned his house and barns. For some time prior to his
elevation to the bench, he had been engaged in land speculations.
One of Boone's biographers suggests that Boone may have been
secretly acting as Henderson's agent during his first lonely
explorations of Kentucky. However this may be, it does not appear
that Boone and his Yadkin neighbors were acting with Henderson
when in September, 1773, they made their first attempt to enter
Kentucky as settlers.

Richard Henderson had known Daniel Boone on the Yadkin; and it
was Boone's detailed reports of the marvelous richness and beauty
of Kentucky which had inspired him to formulate his gigantic
scheme and had enabled him also to win to his support several men
of prominence in the Back Country. To sound the Cherokees
regarding the purchase and to arrange, if possible, for a
conference, Henderson dispatched Boone to the Indian towns in the
early days of 1775.

Since we have just learned that Dunmore's War compelled the
Shawanoes and their allies to relinquish their right to Kentucky,
that, both before and after that event, government surveyors were
in the territory surveying for the soldiers' claims, and that
private individuals had already laid out town sites and staked
holdings, it may be asked what right of ownership the Cherokees
possessed in Kentucky, that Henderson desired to purchase it of
them. The Indian title to Kentucky seems to have been hardly less
vague to the red men than it was to the whites. Several of the
nations had laid claim to the territory. As late as 1753, it will
be remembered, the Shawanoes had occupied a town at Blue Licks,
for John Findlay had been taken there by some of them. But,
before Findlay guided Boone through the Gap in 1769, the
Shawanoes had been driven out by the Iroquois, who claimed
suzerainty over them as well as over the Cherokees. In 1768, the
Iroquois had ceded Kentucky to the British Crown by the treaty of
Fort Stanwix; whereupon the Cherokees had protested so
vociferously that the Crown's Indian agent, to quiet them, had
signed a collateral agreement with them. Though claimed by many,
Kentucky was by common consent not inhabited by any of the
tribes. It was the great Middle Ground where the Indians hunted.
It was the Warriors' Path over which they rode from north and
south to slaughter and where many of their fiercest encounters
took place. However shadowy the title which Henderson purposed to
buy, there was one all-sufficing reason why he must come to terms
with the Cherokees: their northernmost towns in Tennessee lay
only fifty or sixty miles below Cumberland Gap and hence
commanded the route over which he must lead colonists into his
empire beyond the hills.

The conference took place early in March, 1775, at the Sycamore
Shoals of the Watauga River. Twelve hundred Indians, led by their
"town chiefs"--among whom were the old warrior and the old
statesman of their nation, Oconostota and Attakullakulla--came to
the treaty grounds and were received by Henderson and his
associates and several hundred white men who were eager for a
chance to settle on new lands. Though Boone was now on his way
into Kentucky for the Transylvania Company, other border leaders
of renown or with their fame still to win were present, and among
them James Robertson, of serious mien, and that blond gay knight
in buckskin, John Sevier.

It is a dramatic picture we evolve for ourselves from the meager
narratives of this event--a mass of painted Indians moving
through the sycamores by the bright water, to come presently into
a tense, immobile semicircle before the large group of armed
frontiersmen seated or standing about Richard Henderson, the man
with the imperial dream, the ready speaker whose flashing eyes
and glowing oratory won the hearts of all who came under their
sway. What though the Cherokee title be a flimsy one at best and
the price offered for it a bagatelle! The spirit of Forward
March! is there in that great canvas framed by forest and sky.
The somber note that tones its lustrous color, as by a sweep of
the brush, is the figure of the Chickamaugan chief, Dragging
Canoe, warrior and seer and hater of white men, who urges his
tribesmen against the sale and, when they will not hearken,
springs from their midst into the clear space before Henderson
and his band of pioneers and, pointing with uplifted arm, warns
them that a dark cloud hangs over the land the white man covets
which to the red man has long been a bloody ground.*

* This utterance of Dragging Canoe's is generally supposed to be
the origin of the descriptive phrase applied to Kentucky--"the
Dark and Bloody Ground." See Roosevelt, "The Winning of the
West," vol. I, p.229.

The purchase, finally consummated, included the country lying
between the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers almost all the present
State of Kentucky, with the adjacent land watered by the
Cumberland River and its tributaries, except certain lands
previously leased by the Indians to the Watauga Colony. The tract
comprised about twenty million acres and extended into Tennessee.

Daniel Boone's work was to cut out a road for the wagons of the
Transylvania Company's colonists to pass over. This was to be
done by slashing away the briers and underbrush hedging the
narrow Warriors' Path that made a direct northward line from
Cumberland Gap to the Ohio bank, opposite the mouth of the Scioto
River. Just prior to the conference Boone and "thirty guns" had
set forth from the Holston to prepare the road and to build a
fort on whatever site he should select.

By April, Henderson and his first group of tenants were on the
trail. In Powell's Valley they came up with a party of Virginians
Kentucky bound, led by Benjamin Logan; and the two bands joined
together for the march. They had not gone far when they heard
disquieting news. After leaving Martin's Station, at the gates of
his new domain, Henderson received a letter from Boone telling of
an attack by Indians, in which two of his men had been killed,
but "we stood on the ground and guarded our baggage till the day
and lost nothing."* These tidings, indicating that despite
treaties and sales, the savages were again on the warpath, might
well alarm Henderson's colonists. While they halted, some
indecisive, others frankly for retreat, there appeared a company
of men making all haste out of Kentucky because of Indian unrest.
Six of these Henderson persuaded to turn again and go in with
him; but this addition hardly offset the loss of those members of
his party who thought it too perilous to proceed. Henderson's own
courage did not falter. He had staked his all on this stupendous
venture and for him it was forward to wealth and glory or retreat
into poverty and eclipse. Boone, in the heart of the danger, was
making the same stand. "If we give way to them [the Indians]
now," he wrote, "it will ever be the case."

* Bogart, "Daniel Boone and the Hunters of Kentucky." p. 121.

Signs of discord other than Indian opposition met Henderson as he
resolutely pushed on. His conversations with some of the
fugitives from Kentucky disclosed the first indications of the
storm that was to blow away the empire he was going in to found.
He told them that the claims they had staked in Kentucky would
not hold good with the Transylvania Company. Whereupon James
McAfee, who was leading a group of returning men, stated his
opinion that the Transylvania Company's claim would not hold good
with Virginia. After the parley, three of McAfee's brothers
turned back and went with Henderson's party, but whether with
intent to join his colony or to make good their own claims is not
apparent. Benjamin Logan continued amicably with Henderson on the
march but did not recognize him as Lord Proprietor of Kentucky.
He left the Transylvania caravan shortly after entering the
territory, branched off in the direction of Harrodsburg, and
founded St. Asaph's Station, in the present Lincoln County,
independently of Henderson though the site lay within Henderson's

Notwithstanding delays and apprehensions, Henderson and his
colonists finally reached Boone's Fort, which Daniel and his
"thirty guns"--lacking two since the Indian encounter--had
erected at the mouth of Otter Creek.

