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1777. will mention one or two of these incidents, familiar enough in the West, but still worthy of repetition.
One of the eminent men of Kentucky in those and later times was General James Ray. While yet a boy, he had proved himself able to outrun the best of the Indian warriors; and it was when but seventeen years of age that he performed the service for a distressed garrison of which we are about to speak. It was in the winter of 1776-7, a winter of starvation. Ray lived at Harrodsburgh, which, like the other stations, was destitute of corn. There was game enough in the woods around, but there were also Indians more than enough, and had the sound of a gun been heard in the neighborhood of a station, it would have insured the death of the one who discharged it. Under these circumstances, Ray resolved to hunt at a distance. There was one horse left of a drove of forty, which Major McGary had brought to the West; an old horse, faithful and strong, but not fitted to run the gauntlet through the forest. Ray took this solitary nag, and before day-dawn, day by day, and week by week, rode noiselessly along the runs and rivers until he was far enough to hunt with safety; then he killed his game, and by night, or in the dusk of the evening, retraced his steps. And thus the garrison lived by the daring labors of this stripling of seventeen. Older hunters tried his plan, and were discovered; but he, by his sagacity, boldness, care, and skill, safely pursued his disinterested and dangerous employment, and succeeded in constantly avoiding the perils that beset him. We do not think that Boone or any one ever showed more perfectly the qualities of a superior woodsman than did Ray through that winter.
If any one did, however, it was surely Benjamin Logan, in the spring of that same year. Logan, as we have seen, crossed the mountains with Henderson, in 1775, and was of course one of the oldest settlers. In May, 1777, the fort at which Logan lived, was surrounded by Indians, more than a hundred in number; and so silently had they made their approach, that the first notice which the garrison had of their presence was a discharge of firearms upon some men who were guarding the women as they milked the cows outside the station. One was killed, a second mortally wounded, and a third, named Harrison, disabled. This poor man, unable to aid himself, lay in sight of the fort, where his wife, who saw his condition, was begging some one to go to his relief. But to attempt such a thing seemed madness; for whoever
Heroism of Logan.
ventured from either side into the open ground, where Harrison lay writhing and groaning, would instantly become a target for all the sharpshooters of the opposite party. For some moments Logan stood it pretty well; he tried to persuade himself and the poor woman who was pleading to him, that his duty required him to remain within the walls and let the savages complete their bloody work. But such a heart as his was too warm to be long restrained by arguments and judicious expediency; and suddenly turning to his men, he cried, “ Come, boys, who's the man to help me in with Harrison?” There were brave men there, but to run into certain death in order to save a man whom, after all, they could not save,- it was asking too much ; and all shook their heads, and shrunk back from the mad proposal. “Not one ! not one of you help a poor fellow to save his scalp ?” what's the good, Captain ? to let the red rascals kill us wont help Harrison ?” At last, one, half inspired by Logan's impetuous courage, agreed to go; he could die but once, he said, and was about as ready, then, as he should ever be. The gate was slightly opened, and the two doomed men stepped out; instantly a tempest of rifle balls opened upon them, and Logan's companion rapidly reasoning himself into the belief that he was not so ready to die as he had believed, bolted back into the station. Not so his noble-hearted leader. Alone, through that tempest, he sprang forward to where the wounded man lay, and while his hat, hunting-shirt, and hair were cut and torn by the ceaseless shower, he lifted his comrade like a child in his arms, and regained the fort without a scratch.
But this rescue of a fellow-being, though worthy of record in immortal verse, was nothing compared with what this same Benjamin Logan did soon after. The Indians continued their siege; still they made no impression, but the garrison were running short of powder and ball, and none could be procured except by crossing the mountains. To do this, the neighboring forest must be passed, thronging with Indians, and a journey of some hundred miles accomplished along a path every portion of which might be waylaid, and at last the fort must be re-entered with the articles so much needed. Surely, if ever an enterprise seemed hopeless, it was this one, and yet the thing must be tried. Logan pondered the matter carefully; he calculated the distance, not less than four hundred miles in and back; he estimated the aid from other quarters; and in the silence of night asked wisdom and guidance from
Logan goes for powder to the Holston.
