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INCIDENTS OF THE BURNING OF ROANokE. —“HE TURNED A LARGE EMPTY Box over HER AND HER BABE, AND THEN CRAwled UNDER IT HIMSELF.”
living. The statements may be relied on as perfectly accurate, and, together, they make an important chapter in Georgia history. Roanoke was a trading village located in Stewart County, on the eastern bank of the Chattahoochee River, about thirty-five miles in a direct line below Columbus. The Indians occupied a reservation in Alabama embracing the territory lying on the Chattahoochee River, and extending from Columbus perhaps as far south as the Florida and Alabama line. They had, by a treaty made by their chiefs, ceded this territory either to the State of Alabama or the United States, and had agreed to remove to the Indian Toeservation west. Many of the warriors, or common Indians, were dissatisfied with this action of their chiefs, and were unwilling to be removed. They gave expression to their dissatisfaction by many acts of plunder, and an occasional murder of a white family who had taken up their residence in an isolated situation, far removed from other white settlements, and who had, perhaps, given some offense to the Indians. Prominent among the murders and robberies was the capture of the stage running between Columbus, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama, where the passengers, after being robbed, were tied to the stage, and brush and lightwood knots were piled around them and fired, and burned with the stage. The first intimation that they had of the presence or intentions of the Indians was the discharge of a volley of rifles, which killed the driver and wounded (some of the passengers. Only one passenger escaped. He sprang from the coach and cut loose one of the forward horses and mounted him, the Indians being so near him as to catch at the reins as he rode off. None of the bullets from their murderous rifles touched him or his faithful horse. This incident served to arouse the whites all along the border. And as threats had been made to burn Columbus as well as Roanoke, steps were taken to defend them. But the defenses of Roanoke amounted to almost nothing. A stockade, or blockhouse was commenced, but never completed. The garrison consisted of only the male inhabitants of the village, and a few patriotic citizens of Stewart County, who had volunteered under Captain Uriah Horne. The entire force amounted to less than fifty men,
On Saturday morning, May 14th, a scouting party, numbering twelve men, crossed the river and explored the country a short distance above and below Roanoke, and recrossed to the Georgia side about noon without seeing an Indian ; but from the fact that several dogs, supposed to belong to the Indians, came to them while they were passing near the swamps and dense hammocks, they supposed that the Indians were there concealed. But as they had been allowed to cross the river, explore the country and recross unmolested, they very naturally concluded that, while the Indians were there in considerable force, they had no hostile intentions. With this feeling of security Captain Horne, early in the afternoon of the same day, was induced to furlough half of his command, to allow them to visit their homes and families, with promise of returning promptly the next day by noon. A short time before night two strangers, named Donaldson, who had been looking at lands below Roanoke, rode into the village and inquired if there would be any danger from the Indians if they passed the night there. As they were assured there would be none, they repaired to the dwelling of Colonel Felix Gibson, and passed the night under his hospitable roof. About sunset the same evening two men, who were farming on the river, two miles below the village, in leaving their work discovered the fresh trail of a large body of Indians, and hastily rode to the village to communicate the intelligence. They also counseled Captain Horne, as his force was then so small—amounting to less than thirty-five men, and that of the Indians so large, supposed to number over three hundred—that it would be best for his command and the citizens to retire from the village into the hill country, some miles away, and await the developments of the night. But, upon consulting with his men and the citizens, it was unanimously decided to hold the village until they were driven out of it by overwhelming numbers. Every man was required to stand sentinel the entire night, and it was said that never was witnessed a more still and quiet night in and around Roanoke. Naught except the gentle ripple of the river and the slow tread and suppressed hail and answer of this band of brave men, as they quietly walked their beats, was heard to disturb
the stillness of that night, and day broke as quietly and peacefully at Roanoke on Sunday morning, May 15th, 1836, as it had ever done, and the gay light of morning streamed in as gently as usual, except that a heavy fog hung over the place. The men had all come in from duty, the citizens had repaired to the several residences, and the little company of volunteers had commenced their usual morning duties, as the preparation of their breakfast, and the attentions necessary for their horses, when suddenly there was heard the keen, clear report of a rifle. Instantly this was followed by a most unearthly, demoniacal yelling and a general firing upon every house in the village, as well as the unfinished stockade, in which were several men. The whole place was completely invested by the savages; they occupied every door and window, were behind every stump, tree and fence, and poured upon the whites a deadly fire as fast as they showed themselves. Captain Horne had not time to form his men, scarcely time to give an order. The men were in small squads scattered over the village, defending themselves as best they could against the fearful odds, taking refuge behind the fences, houses, or anything that afforded them shelter or protection from the murderous bullets of the