An attractive buoyancy of temperament is revealed in Henderson's
description in his journal of a giant elm with tall straight
trunk and even foliage that shaded a space of one hundred feet.
Instantly he chose this "divine elm" as the council chamber of
Transylvania. Under its leafage he read the constitution of the
new colony. It would be too great a stretch of fancy to call it a
democratic document, for it was not that, except in deft phrases.
Power was certainly declared to be vested in the people; but the
substance of power remained in the hands of the Proprietors.

Terms for land grants were generous enough in the beginning,
although Henderson made the fatal mistake of demanding
quitrents--one of the causes of dissatisfaction which had led to
the Regulators' rising in North Carolina. In September he
augmented this error by more than doubling the price of land,
adding a fee of eight shillings for surveying, and reserving to
the Proprietors one-half of all gold, silver, lead, and sulphur
found on the land. No land near sulphur springs or showing
evidences of metals was to be granted to settlers. Moreover, at
the Company's store the prices charged for lead were said to be
too high--lead being necessary for hunting, and hunting being the
only means of procuring food--while the wages of labor, as fixed
by the Company, were too low. These terms bore too heavily on
poor men who were risking their lives in the colony.

Hence newcomers passed by Boonesborough, as the Transylvania
settlement was presently called, and went elsewhere. They settled
on Henderson's land but refused his terms. They joined in their
sympathies with James Harrod, who, having established Harrodsburg
in the previous year at the invitation of Virginia, was not in
the humor to acknowledge Henderson's claim or to pay him tribute.
All were willing to combine with the Transylvania Company for
defense, and to enforce law they would unite in bonds of
brotherhood in Kentucky, even as they had been one with each
other on the earlier frontier now left behind them. But they
would call no man master; they had done with feudalism. That
Henderson should not have foreseen this, especially after the
upheaval in North Carolina, proves him, in spite of all his
brilliant gifts, to have been a man out of touch with the spirit
of the time.

The war of the Revolution broke forth and the Indians descended
upon the Kentucky stations. Defense was the one problem in all
minds, and defense required powder and lead in plenty. The
Transylvania Company was not able to provide the means of defense
against the hordes of savages whom Henry Hamilton, the British
Governor at Detroit, was sending to make war on the frontiers.
Practical men like Harrod and George Rogers Clark--who, if not a
practical man in his own interests, was a most practical
soldier--saw that unification of interests within the territory
with the backing of either Virginia or Congress was necessary.
Clark personally would have preferred to see the settlers combine
as a freemen's state. It was plain that they would not combine
and stake their lives as a unit to hold Kentucky for the benefit
of the Transylvania Company, whose authority some of the most
prominent men in the territory had refused to recognize. The
Proprietary of Transylvania could continue to exist only to the
danger of every life in Kentucky.

While the Proprietors sent a delegate to the Continental Congress
to win official recognition for Transylvania, eighty-four men at
Harrodsburg drew up a petition addressed to Virginia stating
their doubts of the legality of Henderson's title and requesting
Virginia to assert her authority according to the stipulations of
her charter. That defense was the primary and essential motive of
the Harrodsburg Remonstrance seems plain, for when George Rogers
Clark set off on foot with one companion to lay the document
before the Virginian authorities, he also went to plead for a
load of powder. In his account of that hazardous journey, as a
matter of fact, he makes scant reference to Transylvania, except
to say that the greed of the Proprietors would soon bring the
colony to its end, but shows that his mind was seldom off the
powder. It is a detail of history that the Continental Congress
refused to seat the delegate from Transylvania. Henderson himself
went to Virginia to make the fight for his land before the

* In 1778 Virginia disallowed Henderson's title but granted him
two hundred thousand acres between the Green and Kentucky rivers
for his trouble and expense in opening up the country.

The magnetic center of Boonesborough's life was the lovable and
unassuming Daniel Boone. Soon after the building of the fort
Daniel had brought in his wife and family. He used often to state
with a mild pride that his wife and daughters were the first
white women to stand on the banks of the Kentucky River. That
pride had not been unmixed with anxiety; his daughter Jemima and
two daughters of his friend, Richard Galloway, while boating on
the river had been captured by Shawanoes and carried off. Boone,
accompanied by the girls' lovers and by John Floyd (eager to
repay his debt of life-saving to Boone) had pursued them, tracing
the way the captors had taken by broken twigs and scraps of dress
goods which one of the girls had contrived to leave in their
path, had come on the Indians unawares, killed them, and
recovered the three girls unhurt.

In the summer of 1776, Virginia took official note of "Captain
Boone of Boonesborough," for she sent him a small supply of
powder. The men of the little colony, which had begun so
pretentiously with its constitution and assembly, were now
obliged to put all other plans aside and to concentrate on the
question of food and defense. There was a dangerous scarcity of
powder and lead. The nearest points at which these necessaries
could be procured were the Watauga and Holston River settlements,
which were themselves none too well stocked. Harrod and Logan,
some time in 1777, reached the Watauga fort with three or four
packhorses and filled their packs from Sevier's store; but, as
they neared home, they were detected by red scouts and Logan was
badly wounded before he and Harrod were able to drive their
precious load safely through the gates at Harrodsburg. In the
autumn of 1777, Clark, with a boatload of ammunition, reached
Maysville on the Ohio, having successfully run the gauntlet
between banks in possession of the foe. He had wrested the powder
and lead from the Virginia Council by threats to the effect that
if Virginia was so willing to lose Kentucky--for of course "a
country not worth defending is not worth claiming"--he and his
fellows were quite ready to take Kentucky for themselves and to
hold it with their swords against all comers, Virginia included.
By even such cogent reasoning had he convinced the Council--which
had tried to hedge by expressing doubts that Virginia would
receive the Kentucky settlers as "citizens of the State"--that it
would be cheaper to give him the powder.

Because so many settlers had fled and the others had come closer
together for their common good, Harrodsburg and Boonesborough
were now the only occupied posts in Kentucky. Other settlements,
once, thriving, were abandoned; and, under the terror, the Wild
reclaimed them. In April, 1777, Boonesborough underwent its first
siege. Boone, leading a sortie, was shot and he fell with a
shattered ankle. An Indian rushed upon him and was swinging the
tomahawk over him when Simon Kenton, giant frontiersman and hero
of many daring deeds, rushed forward, shot the Indian, threw
Boone across his back, and fought his way desperately to safety.
It was some months ere Boone was his nimble self again. But
though he could not "stand up to the guns," he directed all
operations from his cabin.