God. Nor did he ask in vain; wisdom was given him. At night, with two picked companions, he stole from the station, every breath hushed. The summer leaves were thick above them, and with the profoundest care and skill, Logan guided his followers from tree to tree, from run to run, unseen by the savages, who dreamed not, probably, of so dangerous an undertaking. Quickly but most cautiously pushing eastward, walking forty or fifty miles a day, the three woodsmen passed onward till the Cumberland range was in sight; then, avoiding the Gap, which they supposed would be watched by Indians, over those rugged hills, where man had never climbed before, they forced-their way with untiring energy and a rapidity to us, degenerate as we are, inconceivable. The mountains crossed, and the valley of the Holston reached, Logan procured his ammunition, and then turned alone on his homeward track, leaving his two companions, with full directions, to follow him more slowly with the lead and powder. He returned before them, because he wished to revive the hopes of his little garrison in the wilderness, numbering as it did, in his absence, only ten men, and they without the means of defence. He feared they would yield, if he delayed an hour; so, back, like a chamois, he sped, over those broken and precipitous ranges, and actually reached and re-entered his fort in ten days from the time he left it, safe and full of hope. Such a spirit would have made even women dare and do every thing, and by his influence the siege was still resisted till the ammunition came safe to hand. From May till September that little band was thus beset; then Colonel Bowman relieved them. In the midst of that summer, as George Rogers Clark's journal has it, “ Lieutenant Linn was married-great merriment!” This was at Harrodsburgh, near by Logan's station. Such was the frontier life! It was a trying year, 1777, for those little forts in the wilder
At the close of it, three settlements only existed in the interior,-Harrodsburgh, Boonesborough, and Logans;* and of these three the whole military population was but one hundred and two in number!
Nor was it in Kentucky alone that the Indians were busy. Through the spring and summer constant attacks were made upon the settlements in the neighborhood of Wheeling. At this point, as we have already said, the Zanes had settled in 1770, and here in 1774, Connolly, or the settlers, by his direction, had built a fort
See Butler, Marshall, McClung, &c.
169 called Fort Fincastle* the name of the western county of Virginia. In this a body of men was left by Lord Dunmore, when he made his treaty with the Shawanese, f and through the whole of 1775 and 1776 it was occupied by more
or fewer soldiers; indeed, in those times all men were soldiers, and hostility from the Indians daily anticipated. This fort in 1776 was called, in honor of the eloquent governor of Virginia, Fort Henry,t and was the central point between Fort Pitt and the works at the mouth of Kenawha. In the early autumn of 1777, word from friendly Indians, perhaps the Christian Delawares, of the Muskingum, or perhaps from Isaac Zane, the brother of the Wheeling settlers, || reached General Hand, who commanded at Fort Pitt, informing him that a large body of the north-western Indians was preparing to attack the posts of the Upper Ohio. These news were quickly spread abroad, and all were watching where the blow would come. On the evening of September 26, smoke was seen by those near Wheeling, down the river, and was supposed to proceed from the burning of the block-house at Grave creek, and the people of the vicinity taking the alarm, betook themselves to the fort. Within its walls were forty-two fighting men, of various ages and gifts: these were well supplied with guns, both rifles and muskets, but had only a scant supply of gunpowder, as the event proved. The night of the 26th passed without alarm, but when very early upon the 27th two men, who were sent out for horses, in order to alarm the settlements near by, had proceeded some distance from the fort, they met a party of six savages, by whom one of them was shot. The commandant of the post, Col. Shepherd, learning from the survivor that there were but six of the assailants, sent a party of fifteen men to see to them. These were suffered to march after the six, who seem to have been meant merely for a decoy, until they were within the Indian lines, when, suddenly, in front, behind, and on every side, the painted warriors showed themselves. The little band fought bravely against incalculable odds, but of the fifteen three only escaped, and they by means of the brush and logs which were in the corn field where the skirmish took place. As soon as the
George R. Clarke is said to have planned it. (American Pioneer, ii. 303.) † American Archives, 4th series, ii. 1189.
