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lection of Official Naval and Military Letters" published in America, contains even greater calumnies concerning the English.
In one of these letters, Brigadier General M'Clure asserts with boldness, and of course with veracity, that the inhabitants of Youngstown, Lewistown, &c. "were massaored, without disr tinction «f age or sex, by a band of inhuman savages, led on by British officers painted.'* Some of our worthy captains and lieutenants must have been amusing figures, when stripped and coloured like Indians!
In the same collection, is a letter from General Harrison, in which, after describing an action that took place between the Americans and the British, he says, that his second in command, General Winchester, was taken prisoner; after which he was killed and his bowels torn out. He then comments upon the extreme barbarity of the British. The only objection I know to this statement of General Harrison's, which is quite probable and strictly true, is that General Winchester is at present alive and well, and when 1 was in the United States wrote at least a dozen tremendously long letters in the public journals, the object of which was, to throw the whole blame of the failure of the campaign in question, upon the aforesaid General Harrison. Now either poor General Winchester is a very extraordinary person and lives without bowels, or he must have afterwards had them put in again by some American surgeon; for I can hardly suppose that the cruel and inhuman British who took them out) would have been at the trouble of putting them in again.
I am certain, that a white prisoner would meet With as good treatment among the Backwoodsmen, as among any soldiery in the world. It is only towards the Indians that they feel this implacable hatred, which may be easily accounted for, from the circumstance, that almost every one of the old hunters has had parents, brothers, sisters, or other relations, killed and scalped by them in former wars. I have spoken to many with whom I have hunted, and I am certain they would feel no more compunction at shooting an Indian, than they would at shooting a deer or a bear, while they Would look upon the killing a white man with as much horror as I should.
The Backwoodsmen not only make excellent Militia, but are the very best light troops in the world. They can subsist upon a very small quantity of food, care nothing about sleeping out in the woods for weeks together, and are perfectly unequalled in the use of the rifle.
This is the only fire-arm used throughout all the Western States, and is generally from three and a half to four feet long in the ban-el. It has one turn in four feet, weighs from twelve to fourteen pounds, has a very small and crooked stock, and carries a remarkably small bullet. The great weight keeps the gun steady; and the charge is so small, that one might almost balance one of their rifles across a gate, and fire it without its falling, the recoil, if any, being imperceptible. The usual size of the balls for shooting squirrels and wild turkeys, is from 100 to 150 to the pound. For deer and bear, the size varies from 60 to 80, and for larger animals, as the buffalo and elk, from 50 to 60; though a rifle carrying a ball of a larger size than 60 to the pound, is very seldom made use of. For general use, and for shooting at a mark, the favourite size is from 60 to 80. .
Every boy, as soon as he can lift a rifle, is constantly practising with it, and thus becomes an astonishingly expert marksman. Squirrel shooting is one of the favourite amusements of all the boys, and even of the men themselves. These animals are so numerous in the forests of the West, that it requires no labour or trouble to find them. Indeed they may be . shot in the trees almost from the door of every man's house. It is reckoned very unsportsmanlike, to bring home a squirrel or a turkey, that has been shot any where, except in the head. I have known a boy put aside and hide a squirrel that had been struck in the body; and I have often seen a Backwoodsman send a ball through the head of one which was peeping from between a forked bough at the top of one of the highest trees, and which I myself could hardly distinguish. .;
When I was in Kentucky, a hunter offered to fire twenty times at a dollar at the distance of 100 yards, upon the condition that I should give him a dollar every time he struck it, and that he should give me one every time he missed it; but I had seen such specimens of their rifle-shooting, that I did not choose to accept bis offer. Indeed I was told by several people who were present, that he was a noted shot, and would have struck the dollar almost every time.
I recollect at another place, meeting a person who belonged to the mounted militia, that by a forced march had joined General Jackson for the relief of New Orleans. He told me, that the General had placed him and his companions immediately behind the breast-work, and desired them to reserve their fire, until they could make sure. It was by these men that the great slaughter was chiefly made; for a soldier had but a poor chance of escaping the ball of a marksman, who could strike a squirrel's head nine times out of ten at a hundred yards. I do not believe there is an authentic history, that gives an account of a single battle, in which so many were killed on one side and so few on the other.
The man above mentioned, who did not know that I was an Englishman, assured me that the British troops advanced so boldly and intrepidly, in the very teeth of the murderous fire which swept away numbers of them at every discharge; that the Americans declared, they could not have believed such courage possible, if they had not seen it. "I quite hated" said he, "to fire upon such brave men, though obliged to do it in selfdefence. This was also the feeling of many of my comrades. As it was, I pulled the trigger of my rifle twenty-seven times, and you, Sir, have seen enough of my shooting, to judge whether or no I should often miss."
One of the anecdotes told me will serve, better than any thing I can say myself, to show what excellent marksmen they are. Two of his comrades were disputing which of them had killed a British Officer, who had made himself conspicuous by his daring advance, and whom they had both fired at simultaneously. "He is mine," said one, "if he be shot in the forehead;" "and if I struck him," said the other, "he is shot in the middle of the breast." After the action they went to examine the body, and found that he had received both the balls in the places mentioned.
The Western Militia are scarcely more formidable to an advancing army, from their skill in shooting, than from their dexterity in the use of the axe.
Every individual is brought up from his youth to the use of this tool, which is of a peculiar construction, and differs essentially from the European Broad Axe.