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The Adventures of Daniel Boone: the Kentucky rifleman By Francis L. Hawks Characters: 23812

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

OLONEL TODD, of Lexington, instantly despatched news of this attack on Bryant's station, to Colonel Boone, at Boonesborough, and Colonel Trigg, near Harrodsburgh. In a little time, one hundred and seventy-six men were collected under these three officers, to march in pursuit. Majors M'Gary and Harland now joined them, determined that they would have a part in the punishment of the savages. It was known, too, that Colonel Logan was collecting a force, and a council of officers was at once held, to determine whether they should march on, or wait for him. They were all so eager to be off, that it was thought best to march immediately. The march was therefore commenced forthwith.

Following on in the trail of the Indians, they had not gone far, when Boone saw enough to convince him that the Indians would not only be willing, but glad to meet them. No effort had been made to conceal their trail; the trees were even marked on their pathway, that the whites might follow on; and they had tried to conceal their numbers, by treading in each other's footsteps. He called the attention of his companions to this, but still they proceeded onward.

They saw no Indians until they came to the Licking river, not far from the Blue Licks. A party was now seen on the other side of the stream, leisurely crossing a hill. A council was at once held, and the officers all turned to Boone for advice. His advice was given frankly: he was for waiting till Logan should arrive with his men. The Indian party, he felt assured, was at the least from four to five hundred strong, and the unconcerned mode in which the Indians crossed the hill showed that the main body was near, and their design was to draw them over the river. Moreover, he was acquainted with all that region of the country. After they crossed the ford, they would come upon deep ravines not far from the bank, where, no doubt, the Indians were in ambush. If, however, they were determined not to wait for Logan, he advised that the country might at least be reconnoitred before the attack was made. A part of the men, he thought, might cross the stream, and move up cautiously on the other side, while the remainder would stand where they were, ready to assist them at the first alarm. Todd and Trigg thought the advice good, and were disposed to heed it; but, just at this moment, Major M'Gary, more hot-headed than wise, spurred his horse into the water, gave the Kentucky war-whoop, and cried out, "All those that are not cowards will follow me; I will show them where the Indians are." The men were roused by this show of bravery, and they all crossed the ford.

The banks were steep on the other side, and many of them now dismounted, tied their horses, and commenced marching on foot. M'Gary and Harland led the way. They had not proceeded far when they came to one of the ravines. It was just as Boone had supposed; the savages were in ambush. A deadly fire was now poured in upon the whites; the men staggered and fell in every direction. The fire was returned, but to little purpose, for the enemy was completely concealed; a retreat was all that was left. The whites hurried back toward the river; the Indians pursued; and now commenced the slaughter with the tomahawk. The ford was narrow, and multitudes were slaughtered there. Some were trying to get to their horses; others, more fortunate, were mounted and flying; and some were plunging into the stream. In the midst of all this confusion, the Indians were doing their work of destruction.

A man by the name of Netherland (who had been laughed at for his cowardice) had never dismounted his horse, and was the first to reach the opposite shore. In a little time, some of his comrades were around him. He now turned, and, looking back, saw the massacre that was going on. This was more than he could bear. "Halt! fire on the Indians," cried he; "protect the men in the river." With this, the men wheeled, fired, and rescued several poor fellows in the stream, over whom the tomahawk was lifted.

Reynolds, the man who answered Girty's insolence, made a narrow escape. Finding, in the retreat, one of the officers wounded, he gave him his horse, and was soon after taken by three Indians. They were now over him, ready to despatch him, when two retreating white men rushed by. Two of the savages started in pursuit; the third stooped for an instant to tie his moccasin, when Reynolds sprang away from him and escaped.

This was a terrible battle for the white men. More than sixty of their number were slain, and among them were most of their officers: Colonels Todd and Trigg, Majors Harland and Bulger, Captains Gordon and M'Bride, and a son of Colonel Boone, were all among the dead.

Those who had regained the other shore, not having strength to rally, started homeward in great sadness. On their way they met Colonel Logan. He had gone to Bryant's station with his five hundred men, and was greatly disappointed when he found they had all started without him; he pushed on, however, as rapidly as he could, hoping to overtake them before they made their attack on the savages. The sad story of the defeat was soon told. All that remained to be done now was to go back, and, if possible, bury the dead. Upon this sad business Logan continued his march. Upon reaching the ground, the spectacle was awful: the dead bodies were strewn over it just as they had fallen, the heat was intense, and birds of prey were feeding upon the carcasses. The bodies were so mangled and changed, that no man could be distinguished; friends could not recognise their nearest relatives. The dead were buried as rapidly as possible, and Logan left the scene in great sorrow.

