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The First White Man of the West by Timothy Flint

Part 2 out of 4

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Colonel Calloway, the intimate friend of Boone, had joined him in the
course of the spring, at the fort, which had received, by the consent of
all, the name of Boonesborough. He had two daughters. Captain Boone had
a daughter also, and the three were companions; and, if we may take the
portraits of the rustic time, patterns of youthful bloom and loveliness.
It cannot be doubted that they were inexpressibly dear to their
parents. These girls, at the close of a beautiful summer day, the 14th
of July, were tempted imprudently to wander into the woods at no great
distance from their habitations, to gather flowers with which to adorn
their rustic fire-places. They were suddenly surrounded by half a dozen
Indians. Their shrieks and efforts to flee were alike unavailing. They
were dragged rapidly beyond the power of making themselves heard. As
soon as they were deemed to be beyond the danger of rescue, they were
treated with the utmost indulgence and decorum.

This forbearance, of a race that we are accustomed to call savages, was
by no means accidental, or peculiar to this case. While in battle, they
are unsparing and unrelenting as tigers--while, after the fury of its
excitement is past, they will exult with frantic and demoniac joy in the
cries of their victims expiring at a slow fire--while they dash the
tomahawk with merciless indifference into the cloven skulls of mothers
and infants, they are universally seen to treat captive women with a
decorous forbearance. This strange trait, so little in keeping with
other parts of their character, has been attributed by some to their
want of the sensibilities and passions of our race. The true solution
is, the force of their habits. Honor, as they estimate it, is, with
them, the most sacred and inviolable of all laws. The decorum of
forbearance towards women in their power has been incorporated with
their code as the peculiar honor of a warrior. It is usually kept sacred
and inviolate. Instances are not wanting where they have shown
themselves the most ardent lovers of their captives, and, we may add,
most successful in gaining their voluntary affection in return. Enough
such examples are recorded, were other proofs wanting, to redeem their
forbearance from the negative character resulting from the want of

The captors of these young ladies, having reached the main body of their
people, about a dozen in number, made all the provision in their power
for the comfort of their fair captives. They served them with their best
provisions, and by signs and looks that could not be mistaken, attempted
to soothe their agonies, and quiet their apprehensions and fears. The
parents at the garrison, having waited in vain for the return of their
gay and beloved daughters to prepare their supper, and in torments of
suspense that may easily be imagined, until the evening, became aware
that they were either lost or made captives. They sallied forth in
search of them, and scoured the woods in every direction, without
discovering a trace of them. They were then but too well convinced that
they had been taken by the Indians. Captain Boone and Colonel Calloway,
the agonizing parents of the lost ones, appealed to the company to
obtain volunteers to pursue the Indians, under an oath, if they found
the captors, either to retake their daughters, or die in the attempt.
The oath of Boone on this occasion is recorded: "By the Eternal Power
that made me a father, if my daughter lives, and is found, I will either
bring her back, or spill my life blood." The oath was no sooner uttered
than every individual of the males crowded round Boone to repeat it. But
he reminded them that a part of their number must remain to defend the
station. Seven select persons only were admitted to the oath, along with
the fathers of the captives. The only difficulty was in making the
selection. Supplying themselves with knapsacks, rifles, ammunition, and
provisions, the party set forth on the pursuit.

Hitherto they had been unable to find the trail of the captors. Happily
they fell upon it by accident. But the Indians, according to their
custom, had taken so much precaution to hide their trail, that they
found themselves exceedingly perplexed to keep it, and they were obliged
to put forth all the acquirement and instinct of woodsmen not to find
themselves every moment at fault in regard to their course. The rear
Indians of the file had covered their foot prints with leaves. They
often turned off at right angles; and whenever they came to a branch,
walked in the water for some distance. At a place of this sort, the
pursuers were for some time wholly unable to find at what point the
Indians had left the branch, and began to despair of regaining their
trail. In this extreme perplexity, one of the company was attracted by
an indication of their course, which proved that the daughters shared
the sylvan sagacity of their parents. "God bless my dear child,"
exclaimed Colonel Calloway; "she has proved that she had strength of
mind in her deplorable condition to retain self possession." At the same
instant he picked up a little piece of ribbon, which he instantly
recognized as his daughter's. She had evidently committed it unobserved
to the air, to indicate the course of her captors. The trail was soon
regained, and the company resumed their march with renewed alacrity.

They were afterwards often at a loss to keep the trail, from the extreme
care of the Indians to cover and destroy it. But still, in their
perplexity, the sagacious expedient of the fair young captives put them
right. A shred of their handkerchief, or of some part of their dress,
which they had intrusted to the wind unobserved, indicated their course,
and that the captives were thus far not only alive, but that their
reasoning powers, unsubdued by fatigue, were active and buoyant. Next
day, in passing places covered with mud, deposited by the dry branches
on the way, the foot prints of the captives were distinctly traced,
until the pursuers had learned to discriminate not only the number, but
the peculiar form of each foot print.

Late in the evening of the fifteenth day's pursuit, from a little
eminence, they discovered in the distance before them, through the
woods, a smoke and the light of a fire. The palpitation of their
parental hearts may be easily imagined. They could not doubt that it was
the camp of the captors of their children. The plan of recapture was
intrusted entirely to Boone. He led his company as near the enemy as he
deemed might be done with safety, and selecting a position under the
shelter of a hill, ordered them to halt, with a view to passing the
night in that place. They then silently took food as the agitation of
their minds would allow. All but Calloway, another selected person of
their number, and himself, were permitted to lie down, and get that
sleep of which they had been so long deprived. The three impatiently
waited for midnight, when the sleep of the Indians would be most likely
to be profound. They stationed the third person selected, on the top of
the eminence, behind which they were encamped, as a sentinel to await a
given signal from the fathers, which should be his indication to fly to
the camp and arouse the sleepers, and bring them to their aid. Then
falling prostrate, they crept cautiously, and as it were by inches,
towards the Indian camp.

Having reached a covert of bushes, close by the Indian camp, and
examined as well as they could by the distant light of the camp-fires,
the order of their rifles, they began to push aside the bushes, and
survey the camp through the opening. Seventeen Indians were stretched,
apparently in sound sleep, on the ground. But they looked in vain among
them for the dear objects of their pursuit. They were not long in
discovering another camp a little remote from that of the Indians. They
crawled cautiously round to take a survey of it. Here, to their
inexpressible joy, were their daughters in each others arms. Directly in
front of their camp were two Indians, with their tomahawks and other
weapons within their grasp. The one appeared to be in a sound sleep, and
the other keeping the most circumspective vigils.

The grand object now was to get possession of the prisoners without
arousing their captors, the consequence of which it was obvious, would
be the immediate destruction of the captives. Boone made a signal to
Calloway to take a sure aim at the sleeping Indian, so as to be able to
despatch him in a moment, if the emergency rendered that expedient
necessary. Boone, the while, crawled round, so as to reach the waking
Indian from behind; intending to spring upon him and strangle him, so as
to prevent his making a noise to awaken the sleeper. But, unfortunately,
this Indian instead of being asleep was wide awake, and on a careful
look out. The shadow of Boone coming on them from behind, aroused him.
He sprang erect, and uttered a yell that made the ancient woods ring,
leaving no doubt that the other camp would be instantly alarmed. The
captives, terrified by the war yell of their sentinels, added their
screams of apprehension, and every thing was in a moment in confusion.
The first movement of Boone was to fire. But the forbearance of
Calloway, and his own more prudent second thought, restrained him. It
was hard to forego such a chance for vengeance, but their own lives and
their children's would probably pay the forfeit, and they fired not. On
the contrary, they surrendered themselves to the Indians, who rushed
furiously in a mass around them. By significant gestures, and a few
Indian words, which they had learned, they implored the lives of their
captive children, and opportunity for a parley. Seeing them in their
power, and comprehending the language of defenceless suppliants, their
fury was at length with some difficulty restrained and appeased. They
seemed evidently under the influence of a feeling of compassion towards
the daughters, to which unquestionably the adventurous fathers were
indebted, that their lives were not instantly sacrificed. Binding them
firmly with cords, and surrounding them with sentinels, the Indians
retired to their camp, not to resume their sleep, but to hold a council
to settle the fate of their new prisoners.

What were the thoughts of the captive children, or of the disinterested
and brave parents, as they found themselves bound, and once more in the
power of their enemies--what was the bitter disappointment of the one,
and the agonizing filial apprehension of the other--may be much more
readily imagined than described. But the light of the dawn enabled the
daughters to see, in the countenances of their fathers, as they lay
bound and surrounded by fierce savages, unextinguishable firmness, and
undaunted resolution, and a consciousness of noble motives; and they
imbibed from the view something of the magnanimity of their parents, and
assumed that demeanor of composure and resolute endurance which is
always the readiest expedient to gain all the respect and forbearance
that an Indian can grant.

It would be difficult to fancy a state of more torturing suspense than
that endured by the companions of Boone and Calloway, who had been left
behind the hill. Though they had slept little since the commencement of
the expedition, and had been encouraged by the two fathers, their
leaders to sleep that night, the emergency was too exciting to admit of

Often, during the night, had they aroused themselves, in expectation of
the return of the fathers, or of a signal for action. But the night wore
away, and the morning dawned, without bringing either the one or the
other. But notwithstanding this distressing state of suspense, they had
a confidence too undoubting in the firmness and prudence of their
leader, to think of approaching the Indian camp until they should
receive the appointed signal.

It would naturally be supposed that the deliberation of the Indian
council, which had been held to settle the fate of Boone and Calloway,
would end in sentencing them to run the gauntlet, and then amidst the
brutal laughter and derision of their captors, to be burnt to death at a
slow fire. Had the prisoners betrayed the least signs of fear, the least
indications of a subdued mind, such would in all probability have been
the issue of the Indian consultation. Such, however, was not the result
of the council. It was decreed that they should be killed with as little
noise as possible; their scalps taken as trophies, and that their
daughters should remain captives as before. The lenity of this sentence
may be traced to two causes. The daring hardihood, the fearless
intrepidity of the adventure, inspired them with unqualified admiration
for their captives. Innumerable instances have since been recorded,
where the most inveterate enemies have boldly ventured into the camp of
their enemy, have put themselves in their power, defied them to their
face and have created an admiration of their fearless daring, which has
caused that they have been spared and dismissed unmolested. This sort of
feeling had its influence on the present occasion in favor of the
prisoners. Another extenuating influence was, that hostilities between
the white and red men in the west had as yet been uncommon; and the
mutual fury had not been exasperated by murder and retaliation.

As soon as it was clear morning light, the Indian camp was in motion. As
a business preliminary to their march, Boone and Calloway were led out
and bound to a tree, and the warriors were selected who were to despatch
them with their tomahawks. The place of their execution was selected at
such a distance from their camp, as that the daughters might not be able
to witness it. The two prisoners were already at the spot, awaiting the
fatal blow, when a discharge of rifles, cutting down two of the savages
at the first shot, arrested their proceedings. Another and another
discharge followed. The Indians were as yet partially supplied with fire
arms, and had not lost any of their original dread of the effects of
this artificial thunder, and the invisible death of the balls. They were
ignorant, moreover, of the number of their assailants, and naturally
apprehended it to be greater than it was. They raised a yell of
confusion, and dispersed in every direction, leaving their dead behind,
and the captives to their deliverers. The next moment the children were
in the arms of their parents; and the whole party, in the unutterable
joy of conquest and deliverance, were on their way homewards.


It need hardly be added that the brave associates of the expedition who
had been left in camp, having waited the signal for the return of Boone
and Calloway, until their patience and forbearance was exhausted, aware
that something serious must have prevented their return, reconnoitered
the movement of the Indians as they moved from their camp to despatch
their two prisoners, and fired upon them at the moment they were about
to put their sentence into execution.

About this time a new element began to exasperate and extend the ravages
of Indian warfare, along the whole line of the frontier settlements. The
war of Independence had already begun to rage. The influence and
resources of Great Britain extended along the immense chain of our
frontier, from the north-eastern part of Vermont and New York, all the
way to the Mississippi. Nor did this nation, to her everlasting infamy,
hesitate to engage these infuriate allies of the wilderness, whose known
rule of warfare was indiscriminate vengeance; without reference to the
age or sex of the foe, as auxiliaries in the war.