The next year Boone was ready for new ventures growing from the
settlers' needs. Salt was necessary to preserve meat through the
summer. Accordingly Boone and twenty-seven men went up to the Blue
Licks in February, 1778, to replenish their supply by the simple
process of boiling the salt water of the Licks till the saline
particles adhered to the kettles. Boone was returning alone, with
a pack-horse load of salt and game, when a blinding snowstorm
overtook him and hid from view four stealthy Shawanoes on his
trail. He was seized and carried to a camp of 120 warriors led by
the French Canadian, Dequindre, and James and George Girty, two
white renegades. Among the Indians were some of those who had
captured him on his first exploring trip through Kentucky and
whom he had twice given the slip. Their hilarity was unbounded.
Boone quickly learned that this band was on its way to surprise
Boonesborough. It was a season when Indian attacks were not
expected; nearly threescore of the men were at the salt spring
and, to make matters worse, the walls of the new fort where the
settlers and their families had gathered were as yet completed on
only three sides. Boonesborough was, in short, well-nigh
defenseless. To turn the Indians from their purpose, Boone
conceived the desperate scheme of offering to lead them to the
salt makers' camp with the assurance that he and his companions
were willing to join the tribe. He understood Indians well enough
to feel sure that once possessed of nearly thirty prisoners, the
Shawanoes would not trouble further about Boonesborough but would
hasten to make a triumphal entry into their own towns. That some,
perhaps all, of the white men would assuredly die, he knew well;
but it was the only way to save the women and children in
Boonesborough. In spite of Dequindre and the Girtys, who were
leading a military expedition for the reduction of a fort, the
Shawanoes fell in with the suggestion. When they had taken their
prisoners, the more bloodthirsty warriors in the band wanted to
tomahawk them all on the spot. By his diplomatic discourse,
however, Boone dissuaded them, for the time being at least, and
the whole company set off for the towns on the Little Miami.

The weather became severe, very little game crossed their route,
and for days they subsisted on slippery elm bark. The lovers of
blood did not hold back their scalping knives and several of the
prisoners perished; but Black Fish, the chief then of most power
in Shawanoe councils, adopted Boone as his son, and gave him the
name of Sheltowee, or Big Turtle. Though watched zealously to
prevent escape, Big Turtle was treated with every consideration
and honor; and, as we would say today, he played the game. He
entered into the Indian life with apparent zest, took part in
hunts and sports and the races and shooting matches in which the
Indians delighted, but he was always careful not to outrun or
outshoot his opponents. Black Fish took him to Detroit when some
of the tribe escorted the remainder of the prisoners to the
British post. There he met Governor Hamilton and, in the hope of
obtaining his liberty, he led that dignitary to believe that he
and the other people of Boonesborough were eager to move to
Detroit and take refuge under the British flag.* It is said that
Boone always carried in a wallet round his neck the King's
commission given him in Dunmore's War; and that he exhibited it
to Hamilton to bear out his story. Hamilton sought to ransom him
from the Indians, but Black Fish would not surrender his new son.
The Governor gave Boone a pony, with saddle and trappings, and
other presents, including trinkets to be used in procuring his
needs and possibly his liberty from the Shawanoes.

* So well did Boone play his part that he aroused suspicion even
in those who knew him best. After his return to Boonesborough his
old friend, Calloway, formally accused him of treachery on two
counts: that Boone had betrayed the salt makers to the Indians
and had planned to betray Boonesborough to the British. Boone was
tried and acquitted. His simple explanation of his acts satisfied
the court-martial and made him a greater hero than ever among the
frontier folk.

Black Fish then took his son home to Chillicothe. Here Boone
found Delawares and Mingos assembling with the main body of the
Shawanoe warriors. The war belt was being carried through the
Ohio country. Again Boonesborough and Harrodsburg were to be the
first settlements attacked. To escape and give warning was now
the one purpose that obsessed Boone. He redoubled his efforts to
throw the Indians off their guard. He sang and whistled blithely
about the camp at the mouth of the Scioto River, whither he had
accompanied his Indian father to help in the salt boiling. In
short, he seemed so very happy that one day Black Fish took his
eye off him for a few moments to watch the passing of a flock of
turkeys. Big Turtle passed with the flock, leaving no trace. To
his lamenting parent it must have seemed as though he had
vanished into the air. Daniel crossed the Ohio and ran the 160
miles to Boonesborough in four days, during which time he had
only one meal, from a buffalo he shot at the Blue Licks. When he
reached the fort after an absence of nearly five months, he found
that his wife had given him up for dead and had returned to the

Boone now began with all speed to direct preparations to
withstand a siege. Owing to the Indian's leisurely system of
councils and ceremonies before taking the warpath, it was not
until the first week in September that Black Fish's painted
warriors, with some Frenchmen under Dequindre, appeared before
Boonesborough. Nine days the siege lasted and was the longest in
border history. Dequindre, seeing that the fort might not be
taken, resorted to trickery. He requested Boone and a few of his
men to come out for a parley, saying that his orders from
Hamilton were to protect the lives of the Americans as far as
possible. Boone's friend, Calloway, urged against acceptance of
the apparently benign proposal which was made, so Dequindre
averred, for "bienfaisance et humanite." But the words were the
words of a white man, and Boone hearkened to them. With eight of
the garrison he went out to the parley. After a long talk in
which good will was expressed on both sides, it was suggested by
Black Fish that they all shake hands and, as there were so many
more Indians than white men, two Indians should, of course, shake
hands with one white man, each grasping one of his hands. The
moment that their hands gripped, the trick was clear, for the
Indians exerted their strength to drag off the white men.
Desperate scuffling ensued in which the whites with difficulty
freed themselves and ran for the fort. Calloway had prepared for
emergencies. The pursuing Indians were met with a deadly fire.
After a defeated attempt to mine the fort the enemy withdrew.

The successful defense of Boonesborough was an achievement of
national importance, for had Boonesborough fallen, Harrodsburg
alone could not have stood. The Indians under the British would
have overrun Kentucky; and George Rogers Clark--whose base for
his Illinois operations was the Kentucky forts--could not have
made the campaigns which wrested the Northwest from the control
of Great Britain.

Again Virginia took official note of Captain Boone when in 1779
the Legislature established Boonesborough "a town for the
reception of traders" and appointed Boone himself one of the
trustees to attend to the sale and registration of lots. An odd
office that was for Daniel, who never learned to attend to the
registration of his own; he declined it. His name appears again,
however, a little later when Virginia made the whole of Kentucky
one of her counties with the following officers: Colonel David
Robinson, County Lieutenant; George Rogers Clark, Anthony
Bledsoe, and John Bowman, Majors; Daniel Boone, James Harrod,
Benjamin Logan, and John Todd, Captains.