Nor was this all the carnage. The Indians, after the defeat, had scattered, and it was soon found that on their way homeward they had swept through several settlements, carrying destruction before them. Emboldened by their triumph, no man could tell what they might next attempt.

It was no time for the whites to be idle. They soon rallied in large numbers at Fort Washington, the present site of the city of Cincinnati. General Clarke was at once made commander-in-chief, and Colonel Logan was placed next under him in command. Clarke immediately started with a thousand men to attack the Indian towns on the Miami. On his way he came upon the cabin of Simon Girty; it was fortunate for Simon that a straggling Indian spied Clarke's men coming, in time to let him escape. The news was now spread everywhere that an army of white men was coming from Kentucky. The consequence was, that as Clarke approached the towns, he found them all deserted; the Indians had fled to the woods. His march, however, was not made for nothing. The towns of Old and New Chilicothe, Pecaway, and Wills' Town, were all reduced to ashes. One old Indian warrior was surprised, and surrendered himself a prisoner. This man, to the great sorrow of General Clarke, was afterward murdered by one of the soldiers.

Notwithstanding this punishment, Indian massacres still went on. Stories of savage butchery were heard of everywhere; every station that they dared approach felt their fury, and the poor settler who had built his cabin away from any station was sure to be visited.

General Clarke started out again, against the Indians on the Wabash. Unfortunately, his expedition failed this time, for the want of provisions for his men. Another expedition of Colonel Logan, against the Shawanese Indians, was more successful. He surprised one of their towns, killed many of their warriors, and took many prisoners.

The war had now become so serious, that in the fall of 1785 the General Government invited all the lake and Ohio tribes of Indians to meet at the mouth of the Great Miami. It was hoped that in this way matters might be settled peaceably. But many of the tribes were insolent and ill-natured; they refused to come in, giving as an excuse that the Kentuckians were for ever molesting them. Emboldened by the very invitation, they continued the warfare more vigorously than ever. They not only assaulted the settlements already made, but made an attempt to guard the Ohio river, to prevent any further settlers from reaching the country in that direction. Small parties placed themselves at different points on the river, from Pittsburgh to Louisville, where they laid in ambush and fired upon every boat that passed. Sometimes they would make false signals, decoy the boat ashore, and murder the whole crew. They even went so far at last as to arm and man the boats they had taken, and cruise up and down the river.

I must tell you of a very bold defence made on the Ohio about this time by a Captain Hubbel, who was bringing a party of emigrants from Vermont. His party was in two boats, and consisted in all of twenty. As Hubbel came down the river, he fell in with other boats, was told of the Indian stratagems, and advised to be careful. Indeed, the inmates of some of the boats begged that he would continue in their company, and thus they would be able to meet the Indians better if they should be attacked; the stronger the party, the better, in such a condition. But Hubbel refused to do this, and proceeded onward. He had not gone far, when a man on the shore began to make signs of distress, and begged that the boat might come and take him off. Hubbel knew well enough that this was an Indian disguised as a white man, and therefore took no notice of him. In a little time, a party of savages pushed off in their boats, and attacked him fiercely. The fight was hot on both sides. The savages tried to board Hubbel's boat, but the fire was too hot for this. Hubbel received two severe wounds, and had the lock of his gun shot off by an Indian; still he fought, touching off his broken gun from time to time with a firebrand. The Indians found the struggle too hard, and were glad to paddle off. Presently they returned, and attacked the other boat; this they seized almost without an effort, killed the captain and a boy, and took all the women as prisoners to their own boats. Now they came once more against Hubbel, and cunningly placed the women on the sides of their boats as a sort of bulwark. But this did not stop Hubbel: he saw that his balls must strike the women; but it was better that they should be killed now, rather than suffer a death of torture from the savages, and the fire was at once opened upon them again. They were soon driven off once more. In the course of the action, however, Hubbel's boat drifted near the shore, and five hundred savages renewed the fire upon them. One of the emigrants, more imprudent than the rest, seeing a fine chance for a shot, raised his head to take aim, and was instantly killed by a ball. The boat drifted along, and at length reached deep water again. It was then found, that of the nine men on board, two only had escaped unhurt; two were killed, and two mortally wounded. A remarkable lad on board showed great courage. He now asked his friends to extract a ball that had lodged in the skin of his forehead; and when this was done, he begged that they would take out a piece of bone that had been fractured in his elbow by another ball. His poor frightened mother, seeing his suffering, asked him why he had not complained before; to which the little fellow replied that he had been too busy, and, besides that, the captain had told them all to make no noise.

It was idle to attempt now to settle matters peaceably. The general government had tried that and the plan had failed. The war was now to be carried on to a close, come what might. An expedition was accordingly planned, against all the tribes northwest of the Ohio. The Indians were to be brought out, if possible to a general fight; or, if that could not be done, all their towns and cabins on the Scioto and Wabash, were to be destroyed. General Harmar was appointed com

mander of the main expedition, and Major Hamtranck was to aid him with a smaller party.