As this biographical sketch of the life of Boone is inseparably
interwoven with this border scene of massacres, plunderings, burnings,
and captivities, which swept the incipient northern and western
settlements with desolation, it may not be amiss to take a brief
retrospect of the state of these settlements at this conjuncture in the
life of Boone.


Settlement of Harrodsburgh--Indian mode of besieging and
warfare--Fortitude and privation of the Pioneers--The Indians attack
Harrodsburgh and Boonesborough--Description of a Station--Attack of
Bryant's Station.

A road sufficient for the passage of pack horses in single file, had
been opened from the settlements already commenced on Holston river to
Boonesborough in Kentucky. It was an avenue which soon brought other
adventurers, with their families to the settlement. On the northern
frontier of the country, the broad and unbroken bosom of the Ohio opened
an easy liquid highway of access to the country. The first spots
selected as landing places and points of ingress into the country, were
Limestone--now Maysville--at the mouth of Limestone creek, and Beargrass
creek, where Louisville now stands. Boonesborough and Harrodsburgh were
the only stations in Kentucky sufficiently strong to be safe from the
incursions of the Indians; and even these places afforded no security a
foot beyond the palisades. These two places were the central points
towards which emigrants directed their course from Limestone and
Louisville. The routes from these two places were often ambushed by the
Indians. But notwithstanding the danger of approach to the new country,
and the incessant exposure during the residence there, immigrants
continued to arrive at the stations.

The first female white settlers of Harrodsburgh, were Mrs. Denton,
McGary, and Hogan, who came with their husbands and families. A number
of other families soon followed, among whom, in 1776, came Benjamin
Logan, with his wife and family. These were all families of
respectability and standing, and noted in the subsequent history of the

Hordes of savages were soon afterwards ascertained to have crossed the
Ohio, with the purpose to extirpate these germs of social establishments
in Kentucky. According to their usual mode of warfare, they separated
into numerous detachments, and dispersed in all directions through the
forests. This gave them the aspect of numbers and strength beyond
reality. It tended to increase the apprehensions of the recent
immigrants, inspiring the natural impressions, that the woods in all
directions were full of Indians. It enabled them to fight in detail,--to
assail different settlements at the same time, and to fill the whole
country with consternation.

Their mode of besieging these places, though not at all conformable to
the notions of a siege derived from the tactics of a civilized people,
was dictated by the most profound practical observation, operating upon
existing circumstances. Without cannon or scaling ladders, their hope of
carrying a station, or fortified place, was founded upon starving the
inmates, cutting off their supplies of water, killing them, as they
exposed themselves, in detail, or getting possession of the station by
some of the arts of dissimulation. Caution in their tactics is still
more strongly inculcated than bravery. Their first object is to secure
themselves; their next, to kill their enemy. This is the universal
Indian maxim from Nova Zembla to Cape Horn. In besieging a place, they
are seldom seen in force upon any particular quarter. Acting in small
parties, they disperse themselves, and lie concealed among bushes or
weeds, behind trees or stumps. They ambush the paths to the barn,
spring, or field. They discharge their rifle or let fly their arrow, and
glide away without being seen, content that their revenge should issue
from an invisible source. They kill the cattle, watch the watering
places, and cut off all supplies. During the night, they creep, with the
inaudible and stealthy step dictated by the animal instinct, to a
concealed position near one of the gates, and patiently pass many
sleepless nights, so that they may finally cut off some ill-fated
person, who incautiously comes forth in the morning. During the day, if
there be near the station grass, weeds, bushes, or any distinct
elevation of the soil, however small, they crawl, as prone as reptiles,
to the place of concealment, and whoever exposes the smallest part of
his body through any part or chasm, receives their shot, behind the
smoke of which they instantly cower back to their retreat. When they
find their foe abroad, they boldly rush upon him, and make him prisoner,
or take his scalp. At times they approach the walls or palisades with
the most audacious daring, and attempt to fire them, or beat down the
gate. They practice, with the utmost adroitness, the stratagem of a
false alarm on one side when the real assault is intended for the other.
With untiring perseverance, when their stock of provisions is exhausted,
they set forth to hunt, as on common occasions, resuming their station
near the besieged place as soon as they are supplied.

It must he confessed, that they had many motives to this persevering and
deadly hostility, apart from their natural propensity to war. They saw
this new and hated race of pale faces gradually getting possession of
their hunting grounds, and cutting down their forests. They reasoned
forcibly and justly, that the time, when to oppose these new intruders
with success, was to do it before they had become numerous and strong in
diffused population and resources. Had they possessed the skill of
corporate union, combining individual effort with a general concert of
attack, and directed their united force against each settlement in
succession, there is little doubt, that at this time they might have
extirpated the new inhabitants from Kentucky, and have restored it to
the empire of the wild beasts and the red men. But in the order of
events it was otherwise arranged. They massacred, they burnt, and
plundered, and destroyed. They killed cattle, and carried off the
horses;--inflicting terror, poverty, and every species of distress; but
were not able to make themselves absolute masters of a single station.

It has been found by experiment, that the settlers in such predicaments
of danger and apprehension, act under a most spirit-stirring excitement,
which, notwithstanding its alarms, is not without its pleasures. They
acquired fortitude, dexterity, and that kind of courage which results
from becoming familiar with exposure.

The settlements becoming extended, the Indians, in their turn, were
obliged to put themselves on the defensive. They cowered in the distant
woods for concealment, or resorted to them for hunting. In these
intervals, the settlers, who had acquired a kind of instinctive
intuition to know when their foe was near them, or had retired to
remoter forests, went forth to plough their corn, gather in their
harvests, collect their cattle, and pursue their agricultural
operations. These were their holyday seasons for hunting, during which
they often exchanged shots with their foe. The night, as being most
secure from Indian attack, was the common season selected for journeying
from garrison to garrison.

We, who live in the midst of scenes of abundance and tranquillity can
hardly imagine how a country could fill with inhabitants, under so many
circumstances of terror, in addition to all the hardships incident to
the commencement of new establishments in the wilderness; such as want
of society, want of all the regular modes of supply, in regard to the
articles most indispensable in every stage of the civilized condition.
There were no mills, no stores, no regular supplies of clothing, salt,
sugar, and the luxuries of tea and coffee. But all these dangers and
difficulties notwithstanding, under the influence of an inexplicable
propensity, families in the old settlements used to comfort and
abundance, were constantly arriving to encounter all these dangers and
privations. They began to spread over the extensive and fertile country
in every direction--presenting such numerous and dispersed marks to
Indian hostility, red men became perplexed, amidst so many conflicting
temptations to vengeance, which to select.

The year 1776 was memorable in the annals of Kentucky, as that in which
General George Rogers Clark first visited it, unconscious, it may be, of
the imperishable honors which the western country would one day reserve
for him. This same year Captain Wagin arrived in the country, and
_fixed_ in a solitary cabin on Hinkston's Fork of the Licking.

In the autumn of this year, most of the recent immigrants to Kentucky
returned to the old settlements, principally in Virginia. They carried
with them strong representations, touching the fertility and advantages
of their new residence; and communicated the impulse of their hopes and
fears extensively among their fellow-citizens by sympathy.

The importance of the new settlement was already deemed to be such, that
on the meeting of the legislature of Virginia, the governor recommended
that the south-western part of the county of Fincastle--so this vast
tract of country west of the Alleghanies had hitherto been
considered--should be erected into a separate county by the name of

This must be considered an important era in the history of the country.
The new county became entitled to two representatives in the legislature
of Virginia, to a court and judge; in a word, to all the customary
civil, military, and judicial officers of a new county. In the year
1777, the county was duly organized, according to the act of the
Virginia legislature. Among the names of the first officers in the new
county, we recognize those of Floyd, Bowman, Logan, and Todd.

Harrodsburgh, the strongest and most populous station in the country,
had not hitherto been assailed by the Indians. Early in the spring of
1777, they attacked a small body of improvers marching to Harrodsburgh,
about four miles from that place. Mr. Kay, afterwards General Kay, and
his brother were of the party. The latter was killed, and another man
made prisoner. The fortunate escape of James Kay, then fifteen years
old, was the probable cause of the saving of Harrodsburgh from
destruction. Flying from the scene of attack and the death of his
brother, he reached the station and gave the inhabitants information,
that a large body of Indians was marching to attack the place. The
Indians themselves, aware that the inhabitants had been premonished of
their approach, seem to have been disheartened; for they did not reach
the station till the next day. Of course, it had been put in the best
possible state of defence, and prepared for their reception.

The town was now invested by the savage force, and something like a
regular siege commenced. A brisk firing ensued. In the course of the day
the Indians left one of their dead to fall into the hands of the
besieged--a rare occurrence, as it is one of their most invariable
customs to remove their wounded and dead from the possession of the
enemy. The besieged had four men wounded and one of them mortally. The
Indians, unacquainted with the mode of conducting a siege, and little
accustomed to open and fair fight, and dispirited by the vigorous
reception given them by the station, soon decamped, and dispersed in the
forests to supply themselves with provisions by hunting.

On the 15th of April, 1777, a body of one hundred savages invested
Boonesborough, the residence of Daniel Boone. The greater number of the
Indians had fire arms, though some of them were still armed with bows
and arrows. This station, having its defence conducted by such a gallant
leader, gave them such a warm reception that they were glad to draw off;
though not till they had killed one and wounded four of the inhabitants.
Their loss could not be ascertained, as they carefully removed their
dead and wounded.

In July following, the residence of Boone was again besieged by a body
of Indians, whose number was increased to two hundred. With their
numbers, their hardihood and audacity were increased in proportion. To
prevent the neighboring stations from sending assistance, detachments
from their body assailed most of the adjacent settlements at the same
time. The gallant inmates of the station made them repent their
temerity, though, as formerly, with some loss; one of their number
having been killed and two wounded. Seven of the Indians were distinctly
counted from the fort among the slain; though, according to custom, the
bodies were removed. After a close siege, and almost constant firing
during two days, the Indians raised a yell of disappointment, and
disappeared in the forests.

In order to present distinct views of the sort of enemy, with whom Boone
had to do, and to present pictures of the aspect of Indian warfare in
those times, we might give sketches of the repeated sieges of
Harrodsburgh and Boonesborough, against which--as deemed the strong
holds of the _Long-knife,_ as they called the Americans--their most
formidable and repeated efforts were directed. There is such a sad and
dreary uniformity in these narratives, that the history of one may
almost stand for that of all. They always present more or less killed
and wounded on the part of the stations, and a still greater number on
that of the Indians. Their attacks of stations having been uniformly
unsuccessful, they returned to their original modes of warfare,
dispersing themselves in small bodies over all the country, and
attacking individual settlers in insulated cabins, and destroying women
and children. But as most of these annals belong to the general history
of Kentucky, and do not particularly tend to develop the character of
the subject of this biography, we shall pretermit them, with a single
exception. At the expense of an anachronism, and as a fair sample of the
rest, we shall present that, as one of the most prominent Indian sieges
recorded in these early annals. It will not be considered an episode, if
it tend to convey distinct ideas of the structure and form of a
_station_, and the modes of attack and defence in those times. It was in
such scenes that the fearless daring, united with the cool, prudent, and
yet efficient counsels of Daniel Boone, were peculiarly conspicuous.
With this view we offer a somewhat detailed account of the attack of
Bryant's station.

As we know of no place, nearer than the sources of the Mississippi, or
the Rocky Mountains, where the refuge of a _station_ is now requisite
for security from the Indians; as the remains of those that were
formerly built are fast mouldering to decay; and as in a few years
history will be the only depository of what the term _station_ imports,
we deem it right, in this place, to present as graphic a view as we may,
of a station, as we have seen them in their ruins in various points of
the west.

