Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Winning of the West, Volume Two by Theodore Roosevelt

Part 2 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

33, p. 90. "A Journal of Col. G. R. Clark. Proceedings from the 29th
Jan'y 1779 to the 26th March Inst." [by Captain Bowman]. This journal
has been known for a long time. The original is supposed to have been
lost; but either this is it or else it is a contemporary MS. copy. In
the "Campaign in the Illinois" (Cincinnati, Robert Clarke and Co.,
1869), p. 99, there is a printed copy of the original. The Washington
MS. differs from it in one or two particulars. Thus, the printed diary
in the "Campaign," on p. 99, line 3, says "fifty volunteers"; the MS.
copy says "50 French volunteers." Line 5 in the printed copy says "and
such other Americans"; in the MS. it says "and several other Americans."
Lines 6 and 7 of the printed copy read as follows in the MS. (but only
make doubtful sense): "These with a number of horses designed for the
settlement of Kantuck &c. Jan. 30th, on which Col. Clark," etc. Lines 10
and 11 of the printed copy read in the MS.: "was let alone till spring
that he with his Indians would undoubtedly cut us all off." Lines 13 and
14, of the printed copy read in the MS. "Jan. 31st, sent an express to
Cahokia for volunteers. Nothing extraordinary this day."]; but at
nightfall they kindled huge camp-fires, and spent the evenings merrily
round the piles of blazing logs, in hunter fashion, feasting on bear's
ham and buffalo hump, elk saddle, venison haunch, and the breast of the
wild turkey, some singing of love and the chase and war, and others
dancing after the manner of the French trappers and wood-runners.

Thus they kept on, marching hard but gleefully and in good spirits until
after a week they came to the drowned lauds of the Wabash. They first
struck the two branches of the Little Wabash. Their channels were a
league apart, but the flood was so high that they now made one great
river five miles in width, the overflow of water being three feet deep
in the shallowest part of the plains between and alongside them.

Clark instantly started to build a pirogue; then crossing over the first
channel he put up a scaffold on the edge of the flooded plain. He
ferried his men over, and brought the baggage across and placed it on
the scaffold; then he swam the pack-horses over, loaded them as they
stood belly-deep in the water beside the scaffold, and marched his men
on through the water until they came to the second channel, which was
crossed as the first had been. The building of the pirogue and the
ferrying took three days in all.

They had by this time come so near Vincennes that they dared not fire a
gun for fear of being discovered; besides, the floods had driven the
game all away; so that they soon began to feel hunger, while their
progress was very slow, and they suffered much from the fatigue of
travelling all day long through deep mud or breast-high water. On the
17th they reached the Embarras River, but could not cross, nor could
they find a dry spot on which to camp; at last they found the water
falling off a small, almost submerged hillock, and on this they huddled
through the night. At daybreak they heard Hamilton's morning gun from
the fort, that was but three leagues distant; and as they could not find
a ford across the Embarras, they followed it down and camped by the
Wabash. There Clark set his drenched, hungry, and dispirited followers
to building some pirogues; while two or three unsuccessful attempts were
made to get men across the river that they might steal boats. He
determined to leave his horses at this camp; for it was almost
impossible to get them further. [Footnote: This is not exactly stated in
the "Memoir"; but it speaks of the horses as being with the troops on
the 20th; and after they left camp, on the evening of the 21st, states
that he "would have given a good deal ... for one of the horses."]

Hardship and Suffering.

On the morning of the 20th the men had been without food for nearly two
days. Many of the Creole volunteers began to despair, and talked of
returning. Clark knew that his Americans, veterans who had been with him
for over a year, had no idea of abandoning the enterprise, nor yet of
suffering the last extremities of hunger while they had horses along. He
paid no heed to the request of the Creoles, nor did he even forbid their
going back; he only laughed at them, and told them to go out and try to
kill a deer. He knew that without any violence he could yet easily
detain the volunteers for a few days longer; and he kept up the spirits
of the whole command by his undaunted and confident mien. The canoes
were nearly finished; and about noon a small boat with five Frenchmen
from Vincennes was captured. From these Clark gleaned the welcome
intelligence that the condition of affairs was unchanged at the fort,
and that there was no suspicion of any impending danger. In the evening
the men were put in still better heart by one of the hunters killing a

It rained all the next day. By dawn Clark began to ferry the troops over
the Wabash in the canoes he had built, and they were soon on the eastern
bank of the river, the side on which Vincennes stood. They now hoped to
get to town by nightfall; but there was no dry land for leagues round
about, save where a few hillocks rose island-like above the flood. The
Frenchmen whom they had captured said they could not possibly get along;
but Clark led the men in person, and they waded with infinite toil for
about three miles, the water often up to their chins; and they then
camped on a hillock for the night. Clark kept the troops cheered up by
every possible means, and records that he was much assisted by "a little
antic drummer," a young boy who did good service by making the men laugh
with his pranks and jokes. [Footnote: Law, in his "Vincennes" (p. 32),
makes the deeds of the drummer the basis for a traditional story that is
somewhat too highly colored. Thus he makes Clark's men at one time
mutiny, and refuse to go forwards. This they never did; the Creoles once
got dejected and wished to return, but the Americans, by Clark's own
statement, never faltered at all. Law's "Vincennes" is an excellent
little book, but he puts altogether too much confidence in mere
tradition. For another instance besides this, see page 68, where he
describes Clark as entrapping and killing "upwards of fifty Indians,"
instead of only eight or nine, as was actually the case.]

Next morning they resumed their march, the strongest wading painfully
through the water, while the weak and famished were carried in the
canoes, which were so hampered by the bushes that they could hardly go
even as fast as the toiling footmen. The evening and morning guns of the
fort were heard plainly by the men as they plodded onward, numbed and
weary. Clark, as usual, led them in person. Once they came to a place so
deep that there seemed no crossing, for the canoes could find no ford.
It was hopeless to go back or stay still, and the men huddled together,
apparently about to despair. But Clark suddenly blackened his face with
gunpowder, gave the war-whoop, and sprang forwards boldly into the
ice-cold water, wading out straight towards the point at which they were
aiming; and the men followed him, one after another, without a word.
Then he ordered those nearest him to begin one of their favorite songs;
and soon the whole line took it up, and marched cheerfully onward. He
intended to have the canoes ferry them over the deepest part, but before
they came to it one of the men felt that his feet were in a path, and by
carefully following it they got to a sugar camp, a hillock covered with
maples, which once had been tapped for sugar. Here they camped for the
night, still six miles from the town, without food, and drenched
through. The prisoners from Vincennes, sullen and weary, insisted that
they could not possibly get to the town through the deep water; the
prospect seemed almost hopeless even to the iron-willed, steel-sinewed
backwoodsmen [Footnote: Bowman ends his entry for the day with: "No
provisions yet. Lord help us!"]; but their leader never lost courage for
a moment.

That night was bitterly cold, for there was a heavy frost, and the ice
formed half an inch thick round the edges and in the smooth water. But
the sun rose bright and glorious, and Clark, in burning words, told his
stiffened, famished, half-frozen followers that the evening would surely
see them at the goal of their hopes. Without waiting for an answer, he
plunged into the water, and they followed him with a cheer, in Indian
file. Before the third man had entered the water he halted and told one
of his officers [Footnote: Bowman] to close the rear with twenty-five
men, and to put to death any man who refused to march; and the whole
line cheered him again.

Then came the most trying time of the whole march. Before them lay a
broad sheet of water, covering what was known as the Horse Shoe Plain;
the floods had made it a shallow lake four miles across, unbroken by so
much as a handsbreadth of dry land. On its farther side was a dense
wood. Clark led breast high in the water with fifteen or twenty of the
strongest men next him. About the middle of the plain the cold and
exhaustion told so on the weaker men that the canoes had to take them
aboard and carry them on to the land; and from that time on the little
dug-outs plied frantically to and fro to save the more helpless from
drowning. Those, who, though weak, could still move onwards, clung to
the stronger, and struggled ahead, Clark animating them in every
possible way. When they at last reached the woods the water became so
deep that it was to the shoulders of the tallest, but the weak and those
of low stature could now cling to the bushes and old logs, until the
canoes were able to ferry them to a spot of dry land, some ten acres in
extent, that lay near-by. The strong and tall got ashore and built
fires. Many on reaching the shore fell flat on their faces, half in the
water, and could not move farther. It was found that the fires did not
help the very weak, so every such a one was put between two strong men
who ran him up and down by the arms, and thus soon made him recover.
[Footnote: Clark's "Memoir."]

Fortunately at this time an Indian canoe, paddled by some squaws, was
discovered and overtaken by one of the dug-outs. In it was half a
quarter of a buffalo, with some corn, tallow and kettles. This was an
invaluable prize. Broth was immediately made, and was served out to the
most weakly with great care; almost all of the men got some, but very
many gave their shares to the weakly, rallying and joking them to put
them in good heart. The little refreshment, together with the fires and
the bright weather, gave new life to all. They set out again in the
afternoon, crossed a deep, narrow lake in their canoes, and after
marching a short distance came to a copse of timber from which they saw
the fort and town not two miles away. Here they halted, and looked to
their rifles and ammunition, making ready for the fight. Every man now
feasted his eyes with the sight of what he had so long labored to reach,
and forthwith forgot that he had suffered any thing; making light of
what had been gone through, and passing from dogged despair to the most
exultant self-confidence.

Between the party and the town lay a plain, the hollows being filled
with little pools, on which were many water-fowl, and some of the
townspeople were in sight, on horseback, shooting ducks. Clark sent out
a few active young creoles, who succeeded in taking prisoner one of
these fowling horsemen. From him it was learned that neither Hamilton
nor any one else had the least suspicion that any attack could possibly
be made at that season, but that a couple of hundred Indian warriors had
just come to town.

Clark was rather annoyed at the last bit of information. The number of
armed men in town, including British, French, and Indians about
quadrupled his own force. This made heavy odds to face, even with the
advantage of a surprise, and in spite of the fact that his own men were
sure to fight to the last, since failure meant death by torture.
Moreover, if he made the attack without warning, some of the Indians and
Vincennes people would certainly be slain, and the rest would be thereby
made his bitter enemies, even if he succeeded. On the other hand, he
found out from the prisoner that the French were very lukewarm to the
British, and would certainly not fight if they could avoid it; and that
half of the Indians were ready to side with the Americans. Finally,
there was a good chance that before dark some one would discover the
approach of the troops and would warn the British, thereby doing away
with all chance of a surprise.

After thinking it over Clark decided, as the less of two evils, to
follow the hazardous course of himself announcing his approach. He
trusted that the boldness of such a course, together with the shock of
his utterly unexpected appearance, would paralyze his opponents and
incline the wavering to favor him. So he released the prisoner and sent
him in ahead, with a letter to the people of Vincennes. By this letter
he proclaimed to the French that he was that moment about to attack the
town; that those townspeople who were friends to the Americans were to
remain in their houses, where they would not be molested; that the
friends of the king should repair to the fort, join the "hair-buyer
general," and fight like men; and that those who did neither of these
two things, but remained armed and in the streets, must expect to be
treated as enemies. [Footnote: Clark's "Memoir."]

Surprise of the Town.

Having sent the messenger in advance, he waited until his men were
rested and their rifles and powder dry, and then at sundown marched
straight against the town. He divided his force into two divisions,
leading in person the first, which consisted of two companies of
Americans and of the Kaskaskia creoles; while the second, led by Bowman,
contained Bowman's own company and the Cahokians. His final orders to
the men were to march with the greatest regularity, to obey the orders
of their officers, and, above all, to keep perfect silence. [Footnote:
In the Haldimand MSS., Series B., Vol. 122, p. 289, there is a long
extract from what is called "Col. Clark's Journal." This is the official
report which he speaks of as being carried by William Moires, his
express, who was taken by the Indians (see his letter to Henry of April
29th; there seems, by the way, to be some doubt whether this letter was
not written to Jefferson; there is a copy in the Jefferson MSS. Series
I., Vol. I.). This is not only the official report, but also the
earliest letter Clark wrote on the subject and therefore the most
authoritative. The paragraph relating to the final march against
Vincennes is as follows:

"I order'd the march in the first division Capt. Williams, Capt.
Worthingtons Company & the Kaskaskia Volunteers, in the 2d commanded by
Capt. Bowman his own Company & the Cohos Volunteers. At sun down I put
the divisions in motion to march in the greatest order & regularity &
observe the orders of their officers. Above all to be silent--the 5 men
we took in the canoes were our guides. We entered the town on the upper
part leaving detached Lt. Bayley & 15 rifle men to attack the Fort &
keep up a fire to harrass them untill we took possession of the town &
they were to remain on that duty till relieved by another party, the two
divisions marched into the town & took possession of the main street,
put guards &c without the least molestation."

This effectually disposes of the account, which was accepted by Clark
himself in his old age, that he ostentatiously paraded his men and
marched them to and fro with many flags flying, so as to impress the
British with his numbers. Instead of indulging in any such childishness
(which would merely have warned the British, and put them on their
guard), he in reality made as silent an approach as possible, under
cover of the darkness.

