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The Adventures of Daniel Boone: the Kentucky rifleman By Francis L. Hawks Characters: 22991

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


HEN Boone reached Boonesborough, the object he most loved was not to be found. His poor wife, wearied with waiting for him, and naturally concluding that he was lost to her for ever, had returned to her friends on the Yadkin. The settlers had begged her to remain, and offered her every kindness; but her husband was gone: she was heart-sick, and longed to return to her friends in Carolina. Disappointed as he was, however, he had no time to waste in sorrow. The Indians were approaching, and Boonesborough was well nigh defenceless. Just before his return, a Major Smith had taken charge of the post, and been busy in strengthening it, but much was still to be done. Boone's energies were now at work, and in a little time the station was ready for an attack. A white man now came into the settlement with news. He had escaped from the Indians. The party from which Boone had escaped had postponed their attack for three weeks, and gone back to strengthen themselves. They felt that Boone had reached home-the alarm was given, the place fortified-and that it was idle to attack it at this time.

Boone determined at once to improve the mean season. With nineteen men, he started off to surprise the Indians at Paint Creek Town, a small village on the Scioto. When he came within four miles of the place, he met a party of the savages on their way to join the large body marching against Boonesborough. The fight instantly commenced: one Indian fell dead, several were wounded, and the rest were forced to retreat; their horses and all their baggage fell into the hands of Boone. Two men were now sent to reconnoitre the town. They found no Indians there; they had all left. After setting fire to the village, they returned, and Boone immediately hurried homeward.

He had scarcely entered the station, and closed the gates, when an army of four hundred and forty-four Indians, led on by a Frenchman named Duquesne, appeared before the settlement. They soon sent in a flag, demanding, in the name of the King of Great Britain, that the station should instantly surrender. A council was immediately held in the fort. With such a force before them, Smith was in favor of meeting their proposal; Boone opposed it; the settlers backed him in this opposition; and he sent back for an answer to the Indians that the gates should never be opened to them. Presently another flag of truce was sent in, with a message that they had a letter for Colonel Boone from Governor Hamilton, of Detroit. Upon hearing this, it was thought best that Boone and Smith should go out and meet them, and hear what they had to say.

Fifty yards from the fort they were met by three chiefs, who received them very cordially, and led them to the spot where they were to hold the parley. Here they were seated upon a panther's skin, while the Indians held branches over their heads to protect them from the sun. The chiefs then commenced talking in a friendly way, and some of their warriors now came forward, grounded their arms, and shook hands with them. Then the letter of General Hamilton was read; he invited them to surrender and come at once to Detroit where they should be treated with all kindness. Smith objected to this proposal, declaring that it was impossible for them, at this time, to move their women and children; but the Indians had an answer ready: they had brought forty horses with them, they said, expressly to help them in removing. After a long and friendly talk, the white men returned to the fort, for the purpose, as they said, of considering the proposal. They now informed the settlers that the Indians had no cannon, and advised them never to think of surrendering. Every man thought the advice good.

The Indians now sent in another flag, and asked what treaty the whites were ready to make. Boone, who had suspected treachery all the time, at once sent a reply, that if they wished to make a treaty, the place for making it, must be within sixty yards of the fort. This displeased them at first, but at last, they consented. He then stationed some of his men, with their guns, in one angle of the fort, with orders to fire if it became necessary, and, with Smith, started out to meet them. After a long talk with thirty chiefs, terms were agreed upon, and the treaty was ready to be signed; the chiefs now said that it was customary with them, on such occasions, for the Indians to shake hands with every white man who signed the treaty, as a token of the warmest friendship. Boone and Smith agreed to this, and the shaking of hands commenced; presently, they found themselves seized in the crowd-the Indians were dragging them off; a fire from the fort now levelled the savages who grasped them; the rest were in confusion, and, in the confusion, Boone and Smith escaped and rushed into the fort. In the struggle Boone was wounded, though not dangerously. It was a narrow escape for both of them.

There was no more chance for deception now; the Indians were disappointed, and the whites were provoked at their treachery. A brisk firing now commenced on both sides; Duquesne harangued the Indians and urged them on, while the whites shouted from the fort, upbraided them as treacherous cowards, and defied them. The attack was furious, the firing was kept up till dark, and many an Indian fell that day before Boonesborough. The whites, sheltered by their pickets, made easy havoc among them.

When night came, the exasperated Indians crawled under the pickets and began to throw burning materials into the fort, hoping to set all on fire; but in this they were disappointed-there were ample supplies of water inside, and the fire was put out as fast as it fell.