The first immigrants to Tennessee and Kentucky, as we have seen, came in
pairs and small bodies. These pioneers on their return to the old
settlements, brought back companies and societies.--Friends and
connections, old and young, mothers and daughters, flocks, herds,
domestic animals, and the family dogs, all set forth on the patriarchal
emigration for the land of promise together. No disruption of the tender
natal and moral ties; no annihilation of the reciprocity of domestic
kindness, friendship, and love, took place. The cement and panoply
of affection, and good will bound them together at once in the social
tie, and the union for defence. Like the gregarious tenants of the air
in their annual migrations, they brought their true home, that is to say
their charities with them. In their state of extreme isolation from the
world they had left, the kindly social propensities were found to grow
more strong in the wilderness. The current of human affections in fact
naturally flows in a deeper and more vigorous tide, in proportion as it
is diverted into fewer channels.

These immigrants to the Bloody Ground, coming to survey new aspects of
nature, new forests and climates, and to encounter new privations,
difficulties and dangers, were bound together by a new sacrament of
friendship, new and unsworn oaths, to stand by each other for life and
for death. How often have we heard the remains of this primitive race of
Kentucky deplore the measured distance and jealousy, the heathen rivalry
and selfishness of the present generation, in comparison with the unity
of heart, dangers and fortunes of these primeval times--reminding one of
the simple kindness, the community of property, and the union of heart
among the first Christians!

Another circumstance of this picture ought to be redeemed from oblivion.
We suspect that the general impressions of the readers of this day is,
that the first hunters and settlers of Kentucky and Tennessee were a
sort of demi-savages. Imagination depicts them with long beard, and a
costume of skins, rude, fierce, and repulsive. Nothing can be wider from
the fact. These progenitors of the west were generally men of noble,
square, erect forms, broad chests, clear, bright, truth-telling eyes,
and of vigorous intellects.

All this is not only matter of historical record, but in the natural
order of things. The first settlers of America were originally a noble
stock. These, their descendants, had been reared under circumstances
every way calculated to give them manly beauty and noble forms. They had
breathed a free and a salubrious air. The field and forest exercise
yielded them salutary viands, and appetite and digestion corresponding.
Life brought them the sensations of high health, herculean vigor, and
redundant joy.

When a social band of this description had planted their feet on the
virgin soil, the first object was to fix on a spot, central to the most
fertile tract of land that could be found, combining the advantages
usually sought by the first settlers. Among these was, that the station
should be on the summit of a gentle swell, where pawpaw, cane, and wild
clover, marked exuberant fertility; and where the trees were so sparse,
and the soil beneath them so free from underbrush, that the hunter could
ride at half speed. The virgin soil, as yet friable, untrodden, and not
cursed with the blight of politics, party, and feud, yielded, with
little other cultivation than planting, from eighty to a hundred bushels
of maize to the acre, and all other edibles suited to the soil and
climate, in proportion.

The next thing, after finding this central nucleus of a settlement, was
to convert it into a _station_, an erection which now remains to be
described. It was a desirable requisite, that a station should in close
or command a flush limestone spring, for water for the settlement. The
contiguity of a salt lick and a sugar orchard, though not indispensable,
was a very desirable circumstance. The next preliminary step was to
clear a considerable area, so as to leave nothing within a considerable
distance of the station that could shelter an enemy from observation and
a shot. If a spring were not inclosed, or a well dug within, as an
Indian siege seldom lasted beyond a few days, it was customary, in
periods of alarm to have a reservoir of some sort within the station,
that should be filled with water enough to supply the garrison, during
the probable continuance of a siege. It was deemed a most important
consideration, that the station should overlook and command as much of
the surrounding country as possible.

The form was a perfect parallelogram, including from a half to a whole
acre. A trench was then dug four or five feet deep, and large and
contiguous pickets planted in this trench, so as to form a compact wall
from ten to twelve feet high above the soil. The pickets were of hard
and durable timber, about a foot in diameter. The soil about them was
rammed hard. They formed a rampart beyond the power of man to leap,
climb, or by unaided physical strength to overthrow. At the angles were
small projecting squares, of still stronger material and planting,
technically called _flankers_, with oblique port-holes, so as that the
sentinel within could rake the external front of the station, without
being exposed to shot from without. Two folding gates in the front and
rear, swinging on prodigious wooden hinges, gave egress and ingress to
men and teams in times of security.

In periods of alarm a trusty sentinel on the roof of the building was so
stationed, as to be able to descry every suspicious object while yet in
the distance. The gates were always firmly barred by night; and
sentinels took their alternate watch, and relieved each other until
morning. Nothing in the line of fortification can be imagined more easy
of construction, or a more effectual protection against a savage enemy,
than this simple erection. Though the balls of the smallest dimensions
of cannon would have swept them away with ease, they were proof against
the Indian rifle, patience, and skill. The only expedient of the red men
was to dig under them and undermine them, or destroy them by fire; and
even this could not be done without exposing them to the rifles of the
flankers. Of course, there are few recorded instances of their having
been taken, when defended by a garrison, guided by such men as Daniel

Their regular form, and their show of security, rendered these walled
cities in the central wilderness delightful spectacles in the eye of
immigrants who had come two hundred leagues without seeing a human
habitation. Around the interior of these walls the habitations of the
immigrants arose, and the remainder of the surface was a clean-turfed
area for wrestling and dancing, and the vigorous and athletic amusements
of the olden time. It is questionable if heartier dinners and profounder
sleep and more exhilarating balls and parties fall to the lot of their
descendants, who ride in coaches and dwell in mansions. Venison and wild
turkeys, sweet potatoes and pies, smoked on their table; and persimmon
and maple beer, stood them well instead of the poisonous whisky of their

The community, of course, passed their social evenings together; and
while the fire blazed bright within the secure square, the far howl of
wolves, or even the distant war-whoop of the savages, sounded in the ear
of the tranquil in-dwellers like the driving storm pouring on the
sheltering roof above the head of the traveller safely reposing in his
bed; that is, brought the contrast of comfort and security with more
home-felt influence to their bosom.

Such a station was Bryant's, no longer ago than 1782. It was the nucleus
of the settlements of that rich and delightful country, of which at
present Lexington is the centre. There were but two others of any
importance, at this time north of Kentucky river. It was more open to
attack than any other in the country. The Miami on the north, and the
Licking on the south of the Ohio, were long canals, which floated the
Indian canoes from the northern hive of the savages, between the lakes
and the Ohio, directly to its vicinity.

In the summer of this year a grand Indian assemblage took place at
Chillicothe, a famous central Indian town on the Little Miami. The
Cherokees, Wyandots, Tawas, Pottawattomies, and most of the tribes
bordering on the lakes, were represented in it. Besides their chiefs and
some Canadians, they were aided by the counsels of the two Girtys, and
McKee, renegado whites. We have made diligent enquiry touching the
biography of these men, particularly Simon Girty, a wretch of most
infamous notoriety in those times, as a more successful instigator of
Indian assault and massacre, than any name on record. Scarcely a
tortured captive escaped from the northern Indians, who could not tell
the share which this villain had in his sufferings--no burning or murder
of prisoners, at which he had not assisted by his presence or his
counsels. These refugees from our white settlements, added the
calculation and power of combining of the whites to the instinctive
cunning and ferocity of the savages. They possessed their thirst for
blood without their active or passive courage--blending the bad points
of character in the whites and Indians, without the good of either. The
cruelty of the Indians had some show of palliating circumstances, in the
steady encroachments of the whites upon them. Theirs was gratuitous,
coldblooded, and without visible motive, except that they appeared to
hate the race more inveterately for having fled from it. Yet Simon
Girty, like the Indians among whom he lived, sometimes took the freak of
kindness, nobody could divine why, and he once or twice saved an unhappy
captive from being roasted alive.

This vile renegado, consulted by the Indians as an oracle, lived in
plenty, smoked his pipe, and drank off his whisky in his log palace. He
was seen abroad clad in a ruffled shirt, a red and blue uniform, with
pantaloons and gaiters to match. He was belted with dirks and pistols,
and wore a watch with enormous length of chain, and most glaring
ornaments, all probably the spoils of murder. So habited, he strutted,
in the enormity of his cruelty in view of the ill-fated captives of the
Indians, like the peacock spreading his morning plumage. There is little
doubt that his capricious acts of saving the few that were spared
through his intercession, were modified results of vanity; and that they
were spared to make a display of his power, and the extent of his
influence among the Indians.

The assemblage of Indians bound to the assault of Bryant's station,
gathered round the shrine of Simon Girty, to hear the response of this
oracle touching the intended expedition. He is said to have painted to
them, in a set speech, the abundance and delight of the fair valleys of
Kan-tuck-ee, for which so much blood of red men had been shed--the land
of clover, deer, and buffaloes. He described the gradual encroachment of
the whites, and the certainty that they would soon occupy the whole
land. He proved the necessity of a vigorous, united, and persevering
effort against them, now while they were feeble, and had scarcely gained
foot-hold on the soil, if they ever intended to regain possession of
their ancient, rich, and rightful domain; assuring them, that as things
now went on, they would soon have no hunting grounds worth retaining, no
blankets with which to clothe their naked backs, or whisky to warm and
cheer their desolate hearts. They were advised to descend the Miami,
cross the Ohio, ascend the Licking, paddling their canoes to the
immediate vicinity of Bryant's station, which he counselled them to

Forthwith, the mass of biped wolves raised their murderous yell, as they
started for their canoes on the Miami. Girty, in his ruffled shirt and
soldier coat, stalked at their head, silently feeding upon his prowess
and grandeur.

The station against which they were destined, inclosed forty cabins.
They arrived before it on the fifteenth of August, in the night. The
inhabitants were advertised of their arrival in the morning, by being
fired upon as they opened the gates. The time of their arrival was
apparently providential. In two hours most of the efficient male inmates
of the station were to have marched to the aid of two other stations,
which were reported to have been attacked. This place would thus have
been left completely defenceless. As soon as the garrison saw themselves
besieged, they found means to despatch one of their number to Lexington,
to announce the assault and crave aid. Sixteen mounted men, and
thirty-one on foot, were immediately despatched to their assistance.

The number of the assailants amounted to at least six hundred. In
conformity with the common modes of their warfare, they attempted to
gain the place by stratagem. The great body concealed themselves among
high weeds, on the opposite side of the station, within pistol shot of
the spring which supplied it with water. A detachment of a hundred
commenced a false attack on the south-east angle, with a view to draw
the whole attention of the garrison to that point. They hoped that while
the chief force of the station crowded there, the opposite point would
be left defenceless. In this instance they reckoned without their host.
The people penetrated their deception, and instead of returning their
fire, commenced what had been imprudently neglected, the repairing their
palisades, and putting the station in a better condition of defence. The
tall and luxuriant strammony weeds instructed these wary backwoodsmen to
suspect that a host of their tawny foe lay hid beneath their sheltering
foliage, lurking for a chance to fire upon them, as they should come
forth for water.

Let modern wives, who refuse to follow their husbands abroad, alleging
the danger of the voyage or journey, or the unhealthiness of the
proposed residence, or because the removal will separate them from the
pleasures of fashion and society, contemplate the example of the wives
of the defenders of this station. These noble mothers, wives, and
daughters, assuring the men that there was no probability that the
Indians would fire upon them, offered to go out and draw water for the
supply of the garrison, and that even if they did shoot down a few of
them, it would not reduce the resources of the garrison as would the
killing of the men. The illustrious heroines took up their buckets, and
marched out to the spring, espying here and there a painted face, or an
Indian body crouched under the covert of the weeds. Whether their
courage or their beauty fascinated the Indians to suspend their fire,
does not appear. But it was so, that these generous women came and went
until the reservoir was amply supplied with crater. Who will doubt that
the husbands of such wives must have been alike gallant and

After this example, it was not difficult to procure some young
volunteers to tempt the Indians in the same way. As was expected, they
had scarcely advanced beyond their station, before a hundred Indians
fired a shower of balls upon them, happily too remote to do more than
inflict slight wounds with spent balls. They retreated within the
palisades, and the whole Indian force, seeing no results from stratagem,
rose from their covert and rushed towards the palisade. The exasperation
of their rage may be imagined, when they found every thing prepared for
their reception. A well aimed fire drove them to a more cautious
distance. Some of the more audacious of their number, however, ventured
so near a less exposed point, as to be able to discharge burning arrows
upon the roofs of the houses. Some of them were fired and burnt. But an
easterly wind providentially arose at the moment, and secured the mass
of the habitations from the further spread of the flames. These they
could no longer reach with their burning arrows.