Hamilton, in his narrative, speaks of the attack as being made on the
22d of February, not the 23d as Clark says.] The rapidly gathering dusk
prevented any discovery of his real numbers.

In sending in the messenger he had builded even better than he knew;
luck which had long been against him now at last favored him. Hamilton's
runners had seen Clark's camp-fires the night before; and a small
scouting party of British regulars, Detroit volunteers, and Indians had
in consequence been sent to find out what had caused them. [Footnote:
Hamilton's "brief account" in the Haldimand MSS. The party was led by
Lt. Schieffelin of the regulars and the French captains Lamothe and
Maisonville.] These men were not made of such stern stuff as Clark's
followers, nor had they such a commander; and after going some miles
they were stopped by the floods, and started to return. Before they got
back, Vincennes was assailed. Hamilton trusted so completely to the
scouting party, and to the seemingly impassable state of the country,
that his watch was very lax. The creoles in the town, when Clark's
proclamation was read to them, gathered eagerly to discuss it; but so
great was the terror of his name, and so impressed and appalled were
they by the mysterious approach of an unknown army, and the confident
and menacing language with which its coming was heralded, that none of
them dared show themselves partisans of the British by giving warning to
the garrison. The Indians likewise heard vague rumors of what had
occurred and left the town; a number of the inhabitants who were
favorable to the British, followed the same course. [Footnote: Haldimand
MSS. Series B., Vol. 122, p. 337. Account brought to the people of
Detroit of the loss of Vincennes, by a Captain Chene, who was then
living in the village. As the Virginians entered it he fled to the woods
with some Huron and Ottawa warriors; next day he was joined by some
French families and some Miamis and Pottawatomies.] Hamilton, attracted
by the commotion, sent down his soldiers to find out what had occurred;
but before they succeeded, the Americans were upon them.

About seven o'clock [Footnote: Clark's letter to Henry.] Clark entered
the town, and at once pushed his men on to attack the fort. Had he
charged he could probably have taken it at once; for so unprepared were
the garrison that the first rifle shots were deemed by them to come from
drunken Indians. But of course he had not counted on such a state of
things. He had so few men that he dared not run the risk of suffering a
heavy loss. Moreover, the backwoodsmen had neither swords nor bayonets.

Most of the creole townspeople received Clark joyfully, and rendered him
much assistance, especially by supplying him with powder and ball, his
own stock of ammunition being scanty. One of the Indian chiefs
[Footnote: A son of the Piankeshaw head-chief Tabae.]offered to bring
his tribe to the support of the Americans, but Clark answered that all
he asked of the red men was that they should for the moment remain
neutral. A few of the young Creoles were allowed to join in the attack,
however, it being deemed good policy to commit them definitely to the
American side.

The Attack on the Fort.

Fifty of the American troops were detached to guard against any relief
from without, while the rest attacked the fort: yet Hamilton's scouting
party crept up, lay hid all night in an old barn, and at daybreak rushed
into the fort. [Footnote: Hamilton's Narrative. Clark in his "Memoir"
asserts that he designedly let them through, and could have shot them
down as they tried to clamber over the stockade if he had wished. Bowman
corroborates Hamilton, saying: "We sent a party to intercept them, but
missed them. However, we took one of their men, ... the rest making
their escape under the cover of the night into the fort." Bowman's
journal is for this siege much more trustworthy than Clark's "Memoir."
In the latter, Clark makes not a few direct misstatements, and many
details are colored so as to give them an altered aspect. As an instance
of the different ways in which he told an event at the time, and thirty
years later, take the following accounts of the same incident. The first
is from the letter to Henry (State Department MSS.), the second from the
"Memoir." I. "A few days ago I received certain intelligence of Wm.
Moires my express to you being killed near the Falls of Ohio, news truly
disagreeable to me, as I fear many of my letters will fall into the
hands of the enemy at Detroit." 2. "Poor Myres the express, who set out
on the 15th, got killed on his passage, and his packet fell into the
hands of the enemy; but I had been so much on my guard that there was
not a sentence in it that could be of any disadvantage to us for the
enemy to know; and there were private letters from soldiers to their
friends designedly wrote to deceive in cases of such accidents." Firing
was kept up with very little intermission throughout the night.

His whole account of the night attack and of his treating with Hamilton
is bombastic. If his account of the incessant "blaze of fire" of the
Americans is true, they must have wasted any amount of ammunition
perfectly uselessly. Unfortunately, most of the small western historians
who have written about Clark have really damaged his reputation by the
absurd inflation of their language. They were adepts in the
forcible-feeble style of writing, a sample of which is their rendering
him ludicrous by calling him "the Hannibal of the West," and the
"Washington of the West." Moreover, they base his claims to greatness
not on his really great deeds, but on the half-imaginary feats of
childish cunning he related in his old age.] At one o'clock the moon
set, and Clark took advantage of the darkness to throw up an
intrenchment within rifle-shot of the strongest battery, which consisted
of two guns. All of the cannon and swivels in the fort were placed about
eleven feet above the ground, on the upper floors of the strong
block-houses that formed the angles of the palisaded walls. At sunrise
on the 24th the riflemen from the intrenchment opened a hot fire into
the port-holes of the battery, and speedily silenced both guns.
[Footnote: Clark's letter to Henry.] The artillery and musketry of the
defenders did very little damage to the assailants, who lost but one man
wounded, though some of the houses in the town were destroyed by the
cannon-balls. In return, the backwoodsmen, by firing into the ports,
soon rendered it impossible for the guns to be run out and served, and
killed or severely wounded six or eight of the garrison; for the
Americans showed themselves much superior, both in marksmanship and in
the art of sheltering themselves, to the British regulars and French
Canadians against whom they were pitted.

Early in the forenoon Clark summoned the fort to surrender, and while
waiting for the return of the flag his men took the opportunity of
getting breakfast, the first regular meal they had had for six days.
Hamilton declined to surrender, but proposed a three days' truce
instead. This proposition Clark instantly rejected, and the firing again
began, the backwoodsmen beseeching Clark to let them storm the fort; he
refused. While the negotiations were going on a singular incident
occurred. A party of Hamilton's Indians returned from a successful
scalping expedition against the frontier, and being ignorant of what had
taken place, marched straight into the town. Some of Clark's
backwoodsmen instantly fell on them and killed or captured nine, besides
two French partisans who had been out with them. [Footnote: _Do_. In the
letter to Mason he says two scalped, six captured and after-wards
tomahawked. Bowman says two killed, three wounded, six captured; and
calls the two partisans "prisoners." Hamilton and Clark say they were
French allies of the British, the former saying there were two, the
latter mentioning only one. Hamilton says there were fifteen Indians.]
One of the latter was the son of a creole lieutenant in Clark's troops,
and after much pleading his father and friends procured the release of
himself and his comrade. [Footnote: The incident is noteworthy as
showing how the French were divided; throughout the Revolutionary war in
the west they furnished troops to help in turn whites and Indians,
British and Americans. The Illinois French, however, generally remained
faithful to the Republic, and the Detroit French to the crown.] Clark
determined to make a signal example of the six captured Indians, both to
strike terror into the rest and to show them how powerless the British
were to protect them; so he had them led within sight of the fort and
there tomahawked and thrown into the river. [Footnote: Hamilton, who
bore the most vindictive hatred to Clark, implies that the latter
tomahawked the prisoners himself; but Bowman explicitly says that it was
done while Clark and Hamilton were meeting at the church. Be it noticed
in passing, that both Clark and Hamilton agree that though the Vincennes
people favored the Americans, only a very few of them took active part
on Clark's side.] The sight did not encourage the garrison. The English
troops remained firm and eager for the fight, though they had suffered
the chief loss; but the Detroit volunteers showed evident signs of

Surrender of the Fort.

In the afternoon Hamilton sent out another flag, and he and Clark met in
the old French church to arrange for the capitulation. Helm, who was
still a prisoner on parole, and was told by Clark that he was to remain
such until recaptured, was present; so were the British Major Hay and
the American Captain Bowman. There was some bickering and recrimination
between the leaders, Clark reproaching Hamilton with having his hands
dyed in the blood of the women and children slain by his savage allies;
while the former answered that he was not to blame for obeying the
orders of his superiors, and that he himself had done all he could to
make the savages act mercifully. It was finally agreed that the
garrison, seventy-nine men in all, [Footnote: Letter to Henry.
Hamilton's letter says sixty rank and file of the 8th regiment and
Detroit volunteers; the other nineteen were officers and under-officers,
artillerymen, and French partisan leaders. The return of the garrison
already quoted shows he had between eighty and ninety white troops.]
should surrender as prisoners of war. The British commander has left on
record his bitter _mortification_ at having to yield the fort "to a set
of uncivilized Virginia woodsmen armed with rifles." In truth, it was a
most notable achievement. Clark had taken, without artillery, a heavy
stockade, protected by cannon and swivels, and garrisoned by trained
soldiers. His superiority in numbers was very far from being in itself
sufficient to bring about the result, as witness the almost invariable
success with which the similar but smaller Kentucky forts, unprovided
with artillery and held by fewer men, were defended against much larger
forces than Clark's. Much credit belongs to Clark's men, but most
belongs to their leader. The boldness of his plan and the resolute skill
with which he followed it out, his perseverance through the intense
hardships of the midwinter march, the address with which he kept the
French and Indians neutral, and the masterful way in which he controlled
his own troops, together with the ability and courage he displayed in
the actual attack, combined to make his feat the most memorable of all
the deeds done west of the Alleghanies in the Revolutionary war.
[Footnote: Hamilton himself, at the conclusion of his "brief account,"
speaks as follows in addressing his superiors: "The difficulties and
dangers of Colonel Clark's march from the Illinois were such as required
great courage to encounter and great perseverance to overcome. In
trusting to traitors he was more fortunate than myself; whether, on the
whole, he was entitled to success is not for me to determine." Both
Clark and Hamilton give minute accounts of various interviews that took
place between them; the accounts do not agree, and it is needless to say
that in the narration of each the other appears to disadvantage, being
quoted as practically admitting various acts of barbarity, etc.] It was
likewise the most important in its results, for had he been defeated we
would not only have lost the Illinois, but in all probability Kentucky

Capture of a Convoy from Detroit.

Immediately after taking the fort Clark sent Helm and fifty men, in
boats armed with swivels, up the Wabash to intercept a party of forty
French volunteers from Detroit, who were bringing to Vincennes bateaux
heavily laden with goods of all kinds, to the value of ten thousand
pounds sterling. [Footnote: Letter to Henry.] In a few days Helm
returned successful, and the spoils, together with the goods taken at
Vincennes, were distributed among the soldiers, who "got almost rich."
[Footnote: "Memoir."] The officers kept nothing save a few needed
articles of clothing. The gun-boat _Willing_ appeared shortly after the
taking of the fort, the crew bitterly disappointed that they were not in
time for the fighting. The long-looked-for messenger from the governor
of Virginia also arrived, bearing to the soldiers the warm thanks of the
Legislature of that State for their capture of Kaskaskia and the promise
of more substantial reward. [Footnote: One hundred and fifty thousand
acres of land opposite Louisville were finally allotted them. Some of
the Piankeshaw Indians ceded Clark a tract of land for his own use, but
the Virginia Legislature very properly disallowed the grant.]

Disposal of the Prisoners.

Clark was forced to parole most of his prisoners, but twenty-seven,
including Hamilton himself, were sent to Virginia. The backwoodsmen
regarded Hamilton with revengeful hatred, and he was not well treated
while among them, [Footnote: In Hamilton's "brief account" he says that
their lives were often threatened by the borderers, but that "our guard
behaved very well, protected us, and hunted for us." At the Falls he
found "a number of settlers who lived in log-houses, in eternal
apprehension from the Indians," and he adds: "The people at the forts
are in a wretched state, obliged to enclose the cattle every night
within the fort, and carry their rifles to the field when they go to
plough or cut wood." He speaks of Boon's kindness in his short printed
narrative in the _Royal Gazette_.] save only by Boon--for the
kind-hearted, fearless old pioneer never felt any thing but pity for a
fallen enemy. All the borderers, including Clark, [Footnote: Clark, in
his letter to Mason, alludes to Hamilton's "known barbarity"; but in his
memoir he speaks very well of Hamilton, and attributes the murderous
forays to his subordinates, one of whom, Major Hay, he particularly
specifies.] believed that the British commander himself gave rewards to
the Indians for the American scalps they brought in; and because of his
alleged behavior in this regard he was kept in close confinement by the
Virginia government until, through the intercession of Washington, he
was at last released and exchanged. Exactly how much he was to blame it
is difficult to say. Certainly the blame rests even more with the crown,
and the ruling class in Britain, than with Hamilton, who merely carried
out the orders of his superiors; and though he undoubtedly heartily
approved of these orders, and executed them with eager zest, yet it
seems that he did what he could--which was very little--to prevent
unnecessary atrocities.