Boonesborough's successful resistance caused land speculators as
well as prospective settlers to take heart of grace. Parties made
their way to Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and even to the Falls of
the Ohio, where Clark's fort and blockhouses now stood. In the
summer of 1779 Clark had erected on the Kentucky side of the
river a large fort which became the nucleus of the town of
Louisville. Here, while he was eating his heart out with
impatience for money and men to enable him to march to the attack
of Detroit, as he had planned, he amused himself by drawing up
plans for a city. He laid out private sections and public parks
and contemplated the bringing in of families only to inhabit his
city, for, oddly enough, he who never married was going to make
short shift of mere bachelors in his City Beautiful. Between pen
scratches, no doubt, he looked out frequently upon the river to
descry if possible a boatload of ammunition or the banners of the
troops he had been promised.

When neither appeared, he gave up the idea of Detroit and set
about erecting defenses on the southern border, for the Choctaws
and Cherokees, united under a white leader named Colbert, were
threatening Kentucky by way of the Mississippi. He built in 1780
Fort Jefferson in what is now Ballard County, and had barely
completed the new post and garrisoned it with about thirty men
when it was besieged by Colbert and his savages. The Indians,
assaulting by night, were lured into a position directly before a
cannon which poured lead into a mass of them. The remainder fled
in terror from the vicinity of the fort; but Colbert succeeded in
rallying them and was returning to the attack when he suddenly
encountered Clark with a company of men and was forced to abandon
his enterprise.

Clark knew that the Ohio Indians would come down on the
settlements again during the summer and that to meet their
onslaughts every man in Kentucky would be required. He learned
that there was a new influx of land seekers over the Wilderness
Road and that speculators were doing a thriving business in
Harrodsburg; so, leaving his company to protect Fort Jefferson,
he took two men with him and started across the wilds on foot for
Harrodsburg. To evade the notice of the Indian bands which were
moving about the country the three stripped and painted
themselves as warriors and donned the feathered headdress. So
successful was their disguise that they were fired on by a party
of surveyors near the outskirts of Harrodsburg.

The records do not state what were the sensations of certain
speculators in a land office in Harrodsburg when a blue-eyed
savage in a war bonnet sprang through the doorway and, with
uplifted weapon, declared the office closed; but we get a hint of
the power of Clark's personality and of his genius for dominating
men from the terse report that he "enrolled" the speculators. He
was informed that another party of men, more nervous than these,
was now on its way out of Kentucky. In haste he dispatched a
dozen frontiersmen to cut the party off at Crab Orchard and take
away the gun of every man who refused to turn back and do his bit
for Kentucky. To Clark a man was a gun, and he meant that every
gun should do its duty.

The leaders and pioneers of the Dark and Bloody Ground were now
warriors, all under Clark's command, while for two years longer
the Red Terror ranged Kentucky, falling with savage force now
here, now there. In the first battle of 1780, at the Blue Licks,
Daniel's brother, Edward Boone, was killed and scalped. Later on
in the war his second son, Israel, suffered a like fate. The toll
of life among the settlers was heavy. Many of the best-known
border leaders were slain. Food and powder often ran short. Corn
might be planted, but whether it would be harvested or not the
planters never knew; and the hunter's rifle shot, necessary
though it was, proved only too often an invitation to the lurking
foe. But sometimes, through all the dangers of forest and trail,
Daniel Boone slipped away silently to Harrodsburg to confer with
Clark; or Clark himself, in the Indian guise that suited the wild
man in him not ill, made his way to and from the garrisons which
looked to him for everything.

Twice Clark gathered together the "guns" of Kentucky and,
marching north into the enemy's country, swept down upon the
Indian towns of Piqua and Chillicothe and razed them. In 1782, in
the second of these enterprises, his cousin, Joseph Rogers, who
had been taken prisoner and adopted by the Indians and then wore
Indian garb, was shot down by one of Clark's men. On this
expedition Boone and Harrod are said to have accompanied Clark.

The ever present terror and horror of those days, especially of
the two years preceding this expedition, are vividly suggested by
the quaint remark of an old woman who had lived through them, as
recorded for us by a traveler. The most beautiful sight she had
seen in Kentucky, she said, was a young man dying a natural death
in his bed. Dead but unmarred by hatchet or scalping knife, he
was so rare and comely a picture that the women of the post sat
up all night looking at him.

But, we ask, what golden emoluments were showered by a grateful
country on the men who thus held the land through those years of
want and war, and saved an empire for the Union? What practical
recognition was there of these brave and unselfish men who daily
risked their lives and faced the stealth and cruelty lurking in
the wilderness ways? There is meager eloquence in the records.
Here, for instance, is a letter from George Rogers Clark to the
Governor of Virginia, dated May 27, 1783:

"Sir. Nothing but necessity could induce me to make the following
request to Your Excellency, which is to grant me a small sum of
money on account; as I can assure you, Sir, that I am exceedingly
distressed for the want of necessary clothing etc and don't know
any channel through which I could procure any except of the
Executive. The State I believe will fall considerably in my debt.
Any supplies which Your Excellency favors me with might be
deducted out of my accounts."*

* "Calendar of Virginia State Papers," vol. III, p. 487.

Clark had spent all his own substance and all else he could beg,
borrow--or appropriate--in the conquest of Illinois and the
defense of Kentucky. His only reward from Virginia was a grant of
land from which he realized nothing, and dismissal from her
service when she needed him no longer.

All that Clark had asked for himself was a commission in the
Continental Army. This was denied him, as it appears now, not
through his own errors, which had not at that time taken hold on
him, but through the influence of powerful enemies. It is said
that both Spain and England, seeing a great soldier without
service for his sword, made him offers, which he refused. As long
as any acreage remained to him on which to raise money, he
continued to pay the debts he had contracted to finance his
expeditions, and in this course he had the assistance of his
youngest brother, William, to whom he assigned his Indiana grant.

His health impaired by hardship and exposure and his heart broken
by his country's indifference, Clark sank into alcoholic
excesses. In his sixtieth year, just six years before his death,
and when he was a helpless paralytic, he was granted a pension of
four hundred dollars. There is a ring of bitter irony in the
words with which he accepted the sword sent him by Virginia in
his crippled old age: "When Virginia needed a sword I gave her
one." He died near Louisville on February 13, 1818.

Kentucky was admitted to the Union in 1792. But even before
Kentucky became a State her affairs, particularly as to land,
were arranged, let us say, on a practical business basis. Then it
was discovered that Daniel Boone had no legal claim to any foot
of ground in Kentucky. Daniel owned nothing but the clothes he
wore; and for those--as well as for much powder, lead, food, and
such trifles--he was heavily in debt.