savage fiends. Cantain Horne fell, severely wounded, almost at the first volley. In a short while, every man, white and black, was either killed or driven out of the village, and the savages had undisputed possession of the place. They immediately proceeded to plunder and then burn every house in the place, and in less than three hours from the commencement of the attack nothing remained but the smoldering embers of what was once Roanoke. There were nine white and three negro men killed. All of their bodies were consumed in the burning buildings, the Indians throwing those outside into the houses as they fired them. The loss of the Indians was never known. Parties concealed sufficiently near saw the Indians, after capturing a lame Irishman named Patrick McGowen, throw him alive into a burning house, where he was burned up. The Messrs. Donaldson (the strangers who had lodged at the house of Colonel Gibson) were both shot down as they hastily arose from their bed when the alarm was given, and their bodies burned with the house. There were many hairbreadth and providential escapes from a horrid death. Colonel Felix Gibson and a young man named Gazaway Williams were both in the house when the Donaldsons were shot down, and three Indians fired at Colonel Gibson through a window, but, fortunately, missed him ; he ran into another room, hoping to escape that way, but, finding every window filled with Indians, who commenced firing at him, he called to Williams, who was in an upper room, to make his escape in the best way he could ; that Indians had surrounded the house, and, believing that escape was impossible, he resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible. He ran to where the loaded guns had been left and caught up one, intending, if possible, to fight his way through the Indians to the stockade, where he supposed there was a squad of men ; but on opening the door, so many Indians fired and then rushed toward him, that he closed it. Again opening the door, lie was fired on, and a number of Indians rushed forward ; he fired at them and again closed the door, and hastily caught up another loaded gun, opened the portal, and ran as fast as he could ; before he reached the yard fence he passed more than thirty Indians, all of whom fired at him, some so near as to burn his clothes with powder; yet he escaped untouched, except by a blow from an empty gun in the hands of an Indian whom he encountered as he leaped the
fence. The blow nearly felled him, but he recovered in time to escape, and gained the stockade. Finding the men there flying in every direction, he ran to a branch thickly grown up in cane, and hid himself in the mud and water. While the Indians were in pursuit of Colonel Gibson, Williams leaped from a window in the upper story to the ground, ran undiscovered in another direction, and escaped. Captain Horne, who was so severely wounded as to render it impossible for him to stand up, was lying in the unfinished stockade with no hope of escape, calmly awaiting the time when the savages would come aud torture him to death, when Elijah Pearce (Heaven help me to record his name in characters so high and lasting that all the world may read it) came to the assistance, and offered to save him or perish in the attempt. Pearce, being a large and powerful man, took Captain Horne on his back, and, selecting a favorable opportunity, ran for the same hiding-place that Colonel Gibson had found. A squad of men, consisting of Samuel Williams, John Talbot, Loverd Bryan, Green Ball, and perhaps one or two others, fought their way through a body of Indians who had surrounded them, and ran for the same friendly shelter, where Colonel Gibson, Captain Horne and Pearce were secreted, and buried themselves under the mud and Water. Unfortunately, the Indians discovered the last squad as they were entering the cane, and soon quite a body of Indians were seen approaching their place of concealment. Colonel Gibson proposed that they should leave here, jump down under the bluff of the river and conceal themselves there; the others insisted that they should remain where they were, and, if necessary, die together. Fortunately, although the Indians passed very near them several times, they were not discovered, and remained concealed until near noon. When they did emerge from their hiding-places they were so benumbed with cold that they could scarcely walk. Three other men, C. S. Sabine, Joseph M. Fannin and one other's name not now remembered, had taken temporary shelter near the river. They were discovered, and quite a number of Indians attempted to surround them. They retreated down the bluff of the river, and soon the race became one for dear life. The three men, with empty guns, were pursued by six or eight Indians. Fannin, being a short, fleshy man, was soon outstripped by his more fortunate companions. The Indianswere getting uncomfortably near him. His only hope was strategy; if that failed, he resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible. So, hastily facing about and presenting his gun as if he was going to shoot, and calling loudly to his companions to “About face and charge the Indians,” he had the satisfaction of seeing the cowardly savages turn and run from him. Fannin and his companions retreated a little further down the river, and having, as they supposed, reached a place of safety, they slipped down under the bluff and concealed themselves until they became rested from their fatigue. They had not been concealed long before they heard their pursuers, who had been reinforced, coming in search of them. They remained in their hiding-place, and the Indians passed below without discovering them, and soon returned and stood on the bluff only a few feet above them, so near that Sabine, who could speak their language, understood what they were saying. But as they were anxious to plunder the stores they did not remain long, and were soon out of sight, when these men sought a more secure hiding-place further away from the scenes of plunder and burning.