The enemy cowered back, and crouched to their covert in the weeds;
where, panther-like, they waited for less dangerous game. They had
divided, on being informed, that aid was expected from Lexington; and
they arranged an ambuscade to intercept it, on its approach to the
garrison. When the reinforcement, consisting of forty-six persons, came
in sight, the firing had wholly ceased, and the invisible enemy were
profoundly still. The auxiliaries hurried on in reckless confidence,
under the impression that they had come on a false alarm. A lane opened
an avenue to the station, through a thick cornfield. This lane was
way-laid on either side, by Indians, for six hundred yards. Fortunately,
it was mid-summer, and dry; and the horsemen raised so thick a cloud of
dust, that the Indians could fire only at random amidst the palpable
cloud, and happily killed not a single man. The footmen were less
fortunate. Being behind the horse, as soon as they heard the firing,
they dispersed into the thick corn, in hopes to reach the garrison
unobserved. They were intercepted by masses of the savages, who threw
themselves between them and the station. Hard fighting ensued, in which
two of the footmen were killed and four wounded. Soon after the
detachment had joined their friends, and the Indians were again
crouching close in their covert, the numerous flocks and herds of the
station came in from the woods as usual, quietly ruminating, as they
made their way towards their night-pens. Upon these harmless animals the
Indians wreaked unmolested revenge, and completely destroyed them.

A little after sunset the famous Simon, in all his official splendor,
covertly approached the garrison, mounted a stump, whence he could be
heard by the people of the station, and holding a flag of truce,
demanded a parley and the surrender of the place. He managed his
proposals with no small degree of art, assigning, in imitation of the
commanders of what are called civilized armies, that his proposals were
dictated by humanity and a wish to spare the effusion of blood. He
affirmed, that in case of a prompt surrender, he could answer for the
safety of the prisoners; but that in the event of taking the garrison by
storm, he could not; that cannon and a reinforcement were approaching,
in which case they must be aware that their palisades could no longer
interpose any resistance to their attack, or secure them from the
vengeance of an exasperated foe. He calculated that his imposing
language would have the more effect in producing belief and
consternation, inasmuch as the garrison must know, that the same foe had
used cannon in the attack of Ruddle's and Martin's stations. Two of
their number had been already slain, and there were four wounded in the
garrison; and some faces were seen to blanch as Girty continued his
harangue of menace, and insidious play upon their fears. Some of the
more considerate of the garrison, apprised by the result, of the folly
of allowing such a negotiation to intimidate the garrison in that way,
called out to shoot the rascal, adding the customary Kentucky epithet.
Girty insisted upon the universal protection every where accorded to a
flag of truce, while this parley lasted; and demanded with great assumed
dignity, if they did not know who it was that thus addressed them?

A spirited young man, named Reynolds, of whom the most honorable mention
is made in the subsequent annals of the contests with the Indians, was
selected by the garrison to reply to the renegado Indian negotiator. His
object seems to have been to remove the depression occasioned by Girty's
speech, by treating it with derision; and perhaps to establish a
reputation for successful waggery, as he had already for hard fighting.

"You ask," answered he, "if we do not know you? Know you! Yes. We know
you too well. Know Simon Girty! Yes. He is the renegado, cowardly
villain, who loves to murder women and children, especially those of his
own people. Know Simon Girty! Yes. His father was a panther and his dam
a wolf. I have a worthless dog, that kills lambs. Instead of shooting
him, I have named him Simon Girty. You expect reinforcements and cannon,
do you? Cowardly wretches, like you, that make war upon women and
children, would not dare to touch them off, if you had them. We expect
reinforcements, too, and in numbers to give a short account of the
murdering cowards that follow you. Even if you could batter down our
pickets, I, for one, hold your people in too much contempt to discharge
rifles at them. Should you see cause to enter our fort, I have been
roasting a great number of hickory switches, with which we mean to whip
your naked cut-throats out of the country."

Simon, apparently little edified or flattered by this speech, wished him
some of his hardest curses; and affecting to deplore the obstinacy and
infatuation of the garrison, the ambassador of ruffled shirt and soldier
coat withdrew. The besieged gave a good account of every one, who came
near enough to take a fair shot. But before morning they decamped,
marching direct to the Blue Licks, where they obtained very different
success, and a most signal and bloody triumph. We shall there again meet
Daniel Boone, in his accustomed traits of heroism and magnanimity.



Boone being attacked by two Indians near the Blue Licks, kills them
both--Is afterwards taken prisoner and marched to Old Chillicothe--Is
adopted by the Indians--Indian ceremonies.

We return to the subject of our memoir, from which the reader may
imagine we have wandered too long. He had already conducted the defence
of Boonesborough, during two Indian sieges. The general estimate of his
activity, vigilance, courage, and enterprise, was constantly rising. By
the Indians he was regarded as the most formidable and intelligent
captain of the Long-knife; and by the settlers and immigrants as a
disinterested and heroic patriarch of the infant settlements. He often
supplied destitute families gratuitously with game. He performed the
duties of surveyor and spy, generally as a volunteer, and without
compensation. When immigrant families were approaching the country, he
often went out to meet them and conduct them to the settlements. Such,
in general, were the paternal feelings of the pioneers of this young

The country was easily and amply supplied with meat from the chase, and
with vegetables from the fertility of the soil. The hardy settlers could
train themselves without difficulty to dispense with many things which
habit and long use in the old settlements had led them to consider as
necessaries. But to every form of civilized communities salt is an
indispensable article. The settlement of Boonesborough had been fixed
near a lick, with a view to the supply of that article. But the amount
was found to be very inadequate to the growing demand. The settlement
deemed it necessary to send out a company to select a place where the
whole country could be supplied with that article at a reasonable rate.

Captain Boone was deputed by the settlers to this service. He selected
thirty associates, and set out on the first of January, 1779, for the
Blue Licks, on Licking river, a well known stream emptying into the
Ohio, opposite where Cincinnati now stands. They arrived at the place,
and successfully commenced their operations. Boone, instead of taking a
part in the diurnal and uninterrupted labor, of evaporating the water,
performed the more congenial duty of hunting to keep the company in
provisions, while they labored. In this pursuit he had one day wandered
some distance from the bank of the river. Two Indians, armed with
muskets,--for they had now generally added these efficient weapons to
their tomahawks--came upon him. His first thought was to retreat. But he
discovered from their nimbleness, that this was impossible. His second
thought was resistance, and he slipped behind a tree to await their
coming within rifle shot. He then exposed himself so as to attract their
aim. The foremost levelled his musket. Boone, who could dodge the flash,
at the pulling of the trigger, dropped behind his tree unhurt. His next
object W&B to cause the fire of the Second musket to be thrown away in
the same manner. He again exposed a part of his person. The eager Indian
instantly fired, and Boone evaded the shot as before. Both the Indians,
having thrown away their fire, were eagerly striving, but with trembling
hands, to reload. Trepidation and too much haste retarded their object.
Boone drew his rifle and one of them fell dead. The two antagonists, now
on equal grounds, the one unsheathing his knife, and the other poising
his tomahawk, rushed toward the dead body of the fallen Indian. Boone,
placing his foot on the dead body, dexterously received the well aimed
tomahawk of his powerful enemy on the barrel of his rifle, thus
preventing his skull from being cloven by it. In the very attitude of
firing the Indian had exposed his body to the knife of Boone, who
plunged it in his body to the hilt. This is the achievement commemorated
in sculpture over the southern door of the Rotunda in the Capitol at

This adventure did not deter him from exposing himself in a similar way
again. He was once more hunting for the salt makers, when, on the
seventh day of February following, he came in view of a body of one
hundred and two Indians, evidently on their march to the assault of
Boonesborough--that being a particular mark for Indian revenge. They
were in want of a prisoner, from whom to obtain intelligence, and Boone
was the person of all others whom they desired. He fled; but among so
many warriors, it proved, that some were swifter of foot than himself,
and these overtook him and made him prisoner.

By a tedious and circuitous march they brought him back to the Blue
Licks, and took their measures with so much caution, as to make
twenty-seven of the thirty salt makers prisoners. Boone obtained for
them a capitulation, which stipulated, that their lives should be
spared, and that they should be kindly treated. The fortunate three,
that escaped, had just been sent home with the salt that had been made
during their ill-fated expedition.

The Indians were faithful to the stipulations of the capitulation; and
treated their prisoners with as much kindness both on their way, and
after their arrival at Chillicothe, as their habits and means would
admit. The march was rapid and fatiguing, occupying three days of
weather unusually cold and inclement.

The captivity of twenty-eight of the select and bravest of the Kentucky
settlers, without the hope of liberation or exchange, was a severe blow
to the infant settlement. Had the Indians, after this achievement,
immediately marched against Boonesborough, so materially diminished in
its means of defence, they might either have taken the place by
surprise, or, availing themselves of the influence which the possession
of these prisoners gave them over the fears and affections of the
inmates, might have procured a capitulation of the fort. Following up
this plan in progression, the weaker station would have followed the
example of Boonesborough; since it is hardly supposable, that the
united influence of fear, example, and the menace of the massacre of so
many prisoners would not have procured the surrender of all the rest.
But, though on various occasions they manifested the keenest
observation, and the acutest quickness of instinctive cunning--though
their plans were generally predicated on the soundest reason, they
showed in this, and in all cases, a want of the combination of thought,
and the abstract and extended views of the whites on such occasions. For
a single effort, nothing could be imagined wiser than their views. For a
combination made up of a number of elements of calculation, they had no
reasoning powers at all.

Owing to this want of capacity for combined operations of thought, and
their, habitual intoxication of excitement, on the issue of carrying
some important enterprise without loss, they hurried home with their
prisoners, leaving the voice of lamentation and the sentiment of extreme
dejection among the bereaved inmates of Boonesborough.

Throwing all the recorded incidents and circumstances of the life of
Boone, during his captivity among them, together, we shall reserve them
for another place, and proceed here to record what befell him among the

He resided as a captive among the Indians until the following March. At
that time, he, and ten of the persons who were taken with him at the
Blue Licks, were conducted by forty Indians to Detroit, where the party
arrived on the thirteenth of the month. The ten men were put into the
hands of Governor Hamilton, who, to his infinite credit, treated them
with kindness. For each of these they received a moderate ransom. Such
was their respect, and even affection for the hunter of Kentucky, and
such, perhaps, their estimate of his capability of annoying them, that
although Governor Hamilton offered them the large sum of a hundred
pounds sterling for his ransom, they utterly refused to part with him.
It may easily be imagined, in what a vexatious predicament this
circumstance placed him; a circumstance so much the more embarrassing,
as he could not express his solicitude for deliverance, without alarming
the jealousy and ill feeling of the Indians. Struck with his appearance
and development of character, several English gentlemen, generously
impressed with a sense of his painful position, offered him a sum of
money adequate to the supply of his necessities. Unwilling to accept
such favors from the enemies of his country, he refused their kindness,
alleging a motive at once conciliating and magnanimous, that it would
probably never be in his power to repay them. It will be necessary to
contemplate his desolate and forlorn condition, haggard, and without any
adequate clothing in that inclement climate, destitute of money or
means, and at the same time to realize that these men, who so generously
offered him money, were in league with those that were waging war
against the United States, fully to appreciate the patriotism and
magnanimity of this refusal. It is very probable, too, that these men
acted from the interested motive of wishing to bind the hands of this
stern border warrior from any further annoyance to them and their red
allies, by motives of gratitude and a sense of obligation.

It must have been mortifying to his spirit to leave his captive
associates in comfortable habitations and among a civilized people at
Detroit, while he, the single white man of the company, was obliged to
accompany his red masters through the forest in a long and painful
journey of fifteen days, at the close of which he found himself again at
Old Chillicothe, as the town was called.