American Pioneer, ii. 304. | Isaac Zane was with the Wyandots from the time he was nine years old. (American State Papers, xvi. 93 121.)
170 Sketch of Simon Girty, the white Indian. 1777. position of the first band was seen at the fort thirteen others rushed to their assistance, and shared their fate. Then, and it was not yet sunrise, the whole body of Indians, disposed in somewhat martial order, appeared regularly to invest the devoted fort. There were nearly four hundred of them, and of the defenders but twelve men and boys; unless indeed we count women, than whom, as we shull see, none were braver or calmer within the walls of that little fortress.
The Indians were led by Simon Girty,* who was acting as an * As this is the first time we have had occasion to speak of this far-famed white Indian, we introduce from the writings of Judge Campbell, the best account of the family that we have met with. See also Hesperian, September and October, 1838 : and Index to this volume.
Perhaps there was no part of America so highly prized by the aboriginals as Kentucky. To them its importance consisted not so much in the fertility of soil as in the abundance of game which it afforded. Indeed, by common consent, they abstained from occupying it with their families, reserving it exclusively for a great hunting ground. The interminable cane-brakes and numerous licks, yielded subsistence to such vast herds of buffaloes and deer, as have never been seen elsewhere.
It is not at all astonishing that the Indians should have defended, with great obstinacy, a country so dear to them, against the incursions of the whites. That they were vigilant, active and cruel cannot be denied. They were provoked to a degree of phrenzy, which led to acts of daring and outrage shocking to humanity. In their atrocities they had the aid and countenance of the Girtys, of whom a brief account will be given.
Girty, the father, was an emigrant from Ireland, about eighty years ago, if report can be relied on. He settled in Pennsylvania where that liberty which he sought degenerated in his possession into the basest licentiousness. His hours were wasted in idleness and beastly intemperance. Nothing ranked higher in his estimation, or so entirely com. manded his regard, as a jug of whiskey. “Grog was his song and grog would he bare." His sottishness turned his wife's affection. Ready for seduction, she yielded her heart to a neighboring rustic, who, to remove all obstacles to their wishes, knocked Girty on the head and bore off the trophy of his prowess.
He left four sons, Thomas, Simon, George and James. The three latter were taken prisoners by the Shawanese, Delawares, and Senecas, in that war which developed the military talents of General Washington. George was adopted by the Delawares, and continued with them until his death. He became a perfect savage - his manners being entirely Indian. To consummate cunning he added the most fearless intrepidity. He fought in the battles of Kenhawa, Blue Licks, and Sandusky, and gained himself much distinction for skill and bravery. In his latter years, like his father, he gave himself up to intemperance, and died drunk, about twenty-five years ago, on the Miami of the Lake.
Simon was adopted by the Senecas, and became as expert a hunter as any of them. In Kentucky and Ohio, he sustained the reputation of an unrelenting barbarian. Forty-five years ago, with his name was associated every thing cruel and fiend-like. To the women and children in particular, nothing was more terrifying than the name of Simon Girty. Ai that time, it was believed by many, that he had fled from justice and sought refuge among the Indians, determined to do his countrymen all the harm in his power. This impression was an erroneous one. It is true he joined the Indians in their wars with the whites and conformed to their usages. This was the education he had received, and those who were the foes of his red brethren were his foes. Although trained in all his pursuits as an Indian, it is said to be a fact, susceptible of proof, that through his importunities, many prisoners were saved from death. His influence was great, and when he chose to be merciful, it was generally in his power to protect the imploring captive.