Captain Nathan Clifton, while the fight was going on, became separated from his squad, and was closely pursued by several Indians; being only a few yards from the river bluff, he ran and leaped into the river. Growing on the bluff was a dense copse of cane and willows, with their tops and boughs dipping into the water. He floated under these, which completely hid him from the savages. As he ran and leaped, he was fired at several times, but escaped untouched. The Indians watched the river for his body, supposing that he was certainly killed, and sat down on the bluff within a foot of where he was floating in the water, holding on to the twig of a willow, with nothing above the water except his nose. He could plainly hear all they said, being familiar with their language. They did not remain very long, supposing they had killed him, and that his body had sunk in the river. He remained concealed under the bluff and the water until near noon. The women and children of Roanoke had all, with the single exception of Mrs. Kershaw and her nursing babe, been sent off to places of safety several days before this. Mr. Kershaw was a merchant, doing business in Roanoke. As the village was a newly settled place and houses scarce, his family occupied a room over the store. A young man named Pierce clerked for him. Pierce was returning from sentry duty on that fatal morning, just at the commencement of the attack, and being fired on by the Indians, he ran to the store, calling on Kershaw to open the door and let him in. Just as he reached the door he stumbled and fell. Kershaw at that very moment opened the door, and received the volley discharged at Pierce, which killed him instantly. Pierce arose in time to get inside the store, and drag Kershaw's body out of the door and close it, before the Indians reached it; but, believing that the Indians would force an entrance into the house, and seeing at that time no possible chance of escape, he carried Mrs. Kershaw upstairs, turned a large empty box over her and her babe, and then crawled under it himself. Soon the Indians were heard in the store below; a little later their stealthy steps were heard cautiously ascending the stairway, then in the room where they were; next they were heard approaching the large box that concealed them, then the box was raised several inches from the floor and let fall, to see if it contained anything. The lifting up and dropping was repeated several times, to be sure that it was empty. Several Indians then seated themselves on the box, and hacked it with their tomahawks as they conversed Is it possible to imagine that man's feelings during these moments of suspense ? What if Mrs. Kershaw should lose her presence of mind and scream I What if that innocent babe should become restless of its dark confinement and cryl Ah, whether Pierce recognized the fact or not, God was there ! “He moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.” He doubtless sealed their lips and hushed their breathing. What agonies did Mrs. Kershaw endure during these moments—moments that seemed ages 1 Her murdered husband was lying in the room below, and doubtless his yet dripping scalp dangled from the belt of one of the fiends seated on the box that concealed her and her fatherless babe. Every moment she expected to be dragged from her hiding-place, and her babe's brains dashed out against the walls of her bedroom, and the next moment she, too, would be ruthlessly murdered, and the bodies of father, mother and innocent babe cremated in one funeral-pile. But heaven decreed otherwise. The Indians soon left the room, and commenced plundering the store below, and directly the roaring and crack
ling of fire warned Pierce and Mrs. Kershaw that they had more dangers to brave and other perils to encounter. Their heaven-favored box might hide them from the savages, but it could not shield them from the flames, and they must immediately seek another hiding-place. Pierce slipped from under the box, cautiously looked out of a window and saw the position of the Indians, ascertained that they were all out of the room below, and that the way was clear to the back-door. Not a moment was to be lost; the building was well on fire inside and out, and very soon it would be impossible to pass through the lower room. He hastily, yet noiselessly, removed the box from over Mrs. Kershaw and her child, took the babe in his arms and the mother by the hand, descended the stairway and passed through the room where lay the dead body of the murdered husband and father. Gladly would that loving wife have stopped and imprinted one long, last kiss on that cold, crimsoned face. Ah it would have been a relief to her poor, crushed heart to have cast her body by the side of his, and let their worldly possessions become their funeral-pile. But her precious babe was yet living; for it she must live ; with it, if God's will, she would die. There are times when perils and dangers act like cordials to the stricken heart. If they do not cure it they, for a time, blunt its sensibilities, quiet its pangs and stimulate it to exertion by directing the mental emotions away from the objects of grief, and prescribing new danger" and other important ends to be gained. Such was their effect in this instance. Although the flames were fast approaching the body of her husband, and she knew that it would be consumed, she hesitated not a single moment, but followed her deliverer through the room and out of the back-door at an opportune moment, and, undiscovered by the savages, they gained the swamp in the rear of the store and made thei. escape.