So, in 1788, Daniel Boone put the list of his debts in his
wallet, gathered his wife and his younger sons about him, and,
shouldering his hunter's rifle, once more turned towards the
wilds. The country of the Great Kanawha in West Virginia was
still a wilderness, and a hunter and trapper might, in some
years, earn enough to pay his debts. For others, now, the paths
he had hewn and made safe; for Boone once more the wilderness

Chapter VIII. Tennessee

Indian law, tradition, and even superstition had shaped the
conditions which the pioneers faced when they crossed the
mountains. This savage inheritance had decreed that Kentucky
should be a dark and bloody ground, fostering no life but that of
four-footed beasts, its fertile sod never to stir with the green
push of the corn. And so the white men who went into Kentucky to
build and to plant went as warriors go, and for every cabin they
erected they battled as warriors to hold a fort. In the first
years they planted little corn and reaped less, for it may be
said that their rifles were never out of their hands. We have
seen how stations were built and abandoned until but two stood.
Untiring vigilance and ceaseless warfare were the price paid by
the first Kentuckians ere they turned the Indian's place of
desolation and death into a land productive and a living

Herein lies the difference, slight apparently, yet significant,
between the first Kentucky and the first Tennessee* colonies.
Within the memory of the Indians only one tribe had ever
attempted to make their home in Kentucky--a tribe of the fighting
Shawanoes--and they had been terribly chastised for their
temerity. But Tennessee was the home of the Cherokees, and at
Chickasaw Bluffs (Memphis) began the southward trail to the
principal towns of the Chickasaws. By the red man's fiat, then,
human life might abide in Tennessee, though not in Kentucky, and
it followed that in seasons of peace the frontiersmen might
settle in Tennessee. So it was that as early as 1757, before the
great Cherokee war, a company of Virginians under Andrew Lewis
had, on an invitation from the Indians, erected Fort Loudon near
Great Telliko, the Cherokees' principal town, and that, after the
treaty of peace in 1761, Waddell and his rangers of North
Carolina had erected a fort on the Holston.

* Tennessee. The name, Ten-as-se, appears on Adair's map as one
of the old Cherokee towns. Apparently neither the meaning nor the
reason why the colonists called both state and river by this name
has been handed down to us.

Though Fort Loudon had fallen tragically during the war, and
though Waddell's fort had been abandoned, neither was without
influence in the colonization of Tennessee, for some of the men
who built these forts drifted back a year or two later and setup
the first cabins on the Holston. These earliest settlements, thin
and scattered, did not survive; but in 1768 the same settlers or
others of their kind--discharged militiamen from Back Country
regiments--once more made homes on the Holston. They were joined
by a few families from near the present Raleigh, North Carolina,
who had despaired of seeing justice done to the tenants on the
mismanaged estates of Lord Granville. About the same time there
was erected the first cabin on the Watauga River, as is generally
believed, by a man of the name of William Bean (or Been), hunter
and frontier soldier from Pittsylvania County, Virginia. This
man, who had hunted on the Watauga with Daniel Boone in 1760,
chose as the site of his dwelling the place of the old hunting
camp near the mouth of Boone's Creek. He soon began to have

Meanwhile the Regulation Movement stirred the Back Country of
both the Carolinas. In 1768, the year in which William Bean built
his cabin on the bank of the Watauga, five hundred armed
Regulators in North Carolina, aroused by irregularities in the
conduct of public office, gathered to assert their displeasure,
but dispersed peaceably on receipt of word from Governor Tryon
that he had ordered the prosecution of any officer found guilty
of extortion. Edmund Fanning, the most hated of Lord Granville's
agents, though convicted, escaped punishment. Enraged at this
miscarriage of justice, the Regulators began a system of
terrorization by taking possession of the court, presided over by
Richard Henderson. The judge himself was obliged to slip out by a
back way to avoid personal injury. The Regulators burned his
house and stable. They meted out mob treatment likewise to
William Hooper, later one of the signers of the Declaration of

Two elements, with antithetical aims, had been at work in the
Regulation; and the unfortunate failure of justice in the case of
Fanning had given the corrupt element its opportunity to seize
control. In the petitions addressed to Governor Tryon by the
leaders of the movement in its earlier stages the aims of
liberty-loving thinkers are traceable. It is worthy of note that
they included in their demands articles which are now
constitutional. They desired that "suffrage be given by ticket
and ballot"; that the mode of taxation be altered, and each
person be taxed in proportion to the profits arising from his
estate; that judges and clerks be given salaries instead of
perquisites and fees. They likewise petitioned for repeal of the
act prohibiting dissenting ministers from celebrating the rites
of matrimony. The establishment of these reforms, the petitioners
of the Regulation concluded, would "conciliate" their minds to
"every just measure of government, and would make the laws what
the Constitution ever designed they should be, their protection
and not their bane." Herein clearly enough we can discern the
thought and the phraseology of the Ulster Presbyterians.

But a change took place in both leaders and methods. During the
Regulators' career of violence they were under the sway of an
agitator named Hermon Husband. This demagogue was reported to
have been expelled from the Quaker Society for cause; it is on
record that he was expelled from the North Carolina Assembly
because a vicious anonymous letter was traced to him. He deserted
his dupes just before the shots cracked at Alamance Creek and
fled from the colony. He was afterwards apprehended in
Pennsylvania for complicity in the Whisky Insurrection.

Four of the leading Presbyterian ministers of the Back Country
issued a letter in condemnation of the Regulators. One of these
ministers was the famous David Caldwell, son-in-law of the
Reverend Alexander Craighead, and a man who knew the difference
between liberty and license and who proved himself the bravest of
patriots in the War of Independence. The records of the time
contain sworn testimony against the Regulators by Waightstill
Avery, a signer of the Mecklenburg Resolves, who later presided
honorably over courts in the western circuit of Tennessee; and
there is evidence indicating Jacobite and French intrigue. That
Governor Tryon recognized a hidden hand at work seems clearly
revealed in his proclamation addressed to those "whose
understandings have been run away with and whose passions have
been led in captivity by some evil designing men who, actuated by
cowardice and a sense of that Publick Justice which is due to
their Crimes, have obscured themselves from Publick view." What
the Assembly thought of the Regulators was expressed in 1770 in a
drastic bill which so shocked the authorities in England that
instructions were sent forbidding any Governor to approve such a
bill in future, declaring it "a disgrace to the British Statute

On May 16, 1771, some two thousand Regulators were precipitated
by Husband into the Battle of Alamance, which took place in a
district settled largely by a rough and ignorant type of Germans,
many of whom Husband had lured to swell his mob. Opposed to him,
were eleven hundred of Governor Tryon's troops, officered by such
patriots as Griffith Rutherford, Hugh Waddell, and Francis Nash.
During an hour's engagement about twenty Regulators were killed,
while the Governor's troops had nine killed and sixty-one
wounded. Six of the leaders were hanged. The rest took the oath
of allegiance which Tryon administered.