This town was inhabited by the Shawnese, and Boone was placed in a most
severe school, in which to learn Indian modes and ceremonies, by being
himself the subject of them. On the return of the party that led him to
their home, he learned that some superstitious scruple induced them to
halt at mid-day when near their village, in order to solemnize their
return by entering their town in the evening. A runner was despatched
from their halting place to instruct the chief and the village touching
the material incidents of their expedition.

Before the expedition made the triumphal entry into their village, they
clad their white prisoner in a new dress, of material and fashion like
theirs. They proceeded to shave his head and skewer his hair after their
own fashion, and then rouged him with a plentiful smearing of vermilion
and put into his hand a white staff, gorgeously tasselated with the
tails of deer. The war-captain or leader of the expedition gave as many
yells as they had taken prisoners and scalps. This operated as
effectually as ringing a tocsin, to assemble the whole village round
the camp. As soon as the warriors from the village appeared, four young
warriors from the camp, the two first carrying each a calumet,
approached the prisoner, chanting a song as they went, and taking him by
the arm, led him in triumph to the cabin, where he was to remain until
the announcement of his doom. The resident in this cabin, by their
immemorial usage, had the power of determining his fate, whether to be
tortured and burnt at the stake, or adopted into the tribe.

The present occupant of the cabin happened to be a woman, who had lost a
son during the war. It is very probable that she was favorably impressed
towards him by noting his fine person, and his firm and cheerful
visage--circumstances which impress the women of the red people still
more strongly than the men. She contemplated him stedfastly for some
time, and sympathy and humanity triumphed, and she declared that she
adopted him in place of the son she had lost. The two young men, who
bore the calumet, instantly unpinioned his hands, treating him with
kindness and respect. Food was brought him, and he was informed that he
was considered as a son, and she, who had adopted him, as his mother. He
was soon made aware, by demonstrations that could not be dissembled or
mistaken, that he was actually loved, and trusted, as if he really were,
what his adoption purported to make him. In a few days he suffered no
other penalty of captivity than inability to return to his family. He
was sufficiently instructed in Indian customs to know well, that any
discovered purpose or attempt to escape would be punished with instant

Strange caprice of inscrutable instincts and results of habit! A
circumstance, apparently fortuitous and accidental, placed him in the
midst of an Indian family, the female owner of which loved him with the
most disinterested tenderness, and lavished upon him all the
affectionate sentiments of a mother towards a son. Had the die of his
lot been cast otherwise, all the inhabitants of the village would have
raised the death song, and each individual would have been as fiercely
unfeeling to torment him, as they were now covetous to show him
kindness. It is astonishing to see, in their habits of this sort, no
interval between friendship and kindness, and the most ingenious and
unrelenting barbarity. Placed between two posts, and his arms and feet
extended between them, nearly in the form of a person suffering
crucifixion, he would have been burnt to death at a slow fire, while
men, women, and children would have danced about him, occasionally
applying torches and burning splinters to die most exquisitely sensible
parts of the frame, prolonging his torture, and exulting in it with the
demoniac exhilaration of gratified revenge.

This was the most common fate of prisoners of war at that time.
Sometimes they fastened the victim to a single stake, built a fire of
green wood about him, and then raising their yell of exultation, marched
off into the desert, leaving him to expire unheeded and alone. At other
times they killed their prisoners by amputating their limbs joint by
joint. Others they destroyed by pouring on them, from time to time,
streams of scalding water. At other times they have been seen to hang
their victim to a sapling tree by the hands, bending it down until the
wretched sufferer has seen himself swinging up and down at the play of
the breeze, his feet often, within a foot of the ground. In a word, they
seem to have exhausted the invention and ingenuity of all time and all
countries in the horrid art of inflicting torture.

The mention of a circumstance equally extraordinary in the Indian
character, may be recorded here. If the sufferer in these afflictions be
an Indian, during the whole of his agony a strange rivalry passes
between them which shall outdo each other, they inflicting, and he in
enduring these tortures. Not a groan, not a sigh, not a distortion of
countenance is allowed to escape him. He smokes, and looks even
cheerful. He occasionally chants a strain of his war song. He vaunts his
exploits performed in afflicting death and desolation in their villages.
He enumerates the names of their relatives and friends that he has
slain. He menaces them with the terrible revenge that his friends will
inflict by way of retaliation. He even derides their ignorance in the
art of tormenting; assures them that he had afflicted much more
ingenious torture upon their people; and indicates more excruciating
modes of inflicting pain, and more sensitive parts of the frame to which
to apply them.

They are exceedingly dexterous in the horrid surgical operation of
taking off the scalp--that is, a considerable surface of the hairy
integument of the crown of the cranium. Terrible as the operation is,
there are not wanting great numbers of cases of persons who have
survived, and recovered from it. The scalps of enemies thus taken, even
when not paid for, as has been too often the infamous custom of their
white auxiliaries, claiming to be civilized, are valued as badges of
family honor, and trophies of the bravery of the warrior. On certain
days and occasions, young warriors take a new name, constituting a new
claim to honor, according to the number of scalps they have taken, or
the bravery and exploits of those from whom they were taken. This name
they deem a sufficient compensation for every fatigue and danger.
Another ludicrous superstition tends to inspire them with the most
heroic sentiments. They believe that all the fame, intelligence, and
bravery that appertained to the enemy they have slain is transferred to
them, and thenceforward becomes their intellectual property. Hence, they
are excited with the most earnest appetite to kill warriors of
distinguished fame. This article of Indian faith affords an apt
illustration of the ordinary influence of envy, which seems to inspire
the person whom it torments with the persuasion, that all the merit it
can contract from the envied becomes its own, and that the laurels shorn
from another's brow will sprout on its own.

He witnessed also their modes of hardening their children to that
prodigious power of unshrinking endurance, of which such astonishing
effects have just been recorded. This may be fitly termed the Indian
system of gymnastics. The bodies of the children of both sexes are
inured to hardships by compelling them to endure prolonged fastings, and
to bathe in the coldest water. A child of eight years, fasts half a day;
and one of twelve, a whole day without food or drink. The face is
blacked during the fast, and is washed immediately before eating. The
male face is entirely blacked; that of the female only on the cheeks.
The course is discontinued in the case of the male at eighteen, and of
the female at fourteen. At eighteen, the boy is instructed by his
parents that his education is completed, and that he is old enough to be
a man. His face is then blacked for the last time, and he is removed at
the distance of some miles from the village, and placed in a temporary
cabin. He is there addressed by his parent or guardian to this purport:
"My son, it has pleased the Great Spirit that you should live to see
this day. We all have noted your conduct since I first blacked your
face. They well understand whether you have strictly followed the advice
I have given you, and they will conduct themselves towards you according
to their knowledge. You must remain here until I, or some of your
friends, come for you."

The party then returns, resumes his gun, and seeming to forget the
sufferer, goes to his hunting as usual, and the son or ward is left to
endure hunger as long as it can be endured, and the party survive. The
hunter, meanwhile, has procured the materials for a feast, of which the
friends are invited to partake They accompany the father or guardian to
the unfortunate starving subject. He then accompanies them home, and is
bathed in cold water, and his head shaved after the Indian fashion--all
but a small space on the centre of the crown. He is then allowed to take
food, which, however, as a consecrated thing, is presented him in a
vessel distinct from that used by the rest. After he has eaten, he is
presented with a looking-glass, and a bag of vermilion. He is then
complimented for the firmness with which he has sustained his fasting,
and is told that he is henceforward a man, and to be considered as such.
The instance is not known of a boy eating or drinking while under this
interdict of the blacked face. They are deterred, not only by the strong
sentiments of Indian honor, but by a persuasion that the _Great Spirit_
would severely punish such disobedience of parental authority.

The most honorable mode of marriage, and that generally pursued by the
more distinguished warriors, is to assemble the friends and relatives,
and consult with them in regard to the person whom it is expedient to
marry. The choice being made, the relations of the young man collect
such presents as they deem proper for the occasion, go to the parents of
the woman selected, make known the wishes of their friend, deposit their
presents, and return without waiting for an answer. The relations of the
girl assemble and consult on the subject. If they confirm the choice,
they also collect presents, dress her in her best clothes, and take her
to the friends of the bridegroom who made the application for the match,
when it is understood that the marriage is completed. She herself has
still a negative; and if she disapprove the match, the presents from the
friends of the young man are returned, and this is considered as a
refusal. Many of the more northern nations, as the Dacotas, for example,
have a custom, that, when the husband deceases, his widow immediately
manifests the deepest mourning, by putting off all her finery, and
dresses herself in the coarsest Indian attire, the sackcloth of Indian
lamentation. Meanwhile she makes up a respectable sized bundle of her
clothes into the form of a kind of doll-man, which represents her
husband. With this she sleeps. To this she converses and relates the
sorrows of her desolate heart. It would be indecorous for any warrior,
while she is in this predicament, to show her any attentions of
gallantry. She never puts on any habiliments but those of sadness and
disfigurement. The only comfort she is permitted in this desolate state
is, that her budgetted husband is permitted, when drams are passing, to
be considered as a living one, and she is allowed to cheer her depressed
spirits with a double dram, that of her budget-husband and her own.
After a full year of this penance with the budget-husband, she is
allowed to exchange it for a living one, if she can find him.

When an Indian party forms for private revenge the object is
accomplished in the following manner. The Indian who seeks revenge,
proposes his project to obtain it to some of his more intimate
associates, and requests them to accompany him. When the requisite
number is obtained, and the plan arranged it is kept a profound secret
from all others, and the proposer of the plan is considered the leader.
The party leaves the village secretly, and in the night. When they halt
for the night, the eldest encamp in front, and the younger in the rear.
The foremen hunt for the party, and perform the duty of spies. The
latter cook, make the fires, mend the moccasins, and perform the other
drudgery of the expedition.

Every war party has a small budget, called the _war budget_, which
contains something belonging to each one of the party, generally
representing some animal; for example, the skin of a snake, the tail of
a buffalo, the skin of a martin, or the feathers of some extraordinary
bird. This budget is considered a sacred deposit, and is carried by some
person selected for the purpose, who marches in front, and leads the
party against the enemy. When the party halts, the budget is deposited
in front, and no person passes it without authority. No one, while such
an exhibition is pending, is allowed to lay his pack on a log, converse
about women or his home. When they encamp, the heart of whatever beast
they have killed on the preceding day is cut into small pieces and
burnt. No person is allowed, while it is burning, to step across the
fire, but must go round it, and always in the direction of the sun.

When an attack is to be made, the war budget is opened, and each man
takes out his budget, or _totem_, and attaches it to that part of his
body which has been indicated by tradition from his ancestors. When the
attack is commenced, the body of the fighter is painted, generally
black, and is almost naked. After the action, each party returns his
_totem_ to the commander of the party, who carefully wraps them all up,
and delivers them to the man who has taken the first prisoner or scalp;
and he is entitled to the honor of leading the party home in triumph.
The war budget is then hung in front of the door of the person who
carried it on the march against the enemy, where it remains suspended
thirty or forty days, and some one of the party often sings and dances
round it.

One mode of Indian burial seems to have prevailed, not only among the
Indians of the lakes and of the Ohio valley, but over all the western
country. Some lay the dead body on the surface of the ground, make a
crib or pen over it, and cover it with bark. Others lay the body in a
grave, covering it first with bark, and then with earth. Others make a
coffin out of the cloven section of trees, in the form of plank, and
suspend it from the top of a tree. Nothing can be more affecting than to
see a young mother hanging the coffin that contains the remains of her
beloved child to the pendent branches of the flowering maple, and
singing her lament over her love and hope, as it waves in the breeze.


Boone becomes a favorite among the Indians--Anecdotes relating to his
captivity--Their mode of tormenting and burning prisoners--Their
fortitude under the infliction of torture--Concerted attack on
Boonesborough--Boone escapes.