The next day the firing was resumed, and day after day it continued, the Indians failing to make any impression. They were too far from the fort-the first day's work had taught them not to come near. At last they formed a wiser plan for doing mischief. Boonesborough, as you will remember, was only sixty yards from the river, and they determined, by the advice of the Frenchman, to let the water in and force the settlers out. In the night, they commenced the work of digging a trench under ground, from the river. In the morning Boone looked out upon the river, and perceiving that it was muddy, instantly guessed the cause. He immediately set his men to the work of cutting a trench inside the fort, to cross the subterranean passage of the Indians. The savages saw what was doing, for Boone's men were constantly shovelling dirt over the pickets, but they persevered earnestly in their design. At last, however, they were forced to stop, for the dirt caved in as fast as they dug; disappointed in this, they now summoned the station once more to a treaty. But Boone laughed at them. "Do you suppose," said he, "we would pretend to treat with such treacherous wretches? Fire on, you only waste your powder; the gates shall never be opened to you while there is a man of us living." Taking his advice, they commenced their firing again; at last, on the ninth day of the siege, wearied with their fruitless labor, they killed all the cattle they could find, raised a yell, and departed. This was a terrible siege for the Indians; it is said that they lost two hundred men; Boone counted thirty-seven chief warriors; while the whites, defended by their pickets, had but two killed and four wounded. You may judge, too, how industrious the savages had been, when I tell you that the whites who wanted lead, commenced gathering their balls after they left, and succeeded in picking out of the logs, and from the ground, one hundred and twenty-five pounds.

Boone having thus successfully defended his settlement, determined now to go in search of his wife. Accustomed to travelling through the woods, he soon made his lonely journey to the Yadkin. They were amazed as he entered the house of Mr. Bryan, his wife's father. The appearance of one risen from the grave could not have surprised them more than that of Boone-the lost man was among them, and great was their rejoicing. He now remained here with his family for some time, and here we will leave him for a little while, to talk of what happened in Kentucky during his absence.

The Kentuckians, roused by the Indian hostility and treachery, determined soon after he left to inflict punishment upon them; against the Shawanese they were most provoked; it was among them that most of the plots against the whites were formed, and the attack, therefore, was to be made upon them. An army of one hundred and sixty men was soon collected, and the command was given to a brave man named Colonel Bowman; they were to march directly against old Chilicothe, the den of the savages.

In July of this year (1779), they started and reached the home of the Indians, without being discovered. At daylight, the fight commenced and continued till ten o'clock. Bowman's men fought bravely, but the Indians had every advantage. Knowing all the woods about their settlement, while one party fought openly, the other, concealed behind the grass and trees, poured in a deadly fire upon the whites. He was forced at last to retreat as rapidly as possible to a distance of thirty miles; but the Indians pursued him here, doing more mischief than before. The savages fought desperately. His men were falling around him, and but for Colonel Harrod, every man of them might have been killed. Seeing the slaughter that was continually increasing, he mounted a body of horsemen and made a charge upon the enemy; this broke their ranks, they were thrown into confusion, and Bowman, with the remnant of his men, was enabled to retreat.

This attack only exasperated the Indians. In the course of the next summer (after doing much mischief in a smaller way in the meantime), they gathered together to the number of six hundred, and led on by Colonel Bird, a British officer, came down upon Riddle's and Martin's stations, at the forks of Licking river. They had with them six cannons, and managed their matters so secretly, that the first news of their approach was given to the settlers by the roar of their guns. Of course it was of no use to resist; the pickets could not defend them from cannon-balls; the settlers were forced to surrender. The savages rushed into the station and instantly killed one man and two women with their tomahawks; all the others, many of whom were sick, were now loaded with baggage and forced to march off with the Indians. It was certain death to any one, old or young, male or female, who became, on the march, too weak and exhausted to travel farther; they were instantly killed with the tomahawk.

Flushed with success, the Indians were now more troublesome than ever; it was impossible for the whites to remain in the country if matters were to go on in this way. The inhabitants at last threw themselves upon the protection of Colonel Clarke, who commanded a regiment of United States soldiers at the falls of the Ohio. At the head of his men and a large number of volunteers, he marched against Pecaway, one of the principal towns of the Shawanese; numbers of the savages were killed, and the town was burnt to ashes. This was a triumph, but it was a triumph gained by the loss of seventeen of his men.

In 1780, Boone again returned to Boonesborough with his family, bringing with him also a younger brother. The elder brother (who had been in Kentucky before, as you will remember) now returned also, and made his home at a spot not

far from the place where the town of Shelbyville now stands. The settlers were all delighted to see their old friend Daniel Boone once more among them; they now felt that their leader was on the ground. Mrs. Boone too felt happy. Though she was again on "the dark and bloody ground," her husband was with her.