It has been said about the Regulators that they were not cast
down by their defeat at Alamance but "like the mammoth, they
shook the bolt from their brow and crossed the mountains," but
such flowery phrases do not seem to have been inspired by facts.
Nor do the records show that "fifteen hundred Regulators"
arrived at Watauga in 1771, as has also been stated. Nor are the
names of the leaders of the Regulation to be found in the list of
signatures affixed to the one "state paper" of Watauga which was
preserved and written into historic annals. Nor yet do those
names appear on the roster of the Watauga and Holston men who, in
1774, fought with Shelby under Andrew Lewis in the Battle of
Point Pleasant. The Boones and the Bryans, the Robertsons, the
Seviers, the Shelbys, the men who opened up the West and shaped
the destiny of its inhabitants, were genuine freemen, with a
sense of law and order as inseparable from liberty. They would
follow a Washington but not a Hermon Husband.

James Hunter, whose signature leads on all Regulation manifestoes
just prior to the Battle of Alamance, was a sycophant of Husband,
to whom he addressed fulsome letters; and in the real battle for
democracy--the War of Independence--he was a Tory. The Colonial
Records show that those who, "like the mammoth," shook from them
the ethical restraints which make man superior to the giant
beast, and who later bolted into the mountains, contributed
chiefly the lawlessness that harassed the new settlements. They
were the banditti and, in 1776, the Tories of the western hills;
they pillaged the homes of the men who were fighting for the
democratic ideal.

It was not the Regulation Movement which turned westward the
makers of the Old Southwest, but the free and enterprising spirit
of the age. It was emphatically an age of doers; and if men who
felt the constructive urge in them might not lay hold on
conditions where they were and reshape them, then they must go
forward seeking that environment which would give their genius
its opportunity.

Of such adventurous spirits was James Robertson, a Virginian born
of Ulster Scot parentage, and a resident of (the present) Wake
County, North Carolina, since his boyhood. Robertson was
twenty-eight years old when, in 1770, he rode over the hills to
Watauga. We can imagine him as he was then, for the portrait
taken much later in life shows the type of face that does not
change. It is a high type combining the best qualities of his
race. Intelligence, strength of purpose, fortitude, and moral
power are there; they impress us at the first glance. At
twenty-eight he must have been a serious young man, little given
to laughter; indeed, spontaneity is perhaps the only good trait
we miss in studying his face. He was a thinker who had not yet
found his purpose--a thinker in leash, for at this time James
Robertson could neither read nor write.

At Watauga, Robertson lived for a while in the cabin of a man
named Honeycut. He chose land for himself and, in accordance with
the custom of the time, sealed his right to it by planting corn.
He remained to harvest his first crop and then set off to gather
his family and some of his friends together and escort them to
the new country. But on the way he missed the trail and wandered
for a fortnight in the mountains. The heavy rains ruined his
powder so that he could not hunt; for food he had only berries
and nuts. At one place, where steep bluffs opposed him, he was
obliged to abandon his horse and scale the mountain side on foot.
He was in extremity when he chanced upon two huntsmen who gave
him food and set him on the trail. If this experience proves his
lack of the hunter's instinct and the woodsman's resourcefulness
which Boone possessed, it proves also his special qualities of
perseverance and endurance which were to reach their zenith in
his successful struggle to colonize and hold western Tennessee.
He returned to Watauga in the following spring (1771) with his
family and a small group of colonists. Robertson's wife was an
educated woman and under her instruction he now began to study.

Next year a young Virginian from the Shenandoah Valley rode on
down Holston Valley on a hunting and exploring trip, and loitered
at Watauga. Here he found not only a new settlement but an
independent government in the making; and forthwith he determined
to have a part in both. This young Virginian had already shown
the inclination of a political colonist, for in the Shenandoah
Valley he had, at the age of nineteen, laid out the town of New
Market (which exists to this day) and had directed its municipal
affairs and invited and fostered its clergy. This young
Virginian--born on September 23, 1745, and so in 1772
twenty-seven years of age--was John Sevier, that John Sevier
whose monument now towers from its site in Knoxville to testify
of both the wild and the great deeds of old Tennessee's beloved
knight. Like Robertson, Sevier hastened home and removed his
whole family, including his wife and children, his parents and
his brothers and sisters, to this new haven of freedom at

The friendship formed between Robertson and Sevier in these first
years of their work together was never broken, yet two more
opposite types could hardly have been brought together. Robertson
was a man of humble origin, unlettered, not a dour Scot but a
solemn one. Sevier was cavalier as well as frontiersman. On his
father's side he was of the patrician family of Xavier in France.
His progenitors, having become Huguenots, had taken refuge in
England, where the name Xavier was finally changed to Sevier.
John Sevier's mother was an Englishwoman. Some years before his
birth his parents had emigrated to the Shenandoah Valley. Thus it
happened that John Sevier, who mingled good English blood with
the blue blood of old France, was born an American and grew up a
frontier hunter and soldier. He stood about five feet nine from
his moccasins to his crown of light brown hair. He was
well-proportioned and as graceful of body as he was hard-muscled
and swift. His chin was firm, his nose of a Roman cast, his mouth
well-shaped, its slightly full lips slanting in a smile that
would not be repressed. Under the high, finely modeled brow,
small keen dark blue eyes sparkled with health, with
intelligence, and with the man's joy in life.

John Sevier indeed cannot be listed as a type; he was individual.
There is no other character like him in border annals. He was
cavalier and prince in his leadership of men; he had their
homage. Yet he knew how to be comrade and brother to the
lowliest. He won and held the confidence and friendship of the
serious-minded Robertson no less than the idolatry of the wildest
spirits on the frontier throughout the forty-three years of the
spectacular career which began for him on the day he brought his
tribe to Watauga. In his time he wore the governor's purple; and
a portrait painted of him shows how well this descendant of the
noble Xaviers could fit himself to the dignity and formal
habiliments of state; Yet in the fringed deerskin of frontier
garb, he was fleeter on the warpath than the Indians who fled
before him; and he could outride and outshoot--and, it is said,
outswear--the best and the worst of the men who followed him.
Perhaps the lurking smile on John Sevier's face was a flicker of
mirth that there should be found any man, red or white, with
temerity enough to try conclusions with him. None ever did,

The historians of Tennessee state that the Wataugans formed their
government in 1772 and that Sevier was one of its five
commissioners. Yet, as Sevier did not settle in Tennessee before
1773, it is possible that the Watauga Association was not formed
until then. Unhappily the written constitution of the little
commonwealth was not preserved; but it is known that, following
the Ulsterman's ideal, manhood suffrage and religious
independence were two of its provisions. The commissioners
enlisted a militia and they recorded deeds for land, issued
marriage licenses, and tried offenders against the law. They
believed themselves to be within the boundaries of Virginia and
therefore adopted the laws of that State for their guidance. They
had numerous offenders to deal with, for men fleeing from debt or
from the consequence of crime sought the new settlements just
across the mountains as a safe and adjacent harbor. The attempt
of these men to pursue their lawlessness in Watauga was one
reason why the Wataugans organized a government.