Boone, being now a son in a principal Shawnee family, presents himself
in a new light to our observation. We would be glad to be able give a
diurnal record of his modes of deportment, and getting along. Unhappily,
the records are few and meagre. It will be obvious, that the necessity
for a more profound dissimulation of contentment, cheerfulness, and a
feeling of loving his home, was stronger than ever. It was a semblance
that must be daily and hourly sustained. He would never have acquitted
himself successfully, but for a wonderful versatility, which enabled him
to enter into the spirit of whatever parts he was called upon to
sustain; and a real love for the hunting and pursuits of the Indians,
which rendered what was at first assumed, with a little practice, and
the influence of habit, easy and natural. He soon became in semblance so
thoroughly one of them, and was able in all those points of practice
which give them reputation, to conduct himself with so much skill and
adroitness, that he gained the entire confidence of the family into
which he was adopted, and become as dear to his mother of adoption as
her own son.

Trials of Indian strength and skill are among their most common
amusements. Boone was soon challenged to competition in these trials. In
these rencounters of loud laughter and boisterous merriment, where all
that was done seemed to pass into oblivion as fast as it transpired,
Boone had too much tact and keen observation not to perceive that
jealousy, envy, and the origin of hatred often lay hid under the
apparent recklessness of indifference. He was not sorry that some of the
Indians could really beat him in the race, though extremely light of
foot; and that in the game of ball, at which they had been practised all
their lives, he was decidedly inferior. But there was another
sport--that of shooting at a mark--a new custom to the Indians but
recently habituated to the use of fire arms; a practice which they had
learned from the whites, and they were excessively jealous of reputation
of great skill in this exercise, so important in hunting and war. Boone
was challenged to shoot with them at a mark. It placed him in a most
perplexing dilemma. If he shot his best, he could easily and far excel
their most practised marksmen. But he was aware, that to display his
superiority would never be forgiven him. On the other hand, to fall far
short of them in an exercise which had been hitherto peculiar to the
whites, would forfeit their respect. In this predicament, he judiciously
allowed himself sometimes to be beaten; and when it became prudent to
put forth all his skill, a well dissembled humility and carelessness
subdued the mortification and envy of the defeated competitor.

He was often permitted to accompany them in their hunting parties; and
here their habits and his circumstances alike invoked him to do his
best. They applauded his skill and success as a hunter, with no mixture
of envy or ill will. He was particularly fortunate in conciliating the
good will of the Shawnee chief. To attain this result, Boone not only
often presented him with a share of his game, but adopted the more
winning deportment of always affecting to treat his opinions and
counsels with deference. The chief, on his part, often took occasion to
speak of Boone as a most consummate proficient in hunting, and a warrior
of great bravery. Not long after his residence among them, he had
occasion to witness their manner of celebrating their victories, by
being an eye witness to one which commemorated the successful return of
a war party with some scalps.

Within a day's march of the village, the party dispatched a runner with
the joyful intelligence of their success, achieved without loss. Every
cabin in the village was immediately ordered to be swept perfectly
clean, with the religious intention to banish every source of pollution
that might mar the ceremony. The women, exceedingly fearful of
contributing in any way to this pollution, commenced an inveterate
sweeping, gathering up the collected dirt, and carefully placing it in a
heap behind the door. There it remained until the medicine man, or
priest, who presides over the powow, ordered them to remove it, and at
the same time every savage implement and utensil upon which the women
had laid their hands during the absence of the expedition.

Next day the party came in sight of the village, painted in alternate
compartments of red and black, their heads enveloped in swan's down, and
the centre of their crown, surmounted with long white feathers. They
advanced, singing their war song, and bearing the scalps on a verdant
branch of evergreen.

Arrived at the village, the chief who had led the party advanced before
his warriors to his winter cabin, encircling it in an order of march
contrary to the course of the sun, singing the war song after a
particular mode, sometimes on the ten or and sometimes on the bass key,
sometimes in high and shrill, and sometimes in deep and guttural notes.
The _waiter_, or servant of the leader, called _Etissu_, placed a couple
of blocks of wood near the war-pole, opposite the door of a circular
cabin, called the _hot-house_, in the centre of which was the council
fire. On these blocks he rested a kind of ark, deemed among their most
sacred things. While this was transacting the party were profoundly
silent. The chief bade all set down, and then inquired whether his cabin
was prepared and every thing unpolluted, according to the custom of
their fathers? After the answer, they rose up in concert and began the
war-whoop, walking slowly round the war-pole as they sung. All the
consecrated things were then carried, with no small show of solemnity,
into the hot-house. Here they remained three whole days and nights, in
separation from the rest of the people, applying warm ablutions to
their bodies, and sprinkling themselves with a decoction of snake root.
During a part of the time, the female relations of each of the
consecrated company, after having bathed, anointed, and drest themselves
in their finest apparel, stood, in two lines opposite the door, and
facing each other. This observance they kept up through the night,
uttering a peculiar, monotonous song, in a shrill voice for a minute;
then intermitting it about ten minutes, and resuming it again. When not
singing their silence was profound.

The chief, meanwhile, at intervals of about three hours, came out at the
head of his company, raised the war-whoop, and marched round the red
war-pole, holding in his right hand the pine or cedar boughs, on which
the scalps were attached, waving them backward and forward, and then
returned again. To these ceremonies they conformed without the slightest
interruption, during the whole three days' purification. To proceed with
the whole details of the ceremony to its close, would be tedious. We
close it, only adding, that a small twig of the evergreen was fixed upon
the roof of each one of their cabins, with a fragment of the scalps
attached to it, and this, as it appeared, to appease the ghosts of their
dead. When Boone asked them the meaning of all these long and tedious
ceremonies, they answered him by a word which literally imports "holy."
The leader and his waiter kept apart and continued the purification
three days longer, and the ceremony closed.

He observed, that when their war-parties returned from an expedition,
and had arrived near their village, they followed their file leader, in
what is called _Indian file_, one by one, each a few yards behind the
other, to give the procession an appearance of greater length and
dignity. If the expedition had been unsuccessful, and they had lost any
of their warriors, they returned without ceremony and in noiseless
sadness. But if they had been successful, they fired their guns in
platoons, yelling, whooping, and insulting their prisoners, if they had
made any. Near their town was a large square area, with a war-pole in
the centre, expressly prepared for such purposes. To this they fasten
their prisoners. They then advance to the house of their leader,
remaining without, and standing round his red war-pole, until they
determine concerning the fate of their prisoner. If any prisoner should
be fortunate enough to break from his pinions, and escape into the house
of the chief medicine man, or conductor of the powow, it is an
inviolable asylum, and by immemorial usage, the refugee is saved from
the fire.

Captives far advanced in life, or such as had been known to have shed
the blood of their tribe, were sure to atone for their decrepitude, or
past activity in shedding blood, by being burnt to death. They readily
know those Indians who have killed many, by the blue marks on their
breasts and arms, which indicate the number they have slain. These
hieroglyphics are to them as significant as our alphabetical characters.
The ink with which these characters are impressed, is a sort of
lampblack, prepared from the soot of burning pine, which they catch by
causing it to pass through a sort of greased funnel. Having prepared
this lampblack, they tattoo it into the skin, by punctures made with
thorns or the teeth of fish. The young prisoners, if they seem capable
of activity and service, and if they preserve an intrepid and unmoved
countenance, are generally spared, unless condemned to death by the
party, while undergoing the purification specified above. As soon as
their case is so decided, they are tied to the stake, one at a time. A
pair of bear-skin moccasins, with the hair outwards, are put on their
feet. They are stripped naked to the loins, and are pinioned firmly to
the stake.

Their subsequent punishment, in addition to the suffering of slow fire,
is left to the women. Such are the influences of their training, that
although the female nature, in all races of men, is generally found to
be more susceptible of pity than the male, in this case they appear to
surpass the men in the fury of their merciless rage, and the industrious
ingenuity of their torments. Each is prepared with a bundle of long,
dry, reed cane, or other poles, to which are attached splinters of
burning pine. As the victim is led to the stake, the women and children
begin their sufferings by beating them with switches and clubs; and as
they reel and recoil from the blows, these fiendish imps show their
gratification by unremitting peals of laughter; too happy, if their
tortures ended here, or if the merciful tomahawk brought them to an
immediate close.

The signal for a more terrible infliction being given--the arms of the
victim are pinioned, and he is disengaged from the pole, and a grapevine
passed round his neck, allowing him a circle of about fifteen yards in
circumference, in which he can he made to march round his pole. They
knead tough clay on his head to secure the cranium from the effects of
the blaze, that it may not inflict immediate death. Under the excitement
of ineffable and horrid joy, they whip him round the circle, that he may
expose each part of his body to the flame, while the other part is
fanned by the cool air, that he may thus undergo the literal operation
of slow roasting. During this abhorrent process, the children fill the
circle in convulsions of laughter; and the women begin to thrust their
burning torches into his body, lacerating the quick of the flesh, that
the flame may inflict more exquisite anguish. The warrior, in these
cases; goaded to fury, sweeps round the extent of his circle, kicking,
biting, and stamping with inconceivable fury. The throng of women and
children laugh, and fly from the circle, and fresh tormentors fill it
again. At other times the humor takes him to show them, that he can bear
all this, without a grimace, a spasm, or indication of suffering. In
this case, as we have seen, he smokes, derides, menaces, sings, and
shows his contempt, by calling them by the most reproachful of all
epithets--_old women_. When he falls insensible, they scalp and
dismember him, and the remainder of his body is consumed.

We have omitted many of these revolting details, many of the atrocious
features of this spectacle, as witnessed by Boone. While we read with
indignation and horror, let us not forget that savages have not alone
inflicted these detestable cruelties. Let us not forget that the
professed followers of Jesus Christ have given examples of a barbarity
equally unrelenting and horrible, in the form of religious persecution,
and avowedly to glorify God.

During Boone's captivity among the Shawnese, they took prisoner a noted
warrior of a western tribe, with which they were then at war. He was
condemned to the stake with the usual solemnities. Having endured the
preliminary tortures with the most fearless unconcern, he told them,
when preparing to commence a new series, with a countenance of scorn, he
could teach them how to make an enemy eat fire to some purpose; and
begged that they would give him an opportunity, together with a pipe and
tobacco. In respectful astonishment, at an unwonted demonstration of
invincible endurance, they granted his request. He lighted his pipe,
began to smoke, and sat down, all naked as he was, upon the burning
torches, which were blazing within his circle. Every muscle of his
countenance retained its composure. On viewing this, a noted warrior
sprang up, exclaiming, that this was a true warrior; that though his
nation was treacherous, and he had caused them many deaths, yet such was
their respect for true courage, that if the fire had not already spoiled
him, he should be spared. That being now impossible, he promised him the
merciful release of the tomahawk. He then held the terrible instrument
suspended some moments over his head, during all which time he was
seen neither to change his posture, move a muscle, or his countenance to
blench. The tomahawk fell, and the impassable warrior ceased to suffer.


We shall close these details of the Shawnese customs, at the time when
Boone was prisoner among them, by giving his account of their ceremonies
at making peace. The chief warriors, who arrange the conditions of the
peace and subsequent friendship, first mutually eat and smoke together.
They then pledge each other in the sacred drink called _Cussena_. The
Shawnese then wave large fans of eagles' tails, and conclude with a
dance. The stranger warriors, who have come to receive the peace, select
half a dozen of their most active young men, surmounting their crowns
with swan's feathers, and painting their bodies with white clay. They
then place their file leader on the consecrated seat of what imports in
their language, the "beloved cabin." Afterwards they commence singing
the peace song, with an air of great solemnity. They begin to dance,
first in a prone or bowing posture. They then raise themselves erect,
look upwards, and wave their eagles' tails towards the sky, first with a
slow, and then with a quick and jerky motion. At the same time, they
strike their breast with a calabash fastened to a stick about a foot in
length, which they hold in their left hand, while they wave the eagles'
feathers with the right, and keep time by rattling pebbles in a gourd.
These ceremonies of peace-making they consider among their most solemn
duties; and to be perfectly accomplished in all the notes and gestures
is an indispensable acquirement to a thorough trained warrior.

Boone has related, at different times, many oral details of his private
and domestic life, and his modes of getting along in the family, of
which he was considered a member. He was perfectly trained to their
ways, could prepare their food, and perform any of their common domestic
operations with the best of them. He often accompanied them in their
hunting excursions, wandering with them over the extent of forest
between Chillicothe and lake Erie. These conversations presented curious
and most vivid pictures of their interior modes; their tasks of diurnal
labor and supply; their long and severe fasts; their gluttonous
indulgence, when they had food; and their reckless generosity and
hospitality, when they had any thing to bestow to travelling visitants.