AN ESSAY ON SNAKES.
BY A VEI ERAN SNAkE-SILAYER.
THE names serpent and snake are synonymous, and it is indifferenly applied to every species of that reptile known to man. There is no other creature on the face of the earth so thoroughly cursed — cursed of God in the following words, for his temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden : “And the Lord said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field : upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This denunciation of the Lord has created in man an instinctive antipathy to the serpent, and the aversion of woman is ineradicable. Even the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air dread and despise the snake. Again we read in Holy Scripture, in pursuance of the same thought: “And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died. . . . And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” And yet, notwithstanding all this, his snakeship, it must be confessed, is a very charming fellow ; and, however shocking to the nerves the sudden and unexpected sight of one may be, especially so with females, the fancy for wearing jewels and ornaments of this device has prevailed, perhaps, since their first invention. Among the ancients the serpent was considered an emblem of the divinity, and it is a curious coincidence of thought that in the Garden of Eden the devil should have been typified by the serpent in subduing woman, and that in ancient Greece and Rome we should find the same idea illustrated in subduing man. Virgil, in the AEneid, translated by Dryden, thus describes the crushing of Laocoon and his children by serpents: “Their destined way they take, And to Laocoon and his children make; And first around the tender boys they wind, Then, with their sharpened fangs, their limbs and - bodies grind– The wretched father, running to their aid With pious haste, but vain, they next invade. Twice round his waist their winding volumes rolled, And twice about his gasping throat they fold. The priest thus doubly choked, their crests divide, And towering o'er his head in triumph ride.”
“Laocoon"; a group in marble, representing a man and his two sons struggling in the coils of a single serpent. It is a contest of life and death, and, as was the case in the Garden of Eden, in the struggle with woman the serpent here overcomes man. Isn't it strange, that both poet and artist, being pagans, should have fallen upon a conception identical almost with the enactments of the Deity? In one of the famous galleries abroad I once saw, in c. vision or in reality, a wonderful picture : Pan—an exquisite figure—reclining on a rock in the shadow of a widespreading oak, discoursing heavenly music with his pipe. At his feet meandered a limpid stream through the verdant vale. Surrounding him were innumerable serpents of every species, attracted thither by the dulcet sounds of the music. Some seemed to be in grave discourse, the one with the other. Of such were the enormous constrictors, resting on the coils of their latter ends, like some conclave of turbaned Turks discussing the doctrines of the Koran. Others, more agile in their movements, seemed to be darting hither and thither, in the ecstasy of their emotion. Conspicuous amongst these were the hoop or hornsnake, and the coach-whip or racer. The former, with his armed tail in his mouth—his manner of pursuing his foe, as the negroes in the South assert—appeared to be rolling round the circle with as much earnestness and glee as a hoyden missy would manifest in rolling her hoop; whilst the latter raced around through the crowd, coaching them in their actions and movements, assuming the office of grand master of ceremonies; the venomous hooded cobra was there, setting her cap to the fanciful and dandified copperhead, and the dignified rattlesnake, beating time to the music with his caudal castanets—all manifesting exquisite delight by various contortions of head and body. In the distance were a couple of lovers, hand in hand, gazing with intense interest at the extraordinary scene
PYTHon And A TIGERe
before them. The maiden appeared to be especially fascinated, whilst her lover seemed to be urging her to depart. This picture made an impression on my mind, which is continually recurring, and lingers on the brain a perpetual nightmare. The snake inhabits every country and clime on the face of the earth, except Ireland, that most virtuous, most witty, and most turbulent country in the world—except Arabi Pasha, perhaps. Whether this arose from the landing on their shores of the Prophet Ezekiel with Jacob's stone, and two princesses of the house of David, from whom Queen Victoria is said to derive her lineage,