When the line was run between Virginia and North Carolina beyond
the mountains, Watauga was discovered to be south of Virginia's
limits and hence on Indian lands. This was in conflict with the
King's Proclamation, and Alexander Cameron, British agent to the
Cherokees, accordingly ordered the encroaching settlers to
depart. The Indians, however, desired them to remain. But since
it was illegal to purchase Indian lands, Robertson negotiated a
lease for ten years. In 1775, when Henderson made his purchase
from the Cherokees, at Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga, Robertson
and Sevier, who were present at the sale with other Watauga
commissioners, followed Henderson's example and bought outright
the lands they desired to include in Watauga's domain. In 1776
they petitioned North Carolina for "annexation." As they were
already within North Carolina's bounds, it was recognition rather
than annexation which they sought. This petition, which is the
only Wataugan document to survive, is undated but marked as
received in August, 1776. It is in Sevier's handwriting and its
style suggests that it was composed by him, for in its manner of
expression it has much in common with many later papers from his
pen. That Wataugans were a law-loving community and had formed
their government for the purpose of making law respected is
reiterated throughout the document. As showing the quality of
these first western statemakers, two paragraphs are quoted:

"Finding ourselves on the frontiers, and being apprehensive that
for want of proper legislature we might become a shelter for such
as endeavored to defraud their creditors; considering also the
necessity of recording deeds, wills, and doing other public
business; we, by consent of the people, formed a court for the
purposes above mentioned, taking, by desire of our constituents,
the Virginia laws for our guide, so near as the situation of
affairs would permit. This was intended for ourselves, and WAS

The petition goes on to state that, among their measures for
upholding law, the Wataugans had enlisted "a company of fine
riflemen" and put them under command of "Captain James

"We...thought proper to station them on our frontiers in
defense of the common cause, at the expense and risque of our own
private fortunes, till farther public orders, which we flatter
ourselves will give no offense.... We pray your mature and
deliberate consideration in our behalf, that you may annex us to
your Province (whether as county, district, or other division) in
such manner as may enable us to share in the glorious cause of
Liberty: enforce our laws under authority and in every respect
become the best members of society; and for ourselves and our
constituents we hope we may venture to assure you that we shall
adhere strictly to your determinations, and that nothing will be
lacking or anything neglected that may add weight (in the civil
or military establishments) to the glorious cause in which we are
now struggling, or contribute to the welfare of our own or ages
yet to come."

One hundred and thirteen names are signed to the document. In the
following year (1777) North Carolina erected her overhill
territory into Washington County. The Governor appointed justices
of the peace and militia officers who in the following year
organized the new county and its courts. And so Watauga's
independent government, begun in the spirit of true liberty, came
as lawfully to its end.

But for nearly three years before their political status was thus
determined, the Wataugans were sharing "in the glorious cause of
Liberty" by defending their settlements against Indian attacks.
While the majority of the young Cherokee warriors were among
their enemies, their chief battles were fought with those from
the Chickamaugan towns on the Tennessee River, under the
leadership of Dragging Canoe. The Chickamaugans embraced the more
vicious and bloodthirsty Cherokees, with a mixture of Creeks and
bad whites, who, driven from every law-abiding community, had
cast in their lot with this tribe. The exact number of white
thieves and murderers who had found harbor in the Indian towns
during a score or more of years is not known; but the letters of
the Indian agents, preserved in the records, would indicate that
there were a good many of them. They were fit allies for Dragging
Canoe; their hatred of those from whom their own degeneracy had
separated them was not less than his.

In July, 1776, John Sevier wrote to the Virginia Committee as

"Dear Gentlemen: Isaac Thomas, William Falling, Jaret Williams
and one more have this moment come in by making their escape from
the Indians and say six hundred Indians and whites were to start
for this fort and intend to drive the country up to New River
before they return."

Thus was heralded the beginning of a savage warfare which kept
the borderers engaged for years.

It has been a tradition of the chroniclers that Isaac Thomas
received a timely warning from Nancy Ward, a half-caste Cherokee
prophetess who often showed her good will towards the whites; and
that the Indians were roused to battle by Alexander Cameron and
John Stuart, the British agents or superintendents among the
overhill tribes. There was a letter bearing Cameron's name
stating that fifteen hundred savages from the Cherokee and
Creek nations were to join with British troops landed at
Pensacola in an expedition against the southern frontier
colonies. This letter was brought to Watauga at dead of night by
a masked man who slipped it through a window and rode away.
Apparently John Sevier did not believe the military information
contained in the mysterious missive, for he communicated nothing
of it to the Virginia Committee. In recent years the facts have
come to light. This mysterious letter and others of a similar
tenor bearing forged signatures are cited in a report by the
British Agent, John Stuart, to his Government. It appears that
such inflammatory missives had been industriously scattered
through the back settlements of both Carolinas. There are also
letters from Stuart to Lord Dartmouth, dated a year earlier,
urging that something be done immediately to counteract rumors
set afloat that the British were endeavoring to instigate both
the Indians and the negroes to attack the Americans.

Now it is, of course, an established fact that both the British
and the American armies used Indians in the War of Independence,
even as both together had used them against the French and the
Spanish and their allied Indians. It was inevitable that the
Indians should participate in any severe conflict between the
whites. They were a numerous and a warlike people and, from their
point of view, they had more at stake than the alien whites who
were contesting for control of the red man's continent. Both
British and Americans have been blamed for "half-hearted attempts
to keep the Indians neutral." The truth is that each side strove
to enlist the Indians--to be used, if needed later, as warriors.
Massacre was no part of this policy, though it may have been
countenanced by individual officers in both camps. But it is
obvious that, once the Indians took the warpath, they were to be
restrained by no power and, no matter under whose nominal
command, they would carry on warfare by their own methods.*

* "There is little doubt that either side, British or Americans,
stood ready to enlist the Indians. Already before Boston the
Americans had had the help of the Stockbridge tribe. Washington
found the service committed to the practise when he arrived at
Cambridge early in July. Dunmore had taken the initiative in
securing such allies, at least is purpose; but the insurgent
Virginians had had of late more direct contact with the tribes
and were now striving to secure them but with little success."
"The Westward Movement," by Justin Winsor, p. 87.