To become, during this tedious captivity, perfectly acquainted with
their most interior domestic and diurnal manners, was not without
interest for a mind constituted like his. To make himself master of
their language, and to become familiarly acquainted with their customs,
he considered acquisitions of the highest utility in the future
operations, in which, notwithstanding his present duress, he hoped yet
to be beneficial to his beloved settlement of Kentucky.

Although the indulgence with which he was treated in the family, in
which he was adopted, and these acquisitions, uniting interest with
utility, tended to beguile the time of his captivity, it cannot be
doubted, that his sleeping and waking thoughts were incessantly occupied
with the chances of making his escape. An expedition was in
contemplation, by the tribe, to the salt licks on the Scioto, to make
salt. Boone dissembled indifference whether they took him with them, or
left him behind, with so much success, that, to his extreme joy, they
determined that he should accompany them. The expedition started on the
first day of June, 1778, and was occupied ten days in making salt.

During this expedition, he was frequently sent out to hunt, to furnish
provisions for the party; but always under such circumstances, that,
much as he had hoped to escape on this expedition, no opportunity
occurred, which he thought it prudent to embrace. He returned with the
party to Chillicothe, having derived only one advantage from the
journey, that of furnishing, by his making no attempt to escape, and by
his apparently cheerful return, new motives to convince the Indians,
that he was thoroughly domesticated among them, and had voluntarily
renounced his own race; a persuasion, which, by taking as much apparent
interest as any of them, in all their diurnal movements and plans, he
constantly labored to establish.

Soon after his return he attended a warrior-council, at which, in virtue
of being a member of one of the principal families, he had a right of
usage and prescription, to be present. It was composed of a hundred and
fifty of their bravest men, all painted and armed for an expedition,
which he found was intended against Boonesborough. It instantly
occurred to him, as a most fortunate circumstance, that he had not
escaped on the expedition to Scioto. Higher and more imperious motives,
than merely personal considerations, now determined him at every risk to
make the effort to escape, and prepare, if he might reach it, the
station for a vigorous defence, by forewarning it of what was in
preparation among the Indians.

The religious ceremonies of the council and preparation for the
expedition were as follow. One of the principal war chiefs announced the
intention of a party to commence an expedition against Boonesborough.
This he did by beating their drum, and marching with their war standard
three times round the council-house. On this the council dissolved, and
a sufficient number of warriors supplied themselves with arms, and a
quantity of parched corn flour, as a supply of food for the expedition.
All who had volunteered to join in it, then adjourned to their "winter
house," and drank the war-drink, a decoction of bitter herbs and roots,
for three days--preserving in other respects an almost unbroken fast.
This is considered to be an act tending to propitiate the Great Spirit
to prosper their expedition. During this period of purifying themselves,
they were not allowed to sit down, or even lean upon a tree, however
fatigued, until after sun-set. If a bear or deer even passed in sight,
custom forbade them from killing it for refreshment. The more rigidly
punctual they are in the observance of these rights, the more
confidently they expect success.

While the young warriors were under this probation, the aged ones,
experienced in the usages of their ancestors, watched them most narrowly
to see that, from irreligion, or hunger, or recklessness, they did not
violate any of the transmitted religious rites, and thus bring the wrath
of the Great Spirit upon the expedition. Boone himself, as a person
naturally under suspicion of having a swerving of inclination towards
the station to be assailed, was obliged to observe the fast with the
most rigorous exactness. During the three days' process of purification,
he was not once allowed to go out of the medicine or sanctified ground,
without a trusty guard, lest hunger or indifference to their laws should
tempt him to violate them.

When the fast and purification was complete, they were compelled to set
forth, prepared or unprepared, be the weather fair or foul. Accordingly,
when the time arrived, they fired their guns, whooped, and danced, and
sung--and continued firing their guns before them on the commencement of
their route. The leading war-chief marched first, carrying their
medicine bag, or budget of holy things. The rest followed in Indian
file, at intervals of three or four paces behind each other, now and
then chiming the war-whoop in concert.

They advanced in this order until they were out of sight and hearing of
the village. As soon as they reached the deep woods, all became as
silent as death. This silence they inculcate, that their ears may be
quick to catch the least portent of danger.

Every one acquainted with the race, has remarked their intense keenness
of vision. Their eyes, for acuteness, and capability of discerning
distant objects, resemble those of the eagle or the lynx; and their
cat-like tread among the grass and leaves, seems so light as scarcely to
shake off the dew drops. Thus they advance on their expedition rapidly
and in profound silence, unless some one of the party should relate that
he has had an unpropitious dream When this happens, an immediate arrest
is put upon the expedition, and the whole party face about, and return
without any sense of shame or mortification. A whole party is thus often
arrested by a single person; and their return is applauded by the tribe,
as a respectful docility to the divine impulse, as they deem it, from
the Great Spirit. These dreams are universally reverenced, as the
warnings of the guardian spirits of the tribe. There is in that country
a sparrow, of an uncommon species, and not often seen. This bird is
called in the Shawnese dialect by a name importing "kind messenger,"
which they deem always a true omen, whenever it appears, of bad news.
They are exceedingly intimidated whenever this bird sings near them; and
were it to perch and sing over their war-camp, the whole party would
instantly disperse in consternation and dismay.

Every chief has his warrior, Etissu, or waiter, to attend on him and his
party. This confidential personage has charge of every thing that is
eaten or drank during the expedition. He parcels it out by rules of
rigid abstemiousness. Though each warrior carries on his back all his
travelling conveniences, and his food among the rest, yet, however keen
the appetite sharpened by hunger, however burning the thirst, no one
dares relieve his hunger or thirst, until his rations are dispensed to
him by the Etissu.

Boone had occasion to have all these rites most painfully impressed on
his memory; for he was obliged to conform to them with the rest. One
single thought occupied his mind--to seize the right occasion to escape.

It was sometime before it offered. At length a deer came in sight. He
had a portion of his unfinished breakfast in his hand. He expressed a
desire to pursue the deer. The party consented. As soon as he was out of
sight, he instantly turned his course towards Boonesborough. Aware that
he should be pursued by enemies as keen on the scent as bloodhounds, he
put forth his whole amount of backwoods skill, in doubling in his track,
walking in the water, and availing himself of every imaginable expedient
to throw them off his trail. His unfinished fragment of his breakfast
was his only food, except roots and berries, during this escape for his
life, through unknown forests and pathless swamps, and across numerous
rivers, spreading in an extent of more than two hundred miles. Every
forest sound must have struck his ear, as a harbinger of the approaching

No spirit but such an one as his, could have sustained the apprehension
and fatigue. No mind but one guided by the intuition of instinctive
sagacity, could have so enabled him to conceal his trail, and find his
way. But he evaded their pursuit. He discovered his way. He found in
roots, in barks, and berries, together with what a single shot of his
rifle afforded, wherewith to sustain the cravings of nature. Travelling
night and day, in an incredible short space of time he was in the arms
of his friends at Boonesborough, experiencing a reception, after such a
long and hopeless absence, as words would in vain attempt to portray.


Six hundred Indians attack Boonesborough--Boone and Captain Smith go out
to treat with the enemy under a flag of truce, and are extricated from a
treacherous attempt to detain them as prisoners--Defence of the
fort--The Indians defeated--Boone goes to North Carolina to bring bark
his family.

It will naturally be supposed that foes less wary and intelligent, than
those from whom Boone had escaped, after they had abandoned the hope of
recapturing him, would calculate to find Boonesborough in readiness for
their reception.

Boonesborough, though the most populous and important station in
Kentucky, had been left by the abstraction of so many of the select
inhabitants in the captivity of the Blue Licks, by the absence of
Colonel Clarke in Illinois, and by the actual decay of the pickets,
almost defenceless. Not long before the return of Boone, this important
post had been put under the care of Major Smith, an active and
intelligent officer. He repaired thither, and put the station, with
great labor and fatigue, in a competent state of defence. Learning from
the return of some of the prisoners, captured at the Blue Licks, the
great blow which the Shawnese meditated against this station, he deemed
it advisable to anticipate their movements, and to fit out an expedition
to meet them on their own ground.--Leaving twenty young men to defend
the place, he marched with thirty chosen men towards the Shawnese

At the Blue Licks, a place of evil omen to Kentucky, eleven of the men,
anxious for the safety of the families they had left behind and deeming
their force too small for the object contemplated, abandoned the
enterprise and retreated to the fort. The remaining nineteen, not
discouraged by the desertion of their companions, heroically persevered.
They crossed the Ohio to the present site of Cincinnati, on rafts. They
then painted their faces, and in other respects assumed the guise and
garb of savages, and marched upon the Indian towns.

When arrived within twenty miles of these towns they met the force with
which Boone had set out. Discouraged by his escape, the original party
had returned, had been rejoined by a considerable reinforcement, the
whole amounting to two hundred and fifty men on horse-back, and were
again on their march against Boonesborough. Fortunately, Major Smith and
his small party discovered this formidable body before they were
themselves observed. But instead of endeavoring to make good their
retreat from an enemy so superior in numbers, and mounted upon horses,
they fired upon them and killed two of their number. An assault so
unexpected alarmed the Indians; and without any effort to ascertain the
number of their assailants, they commenced a precipitate retreat. If
these rash adventurers had stopped here, they might have escaped
unmolested. But, flushed with this partial success, they rushed upon the
retreating foe, and repeated their fire. The savages, restored to
self-possession, halted in their turn, deliberated a moment, and turned
upon the assailants. Major Smith, perceiving the imprudence of having
thus put the enemy at bay, and the certainty of the destruction of his
little force, if the Indians should perceive its weakness, ordered a
retreat in time; and being considerably in advance of the foe, succeeded
in effecting it without loss. By a rapid march during the night, in the
course of the next morning they reached Boonesborough in safety.

Scarcely an hour after the last of their number had entered the fort, a
body of six hundred Indians, in three divisions of two hundred each,
appeared with standards and much show of warlike array, and took their
station opposite the fort. The whole was commanded by a Frenchman named
Duquesne. They immediately sent a flag requesting the surrender of the
place, in the name of the king of Great Britain. A council was held, and
contrary to the opinion of Major Smith, it was decided to pay no
attention to the proposal. They repeated their flag of truce, stating
that they had letters from the commander at Detroit to Colonel Boone. On
this, it was resolved that Colonel Boone and Major Smith should venture
out, and hear what they had to propose.

Fifty yards from the fort three chiefs met them with great parade, and
conducted them to the spot designated for their reception, and spread a
panther's skin for their seat, while two other Indians held branches
over their heads to protect them from the fervor of the sun. The chiefs
then commenced an address five minutes in length, abounding in friendly
assurances, and the avowal of kind sentiments. A part of the advanced
warriors grounded their arms, and came forward to shake hands with them.

The letter from Governor Hamilton of Detroit was then produced, and
read. It proposed the most favorable terms of surrender, provided the
garrison would repair to Detroit. Major Smith assured them that the
proposition seemed a kind one; but that it was impossible, in their
circumstances, to remove their women and children to Detroit. The reply
was that this difficulty should be removed, for that they had brought
forty horses with them, expressly prepared for such a contingency.

In a long and apparently amicable interview, during which the Indians
smoked with them, and vaunted their abstinence in not having killed the
swine and cattle of the settlement, Boone and Smith arose to return to
the fort, and make known these proposals, and to deliberate upon their
decision. Twenty Indians accompanied their return as far as the limits
stipulated between the parties allowed. The negotiators having returned,
and satisfied the garrison that the Indians had no cannon, advised to
listen to no terms, but to defend the fort to the last extremity. The
inmates of the station resolved to follow this counsel.