The crime consisted in employing the savages at all in a war waged
against men, women, and children alike. Undoubtedly the British at
Detroit followed the example of the French [Footnote: See Parkman's
"Montcalm and Wolfe," II., 421, for examples of French payments, some of
a peculiarly flagrant sort. A certain kind of American pseudo-historian
is especially fond of painting the British as behaving to us with
unexampled barbarity; yet nothing is more sure than that the French were
far mote cruel and less humane in their contests with us than were the
British.] in paying money to the Indians for the scalps of their foes.
It is equally beyond question that the British acted with much more
humanity than their French predecessors had shown. Apparently the best
officers utterly disapproved of the whole business of scalp buying; but
it was eagerly followed by many of the reckless agents and partisan
leaders, British, tories, and Canadians, who themselves often
accompanied the Indians against the frontier and witnessed or shared in
their unmentionable atrocities. It is impossible to acquit either the
British home government or its foremost representatives at Detroit of a
large share in the responsibility for the appalling brutality of these
men and their red allies; but the heaviest blame rests on the home

The Country Pacified.

Clark soon received some small reinforcements, and was able to establish
permanent garrisons at Vincennes, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia. With the
Indian tribes who lived round about he made firm peace; against some
hunting bands of Delawares who came in and began to commit ravages, he
waged ruthless and untiring war, sparing the women and children, but
killing all the males capable of bearing arms, and he harried most of
them out of the territory, while the rest humbly sued for peace. His own
men worshipped him; the French loved and stood in awe of him while the
Indians respected and feared him greatly. During the remainder of the
Revolutionary war the British were not able to make any serious effort
to shake the hold he had given the Americans on the region lying around
and between Vincennes and the Illinois. Moreover he so effectually
pacified the tribes between the Wabash and the Mississippi that they did
not become open and formidable foes of the whites until, with the close
of the war against Britain, Kentucky passed out of the stage when Indian
hostilities threatened her very life.

The fame of Clark's deeds and the terror of his prowess spread to the
southern Indians, and the British at Natchez trembled lest they should
share the fate that had come on Kaskaskia and Vincennes. [Footnote:
State Department MSS. [Intercepted Letters], No. 51, Vol. II., pp. 17
and 45. Letter of James Colbert, a half-breed in the British interest,
resident at that time among the Chickasaws, May 25, 1779, etc.]
Flat-boats from the Illinois went down to New Orleans, and keel-boats
returned from that city with arms and munitions, or were sent up to
Pittsburg [Footnote: The history of the early navigation of the Ohio and
Mississippi begins many years before the birth of any of our western
pioneers, when the French went up and down them. Long before the
Revolutionary war occasional hunters, in dug-outs, or settlers going to
Natchez in flat-boats, descended these rivers, and from Pittsburg craft
were sent to New Orleans to open negotiations with the Spaniards as soon
as hostilities broke out; and ammunition was procured from New Orleans
as soon as Independence was declared.]; and the following spring Clark
built a fort on the east bank of the Mississippi below the Ohio.
[Footnote: In lat. 36 deg. 30'; it was named Fort Jefferson. Jefferson MSS.,
1st Series, Vol. 19. Clark's letter.] It was in the Chickasaw territory,
and these warlike Indians soon assaulted it, making a determined effort
to take it by storm, and though they were repulsed with very heavy
slaughter, yet, to purchase their neutrality, the Americans were glad to
abandon the fort.

Clark Moves to the Falls of Ohio.

Clark himself, towards the end of 1779, took up his abode at the Falls
of the Ohio, where he served in some sort as a shield both for the
Illinois and for Kentucky, and from whence he hoped some day to march
against Detroit. This was his darling scheme, which he never ceased to
cherish. Through no fault of his own, the day never came when he could
put it in execution.

He was ultimately made a brigadier-general of the Virginian militia, and
to the harassed settlers in Kentucky his mere name was a tower of
strength. He was the sole originator of the plan for the conquest of the
northwestern lands, and, almost unaided, he had executed his own scheme.
For a year he had been wholly cut off from all communication with the
home authorities, and had received no help of any kind. Alone, and with
the very slenderest means, he had conquered and held a vast and
beautiful region, which but for him would have formed part of a foreign
and hostile empire [Footnote: It is of course impossible to prove that
but for Clark's conquest the Ohio would have been made our boundary in
1783, exactly as it is impossible to prove that but for Wolfe the
English would not have taken Quebec. But when we take into account the
determined efforts of Spain and France to confine us to the land east of
the Alleghanies, and then to the land southeast of the Ohio, the
slavishness of Congress in instructing our commissioners to do whatever
France wished, and the readiness shown by one of the commissioners,
Franklin, to follow these instructions, it certainly looks as if there
would not even have been an effort made by us to get the northwestern
territory had we not already possessed it, thanks to Clark. As it was,
it was only owing to Jay's broad patriotism and stern determination that
our western boundaries were finally made so far-reaching. None of our
early diplomats did as much for the west as Jay, whom at one time the
whole west hated and reviled; Mann Butler, whose politics are generally
very sound, deserves especial credit for the justice he does the New

It is idle to talk of the conquest as being purely a Virginian affair.
It was conquered by Clark, a Virginian, with some scant help from
Virginia, but it was retained only owing to the power of the United
States and the patriotism of such northern statesmen as Jay, Adams, and
Franklin, the negotiators of the final treaty. Had Virginia alone been
in interest, Great Britain would not have even paid her claims the
compliment of listening to them. Virginia's share in the history of the
nation has ever been gallant and leading; but the Revolutionary war was
emphatically fought by Americans for America; no part could have won
without the help of the whole, and every victory was thus a victory for
all, in which all alike can take pride.]; he had clothed and paid his
soldiers with the spoils of his enemies; he had spent his own fortune as
carelessly as he had risked his life, and the only reward that he was
destined for many years to receive was the sword voted him by the
Legislature of Virginia. [Footnote: A probably truthful tradition
reports that when the Virginian commissioners offered Clark the sword,
the grim old fighter, smarting under the sense of his wrongs, threw it
indignantly from him, telling the envoys that he demanded from Virginia
his just rights and the promised reward of his services, not an empty



Clark's Conquests Benefit Kentucky.

Clark's successful campaigns against the Illinois towns and Vincennes,
besides giving the Americans a foothold north of the Ohio, were of the
utmost importance to Kentucky. Until this time, the Kentucky settlers
had been literally fighting for life and home, and again and again their
strait had been so bad, that it seemed--and was--almost an even chance
whether they would be driven from the land. The successful outcome of
Clark's expedition temporarily overawed the Indians, and, moreover, made
the French towns outposts for the protection of the settlers; so that
for several years thereafter the tribes west of the Wabash did but
little against the Americans. The confidence of the backwoodsmen in
their own ultimate triumph was likewise very much increased; while the
fame of the western region was greatly spread abroad. From all these
causes it resulted that there was an immediate and great increase of
immigration thither, the bulk of the immigrants of course stopping in
Kentucky, though a very few, even thus early, went to Illinois. Every
settlement in Kentucky was still in jeopardy, and there came moments of
dejection, when some of her bravest leaders spoke gloomily of the
possibility of the Americans being driven from the land. But these were
merely words such as even strong men utter when sore from fresh
disaster. After the spring of 1779, there was never any real danger that
the whites would be forced to abandon Kentucky.

The Land Laws.

The land laws which the Virginia Legislature enacted about this time
[Footnote: May, 1779; they did not take effect nor was a land court
established until the following fall, when the land office was opened at
St. Asaphs, Oct. 13th. Isaac Shelby's claim was the first one considered
and granted. He had raised a crop of corn in the country in 1776.] were
partly a cause, partly a consequence, of the increased emigration to
Kentucky, and of the consequent rise in the value of its wild lands.
Long before the Revolution, shrewd and far-seeing speculators had
organized land companies to acquire grants of vast stretches of western
territory; but the land only acquired an actual value for private
individuals after the incoming of settlers. In addition to the
companies, many private individuals had acquired rights to tracts of
land; some, under the royal proclamation, giving bounties to the
officers and soldiers in the French war; others by actual payment into
the public treasury. [Footnote: The Ohio Company was the greatest of the
companies. There were "also, among private rights, the ancient
importation rights, the Henderson Company rights, etc." See Marshall,
I., 82.] The Virginia Legislature now ratified all titles to regularly
surveyed ground claimed under charter, military bounty, and old treasury
rights, to the extent of four hundred acres each. Tracts of land were
reserved as bounties for the Virginia troops, both Continentals and
militia. Each family of actual settlers was allowed a settlement right
to four hundred acres for the small sum of nine dollars, and, if very
poor, the land was given them on credit. Every such settler also
acquired a preemptive right to purchase a thousand acres adjoining, at
the regulation State price, which was forty pounds, paper money, or
forty dollars in specie, for every hundred acres. One peculiar provision
was made necessary by the system of settling in forted villages. Every
such village was allowed six hundred and forty acres, which no outsider
could have surveyed or claim, for it was considered, the property of the
townsmen, to be held in common until an equitable division could be
made; while each family likewise had a settlement right to four hundred
acres adjoining the village. The vacant lands were sold, warrants for a
hundred acres costing forty dollars in specie; but later on, towards the
close of the war, Virginia tried to buoy up her mass of depreciated
paper currency by accepting it nearly at par for land warrants, thereby
reducing the cost of these to less than fifty cents for a hundred acres.
No warrant applied to a particular spot; it was surveyed on any vacant
or presumably vacant ground. Each individual had the surveying done
wherever he pleased, the county surveyor usually appointing some skilled
woodsman to act as his deputy.

In the end the natural result of all this was to involve half the people
of Kentucky in lawsuits over their land, as there were often two or
three titles to each patch, [Footnote: McAfee MSS.] and the surveys
crossed each other in hopeless tangles. Immediately, the system gave a
great stimulus to immigration, for it made it easy for any incoming
settler to get title to his farm, and it also strongly attracted all
land speculators. Many well-to-do merchants or planters of the seaboard
sent agents out to buy lands in Kentucky; and these agents either hired
the old pioneers, such as Boon and Kenton, to locate and survey the
lands, or else purchased their claims from them outright. The advantages
of following the latter plan were of course obvious; for the pioneers
were sure to have chosen fertile, well-watered spots; and though they
asked more than the State, yet, ready money was so scarce, and the
depreciation of the currency so great, that even thus the land only cost
a few cents an acre. [Footnote: From the Clay MSS. "Virginia, Frederick
Co. to wit: This day came William Smith of [illegible] before me John A.
Woodcock, a Justice of the peace of same county, who being of full age
deposeth and saith that about the first of June 1780, being in Kentuckey
and empowered to purchase Land, for Mr. James Ware, he the deponent
agreed with a certain Simon Kenton of Kentucky for 1000 Acres of Land
about 2 or 3 miles from the big salt spring on Licking, that the sd.
Kenton on condition that the sd. Smith would pay him L100 in hand and
L100 more when sd. Land was surveyed,... sd. Kenton on his part wou'd
have the land surveyed, and a fee Simple made there to.... sd. Land was
first rate Land and had a good Spring thereon.... he agreed to warrant
and defend the same ... against all persons whatsoever.... sworn too
before me this 17th day of Nov. 1789." Later on, the purchaser, who did
not take possession of the land for eight or nine years, feared it would
not prove as fertile as Kenton had said, and threatened to sue Kenton;
but Kenton evidently had the whip-hand in the controversy, for the land
being out in the wilderness, the purchaser did not know its exact
location, and when he threatened suit, and asked to be shown it, Kenton
"swore that he would not shoe it at all." Letter of James Ware, Nov. 29,

Inrush of Settlers.

Thus it came about that with the fall of 1779 a strong stream of
emigration set towards Kentucky, from the backwoods districts of
Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. In company with the real
settlers came many land speculators, and also many families of weak,
irresolute, or shiftless people, who soon tired of the ceaseless and
grinding frontier strife for life, and drifted back to the place whence
they had come. [Footnote: Thus the increase of population is to be
measured by the net gain of immigration over emigration, not by
immigration alone. It is probably partly neglect of this fact, and
partly simple exaggeration, that make the early statements of the
additions to the Kentucky population so very untrustworthy. In 1783, at
the end of the Revolution, the population of Kentucky was probably
nearer 12,000 than 20,000, and it had grown steadily each year. Yet
Butler quotes Floyd as saying that in the spring of 1780 three hundred
large family boats arrived at the Falls, which would mean an increase of
perhaps four or five thousand people; and in the McAfee MSS. occurs the
statement that in 1779 and 1780 nearly 20,000 people came to Kentucky.
Both of these statements are probably mere estimates, greatly
exaggerated; any westerner of to-day can instance similar reports of
movements to western localities, which under a strict census dwindled
wofully.] Thus there were ever two tides--the larger setting towards
Kentucky, the lesser towards the old States; so that the two streams
passed each other on the Wilderness road--for the people who came down
the Ohio could not return against the current. Very many who did not
return nevertheless found they were not fitted to grapple with the stern
trials of existence on the border. Some of these succumbed outright;
others unfortunately survived, and clung with feeble and vicious
helplessness to the skirts of their manlier fellows; and from them have
descended the shiftless squatters, the "mean whites," the listless,
uncouth men who half-till their patches of poor soil, and still cumber
the earth in out-of-the-way nooks from the crannies of the Alleghanies
to the canyons of the southern Rocky Mountains.