In a little time his services were again especially needed. The want of salt, their old trouble was upon them, and they looked to Boone to procure it. Ever ready, he started off with his younger brother to the Blue Licks, the place of his former trouble; here he was destined to meet with trouble again. They had made as much salt as they could carry, and were now returning to Boonesborough with their packs, when they were suddenly overtaken by a party of savages; the Indians immediately fired, and Boone's brother fell dead. Daniel Boone turned, levelled his rifle at the foremost Indian, and brought him down; with a loud yell the party now rushed toward him. He snatched his brother's rifle, levelled another, and then ran. The Indians gave chase, but he managed to keep ahead, and even found time to reload his rifle. He knew that his only chance for escape was to distance them, and break his trail. He passed the brow of a hill, jumped into a brook below, waded in it for some distance, and then struck off at right angles from his old course. Upon looking back he found, to his sorrow, that he had not succeeded-the Indians were still on his track. Presently, he came to a grape-vine, and tried his old experiment at breaking the trail. This was to no purpose, he found the savages still following him. After travelling some distance farther, upon looking round he saw the cause of his trouble; the Indians had a dog with them, and this dog, scenting his track, kept them for ever on his course. His rifle was loaded-the dog was far ahead of the party-and Boone sent a rifle ball through him. He now pushed on, doubling his course from time to time; the Indians lost track of him, and he reached Boonesborough in safety.

In spite of the continued annoyance of the Indians, the white settlements had continued to grow, and there were now so many white men in the country, that in the fall of this year (1780), Kentucky was divided into the three counties of Jefferson, Fayette, and Lincoln. Our friend, Daniel Boone, was appointed to command the militia in his county, and William Pope, and Benjamin Logan, two brave men, were to have the command in theirs.

The winter of this year soon set in, and it proved a hard one. The settlers, however, bore it cheerfully, for they were accustomed to hardships. Hard as it was, too, it proved mild to the next that followed. The winter of 1781 was long remembered as "the cold winter" in Kentucky. To make it harder, the Indians, after doing much mischief through the summer, had destroyed most of the crops the preceding fall, and the settlers had small supplies of food. But the forest was around them; Boone and Harrod were among them, and these two men found food enough. Every day they went out in the winter's storms-every night they came in laden with deer and buffaloes. The people learned to live on nothing but meat. Boone and Harrod drove away all thoughts of starvation. They had, however, this one comfort: the cold weather kept the Indians at home. They had no disturbances throughout the winter from them.

When spring opened, however, the savages showed themselves more furious, if possible, than ever. Their plans of mischief were better laid; they seemed to have been feeding their revenge fat. Open and secret war was all around the settlers. It would be idle for me to attempt to give details of the doings of the savages. Ashton's, Hoy's, M'Afee's, Kincheloe's, and Boone's station, near Shelbyville, were all attacked. Men were shot down in the open fields, or waylaid in every pathway. The early annals of Kentucky are filled with stories of many a brave white man at this time. There were Ashton, Holden, Lyn, Tipton, Chapman, White, Boone, Floyd, Wells, the M'Afees, M'Gary, Randolph, Reynolds, and others, some of whom were killed, and all of whom had their hard struggles. The history of that spring is only a story of burnings, captures, and murders, on the part of the savages. It was a dark period for the white men; even Boone, with all his vigor and fearlessness, thought it the darkest period he had known in that region. The savages seemed bent upon a war of extermination.

Not satisfied with such mischief as they had already done, in the early part of the summer the savages held a grand council at Old Chilicothe, to arrange their plans for further destruction. There were chiefs there from the Cherokees, Wyandots, Tawas, Pottawattomies, and most of the tribes bordering on the lakes. Two notorious white villains-whose names will never be forgotten in Kentucky-were there also, to aid them with their counsels. These were Girty and M'Kee, infamous men, who lived among the Indians, and lived only by murdering their own countrymen. Their plan was soon settled. Bryant's station, near Lexington, was known to be a strong post, and this was to be attacked. This station had within it forty cabins, and here it was thought they might make the greatest slaughter. The warriors were to gather as rapidly as possible for the enterprise.