In the fall of 1791, Harmar started from Fort Washington with three hundred and twenty men. In a little time he was joined by the Kentucky and Pennsylvania militia, so that his whole force now amounted to fourteen hundred and fifty-three men. Colonel Hardin, who commanded the Kentucky militia, was now sent ahead with six hundred men, principally militia, to reconnoitre the country. Upon reaching the Indian settlements, the savages set fire to their houses and fled; to overtake them, he pushed on with two hundred of his men. A party of Indians met and attacked them. The cowardly militia ran off, leaving their brave companions to be slaughtered. It was a brave struggle, but almost all were cut down; only seven managed to escape and join the main army.

Harmar felt deeply mortified. He commenced forthwith his return to Fort Washington, but determined that, on the way, he would wipe off this disgrace from his army. Upon coming near Chilicothe he accordingly halted, and in the night despatched Colonel Hardin once more ahead, with orders to find the enemy and draw them into an engagement. About daybreak, Hardin came upon them, and the battle commenced. It was a desperate fight on both sides. Some of the militia acted badly again, but the officers behaved nobly. The victory was claimed on both sides, but I think the Indians had the best of it. Three gallant officers, Fontaine, Willys, and Frothingham, were slain, together with fifty regulars and one hundred militia.

Harmar now moved on to Fort Washington. So much was said about his miserable campaign, that he requested that he might be tried by a court-martial. Accordingly he was tried and honorably acquitted.

A new army was soon raised, and the command was now given to Major-General Arthur St. Clair. His plan was to destroy the Indian settlements between the Miamies, drive the savages from that region, and establish a chain of military posts there, which should for ever keep them out of the country. All having rallied at Fort Washington, he started off in the direction of the Miami towns. It was a hard march, for he was forced to cut his roads as he passed along. Upon arriving near the Indian country, he built forts Hamilton and Jefferson and garrisoned them. This left him nearly two thousand men to proceed with. In a little time some of the worthless militia deserted. This was a bad example to the rest, and St. Clair instantly sent Major Hamtranck, with a regiment, in pursuit of them, while he continued his march. When he arrived within fifteen miles of the Miami villages he halted and encamped; he was soon after joined by Major Hamtranck, and St. Clair proposed now immediately to march against the enemy.

But the enemy had already got news of them, and had made ready. They were determined to have the first blow themselves. At daybreak the next morning, the savages attacked the militia and drove them back in confusion. These broke through the regulars, forcing their way into the camp, the Indians pressing hard on their heels. The officers tried to restore order, but to no purpose: the fight now became general. This, however, was only a small part of the Indian force-there were four thousand of the party; they had nearly surrounded the camp, and sheltered by the trees and grass as usual, were pouring in a deadly fire upon the whites. St. Clair and all his officers behaved with great courage. Finding his men falling fast around him, he ordered a charge to be made with the bayonet. The men swept through the long grass driving the Indians before them. The charge had no sooner ceased than the Indians returned. Some forced their way into the camp, killed the artillerists, wounded Colonel Butler, and seized the cannon. Wounded as he was, Butler drove them back and recovered the guns. Fired with new ardor, they returned again, once more entered the camp-once more had possession of the cannon. All was now confusion among the whites-it was impossible to restore order-the Indians brought them down in masses-a retreat was all that remained. But they were so hemmed in, that this seemed impossible. Colonel Darke was ordered to charge the savages behind them, while Major Clarke with his battalion was commanded to cover the rear of the army. These orders were instantly obeyed, and the disorderly retreat commenced. The Indians pursued them four miles, keeping up a running fight. At last their chief, a Mississago, who had been trained to war by the British, cried out to them to stop as they had killed enough. They then returned to plunder the camp and divide the spoils, while the routed troops continued their flight to Fort Jefferson, throwing away their arms on the roadside that they might run faster. The Indians found in the camp seven pieces of cannon, two hundred oxen, and several horses, and had a great rejoicing. Well might the Mississago chief tell his people they had killed enough: thirty-eight commissioned officers were slain, and five hundred and ninety-three non-commissioned officers and privates. Besides this, twenty-one officers and two hundred and forty-two men were wounded, some of whom soon died of their wounds.

This was a most disastrous battle for the whites, the most disastrous they had yet known. The triumphant Indians were so delighted that they could not leave the field, but kept up their revels from day to day. Their revels, however, were at length broken up sorrowfully for them. General Scott, hearing of the disaster, pushed on for the field with one thousand mounted volunteers from Kentucky. The Indians were dancing and singing, and riding the horses and oxen in high glee. Scott instantly attacked them; two hundred were killed, their plunder retaken, and the whole body of savages driven from the ground.