In April, before this great rush of immigration began, but when it was
clearly foreseen that it would immediately take place, the county court
of Kentucky issued a proclamation to the new settlers, recommending them
to keep as united and compact as possible, settling in "stations" or
forted towns; and likewise advising each settlement to choose three or
more trustees to take charge of their public affairs. [Footnote: Durrett
MSS., in the bound volume of "Papers relating to Louisville and
Kentucky." On May 1, 1780, the people living at the Falls, having
established a town, forty-six of them signed a petition to have their
title made good against Conolly. On Feb. 7, 1781, John Todd and five
other trustees of Louisville met; they passed resolutions to erect a
grist mill and make surveys.] Their recommendations and advice were
generally followed.

Bowman Attacks Chillicothe.

During 1779 the Indian war dragged on much as usual. The only expedition
of importance was that undertaken in May by one hundred and sixty
Kentuckians, commanded by the county lieutenant, John Bowman, against
the Indian town of Chillicothe. [Footnote: MS. "Notes on Kentucky," by
George Bradford, who went there in 1779; in the Durrett collection.
Haldimand MSS., Letter of Henry Bird, June 9, 1779. As this letter is
very important, and gives for the first time the Indian side, I print it
in the Appendix almost in full. The accounts of course conflict
somewhat; chiefly as to the number of cabins burnt--from five to forty,
and of horses captured--from thirty to three hundred. They agree in all
essential points. But as among the whites themselves there is one
serious question. Logan's admirers, and most Kentucky historians, hold
Bowman responsible for the defeat; but in reality (see Butler, p. 110)
there seems strong reason to believe that it was simply due to the
unexpectedly strong resistance of the Indians. Bird's letter shows, what
the Kentuckians never suspected, that the attack was a great benefit to
them in frightening the Indians and stopping a serious inroad. It
undoubtedly accomplished more than Clark's attack on Piqua next year,
for instance.] Logan, Harrod, and other famous frontier fighters went
along. The town was surprised, several cabins burned, and a number of
horses captured. But the Indians rallied, and took refuge in a central
block-house and a number of strongly built cabins surrounding it, from
which they fairly beat off the whites. They then followed to harass the
rear of their retreating foes, but were beaten off in turn. Of the
whites, nine were killed and two or three wounded; the Indians' loss was
two killed and five or six wounded.

The defeat caused intense mortification to the whites; but in reality
the expedition was of great service to Kentucky, though the Kentuckians
never knew it. The Detroit people had been busily organizing expeditions
against Kentucky. Captain Henry Bird had been given charge of one, and
he had just collected two hundred Indians at the Mingo town when news of
the attack on Chillicothe arrived. Instantly the Indians dissolved in a
panic, some returning to defend their towns; others were inclined to beg
peace of the Americans. So great was their terror that it was found
impossible to persuade them to make any inroad as long as they deemed
themselves menaced by a counter attack of the Kentuckians. [Footnote:
Haldimand MSS. De Peyster to Haldimand, Nov. 20, 1779.]

Occasional Indian Forays.

It is true that bands of Mingos, Hurons, Delawares, and Shawnees made
occasional successful raids against the frontier, and brought their
scalps and prisoners in triumph to Detroit, [Footnote: Haldimand MSS. De
Peyster to Haldimand, Oct. 20, 1779.] where they drank such astonishing
quantities of rum as to incite the indignation of the British
commander-in-chief. [Footnote: Haldimand MSS. Haldimand's letter, July
23, 1779.] But instead of being able to undertake any formidable
expedition against the settlers, the Detroit authorities were during
this year much concerned for their own safety, taking every possible
means to provide for the defence, and keeping a sharp look-out for any
hostile movement of the Americans. [Footnote: Haldimand MSS., April 8,

The incoming settlers were therefore left in comparative peace. They
built many small palisaded towns, some of which proved permanent, while
others vanished utterly when the fear of the Indians was removed and the
families were able to scatter out on their farms. At the Falls of the
Ohio a regular fort was built, armed with cannon and garrisoned by
Virginia troops, [Footnote: One hundred and fifty strong, under Col.
George Slaughter.] who were sent down the river expressly to reinforce
Clark. The Indians never dared assail this fort; but they ravaged up to
its walls, destroying the small stations on Bear Grass Creek and
scalping settlers and soldiers when they wandered far from the
protection of the stockade.

The Hard Winter.

The new-comers of 1779 were destined to begin with a grim experience,
for the ensuing winter [Footnote: Boon, in his Narrative, makes a
mistake in putting this hard winter a year later; all the other
authorities are unanimous against him.] was the most severe ever known
in the west, and was long recalled by the pioneers as the "hard winter."
Cold weather set in towards the end of November, the storms following
one another in unbroken succession, while the snow lay deep until the
spring. Most of the cattle, and very many of the horses, perished; and
deer and elk were likewise found dead in the woods, or so weak and
starved that they would hardly move out of the way, while the buffalo
often came up at nightfall to the yards, seeking to associate with the
starving herds of the settlers. [Footnote: McAfee MSS. Of the McAfees'
horses ten died, and only two survived, a brown mare and "a yellow horse
called Chickasaw." Exactly a hundred years later, in the hard winter of
1879-80, and the still worse winter of 1880-81, the settlers on the
Yellowstone and the few hunters who wintered on the Little Missouri had
a similar experience. The buffalo crowded with the few tame cattle round
the hayricks and log-stables; the starving deer and antelope gathered in
immense bands in sheltered places. Riding from my ranch to a neighbor's
I have, in deep snows, passed through herds of antelope that would
barely move fifty or a hundred feet out of my way.] The scanty supply of
corn gave out, until there was not enough left to bake into johnny-cakes
on the long boards in front of the fire. [Footnote: _Do._] Even at the
Falls, where there were stores for the troops, the price of corn went up
nearly fourfold, [Footnote: From fifty dollars (Continental money) a
bushel in the fall to one hundred and seventy-five in the spring.] while
elsewhere among the stations of the interior it could not be had at any
price, and there was an absolute dearth both of salt and of vegetable
food, the settlers living for weeks on the flesh of the lean wild game,
[Footnote: McAfee MSS.] especially of the buffalo. [Footnote: Boon's
Narrative.] The hunters searched with especial eagerness for the bears
in the hollow trees, for they alone among the animals kept fat; and the
breast of the wild turkey served for bread. [Footnote: McAfee MSS.]
Nevertheless, even in the midst of this season of cold and famine, the
settlers began to take the first steps for the education of their
children. In this year Joseph Doniphan, whose son long afterwards won
fame in the Mexican war, opened the first regular school at
Boonsborough, [Footnote: _Historical Magazine_, Second Series, Vol.
VIII.] and one of the McAfees likewise served as a teacher through the
winter. [Footnote: McAfee MSS.] But from the beginning some of the
settlers' wives had now and then given the children in the forts a few
weeks' schooling.

Through the long, irksome winter, the frontiersmen remained crowded
within the stockades. The men hunted, while the women made the clothes,
of tanned deer-hides, buffalo-wool cloth, and nettle-bark linen. In
stormy weather, when none could stir abroad, they turned or coopered the
wooden vessels; for tin cups were as rare as iron forks, and the
"noggin" was either hollowed out of the knot of a tree, or else made
with small staves and hoops. [Footnote: McAfee MSS.] Every thing was of
home manufacture--for there was not a store in Kentucky,--and the most
expensive domestic products seem to have been the hats, made of native
fur, mink, coon, fox, wolf, and beaver. If exceptionally fine, and of
valuable fur, they cost five hundred dollars in paper money, which had
not at that time depreciated a quarter as much in outlying Kentucky as
at the seat of government. [Footnote: Marshall, p. 124.]

As soon as the great snow-drifts began to melt, and thereby to produce
freshets of unexampled height, the gaunt settlers struggled out to their
clearings, glad to leave the forts. They planted corn, and eagerly
watched the growth of the crop; and those who hungered after oatmeal or
wheaten bread planted other grains as well, and apple-seeds and
peach-stones. [Footnote: McAfee MSS.]

Many New Settlers Arrive in the Spring.

As soon as the spring of 1780 opened, the immigrants began to arrive
more numerously than ever. Some came over the Wilderness road; among
these there were not a few haggard, half-famished beings, who, having
stalled too late the previous fall, had been overtaken by the deep
snows, and forced to pass the winter in the iron-bound and desolate
valleys of the Alleghanies, subsisting on the carcasses of their
stricken cattle, and seeing their weaker friends starve or freeze before
their eyes. Very many came down the Ohio, in flat-boats. A good-sized
specimen of these huge unwieldly scows was fifty-five feet long, twelve
broad, and six deep, drawing three feet of water; [Footnote: Lettres
d'un Cultivateur Americain, St. John de Creve Coeur, Paris, 1787. p.
407. He visited Kentucky in 1784.] but the demand was greater than the
supply, and a couple of dozen people, with half as many horses, and all
their effects, might be forced to embark on a flat-boat not twenty-four
feet in length. [Footnote: MS. Journals of Rev. James Smith. Tours in
western country in 1785-1795 (in Col. Durrett's library).] Usually
several families came together, being bound by some tie of neighborhood
or purpose. Not infrequently this tie was religious, for in the back
settlements the few churches were almost as much social as religious
centres. Thus this spring, a third of the congregation of a Low Dutch
Reformed Church came to Kentucky bodily, to the number of fifty heads of
families, with their wives and children, their beasts of burden and
pasture, and their household goods; like most bands of new immigrants,
they suffered greatly from the Indians, much more than did the old
settlers. [Footnote: State Department MSS. No. 41, Vol. V., Memorials K,
L, 1777-1787, pp. 95-97, Petition of Low Dutch Reformed Church, etc.]
The following year a Baptist congregation came out from Virginia,
keeping up its organization even while on the road, the preacher holding
services at every long halt.

De Peyster at Detroit.

Soon after the rush of spring immigration was at its height, the old
settlers and the new-comers alike were thrown into the utmost alarm by a
formidable inroad of Indians, accompanied by French partisans, and led
by a British officer. De Peyster, a New York tory of old Knickerbocker
family, had taken command at Detroit. He gathered the Indians around him
from far and near, until the expense of subsidizing these savages became
so enormous as to call forth serious complaints from head-quarters.
[Footnote: Haldimand MSS. Haldimand to Guy Johnson, June 30, 1780.] He
constantly endeavored to equip and send out different bands, not only to
retake the Illinois and Vincennes, but to dislodge Clark from the Falls
[Footnote: _Do._ Haldimand to De Peyster, Feb. 12 and July 6, 1780.]; he
was continually receiving scalps and prisoners, and by May he had fitted
out two thousand warriors to act along the Ohio and the Wabash.
[Footnote: _Do._ De Peyster to Haldimand, June 1, 1780.] The rapid
growth of Kentucky especially excited his apprehension, [Footnote: _Do._
March 8, 1780.] and his main stroke was directed against the clusters of
wooden forts that were springing up south of the Ohio. [Footnote: _Do._
May 17 to July 19, 1780.]

Bird's Inroad.

Late in May, some six hundred Indians and a few Canadians, with a couple
of pieces of light field artillery, were gathered and put under the
command of Captain Henry Bird. Following the rivers where practicable,
that he might the easier carry his guns, he went down the Miami, and on
the 22d of June, surprised and captured without resistance Ruddle's and
Martin's stations, two small stockades on the South Fork of the Licking.
[Footnote: He marched overland from the forks of the Licking. Marshall
says the season was dry and the waters low; but the Bradford MSS.
particularly declare that Bird only went up the Licking at all because
the watercourses were so full, and that he had originally intended to
attack the settlements at the Falls.] But Bird was not one of the few
men fitted to command such a force as that which followed him; and
contenting himself with the slight success he had won, he rapidly
retreated to Detroit, over the same path by which he had advanced. The
Indians carried off many horses, and loaded their prisoners with the
plunder, tomahawking those, chiefly women and children, who could not
keep up with the rest; and Bird could not control them nor force them to
show mercy to their captives. [Footnote: Collins, Butler, etc. Marshall
thinks that if the force could have been held together it would have
depopulated Kentucky; but this is nonsense, for within a week Clark had
gathered a very much larger and more efficient body of troops.] He did
not even get his cannon back to Detroit, leaving them at the British
store in one of the upper Miami towns, in charge of a bombardier. The
bombardier did not prove a very valorous personage, and on the alarm of
Clark's advance, soon afterwards, he permitted the Indians to steal his
horses, and was forced to bury his ordnance in the woods. [Footnote:
Haldimand MSS. Letter of Bombardier Wm. Homan, Aug. 18, 1780. He speaks
of "the gun" and "the smaller ordnance," presumably swivels. It is
impossible to give Bird's numbers correctly, for various bands of
Indians kept joining and leaving him.]