In a short time the Indians sent in another flag, with a view, as they
stated, to ascertain the result of the deliberations of the fort. Word
was sent them, that if they wished to settle a treaty, a place of
conference must be assigned intermediate between their camp and the
fort. The Indians consented to this stipulation, and deputed thirty
chiefs to arrange the articles, though such appeared to be their
distrust, that they could not be induced to come nearer than eighty
yards from the fort. Smith and Boone with four others were deputed to
confer with them. After a close conference of two days, an arrangement
was agreed upon, which contained a stipulation, that neither party
should cross the Ohio, until after the terms had been decided upon by
the respective authorities on either side. The wary heads of this
negotiation considered these terms of the Indians as mere lures to
beguile confidence.

When the treaty was at last ready for signature, an aged chief, who had
seemed to regulate all the proceedings, remarked that he must first go
to his people, and that he would immediately return, and sign the
instrument. He was observed to step aside in conference with some young
warriors. On his return the negotiators from the garrison asked the
chief why he had brought young men in place of those who had just been
assisting at the council? His answer was prompt and ingenious. It was,
that he wished to gratify his young warriors, who desired to become
acquainted with the ways of the whites. It was then proposed, according
to the custom of both races, that the parties should shake hands. As the
two chief negotiators, Smith and Boone, arose to depart, they were both
seized from behind.

Suspicious of treachery, they had posted twenty-five men in a bastion,
with orders to fire upon the council, as soon as they should see any
marks of treachery or violence. The instant the negotiators were seized,
the whole besieging force fired upon them, and the fire was as promptly
returned by the men in the bastion. The powerful savages who had grasped
Boone and Smith, attempted to drag them off as prisoners. The one who
held Smith was compelled to release his grasp by being shot dead.
Colonel Boone was slightly wounded. A second tomahawk, by which his
skull would have been cleft asunder, he evaded, and it partially fell on
Major Smith; but being in a measure spent, it did not inflict a
dangerous wound. The negotiators escaped to the fort without receiving
any other injury. The almost providential escape of Boone and Smith can
only be accounted for by the confusion into which the Indians were
thrown, as soon as these men were seized, and by the prompt fire of the
men concealed in the bastion. Added to this, the two Indians who seized
them were both shot dead, by marksmen who knew how to kill the Indians,
and at the same time spare the whites, in whose grasp they were held.

The firing on both sides now commenced in earnest, and was kept up
without intermission from morning dawn until dark. The garrison, at once
exasperated and cheered by the meditated treachery of the negotiation
and its result, derided the furious Indians, and thanked them for the
stratagem of the negotiation, which had given them time to prepare the
fort for their reception. Goaded to desperation by these taunts, and by
Duquesne, who harangued them to the onset, they often rushed up to the
fort, as if they purposed to storm it. Dropping dead under the cool and
deliberate aim of the besieged, the remainder of the forlorn hope,
raising a yell of fury and despair, fell back. Other infuriated bands
took their place; and these scenes were often repeated, invariably with
the same success, until both parties were incapable of taking aim on
account of the darkness.

They then procured a quantity of combustible matter, set fire to it, and
approached under covert of the darkness, so near the palisades as to
throw the burning materials into the fort. But the inmates had availed
themselves of the two days' consultation, granted them by the
treacherous foe, to procure an ample supply of water; and they had the
means of extinguishing the burning faggots as they fell.

Finding their efforts to fire the fort ineffectual, they returned again
to their arms, and continued to fire upon the station for some days.
Taught a lesson of prudence, however, by what had already befallen them,
they kept at such a cautious distance, as that their fire took little
effect. A project to gain the place, more wisely conceived, and
promising better success, was happily discovered by Colonel Boone. The
walls of the fort were distant sixty yards from the Kentucky river. The
bosom of the current was easily discernible by the people within. Boone
discovered in the morning that the stream near the shore was extremely
turbid. He immediately divined the cause.

The Indians had commenced a trench at the water level of the river
bank, mining upwards towards the station, and intending to reach the
interior by a passage under the wall. He took measures to render their
project ineffectual, by ordering a trench to be cut inside the fort,
across the line of their subterraneous passage. They were probably
apprised of the countermine that was digging within, by the quantity of
earth thrown over the wall. But, stimulated by the encouragement of
their French engineer, they continued to advance their mine towards the
wall, until, from the friability of the soil through which it passed, it
fell in, and all their labor was lost. With a perseverance that in a
good cause would have done them honor, in no wise discouraged by this
failure to intermit their exertions, they returned again to their fire
arms, and kept up a furious and incessant firing for some days, but
producing no more impression upon the station than before.

During the siege, which lasted eight days, they proposed frequent
parleys, requesting the surrender of the place, and professing to treat
the garrison with the utmost kindness. They were answered, that they
must deem the garrison to be still more brutally fools than themselves,
to expect that they would place any confidence in the proposals of
wretches who had already manifested such base and stupid treachery. They
were bidden to fire on, for that their waste of powder and lead gave the
garrison little uneasiness, and were assured that they could not hope
the surrender of the place, while there was a man left within it. On the
morning of the ninth day from the commencement of the siege, after
having, as usual, wreaked their disappointed fury upon the cattle and
swine, they decamped, and commenced a retreat.

No Indian expedition against the whites had been known to have had such
a disastrous issue for them. During the siege, their loss was estimated
by the garrison at two hundred killed, beside a great number wounded.
The garrison, on the contrary, protected by the palisades, behind which
they could fire in safety, and deliberately prostrate every foe that
exposed himself near enough to become a mark, lost but two killed, and
had six wounded.

After the siege, the people of the fort, to whom lead was a great
object, began to collect the balls that the Indians had fired upon them.
They gathered in the logs of the fort, beside those that had fallen to
the ground, a hundred and twenty-five pounds. The failure of this
desperate attempt, with such a powerful force, seems to have discouraged
the Indians and their Canadian allies from making any further effort
against Boonesborough. In the autumn of this season, Colonel Boone
returned to North Carolina to visit his wife and family.

When he was taken at the Blue Licks, with his associates, who had
returned, while he was left behind in a long captivity, during which no
more news of him transpired than as if he were actually among the dead,
the people of the garrison naturally concluded that he had been killed.
His wife and family numbered him as among the dead; and often had they
shuddered on the bare recurrence of some one to the probability of the
tortures he had undergone. Deeply attached to him, and inconsolable,
they could no longer endure a residence which so painfully reminded them
of their loss. As soon as they had settled their minds to the conviction
that their head would return to them no more, they resolved to leave
these forests that had been so fatal to them, and return to the banks of
the Yadkin, where were all their surviving connections. A family so
respectable and dear to the settlement would not be likely to leave
without having to overcome many tender and pressing solicitations to
remain, and many promises that if they would, their temporal wants
should be provided for.

To all this Mrs. Boone could only object, that Kentucky had indeed been
to her, as its name imported, a dark and _Bloody Ground_. She had lost
her eldest son by the savage fire before they had reached the country.
Her daughter had been made a captive, and had experienced a forbearance
from the Indians to her inexplicable. She would have been carried away
to the savage towns, and there would have been forcibly married to some
warrior, but for the perilous attempt, and improbable success of her
father in recapturing her. Now the father himself, her affectionate
husband, and the heroic defender of the family, had fallen a sacrifice,
probably in the endurance of tortures on which the imagination dared not
to dwell. Under the influence of griefs like these, next to the
unfailing resource of religion, the heart naturally turns to the
sympathy and society of those bound to it by the ties of nature and
affinity. They returned to their friends in North Carolina.

It was nearly five years since this now desolate family had started in
company with the first emigrating party of families, in high hopes and
spirits, for Kentucky. We have narrated their disastrous rencounter with
the Indians in Powell's valley, and their desponding return to Clinch
river. We have seen their subsequent return to Boonesborough, on
Kentucky river. Tidings of the party thus far had reached the relatives
of Mrs. Boone's family in North Carolina; but no news from the country
west of the Alleghanies had subsequently reached them. All was uncertain
conjecture, whether they still lived, or had perished by famine, wild
beasts, or the Indians.

At the close of the summer of 1778, the settlement on the Yadkin saw a
company on pack horses approaching in the direction from the western
wilderness. They had often seen parties of emigrants departing in that
direction, but it was a novel spectacle to see one return from that
quarter. At the head of that company was a blooming youth, scarcely yet
arrived at the age of manhood. It was the eldest surviving son of Daniel
Boone. Next behind him was a matronly woman, in weeds, and with a
countenance of deep dejection. It was Mrs. Boone. Still behind was the
daughter who had been a captive with the Indians. The remaining children
were too young to feel deeply. The whole group was respectable in
appearance, though clad in skins, and the primitive habiliments of the
wilderness. It might almost have been mistaken for a funeral
procession. It stopped at the house of Mr. Bryan, the father of Mrs.

The people of the settlement were not long in collecting to hear news
from the west, and learn the fate of their former favorite, Boone, and
his family. As Mrs. Boone, in simple and backwood's phrase, related the
thrilling story of their adventures, which needed no trick of venal
eloquence to convey it to the heart, an abundant tribute of tears from
the hearers convinced the bereaved narrator that true sympathy is
natural to the human heart. As they shuddered at the dark character of
many of the incidents related, it was an hour of triumph,
notwithstanding their pity, for those wiser ones, who took care, in an
under tone, to whisper that it might be remembered that they had
predicted all that had happened.


A sketch of the character and adventures of several other
pioneers--Harrod, Kenton, Logan, Ray, McAffee, and others.

Colonel Boone having seen the formidable invasion of Boonesborough
successfully repelled, and with such a loss as would not be likely to
tempt the Indians to repeat such assaults--and having thus disengaged
his mind from public duties, resigned it to the influence of domestic
sympathies. The affectionate husband and father, concealing the
tenderest heart under a sun-burnt and care-worn visage, was soon seen
crossing the Alleghanies in pursuit of his wife and children. The bright
star of his morning promise had been long under eclipse; for this
journey was one of continued difficulties, vexations, and dangers--so
like many of his sufferings already recounted, that we pass them by,
fearing the effect of incidents of so much monotony upon the reader's
patience. The frame and spirit of the western adventurer were of iron.
He surmounted all, and was once more in the bosom of his family on the
Yadkin, who, in the language of the Bible, hailed him as one _who had
been dead and was alive again; who had been lost and was found_.

Many incidents of moment and interest in the early annals of Kentucky
occurred during this reunion of Boone with his family. As his name is
forever identified with these annals, we hope it will not be deemed
altogether an episode if we introduce here a brief chronicle of those
incidents--though not directly associated with the subject of our
memoir. In presenting those incidents, we shall be naturally led to
speak of some of the other patriarchs of Kentucky--all Boones in their
way--all strangely endowed with that peculiar character which fitted
them for the time, place, and achievements. We thus discover the
foresight of Providence in the arrangement of means to ends. This is no
where seen more conspicuously than in the characters of the founders of
states and institutions.

During the absence of Colonel Boone, there was a general disposition in
Kentucky to retaliate upon the Shawnese some of the injuries and losses
which they had so often inflicted upon the infant settlement. Colonel
Bowman, with a force of a hundred and sixty men, was selected to command
the expedition; and it was destined against Old Chillicothe--the den
where the red northern savages had so long concentrated their
expeditions against the settlements south of the Ohio.

The force marched in the month of July, 1779, and reached its
destination undiscovered by the Indians. A contest commenced with the
Indians at early dawn, which lasted until ten in the morning. But,
although Colonel Bowman's force sustained itself with great gallantry,
the numbers and concealment of the enemy precluded the chance of a
victory. He retreated, with an inconsiderable loss, a distance of thirty
miles. The Indians, collecting all their forces, pursued and overtook
him. Another engagement of two hours ensued, more to the disadvantage
of the Kentuckians than the former. Colonel Harrod proposed to mount a
number of horse, and make a charge upon the Indians, who continued the
fight with great fury. This apparently desperate measure was followed by
the happiest results. The Indian front was broken, and their force
thrown into irreparable confusion. Colonel Bowman, having sustained a
loss of nine killed and one wounded, afterwards continued an unmolested

In June of the next year, 1780, six hundred Indians and Canadians,
commanded by Colonel Bird, a British officer, attacked Riddle's and
Martin's stations, at the forks of the Licking, with six pieces of
cannon. They conducted this expedition with so much secrecy, that the

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