In a little time, five hundred of them rallied at Girty's cabin, ready for their departure. The white rascal then made a speech to them. He told them that "Kentucky was a beautiful hunting-ground, filled with deer and buffaloes, for their comfort; the white men had come to drive them away; the ground was now red with the blood of the red men that had been slain. But vengeance they would have-now, before the whites were yet fastened in the country, they would strike a blow, and drive them off for ever." Then he talked of the plan before them. He advised them to descend the Miami in their canoes, cross the Ohio, ascend the Licking, and then they might paddle their boats almost to the station. His speech was answered by a loud yell from the Indians, and they all started off for their boats-Simon Girty, with his ruffled shirt and soldier coat, marching at their head.

On the night of the 15th of August, they arrived before the station. In the morning, as the gates were opened, the men were fired at by the savages, and this was the first news to the whites of the approach of the enemy. It was fortunate that they had shown themselves thus early: in two hours more, most of the men were to have started off to aid a distant feeble station. As soon as the whites found they were besieged, they managed to send off the news to Lexington.

The Indians now, as usual, commenced their stratagems. The large body concealed themselves in the grass near the pathway to the spring, while one hundred went round and attacked the southeast angle of the station. Their hope was to draw the whites all to that quarter, while they forced an entrance on the other side. But the white men understood this sort of cunning; they had lived among the Indians too long to be caught by such tricks: instead of noticing the attack, they went on quietly with the work of repairing and strengthening their palisades.

But water, one of the necessaries of life, was soon wanting. The whites, as they looked at the tall grass and weeds near the spring, felt that Indians were lurking there. The women now came forward and insisted upon it that they would go and bring water. "What if they do shoot us?" they said; "it is better to lose a woman than a man at such a time." With that, they started out, and, strange to tell, went back and forth, bringing supplies of water, without any difficulty. Some of the young men now went out upon the same purpose. They had scarcely left the station, when they were fired upon. Fortunately, the Indians were too far to do any mischief; the men retreated rapidly within the palisades. The Indians, finding their stratagem fruitless, now rushed forward, and commenced a tremendous attack. The whites received them with a steady fire, and many of them fell. Enraged the more, they now discharged their burning arrows into the roofs of the houses; some of the cabins were burnt, but an east wind was blowing at the time, and that saved the station.

The enemy now fell back into the grass. They had found out, in some way, that help was expected from Lexington, and they were preparing to cut it off. In a little time, all was still. Presently sixteen horsemen, followed by thirty-one foot-soldiers, were seen coming; these were the men from Lexington. Thinking only of the distress of their friends, they were hurrying along, when the Indians opened a fire upon them. The horsemen galloped off in a cloud of dust, and reached the station in safety. The soldiers on foot, in their effort to escape, plunged into the cornfields on either side of the road, only to meet the enemy. A desperate fight commenced on both sides: two soldiers were killed; the rest-four of them having dangerous wounds-reached the pickets. The exasperated Indians, disappointed at the escape of this party, now wreaked their vengeance by killing all the cattle they could find.

Finding all their efforts to enter the station idle, Simon Girty now came near enough to be heard, mounted a stump, and holding in his hand a flag of truce, began to talk. "Surrender promptly," cried Simon; "if you surrender promptly, no blood shall be shed; but if you will not surrender, then know that our cannons and reinforcements are coming. We will batter down your pickets as we did at Riddle's and Martin's; every man of you shall be slain; two are dead already four are wounded; every man shall die." This language was so insolent, that some of the settlers cried out, "Shoot the rascal!" No man, however, lifted his rifle; the flag of truce protected him. "I am under a flag of truce," cried Simon; "do you know who it is that speaks to you?"

Upon this, a young man named Reynolds leaped up and cried out, "Know you! know you! yes, we know you well. Know Simon Girty! yes: he is the renegado, cowardly villain, who loves to murder women and children, especially those of his own people. Know Simon Girty! yes: his father must have been a panther, and his mother a wolf. I have a worthless dog that kills lambs: instead of shooting him, I have named him Simon Girty. You expect reinforcements and cannon, do you? Cowardly wretches like you, that make war upon women and children, would not dare to touch them off, if you had them. We expect reinforcements, too, and in numbers to give a short account of the murdering cowards that follow you. Even if you could batter down our pickets, I, for one, hold your people in too much contempt to shoot rifles at them. I would not waste powder and ball upon you. Should you even enter our fort, I am ready for you; I have roasted a number of hickory switches, with which we mean to whip you and your naked cut-throats out of the country!"

Simon was now furious; cursing and swearing, he went back to his friends, amid the loud laughs and jeers of the whites. In a little time, the firing was renewed; it was all to no purpose: no white man suffered, and every Indian who came within gun-shot of the fort was sure to fall. In the course of the night the whole party sneaked off, and their tracks indicated that they had started for the Blue Licks. They left behind them thirty of their number slain.

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