Clark Hears the News

Before this inroad took place Clark had been planning a foray into the
Indian country, and the news only made him hasten his preparations. In
May this adventurous leader had performed one of the feats which made
him the darling of the backwoodsmen. Painted and dressed like an Indian
so as to deceive the lurking bands of savages, he and two companions
left the fort he had built on the bank of the Mississippi, and came
through the wilderness to Harrodsburg. They lived on the buffaloes they
shot, and when they came to the Tennessee River, which was then in
flood, they crossed the swift torrent on a raft of logs bound together
with grapevines. At Harrodsburg they found the land court open, and
thronged with an eager, jostling crowd of settlers and speculators, who
were waiting to enter lands in the surveyor's office. Even the dread of
the Indians could not overcome in these men's hearts the keen and
selfish greed for gain. Clark instantly grasped the situation. Seeing
that while the court remained open he could get no volunteers, he on his
own responsibility closed it off-hand, and proclaimed that it would not
be opened until after he came back from his expedition. The speculators
grumbled and clamored, but this troubled Clark not at all, for he was
able to get as many volunteers as he wished. The discontent, and still
more the panic over Bird's inroad, made many of the settlers determine
to flee from the country, but Clark sent a small force to Crab Orchard,
at the mouth of the Wilderness road, the only outlet from Kentucky, with
instructions to stop all men from leaving the country, and to take away
their arms if they persisted; while four fifths of all the grown men
were drafted, and were bidden to gather instantly for a campaign.
[Footnote: Bradford MSS.]

His Campaign against Piqua.

He appointed the mouth of the Licking as the place of meeting. Thither
he brought the troops from the Falls in light skiffs he had built for
the purpose, leaving behind scarce a handful of men to garrison the
stockade. Logan went with him as second in command. He carried with him
a light three-pounder gun; and those of the men who had horses marched
along the bank beside the flotilla. The only mishap that befell the
troops happened to McGarry, who had a subordinate command. He showed his
usual foolhardy obstinacy by persisting in landing with a small squad of
men on the north bank of the river, where he was in consequence
surprised and roughly handled by a few Indians. Nothing was done to him
because of his disobedience, for the chief of such a backwoods levy was
the leader, rather than the commander, of his men.

At the mouth of the Licking Clark met the riflemen from the interior
stations, among them being Kenton, Harrod, and Floyd, and others of
equal note. They had turned out almost to a man, leaving the women and
boys to guard the wooden forts until they came back, and had come to the
appointed place, some on foot or on horseback, others floating and
paddling down the Licking in canoes. They left scanty provisions with
their families, who had to subsist during their absence on what game the
boys shot, on nettle tops, and a few early vegetables; and they took
with them still less. Dividing up their stock, each man had a couple of
pounds of meal and some jerked venison or buffalo meat. [Footnote:
McAfee MSS.; the Bradford MS. says six quarts of parched corn.]

All his troops having gathered, to the number of nine hundred and
seventy, Clark started up the Ohio on the second of August. [Footnote:
This date and number are those given in the Bradford MS. The McAfee MSS.
say July 1st; but it is impossible that the expedition should have
started so soon after Bird's inroad. On July 1st, Bird himself was
probably at the mouth of the Licking.] The skiffs, laden with men, were
poled against the current, while bodies of footmen and horsemen marched
along the bank. After going a short distance up stream the horses and
men were ferried to the farther bank, the boats were drawn up on the
shore and left, with a guard of forty men, and the rest of the troops
started overland against the town of Old Chillicothe, fifty or sixty
miles distant. The three-pounder was carried along on a pack-horse. The
march was hard, for it rained so incessantly that it was difficult to
keep the rifles dry. Every night they encamped in a hollow square, with
the baggage and horses in the middle.

Chillicothe, when reached, was found to be deserted. It was burned, and
the army pushed on to Piqua, a town a few miles distant, on the banks of
the Little Miami, [Footnote: The Indians so frequently shifted their
abode that it is hardly possible to identify the exact location of the
successive towns called Piqua or Pickaway.] reaching it about ten in the
morning of the 8th of August. [Footnote: "Papers relating to G. R.
Clark." In the Durrett MSS. at Louisville. The account of the death of
Joseph Rogers. This settles, by the way, that the march was made in
August, and not in July.] Piqua was substantially built, and was laid
out in the manner of the French villages. The stoutly built log-houses
stood far apart, surrounded by strips of corn-land, and fronting the
stream; while a strong block-house with loop-holed walls stood in the
middle. Thick woods, broken by small prairies, covered the rolling
country that lay around the town.

The Fight at Piqua.

Clark divided his army into four divisions, taking the command of two in
person. Giving the others to Logan, he ordered him to cross the river
above the town [Footnote: There is some conflict as to whether Logan
went up or down stream.] and take it in the rear, while he himself
crossed directly below it and assailed it in front. Logan did his best
to obey the orders, but he could not find a ford, and he marched by
degrees nearly three miles up stream, making repeated and vain attempts
to cross; when he finally succeeded the day was almost done, and the
fighting was over.

Meanwhile Clark plunged into the river, and crossed at the head of one
of his own two divisions; the other was delayed for a short time. Both
Simon Girty and his brother were in the town, together with several
hundred Indian warriors; exactly how many cannot be said, but they were
certainly fewer in number than the troops composing either wing of
Clark's army. [Footnote: Haldimand MSS. McKee to De Peyster, Aug. 22,
1780. He was told of the battle by the Indians a couple of days after it
took place. He gives the force of the whites correctly as nine hundred
and seventy, forty of whom had been left to guard the boats. He says the
Indians were surprised, and that most of the warriors fled, so that all
the fighting was done by about seventy, with the two Girtys. This was
doubtless not the case; the beaten party in all these encounters was
fond of relating the valorous deeds of some of its members, who
invariably state that they would have conquered, had they not been
deserted by their associates. McKee reported that the Indians could find
no trace of the gun-wheels--the gun was carried on a pack-horse,--and so
he thought that the Kentuckians were forced to leave it behind on their
retreat. He put the killed of the Kentuckians at the modest number of
forty-eight; and reported the belief of Girty and the Indians that
"three hundred [of them] would have given [Clark's men] a total rout." A
very common feat of the small frontier historian was to put high praise
of his own side in the mouth of a foe. Withers, in his "Chronicles of
Border Warfare," in speaking of this very action, makes Girty withdraw
his three hundred warriors on account of the valor of Clark's men,
remarking that it was "useless to fight with fools or madmen." This
offers a comical contrast to Girty's real opinion, as shown in McKee's
letter.] They were surprised by Clark's swift advance just as a scouting
party of warriors, who had been sent out to watch the whites, were
returning to the village. The warning was so short that the squaws and
children had barely time to retreat out of the way. As Clark crossed the
stream, the warriors left their cabins and formed in some thick timber
behind them. At the same moment a cousin of Clark's, who had been
captured by the Indians, and was held prisoner in the town, made his
escape and ran towards the Americans, throwing up his hands, and calling
out that he was a white man. He was shot, whether by the Americans or
the Indians none could say. Clark came up and spoke a few words with him
before he died. [Footnote: Durrett MSS. Volume: "Papers referring to G.
R. Clark." The cousin's name was Joseph Rogers, a brother of the
commander of the galley.] A long-range skirmish ensued with the warriors
in the timber; but on the approach of Clark's second division the
Indians fell back. The two divisions followed in pursuit, becoming
mingled in disorder. After a slight running fight of two hours the
whites lost sight of their foes, and, wondering what had become of
Logan's wing, they gathered together and marched back towards the river.
One of the McAfees, captain over a company of riflemen from Salt River,
was leading, when he discovered an Indian in a tree-top. He and one of
his men sought shelter behind the same tree; whereupon he tried to glide
behind another, but was shot and mortally wounded by the Indian, who was
himself instantly killed. The scattered detachments now sat down to
listen for the missing wing. After half an hour's silent waiting, they
suddenly became aware of the presence of a body of Indians, who had
slipped in between them and the town. The backwoodsmen rushed up to the
attack, while the Indians whooped and yelled defiance. There was a
moment's heavy firing; but as on both sides the combatants carefully
sheltered themselves behind trees, there was very little loss; and the
Indians steadily gave way until they reached the town, about two miles
distant from the spot where the whites had halted. They then made a
stand, and, for the first time, there occurred some real fighting. The
Indians stood stoutly behind the loop-holed walls of the cabins, and in
the block-house; the Americans, advancing cautiously and gaining ground
inch by inch, suffered much more loss than they inflicted. Late in the
afternoon Clark managed to bring the three-pounder into action, from a
point below the town; while the riflemen fired at the red warriors as
they were occasionally seen running from the cabins to take refuge
behind the steep bank of the river. A few shots from the three-pounder
dislodged the defenders of the block-house; and about sunset the
Americans closed in, but only to find that their foes had escaped under
cover of a noisy fire from a few of the hindmost warriors. They had run
up stream, behind the banks, until they came to a small "branch" or
brook, by means of which they gained the shelter of the forest, where
they at once scattered and disappeared. A few of their stragglers
exchanged shots with the advance guard of Logan's wing as it at last
came down the bank; this was the only part Logan was able to take in the
battle. Of the Indians six or eight were slain, whereas the whites lost
seventeen killed, and a large number wounded. [Footnote: Bradford MS.;
the McAfee MSS. make the loss "15 or 20 Indians" in the last assault,
and "nearly as many" whites. Boon's narrative says seventeen on each
side. But McKee says only six Indians were killed and three wounded; and
Bombardier Homan, in the letter already quoted, says six were killed and
two captured, who were afterwards slain. The latter adds from hearsay
that the Americans cruelly slew an Indian woman; but there is not a
syllable in any of the other accounts to confirm this, and it may be set
down as a fiction of the by-no-means-valorous bombardier. The bombardier
mentions that the Indians in their alarm and anger immediately burnt all
the male prisoners in their villages.

The Kentucky historians give very scanty accounts of this expedition;
but as it was of a typical character it is worth while giving in full.
The McAfee MSS. contain most information about it.] Clark destroyed all
the houses and a very large quantity of corn; and he sent out
detachments which destroyed another village, and the stores of some
British and French Canadian traders. Then the army marched back to the
mouth of the Licking and disbanded, most of the volunteers having been
out just twenty-five days. [Footnote: Bradford MS.]

Effect of the Victory.

The Indians were temporarily cowed by their loss and the damage they had
suffered, [Footnote: See Haldimand MSS. De Peyster to Haldimand, Aug.
30, 1780.] and especially by the moral effect of so formidable a
retaliatory foray following immediately on the heels of Bird's inroad.
Therefore, thanks to Clark, the settlements south of the Ohio were but
little molested for the remainder of the year. [Footnote: McAfee MSS.]
The bulk of the savages remained north of the river, hovering about
their burned towns, planning to take vengeance in the spring. [Footnote:
Virginia State Papers, I., 451.]

Nevertheless small straggling bands of young braves occasionally came
down through the woods; and though they did not attack any fort or any
large body of men, they were ever on the watch to steal horses, burn
lonely cabins, and waylay travellers between the stations. They shot the
solitary settlers who had gone out to till their clearings by stealth,
or ambushed the boys who were driving in the milk cows or visiting their
lines of traps. It was well for the victim if he was killed at once;
otherwise he was bound with hickory withes and driven to the distant
Indian towns, there to be tortured with hideous cruelty and burned to
death at the stake. [Footnote: McAfee MSS. The last was an incident that
happened to a young man named McCoun on March 8, 1781.] Boon himself
suffered at the hands of one of these parties. He had gone with his
brother to the Blue Licks, to him a spot always fruitful of evil; and
being ambushed by the Indians, his brother was killed, and he himself
was only saved by his woodcraft and speed of foot. The Indians had with
them a tracking dog, by the aid of which they followed his trail for
three miles; until he halted, shot the dog, and thus escaped. [Footnote:
Boon's Narrative.]

Life of the Settlers.

