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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 his 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. 1. 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 mý 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.
To see the short space of time in which a Backwoodsman can cut down the largest tree, and the power he has of making it fall in whatever direction he pleases, astonishes a foreigner, who must labour for years in order to attain the same skill.
Now as the roads in a great part of the United States run through forests, a small party of Backwoodsmen, by felling trees on each side of the road, and causing them to fall in a slanting direction, with their tops towards the advancing foe, is enabled in a short time to form an almost impenetrable barrier. A whole host of pioneers could scarely clear away this, even if they had plenty of time, and were not liable to be harassed by such accomplished “ Bush-fighters.” *
A custom much to be blamed among the better class in the Western States, is that of wearing con, cealed weapons. So common is it to carry a dirk hid in the breast, that a Student of the Transylvanian College, Lexington, informed me that it was the practice of many of his fellow collegians. Fatal accidents are thus often occasioned; as a man when angry, is enabled, by means of the weapon he carries, to commit an act of which he may repent all the rest of his life. All the country is
* This is a term made use of by the Americans, when in their battles with the Indians they are obliged to run from tree to tree, taking care as they advance, to cover themselves from the deadly aim of their enemies.
however advancing in improvement and civilization, with such rapid steps, that this custom will, no doubt, very shortly disappear.
It now only remains for me to say, upon the subject of the Western States, what is the best manner in which any one of my countrymen can travel here. I must of course premise, that I do not address myself to a person unprepared to submit to a little hardship and a few privations. If you are not prepared for this you should always keep on the Eastern side of the Alleghánies, and not attempt to travel further than Washington. If however you can make up your mind to a little fatigue, you will be amply repaid for your trouble, by visiting a curious and very interesting country.
Before leaving Washington; or upon arriving at the Ohio, you should provide yourself with a good horse, willingly adding twenty or thirty dollars to the ordinary price, in order to be well mounted. You should particularly recolleet, to ascertain by actual experiment, whether the animal be a good swimmer, and will take the water readily. Besides å great coat, and a pair of saddle-bags to contain a few changes of linen, you should take with you two strong blankets of moderate size and sufficient thickness. One of these folded square can be put beneath the saddle, as á saddle-cloth; and the other being placed above the saddle, and fastened with a surcingle, will not be unpleasant to ride upon. You will often prefer sleeping upon the floor, wrapped up in these blankets, to getting into the dirty bed that will be offered you, or sharing a clean bed with some stranger. You will also find them very useful if you sleep out in the woods, which will frequently be the case, if you proceed beyond the Mississippi, or amuse yourself much with hunting. In fine weather it is not un pleasant to sleep out, and sometimes preferable to remaining for the night in the dirty cabins of the settlers.
Your money should consist entirely in United States Bank notes, of ten or five dollars each. These you can always change for silver, of which you should carry ten or fifteen dollars with you at a time, in small coin, such as quarter dollars, and ten cent. pieces. By following this plan you will avoid the necessity of taking local notes and other money, which, from its limited currency, is often left upon one's hands without the possibility of changing it. You can fasten the purse, containing the greater part of the United States Bank notes, round your body under your waistcoat, or in any other place where you cannot lose them, which would of course be a very inconvenient accident.
The best time for setting out on the journey is the spring. Even winter is preferable to autumn and to the latter end of summer, which are in general very unhealthy throughout all tlie Western Country, and which therefore you would do well to