General Ethan Allen of Vermont, as his letters show, sent
emissaries into Canada in an endeavor to enlist the French
Canadians and the Canadian Indians against the British in Canada.
See "American Archives," Fourth Series, vol. II, p. 714. The
British General Gage wrote to Lord Dartmouth from Boston, June
18, 1775: "We need not be tender of calling on the Savages as the
rebels have shown us the example, by bringing as many Indians
down against us as they could collect." "American Archives."
Fourth Series, vol. ii, p. 967.

In a letter to Lord Germain, dated August 23, 1776, John Stuart
wrote: "Although Mr. Cameron was in constant danger of
assassination and the Indians were threatened with invasion
should they dare to, protect him, yet he still found means to
prevent their falling on the settlement." See North Carolina
"Colonial Records," vol. X, pp. 608 and 763. Proof that the
British agents had succeeded in keeping the Cherokee neutral till
the summer of 1776 is found in the instructions, dated the 7th of
July, to Major Winston from President Rutledge of South Carolina,
regarding the Cherokees, that they must be forced to give up the
with respect to British Forces they must take part with us
against them." See North Carolina "Colonial Records," vol. X, p.

Whatever may have been the case elsewhere, the attacks on the
Watauga and Holston settlements were not instigated by British
agents. It was not Nancy Ward but Henry Stuart, John Stuart's
deputy, who sent Isaac Thomas to warn the settlers. In their
efforts to keep the friendship of the red men, the British and
the Americans were providing them with powder and lead. The
Indians had run short of ammunition and, since hunting was their
only means of livelihood, they must shoot or starve. South
Carolina sent the Cherokees a large supply of powder and lead
which was captured en route by Tories. About the same time Henry
Stuart set out from Pensacola with another consignment from the
British. His report to Lord Germain of his arrival in the
Chickamaugan towns and of what took place there just prior to the
raids on the Tennessee settlements is one of the most
illuminating as well as one of the most dramatic papers in the
collected records of that time.*

* North Carolina "Colonial Records," vol. X, pp. 763-785.

Stuart's first act was secretly to send out Thomas, the trader,
to warn the settlers of their peril, for a small war party of
braves was even then concluding the preliminary war ceremonies.
The reason for this Indian alarm and projected excursion was the
fact that the settlers had built one fort at least on the Indian
lands. Stuart finally persuaded the Indians to remain at peace
until he could write to the settlers stating the grievances and
asking for negotiations. The letters were to be carried by Thomas
on his return.

But no sooner was Thomas on his way again with the letters than
there arrived a deputation of warriors from the Northern
tribes--from "the Confederate nations, the Mohawks, Ottawas,
Nantucas, Shawanoes and Delawares"--fourteen men in all, who
entered the council hall of the Old Beloved Town of Chota with
their faces painted black and the war belt carried before them.
They said that they had been seventy days on their journey.
Everywhere along their way they had seen houses and forts
springing up like, weeds across the green sod of their hunting
lands. Where once were great herds of deer and buffalo, they had
watched thousands of men at arms preparing for war. So many now
were the white warriors and their women and children that the red
men had been obliged to travel a great way on the other side of
the Ohio and to make a detour of nearly three hundred miles to
avoid being seen. Even on this outlying route they had crossed
the fresh tracks of a great body of people with horses and cattle
going still further towards the setting sun. But their cries were
not to be in vain; for "their fathers, the French" had heard them
and had promised to aid them if they would now strike as one for
their lands.

After this preamble the deputy of the Mohawks rose. He said that
some American people had made war on one of their towns and had
seized the son of their Great Beloved Man, Sir William Johnson,
imprisoned him, and put him to a cruel death; this crime demanded
a great vengeance and they would not cease until they had taken
it. One after another the fourteen delegates rose and made their
"talks" and presented their wampum strings to Dragging Canoe. The
last to speak was a chief of the Shawanoes. He also declared that
"their fathers, the French," who had been so long dead, were
"alive again," that they had supplied them plentifully with arms
and ammunition and had promised to assist them in driving out the
Americans and in reclaiming their country. Now all the Northern
tribes were joined in one for this great purpose; and they
themselves were on their way to all the Southern tribes and had
resolved that, if any tribe refused to join, they would fall upon
and extirpate that tribe, after having overcome the whites. At
the conclusion of his oration the Shawanoe presented the war
belt--nine feet of six-inch wide purple wampum spattered with
vermilion--to Dragging Canoe, who held it extended between his
two hands, in silence, and waited. Presently rose a headman whose
wife had been a member of Sir William Johnson's household. He
laid his hand on the belt and sang the war song. One by one,
then, chiefs and warriors rose, laid hold of the great belt and
chanted the war song. Only the older men, made wise by many
defeats, sat still in their places, mute and dejected. "After
that day every young fellow's face in the overhills towns
appeared blackened and nothing was now talked of but war."

Stuart reports that "all the white men" in the tribe also laid
hands on the belt. Dragging Canoe then demanded that Cameron and
Stuart come forward and take hold of the war belt--"which we
refused." Despite the offense their refusal gave--and it would
seem a dangerous time to give such offense--Cameron delivered a
"strong talk" for peace, warning the Cherokees of what must
surely be the end of the rashness they contemplated. Stuart
informed the chief that if the Indians persisted in attacking the
settlements with out waiting for answers to his letters, he would
not remain with them any longer or bring them any more
ammunition. He went to his house and made ready to leave on the
following day. Early the next morning Dragging Canoe appeared at
his door and told him that the Indians were now very angry about
the letters he had written, which could only have put the
settlers on their guard; and that if any white man attempted to
leave the nation "they had determined to follow him but NOT TO
BRING HIM BACK." Dragging Canoe had painted his face black to
carry this message. Thomas now returned with an answer from "the
West Fincastle men," which was so unsatisfactory to the tribe
that war ceremonies were immediately begun. Stuart and Cameron
could no longer influence the Indians. "All that could now be
done was to give them strict charge not to pass the Boundary
Line, not to injure any of the King's faithful subjects, not to
kill any women and children"; and to threaten to "stop all
ammunition" if they did not obey these orders.

The major part of the Watauga militia went out to meet the
Indians and defeated a large advance force at Long Island Flats
on the Holston. The Watauga fort, where many of the settlers had
taken refuge, contained forty fighting men under Robertson and
Sevier. As Indians usually retreated and waited for a while after
a defeat, those within the fort took it for granted that no
immediate attack was to be expected; and the women went out at
daybreak into the fields to milk the cows. Suddenly the war whoop
shrilled from the edge of the clearing. Red warriors leaped from
the green skirting of the forest. The women ran for the fort.
Quickly the heavy gates swung to and the dropped bar secured
them. Only then did the watchmen discover that one woman had been
shut out. She was a young woman nearing her twenties and, if

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