During this comparatively peaceful fall the settlers fared well; though
the men were ever on the watch for Indian war parties, while the
mothers, if their children were naughty, frightened them into quiet with
the threat that the Shawnees would catch them. The widows and the
fatherless were cared for by the other families of the different
stations. The season of want and scarcity had passed for ever; from
thenceforth on there was abundance in Kentucky. The crops did not fail;
not only was there plenty of corn, the one essential, but there was also
wheat, as well as potatoes, melons, pumpkins, turnips, and the like.
Sugar was made by tapping the maple trees; but salt was bought at a very
exorbitant price at the Falls, being carried down in boats from the old
Redstone Fort. Flax had been generally sown (though in the poorer
settlements nettle bark still served as a substitute), and the young men
and girls formed parties to pick it, often ending their labor by an hour
or two's search for wild plums. The men killed all the game they wished,
and so there was no lack of meat. They also surveyed the land and tended
the stock--cattle, horses, and hogs, which throve and multiplied out on
the range, fattening on the cane, and large white buffalo-clover. At odd
times the men and boys visited their lines of traps. Furs formed almost
the only currency, except a little paper money; but as there were no
stores west of the mountains, this was all that was needed, and each
settlement raised most things for itself, and procured the rest by

The law courts were as yet very little troubled, each small community
usually enforcing a rough-and-ready justice of its own. On a few of the
streams log-dams were built, and tub-mills started. In Harrodsburg a
toll mill was built in 1779. The owner used to start it grinding, and
then go about his other business; once on returning he found a large
wild turkey-gobbler so busily breakfasting out of the hopper that he was
able to creep quietly up and catch him with his hands. The people all
worked together in cultivating their respective lands; coming back to
the fort before dusk for supper. They would then call on any man who
owned a fiddle and spend the evening, with interludes of singing and
story-telling, in dancing--an amusement they considered as only below
hunting. On Sundays the stricter parents taught their children the
catechism; but in spite of the presence of not a few devout Baptists and
Presbyterians there was little chance for general observance of
religious forms. Ordinary conversation was limited to such subjects as
bore on the day's doings; the game that had been killed, the condition
of the crops, the plans of the settlers for the immediate future, the
accounts of the last massacre by the savages, or the rumor that Indian
sign had been seen in the neighborhood; all interspersed with much
banter, practical joking, and rough, good-humored fun. The scope of
conversation was of necessity narrowly limited even for the backwoods;
for there was little chance to discuss religion and politics, the two
subjects that the average backwoodsman regards as the staples of deep
conversation. The deeds of the Indians of course formed the one
absorbing topic. [Footnote: For all this see McAfee MSS.]

An Abortive Separatist Movement.

An abortive separatist movement was the chief political sensation of
this summer. Many hundreds and even thousand of settlers from the
backwoods districts of various States, had come to Kentucky, and some
even to Illinois, and a number of them were greatly discontented with
the Virginian rule. They deemed it too difficult to get justice when
they were so far from the seat of government; they objected to the land
being granted to any but actual settlers; and they protested against
being taxed, asserting that they did not know whether the country really
belonged to Virginia or the United States. Accordingly, they petitioned
the Continental Congress that Kentucky and Illinois combined might be
made into a separate State; [Footnote: State Department MSS. No. 48. See
Appendix G. As containing an account of the first, and hitherto entirely
unnoticed, separatist movement in Kentucky, I give the petition entire.]
but no heed was paid to their request, nor did their leading men join in
making it.

Kentucky Divided into Counties.

In November the Virginia Legislature divided Kentucky into the three
counties of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Fayette, appointing for each a
colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, and a surveyor. The three colonels, who
were also justices of the counties, [Footnote: Calendar of Virginia
State Papers, Vol. II., p. 47.] were, in their order, John Floyd--whom
Clark described as "a soldier, a gentleman and a scholar," [Footnote:
_Do_., Vol. I., p. 452.]--Benjamin Logan, and John Todd. Clark, whose
station was at the Falls of the Ohio, was brigadier-general and
commander over all. Boon was lieutenant-colonel under Todd; and their
county of Fayette had for its surveyor Thomas Marshall, [Footnote:
Collins, I., 20.] the father of the great chief-justice, whose services
to the United States stand on a plane with those of Alexander Hamilton.
[Footnote: Roughly, Fayette embraced the territory north and northeast
of the Kentucky River, Jefferson that between Green River and the lower
Kentucky, and Lincoln the rest of the present State.]

Clark's Plans to Attack Detroit.

The winter passed quietly away, but as soon as the snow was off the
ground in 1781, the Indians renewed their ravages. Early in the winter
Clark went to Virginia to try to get an army for an expedition against
Detroit. He likewise applied to Washington for assistance. Washington
fully entered into his plans, and saw their importance. He would gladly
have rendered him every aid. But he could do nothing, because of the
impotence to which the central authority, the Continental Congress, had
been reduced by the selfishness and supine indifference of the various
States--Virginia among the number. He wrote Clark: "It is out of my
power to send any reinforcements to the westward. If the States would
fill their continental battalions we should be able to oppose a regular
and permanent force to the enemy in every quarter. If they will not,
they must certainly take measures to defend themselves by their militia,
however expensive and ruinous the system." [Footnote: State Department
MSS., No. 147, Vol. V. Reports of Board of War. Letter of Washington,
June 8, 1781. It is impossible to study any part of the Revolutionary
struggle without coming to the conclusion that Washington would have
ended it in half the time it actually lasted, had the jangling States
and their governments, as well as the Continental Congress, backed him
up half as effectively as the Confederate people and government backed
up Lee, or as the Northerners and the Washington administration backed
up McClellan--still more as they backed up Grant. The whole of our
Revolutionary history is a running commentary on the anarchic weakness
of disunion, and the utter lack of liberty that follows in its train.]
It was impossible to state with more straightforward clearness the fact
that Kentucky owed the unprotected condition in which she was left, to
the divided or States-rights system of government that then existed; and
that she would have had ample protection--and incidentally greater
liberty--had the central authority been stronger.

Why his Efforts were Baffled.

At last, Clark was empowered to raise the men he wished, and he passed
and repassed from Fort Pitt to the Falls of the Ohio and thence to the
Illinois in the vain effort to get troops. The inertness and
shortsightedness of the frontiersmen, above all the exhaustion of the
States, and their timid selfishness and inability to enforce their
commands, baffled all of Clark's efforts. In his letters to Washington
he bitterly laments his enforced dependence upon "persuasive arguments
to draw the inhabitants of the country into the field." [Footnote: State
Department MSS. Letters to Washington, Vol. 49, p. 235, May 21, 1781.
The entire history of the western operations shows the harm done by the
weak and divided system of government that obtained at the time of the
Revolution, and emphasizes our good fortune in replacing it by a strong
and permanent Union.] The Kentuckians were anxious to do all in their
power, but of course only a comparatively small number could be spared
for so long a campaign from their scattered stockades. Around Pittsburg,
where he hoped to raise the bulk of his forces, the frontiersmen were
split into little factions by their petty local rivalries, the envy
their leaders felt of Clark himself, and the never-ending jealousies and
bickerings between the Virginians and Pennsylvanians. [Footnote:
Calendar of Virginia State Papers, I., pp. 502, 597, etc.; II., pp. 108,
116, 264, 345. The Kentuckians were far more eager for action than the

The fort at the Falls, where Clark already had some troops, was
appointed as a gathering-place for the different detachments that were
to join him; but from one cause or another, all save one or two failed
to appear. Most of them did not even start, and one body of
Pennsylvanians that did go met with an untoward fate. This was a party
of a hundred Westmoreland men under their county-lieutenant, Col.
Archibald Loughry. They started down the Ohio in flat-boats, but having
landed on a sand bar to butcher and cook a buffalo that they had killed,
they were surprised by an equal number of Indians under Joseph Brant,
and being huddled together, were all slain or captured with small loss
to their assailants. [Footnote: At Loughry's Creek, some ten miles below
the mouth of the Miami, on August 24, 1781. Diary of Captain Isaac
Anderson, quoted in "Indiana Hist. Soc. Pamphlets, No. 4," by Charles
Martindale, Indianapolis, 1888. Collins, whose accuracy by no means
equals his thirst for pure detail, puts this occurrence just a year too
late. Brant's force was part of a body of several hundred Indians
gathered to resist Clark.] Many of the prisoners, including Loughry
himself, were afterwards murdered in cold blood by the Indians.

Fighting on the Frontier.

During this year the Indians continually harassed the whole frontier,
from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, ravaging the settlements and assailing
the forts in great bands of five or six hundred warriors. [Footnote: It
is most difficult to get at the number of the Indian parties; they were
sometimes grossly exaggerated and sometimes hopelessly underestimated.]
The Continental troops stationed at Fort Pitt were reduced to try every
expedient to procure supplies. Though it was evident that the numbers of
the hostile Indians had largely increased and that even such tribes as
the Delawares, who had been divided, were now united against the
Americans, nevertheless, because of the scarcity of food, a party of
soldiers had to be sent into the Indian country to kill buffalo, that
the garrison might have meat. [Footnote: State Department MSS., No. 147,
Vol. VI. Reports of Board of War. March 15, 1781.] The Indians
threatened to attack the fort itself, as well as the villages it
protected; passing around and on each side, their war parties ravaged
the country in its rear, distressing greatly the people; and from this
time until peace was declared with Great Britain, and indeed until long
after that event, the westernmost Pennsylvanians knew neither rest nor
safety. [Footnote: _Do_., No. 148, Vol. I.. January 4, 1781; No. 149,
Vol. I., August 6, 1782; No. 149, Vol. II., p. 461; No. 149, Vol. III.,
p. 183. Federal garrisons were occasionally established at, or withdrawn
from, other posts on the upper Ohio besides Fort Pitt; but their
movements had no permanent value, and only require chronicling by the
local, State, or county historians. In 1778 Fort McIntosh was built at
Beaver Creek, on the north bank of the Ohio, and Fort Laurens seventy
miles towards the interior. The latter was soon abandoned; the former
was in Pennsylvania, and a garrison was kept there.] Among many others
the forted village at Wheeling was again attacked. But its most
noteworthy siege occurred during the succeeding summer, when [Footnote:
The commanders at the unmolested forts and the statesmen who stayed at
home only saw those members of the tribes who claimed to be peaceful,
and invariably put the number of warriors on the warpath at far too low
a figure. Madison's estimates, for instance, were very much out of the
way, yet many modern critics follow him.] Simon Girty, with fife and
drum, led a large band of Indians and Detroit rangers against it, only
to be beaten off. The siege was rendered memorable by the heroism of a
girl, who carried powder from the stockade to an outlying log-house,
defended by four men; she escaped unscathed because of her very
boldness, in spite of the fire from so many rifles, and to this day the
mountaineers speak of her deed. [Footnote: See De Haas, 263-281, for the
fullest, and probably most accurate, account of the siege; as already
explained he is the most trustworthy of the border historians. But it is
absolutely impossible to find out the real facts concerning the sieges
of Wheeling; it is not quite certain even whether there were two or
three. The testimony as to whether the heroine of the powder feat was
Betty Zane or Molly Scott is hopelessly conflicting; we do not know
which of the two brothers Girty was in command, nor whether either was
present at the first attack. Much even of De Haas' account is, to put it
mildly, greatly embellished; as for instance his statement about the
cannon (a small French gun, thrown into the Monongahela when Fort Du
Quesne was abandoned, and fished up by a man named Naly, who was in
swimming), which he asserts cut "a wide passage" through the "deep
columns" of the savages. There is no reason to suppose that the Indians
suffered a serious loss. Wheeling was a place of little strategic
importance, and its fall would not have produced any far-reaching

It would be tiresome and profitless to so much as name the many
different stations that were attacked. In their main incidents all the
various assaults were alike, and that made this summer on McAfee's
station may be taken as an illustration.

The Attack on McAfee's Station.

The McAfees brought their wives and children to Kentucky in the fall of
'79, and built a little stockaded hamlet on the banks of Salt River, six
or seven miles from Harrodsburg. Some relatives and friends joined them,
but their station was small and weak. The stockade, on the south side,
was very feeble, and there were but thirteen men, besides the women and
children, in garrison; but they were strong and active, good woodsmen,
and excellent marksmen. The attack was made on May 4, 1781. [Footnote:
McAfee MSS. This is the date given in the MS. "Autobiography of Robert
McAfee"; the MS. "History of First Settlement on Salt River" says May
6th. I draw my account from these two sources; the discrepancies are

The Indians lay all night at a corn-crib three-quarters of a mile
distant from the stockade. The settlers, though one of their number had
been carried off two months before, still continued their usual
occupations. But they were very watchful and always kept a sharp
look-out, driving the stock inside the yard at night. On the day in
question, at dawn, it was noticed that the dogs and cattle betrayed
symptoms of uneasiness; for all tame animals dreaded the sight or smell
of an Indian as they did that of a wild beast, and by their alarm often
warned the settlers and thus saved their lives.

In this case the warning was unheeded. At daybreak the stock were turned
loose and four of the men went outside the fort. Two began to clear a
patch of turnip-land about a hundred and fifty yards off, leaving their
guns against a tree close at hand. The other two started towards the
corn-crib, with a horse and bag. After going a quarter of a mile, the
path dipped into a hollow, and here they suddenly came on the Indians,
advancing stealthily toward the fort. At the first fire one of the men
was killed, and the horse, breaking loose, galloped back to the fort.
The other man likewise turned and ran towards home, but was confronted
by an Indian who leaped into the path directly ahead of him. The two
were so close together that the muzzles of their guns crossed, and both
pulled trigger at once; the Indian's gun missed fire and he fell dead in
his tracks. Continuing his flight, the survivor reached the fort in

When the two men in the turnip-patch heard the firing they seized their
guns and ran towards the point of attack, but seeing the number of the
assailants they turned back to the fort, trying to drive the frightened
stock before them. The Indians coming up close, they had to abandon the
attempt, although most of the horses and some of the cattle got safely
home. One of the men reached the gate ahead of the Indians; the other
was cut off, and took a roundabout route through the woods. He speedily
distanced all of his pursuers but one; several times he turned to shoot
the latter, but the Indian always took prompt refuge behind a tree, and
the white man then renewed his flight. At last he reach a fenced
orchard, on the border of the cleared ground round the fort. Throwing
himself over the fence he lay still among the weeds on the other side.
In a minute or two the pursuer, running up, cautiously peered over the
fence, and was instantly killed; he proved to be a Shawnee chief,
painted, and decked with many silver armlets, rings, and brooches. The
fugitive then succeeded in making his way into the fort.