When Congress met soon after this, of course this wretched Indian war was much talked of. It was proposed at once to raise three additional regiments. Upon this a hot debate sprang up, the proposal was opposed warmly; the opponents said that it would be necessary to lay a heavy tax upon the people to raise them, that the war had been badly managed, and should have been trusted to the militia in the west under their own officers, and, moreover, that no success could be expected so long as the British continued to hold posts in our own limits, and furnish the Indians with arms, ammunition, and advice.

On the other hand, it was declared that the war was a just and necessary one. It was shown that in seven years (between 1783 and 1790), fifteen hundred people in Kentucky had been murdered or taken captives by the savages; while in Pennsylvania and Virginia matters had been well nigh as bad; that everything had been done to settle matters peaceably but all to no purpose. In 1790, when a treaty was proposed to the Indians of the Miami, they asked for thirty days to deliberate-the request was granted-during those thirty days one hundred and twenty persons had been killed or captured, and at the end of the time the savages refused to give any answer to the proposal. At last the vote was taken-the resolution passed-the war was to be carried on-the regiments were to be raised.

General St. Clair now resigned the command of the army, and Major General Anthony Wayne was appointed to succeed him. This appointment gave great joy to the western people; the man was so well known among them for his daring and bravery, that he commonly went by the name of "Mad Anthony."

After much delay, the regiments were at last gathered together. Some still opposed this war and in order to prove to them that the government was willing to settle matters peaceably, if possible, two officers-Colonel Hardin and Major Truman, were now sent off to the Indians with proposals of peace. They were both seized and murdered by the savages.

Wayne now started out upon his expedition. In a little time he passed Fort Jefferson, took possession of St. Clair's fatal field, and erected a fort there which he called Fort Recovery. He now learned the truth of the stories about the British. A number of British soldiers had come down from Detroit, and fortified themselves on the Miami of the lakes. It was rumored too, that in some of the Indian fights and massacres, the English were seen among them, fighting and urging them on.

The General continued his march, and early in August reached the confluence of the Miami of the Lakes and the Au Glaize. This was one of the finest countries of the Indians, it was about thirty miles from the British post, and he discovered here, that two thousand warriors were near that post ready to meet him. Wayne was glad to hear this; his army was quite as strong, and he longed to meet the savages. As he drew near, however, he determined once more to have peace if possible, without shedding blood. A message was sent to the Indians, urging them not to follow the advice of bad men, to lay down their arms, to learn to live peaceably, and their lives and their homes should be protected by the government. An insolent answer, was all that was received in reply.

Wayne's army now marched on in columns-a select battalion, under Major Price, moving in front to reconnoitre. After marching about five miles, Price was driven back by the fire of the Indians. As usual, the cunning enemy was concealed; they had hid themselves in a thick wood a little in advance of the British post, and here Price had received their fire.

Wayne had now found out precisely where they were, and gave his orders accordingly. The cavalry under Captain Campbell were commanded to enter the wood in the rear of the Indians, between them and the river, and charge their left flank. General Scott, with eleven hundred mounted Kentucky volunteers, was to make a circuit in the opposite direction, and attack the right. The infantry were to advance with trailed arms, and rouse the enemy from their hiding-places. All being ready, the infantry commenced their march. The Indians were at once routed at the point of the bayonet. The infantry had done the whole; Campbell and Scott had hardly the chance of doing any of the fighting. In the course of an hour, they had driven the savages back two miles; in fact, within gun-shot of the British post.

Wayne had now the possession of the whole ground, and here he remained three days, burning their houses and cornfields above and below the fort. One Englishman suffered, too, in this work of destruction. Colonel M'Kee was known as a British trader, forever instigating the Indians against the Americans, and Wayne did not scruple to burn all his houses and stores likewise. Major Campbell, who commanded the British fort, remonstrated at this, but Wayne gave him a bold and determined answer in reply, and he had no more to say. A few words from him would only have caused Wayne to drive him from the country.

The army now returned to Au Glaize, destroying all the houses, villages, and crops by the way. It was one complete work of destruction; within fifty miles of the river everything was destroyed. In this campaign, Wayne had lost one hundred and seven men, and among them were two brave officers-Captain Campbell and Lieutenant Towles, but still he had gained a glorious victory. In his track, too, he had not forgotten to build forts, to guard against the savages in future.

The story of the victory soon spread, and struck terror to the hearts of the Indians north and south. They were restless and dissatisfied, but war was sure destruction to them; they felt that it was idle to attempt it further, and were ready to be quiet. In less than a year from this time, Wayne concluded a treaty, in behalf of the United States with all the Indian tribes northwest of the Ohio. The settlers at last had peace-a blessing which they had long desired.

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