The settlers inside the stockade had sprung to arms the moment the first
guns were heard. The men fired on the advancing Indians, while the women
and children ran bullets and made ready the rifle-patches. Every one
displayed the coolest determination and courage except one man who hid
under a bed, until found by his wife; whereupon he was ignominiously
dragged out and made to run bullets with the women.

As the Indians advanced they shot down most of the cattle and hogs and
some of the horses that were running frantically round the stockade; and
they likewise shot several dogs that had sallied out to help their
masters. They then made a rush on the fort, but were driven off at once,
one of their number being killed and several badly hurt, while but one
of the defenders was wounded, and he but slightly. After this they
withdrew to cover and began a desultory firing, which lasted for some

Suddenly a noise like distant thunder came to the ears of the men in the
fort. It was the beat of horsehoofs. In a minute or two forty-five
horsemen, headed by McGarry, appeared on the road leading from
Harrodsburg, shouting and brandishing their rifles as they galloped up.
The morning was so still that the firing had been heard a very long way;
and a band of mounted riflemen had gathered in hot haste to go to the
relief of the beleaguered stockade.

The Indians, whooping defiance, retired; while McGarry halted a moment
to allow the rescued settlers to bridle their horses--saddles were not
thought of. The pursuit was then begun at full speed. At the ford of a
small creek near by, the rearmost Indians turned and fired at the
horsemen, killing one and wounding another, while a third had his horse
mired down, and was left behind. The main body was overtaken at the
corn-crib, and a running fight followed; the whites leaving their horses
and both sides taking shelter behind the tree-trunks. Soon two Indians
were killed, and the others scattered in every direction, while the
victors returned in triumph to the station.

Slight Losses of the Indians.

It is worthy of notice that though the Indians were defeated, and though
they were pitted against first-class rifle shots, they yet had but five
men killed and a very few wounded. They rarely suffered a heavy loss in
battle with the whites, even when beaten in the open or repulsed from a
fort. They would not stand heavy punishment, and in attacking a fort
generally relied upon a single headlong rush, made under cover of
darkness or as a surprise; they tried to unnerve their antagonists by
the sudden fury of their onslaught and the deafening accompaniment of
whoops and yells. If they began to suffer much loss they gave up at
once, and if pursued scattered in every direction, each man for himself,
and owing to their endurance, woodcraft, and skill in hiding, usually
got off with marvellously little damage. At the outside a dozen of their
men might be killed in the pursuit by such of the vengeful backwoodsmen
as were exceptionally fleet of foot. The northwestern tribes at this
time appreciated thoroughly that their marvellous fighting qualities
were shown to best advantage in the woods, and neither in the defence
nor in the assault of fortified places. They never cooped themselves in
stockades to receive an attack from the whites, as was done by the
Massachusetts Algonquins in the seventeenth century, and by the Creeks
at the beginning of the nineteenth; and it was only when behind
defensive works from which they could not retreat that the forest
Indians ever suffered heavily when defeated by the whites. On the other
hand, the defeat of the average white force was usually followed by a
merciless slaughter. Skilled backwoodsmen scattered out, Indian fashion,
but their less skilful or more panic-struck brethren, and all regulars
or ordinary militia, kept together from a kind of blind feeling of
safety in companionship, and in consequence their nimble and ruthless
antagonists destroyed them at their ease.

Indian War Parties Repulsed.

Still, the Indian war parties were often checked, or scattered; and
occasionally one of them received some signal discomfiture. Such was the
case with a band that went up the Kanawha valley just as Clark was
descending the Ohio on his way to the Illinois. Finding the fort at the
mouth of the Kanawha too strong to be carried, they moved on up the
river towards the Greenbriar settlements, their chiefs shouting
threateningly to the people in the fort, and taunting them with the
impending destruction of their friends and kindred. But two young men in
the stockade forthwith dressed and painted themselves like Indians, that
they might escape notice even if seen, and speeding through the woods
reached the settlements first and gave warning. The settlers took refuge
on a farm where there was a block-house with a stockaded yard. The
Indians attacked in a body at daybreak when the door was opened,
thinking to rush into the house; but they were beaten off, and paid dear
for their boldness, for seventeen of them were left dead in the yard,
besides the killed and wounded whom they carried away. [Footnote: McKee
was the commander at the fort; the block-house was owned by Col. Andrew
Donelly; Hanlon and Prior were the names of the two young men. This
happened in May, 1778. For the anecdotes of personal prowess in this
chapter see De Haas, or else Kercheval, McClung, Doddridge, and the
fifty other annalists of those western wars, who repeat many of the same
stories. All relate facts of undoubted authenticity and wildly
improbable tales, resting solely on tradition, with exactly the same
faith. The chronological order of these anecdotes being unimportant, I
have grouped them here. It must always be remembered that both the men
and the incidents described are interesting chiefly as examples; the old
annalists give many hundreds of such anecdotes, and there must have been
thousands more that they did not relate.] In the same year a block-house
was attacked while the children were playing outside. The Indians in
their sudden rush killed one settler, wounded four, and actually got
inside the house; yet three were killed or disabled, and they were
driven out by the despairing fury of the remaining whites, the women
fighting together with the men. Then the savages instantly fled, but
they had killed and scalped, or carried off, ten of the children. Be it
remembered that these instances are taken at random from among hundreds
of others, extending over a series of years longer than the average life
of a generation.

The Indians warred with the odds immeasurably in their favor. The Ohio
was the boundary between their remaining hunting-grounds and the lands
where the whites had settled. In Kentucky alone this frontier was
already seventy miles in length. [Footnote: Virginia State Papers, I.,
437. Letter of Col. John Floyd. The Kentuckians, he notices, trust
militia more than they do regulars.] Beyond the river stretched the
frowning forest, to the Indians a sure shield in battle, a secure haven
in disaster, an impenetrable mask from behind which to plan attack.

Nature of the Indian Forays.

Clark, from his post at the Falls, sent out spies and scouts along the
banks of the river, and patrolled its waters with his gun-boat; but it
was absolutely impossible to stop all the forays or to tell the point
likely to be next struck. A war party starting from the wigwam-towns
would move silently down through the woods, cross the Ohio at any point,
and stealthily and rapidly traverse the settlements, its presence
undiscovered until the deeds of murder and rapine were done, and its
track marked by charred cabins and the ghastly, mutilated bodies of men,
women, and children.

If themselves assailed, the warriors fought desperately and effectively.
They sometimes attacked bodies of troops, but always by ambush or
surprise; and they much preferred to pounce on unprepared and
unsuspecting surveyors, farmers, or wayfarers, or to creep up to
solitary, outlying cabins. They valued the scalps of women and children
as highly as those of men. Striking a sudden blow, where there was
hardly any possibility of loss to themselves, they instantly moved on to
the next settlement, repeating the process again and again. Tireless,
watchful, cautious, and rapid, they covered great distances, and their
stealth and the mystery of their coming and going added to the terror
produced by the horrible nature of their ravages. When pursued they
dextrously covered their trail, and started homewards across a hundred
leagues of trackless wilderness. The pursuers almost of necessity went
slower, for they had to puzzle out the tracks; and after a certain
number of days either their food gave out or they found themselves too
far from home, and were obliged to return. In most instances the pursuit
was vain. Thus a party of twenty savages might make a war-trail some
hundreds of miles in length, taking forty or fifty scalps, carrying off
a dozen women and children, and throwing a number of settlements, with
perhaps a total population of a thousand souls, into a rage of terror
and fury, with a loss to themselves of but one or two men killed and

A Great War Band Threatens Kentucky

Throughout the summer of 1781 the settlers were scourged by an unbroken
series of raids of this kind. In August McKee, Brant, and other tory and
Indian leaders assembled on the Miami an army of perhaps a thousand
warriors. They were collected to oppose Clark's intended march to
Detroit; for the British leaders were well aware of Clark's intention,
and trusted to the savages to frustrate it if he attempted to put it
into execution. Brant went off for a scout with a hundred warriors, and
destroyed Loughry's party of Westmoreland men, as already related,
returning to the main body after having done so. The fickle savages were
much elated by this stroke, but instead of being inspired to greater
efforts, took the view that the danger of invasion was now over. After
much persuasion Brant, McKee, and the captain of the Detroit rangers,
Thompson, persuaded them to march towards the Falls. On September 9th
they were within thirty miles of their destination, and halted to send
out scouts. Two prisoners were captured, from whom it was learned that
Clark had abandoned his proposed expedition. [Footnote: Haldimand MSS.
Captain A. Thompson to De Peyster, September 26, 1781.] Instantly the
Indians began to disband, some returning to their homes, and others
scattering out to steal horses and burn isolated cabins. Nor could the
utmost efforts of their leaders keep them together. They had no wish to
fight Clark unless it was absolutely necessary, in order to save their
villages and crops from destruction; and they much preferred plundering
on their own account. However, a couple of hundred Hurons and Miamis,
under Brant and McKee, were kept together, and moved southwards between
the Kentucky and Salt rivers, intending "to attack some of the small
forts and infest the roads." [Footnote: _Do._ Captain A. McKee to De
Peyster, September 26, 1781.] About the middle of the month they fell in
with a party of settlers led by Squire Boon.

Squire Boon and Floyd Defeated.

Squire Boon had built a fort, some distance from any other, and when
rumors of a great Indian invasion reached him, he determined to leave it
and join the stations on Bear Grass Creek. When he reached Long Run,
with his men, women, and children, cattle, and household goods, he
stumbled against the two hundred warriors of McKee and Brant. His people
were scattered to the four winds, with the loss of many scalps and all
their goods and cattle. The victors camped on the ground with the
intention of ambushing any party that arrived to bury the dead; for they
were confident some of the settlers would come for this purpose. Nor
were they disappointed; for next morning Floyd, the county lieutenant,
with twenty-five men, made his appearance. Floyd marched so quickly that
he came on the Indians before they were prepared to receive him. A smart
skirmish ensued; but the whites were hopelessly outnumbered, and were
soon beaten and scattered, with a loss of twelve or thirteen men. Floyd
himself, exhausted and with his horse shot, would have been captured had
not another man, one Samuel Wells, who was excellently mounted, seen his
plight. Wells reined in, leaped off his horse, and making Floyd ride, he
ran beside him, and both escaped. The deed was doubly noble, because the
men had previously been enemies. [Footnote: Marshall, I., 116. Floyd had
previously written Jefferson (Virginia State Papers, I., 47) that in his
county there were but three hundred and fifty-four militia between
sixteen and fifty-four years old; that all people were living in forts,
and that forty-seven of the settlers of all ages had been killed, and
many wounded, since January; so his defeat was a serious blow.] The
frontiersmen had made a good defence in spite of the tremendous odds
against them, and had slain four of their opponents, three Hurons and a
Miami. [Footnote: Haldimand MSS. Thompson's letter; McKee only mentions
the three Hurons. As already explained, the partisan leaders were apt,
in enumerating the Indian losses, only to give such as had occurred in
their own particular bands. Marshall makes the fight take place in
April; the Haldimand MSS. show that it was in September. Marshall is as
valuable for early Kentucky history as Haywood for the corresponding
periods in Tennessee; but both one and the other write largely from
tradition, and can never be followed when they contradict contemporary
reports.] Among the former was the head chief, a famous warrior; his
death so discouraged the Indians that they straightway returned home
with their scalps and plunder, resisting McKee's entreaty that they
would first attack Boonsborough.

One war party carried off Logan's family; but Logan, following swiftly
after, came on the savages so suddenly that he killed several of their
number, and rescued all his own people unhurt. [Footnote: Bradford MSS.]

Complicity of the British.

Often French Canadians, and more rarely tories, accompanied these little
bands of murderous plunderers [Footnote: At this very time a small band
that had captured a family in the Kanawha valley were pursued fifty
miles, overtaken, several killed and wounded, and the prisoners
recaptured, by Col. Andrew Donelly, mentioned in a previous note; it
consisted of two French and eight Indians. Virginia State Papers, I.,
601.]--besides the companies of Detroit rangers who went with the large
war parties--and they were all armed and urged on by the British at
Detroit. One of the official British reports to Lord George Germaine,
made on October 23d of this year, deals with the Indian war parties
employed against the northwestern frontier. "Many smaller Indian parties
have been very successful.... It would be endless and difficult to
enumerate to your Lordship the parties that are continually employed
upon the back settlements. From the Illinois country to the frontiers of
New York there is a continual succession... the perpetual terror and
losses of the inhabitants will I hope operate powerfully in our
favor" [Footnote: See full copy of the letter in Mr. Martindale's
excellent pamphlet, above quoted.];--so runs the letter. At the same
time the British commander in Canada was pointing out to his subordinate
at Detroit that the real danger to British rule arose from the extension
of the settlements westwards, and that this the Indians could prevent
[Footnote: Haldimand MSS. Haldimand to De Peyster, June 24, 1781.
Throughout the letters of the British officers at and near Detroit there
are constant allusions to scalps being brought in; but not one word, as
far as I have seen, to show that the Indians were ever reproved because
many of the scalps were those of women and children. It is only fair to
say, however, that there are several instances of the commanders
exhorting the Indians to be merciful--which was a waste of breath,--and
several other instances where successful efforts were made to stop the
use of torture. The British officers were generally personally humane to
their prisoners.]; in other words, the savages were expressly directed
to make war on non-combatants, for it was impossible to attack a
settlement without attacking the women and children therein. In return
the frontiersmen speedily grew to regard both British and Indians with
the same venomous and indiscriminate anger.

Nature of the Ceaseless Strife

In the writings of the early annalists of these Indian wars are to be
found the records of countless deeds of individual valor and cowardice,
prowess and suffering, of terrible woe in time of disaster and defeat,
and of the glutting of ferocious vengeance in the days of triumphant
reprisal. They contain tales of the most heroic courage and of the
vilest poltroonery; for the iron times brought out all that was best and
all that was basest in the human breast. We read of husbands leaving
their wives, and women their children, to the most dreadful of fates, on
the chance that they themselves might thereby escape; and on the other
hand, we read again and again of the noblest acts of self-sacrifice,
where the man freely gave his life for that of his wife or child, his
brother or his friend. Many deeds of unflinching loyalty are recorded,
but very, very few where magnanimity was shown to a fallen foe. The
women shared the stern qualities of the men; often it happened that,
when the house-owner had been shot down, his wife made good the defence
of the cabin with rifle or with axe, hewing valiantly at the savages who
tried to break through the door, or dig under the puncheon floor, or,
perhaps, burst down through the roof or wide chimney. Many hundreds of
these tales could be gathered together; one or two are worth giving, not
as being unique, but rather as samples of innumerable others of the same

Feat of the Two Poes.

In those days [Footnote: 1781, De Haas; Doddridge, whom the other
compilers follow, gives a wrong date (1782), and reverses the parts the
two brothers played.] there lived beside the Ohio, in extreme
northwestern Virginia, two tall brothers, famed for their strength,
agility, and courage. They were named Adam and Andrew Poe. In the summer
of '81 a party of seven Wyandots or Hurons came into their settlement,
burned some cabins, and killed one of the settlers. Immediately eight
backwoodsmen started in chase of the marauders; among them were the two

The Wyandots were the bravest of all the Indian tribes, the most
dangerous in battle, and the most merciful in victory, rarely torturing
their prisoners; the backwoodsmen respected them for their prowess more
than they did any other tribe, and, if captured, esteemed themselves
fortunate to fall into Wyandot hands. These seven warriors were the most
famous and dreaded of the whole tribe. They included four brothers, one
being the chief Bigfoot, who was of gigantic strength and stature, the
champion of all, their most fearless and redoubtable fighter. Yet their
very confidence ruined them, for they retreated in a leisurely manner,
caring little whether they were overtaken or not, as they had many times
worsted the whites, and did not deem them their equals in battle.

The backwoodsmen followed the trail swiftly all day long, and, by the
help of the moon, late into the night. Early next morning they again
started and found themselves so near the Wyandots that Andrew Poe turned
aside and went down to the bed of a neighboring stream, thinking to come
up behind the Indians while they were menaced by his comrades in front.
Hearing a low murmur, he crept up through the bushes to a jutting rock
on the brink of the watercourse, and peering cautiously over, he saw two
Indians beneath him. They were sitting under a willow, talking in deep
whispers; one was an ordinary warrior, the other, by his gigantic size,
was evidently the famous chief himself. Andrew took steady aim at the
big chiefs breast and pulled trigger. The rifle flashed in the pan; and
the two Indians sprang to their feet with a deep grunt of surprise. For
a second all three stared at one another. Then Andrew sprang over the
rock, striking the big Indian's breast with a shock that bore him to the
earth; while at the moment of alighting, he threw his arm round the
small Indian's neck, and all three rolled on the ground together.

At this instant they heard sharp firing in the woods above them. The
rest of the whites and Indians had discovered one another at the same
time. A furious but momentary fight ensued; three backwoodsmen and four
Indians were killed outright, no other white being hurt, while the
single remaining red warrior made his escape, though badly wounded. But
the three men who were struggling for life and death in the ravine had
no time to pay heed to outside matters. For a moment Andrew kept down
both his antagonists, who were stunned by the shock; but before he could
use his knife the big Indian wrapped him in his arms and held him as if
in a vise. This enabled the small Indian to wrest himself loose, when
the big chief ordered him to run for his tomahawk, which lay on the sand
ten feet away, and to kill the white man as he lay powerless in the
chiefs arms. Andrew could not break loose, but watching his chance, as
the small Indian came up, he kicked him so violently in the chest that
he knocked the tomahawk out of his hand and sent him staggering into the
water. Thereat the big chief grunted out his contempt, and thundered at
the small Indian a few words that Andrew could not understand. The small
Indian again approached and after making several feints, struck with the
tomahawk, but Andrew dodged and received the blow on his wrist instead
of his head; and the wound though deep was not disabling. By a sudden
and mighty effort he now shook himself free from the giant, and
snatching up a loaded rifle from the sand, shot the small Indian as he
rushed on him. But at that moment the larger Indian, rising up, seized
him and hurled him to the ground. He was on his feet in a second, and
the two grappled furiously, their knives being lost; Andrew's activity
and skill as a wrestler and boxer making amends for his lack of
strength. Locked in each other's arms they rolled into the water. Here
each tried to drown the other, and Andrew catching the chief by the
scalp lock held his head under the water until his faint struggles
ceased. Thinking his foe dead, he loosed his grip to try to get at his
knife, but, as Andrew afterwards said, the Indian had only been "playing
possum," and in a second the struggle was renewed. Both combatants
rolled into deep water, when they separated and struck out for the
shore. The Indian proved the best swimmer, and ran up to the rifle that
lay on the sand, whereupon Andrew turned to swim out into the stream,
hoping to save his life by diving. At this moment his brother Adam
appeared on the bank, and seeing Andrew covered with blood and swimming
rapidly away, mistook him for an Indian, and shot him in the shoulder.
Immediately afterwards he saw his real antagonist. Both had empty guns,
and the contest became one as to who could beat the other in loading,
the Indian exclaiming: "Who load first, shoot first!" The chief got his
powder down first, but, in hurriedly drawing out his ramrod, it slipped
through his fingers and fell in the river. Seeing that it was all over,
he instantly faced his foe, pulled open the bosom of his shirt, and the
next moment received the ball fair in his breast. Adam, alarmed for his
brother, who by this time could barely keep himself afloat, rushed into
the river to save him, not heeding Andrew's repeated cries to take the
big Indian's scalp. Meanwhile the dying chief, resolute to save the long
locks his enemies coveted--always a point of honor among the red
men,--painfully rolled himself into the stream. Before he died he
reached the deep water, and the swift current bore his body away.

Other Feats of Personal Prowess

About this time a hunter named McConnell was captured near Lexington by
five Indians. At night he wriggled out of his bonds and slew four of his
sleeping captors, while the fifth, who escaped, was so bewildered that,
on reaching the Indian town, he reported that his party had been
attacked at night by a number of whites, who had not only killed his
companions but the prisoner likewise.

A still more remarkable event had occurred a couple of summers
previously. Some keel boats, manned by a hundred men under Lieutenant
Rogers, and carrying arms and provisions procured from the Spaniards at
New Orleans, were set upon by an Indian war party under Girty and
Elliott, [Footnote: Haldimand MSS. De Peyster to Haldimand, November 1,
1779.] while drawn up on a sand beach of the Ohio. The boats were
captured and plundered, and most of the men were killed; several
escaped, two under very extraordinary circumstances. One had both his
arms, the other both his legs, broken. They lay hid till the Indians
disappeared, and then accidentally discovered each other. For weeks the
two crippled beings lived in the lonely spot where the battle had been
fought, unable to leave it, each supplementing what the other could do.
The man who could walk kicked wood to him who could not, that he might
make a fire, and making long circuits, chased the game towards him for
him to shoot it. At last they were taken off by a passing flat-boat.

The backwoodsmen, wonted to vigorous athletic pastimes, and to fierce
brawls among themselves, were generally overmatches for the Indians in
hand-to-hand struggles. One such fight, that took place some years
before this time, deserves mention. A man of herculean strength and of
fierce, bold nature, named Bingaman, lived on the frontier in a lonely
log-house. The cabin had but a single room below, in which Bingaman
slept, as well as his mother, wife, and child; a hired man slept in the
loft. One night eight Indians assailed the house. As they burst in the
door Bingaman thrust the women and the child under the bed, his wife
being wounded by a shot in the breast. Then having discharged his piece
he began to beat about at random with the long heavy rifle. The door
swung partially to, and in the darkness nothing could be seen. The
numbers of the Indians helped them but little, for Bingaman's tremendous
strength enabled him to shake himself free whenever grappled. One after
another his foes sank under his crushing blows, killed or crippled; it
is said that at last but one was left to flee from the house in terror.
The hired man had not dared to come down from the loft, and when
Bingaman found his wife wounded he became so enraged that it was with
difficulty he could be kept from killing him. [Footnote: It is curious
how faithfully, as well as vividly, Cooper has reproduced these
incidents. His pictures of the white frontiersmen are generally true to
life; in his most noted Indian characters he is much less fortunate. But
his "Indian John" in the "Pioneers" is one of his best portraits; almost
equal praise can he given to Susquesus in the "Chainbearers."]

Incidents such as these followed one another in quick succession. They
deserve notice less for their own sakes than as examples of the way the
West was won; for the land was really conquered not so much by the
actual shock of battle between bodies of soldiers, as by the continuous
westward movement of the armed settlers and the unceasing individual
warfare waged between them and their red foes.

For the same reason one or two of the more noted hunters and Indian
scouts deserve mention, as types of hundreds of their fellows, who spent
their lives and met their deaths in the forest. It was their warfare
that really did most to diminish the fighting force of the tribes. They
battled exactly as their foes did, making forays, alone or in small
parties, for scalps and horses, and in their skirmishes inflicted as
much loss as they received; in striking contrast to what occurred in
conflicts between the savages and regular troops.

The Hunter Wetzel.

One of the most formidable of these hunters was Lewis Wetzel. [Footnote:
The name is variously spelt; in the original German records of the
family it appears as Waetzel, or Watzel.] Boon, Kenton, and Harrod
illustrate by their lives the nobler, kindlier traits of the dauntless
border-folk; Wetzel, like McGarry, shows the dark side of the picture.
He was a good friend to his white neighbors, or at least to such of them
as he liked, and as a hunter and fighter there was not in all the land
his superior. But he was of brutal and violent temper, and for the
Indians he knew no pity and felt no generosity. They had killed many of
his friends and relations, among others his father; and he hunted them
in peace or war like wolves. His admirers denied that he ever showed
"unwonted cruelty" [Footnote: De Haas, 345.] to Indian women and
children; that he sometimes killed them cannot be gainsaid. Some of his
feats were cold-blooded murders, as when he killed an Indian who came in
to treat with General Harmar, under pledge of safe conduct; one of his
brothers slew in like fashion a chief who came to see Col. Brodhead. But
the frontiersmen loved him, for his mere presence was a protection, so
great was the terror he inspired among the red men. His hardihood and
address were only equalled by his daring and courage. He was literally a
man without fear; in his few days of peace his chief amusements were
wrestling, foot-racing, and shooting at a mark. He was a dandy, too,
after the fashion of the backwoods, especially proud of his mane of long
hair, which, when he let it down, hung to his knees. He often hunted
alone in the Indian country, a hundred miles beyond the Ohio. As he
dared not light a bright fire on these trips, he would, on cold nights,
make a small coal-pit, and cower over it, drawing his blanket over his
head, when, to use his own words, he soon became as hot as in a "stove
room." Once he surprised four Indians sleeping in their camp; falling on
them he killed three. Another time, when pursued by the same number of
foes, he loaded his rifle as he ran, and killed in succession the three
foremost, whereat the other fled. In all, he took over thirty scalps of
warriors, thus killing more Indians than were slain by either one of the
two large armies of Braddock and St. Clair during their disastrous
campaigns. Wetzel's frame, like his heart, was of steel. But his temper
was too sullen and unruly for him ever to submit to command or to bear
rule over others. His feats were performed when he was either alone or
with two or three associates. An army of such men would have been wholly

Brady and his Scouts.

Another man, of a far higher type, was Captain Samuel Brady, already a
noted Indian fighter on the Alleghany. For many years after the close of
the Revolutionary war he was the chief reliance of the frontiersmen of

Book of the day: