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"Don't be afraid, my son ; the Great Spirit sent you here to die with me, and we must submit to his will. It is all for the best."
Under the command of Col. Angus M'Donald, four hundred men were collected from the western part of Virginia by the order of the earl of Dunmore, the then governor of Virginia. The place of rendezvous was Wheeling, some time in the month of June, 1774, They went down the river in boats and canoes to the mouth of Captina, from thence by the shortest route to Wappatomica town, about sixteen miles below the present Coshocton. The pilots were Jonathan Zane, Thomas Nicholson and Tady Kelly. About six miles from the town, the army were met by a party of Indians, to the number of 40 or 50, who gave a skirmish by the way of ambuscade, in which two of our men were killed and eight or nine wounded. One Indian was killed and several wounded. It was supposed that several more of them were killed, but they were carried off. When the army came to the town, it was found evacuated. The Indians had retreated to the opposite shore of the river, where they had formed an ambuscade, supposing the party would cross the river from the town. This was immediately discovered. The commanding officer then sent sentinels up and down the river, to give notice, in case the Indians should attempt to cross above or below the town. A private in the company of Capt. Cresap, of the name of John Harness, one of the sentinels below the town, displayed the skill of a backwoods sharpshooter. Seeing an Indian behind a blind
across the river, raising up his head, at times, to look over the river, Harness charged his rifle with a second ball, and taking deliberate aim, passed both balls through the neck of the Indian. The Indians dragged off the body and buried it with the honors of war. It was found the next morning and scalped by Harness.
Soon after the town was taken, the Indians from the opposite shore sued for peace. The commander offered them peace on condition of their sending over their chiefs as hostages. Five of them came over the river and were put under guard as hostages. In the morning they were marched in front of the army over the river. When the party had reached the western bank of the Muskingum, the Indians represented that they could not make peace without the presence of the chiefs of the other towns: on which one of the chiefs was released to bring in the others. He did not return in the appointed time. Another chief was permitted to go on the same errand, who in like manner did not return. The party then moved up the river to the next town, which was about a mile above the first, and on the opposite shore. Here we had a slight skirmish with the Indians, in which one of them was killed and one of our men wounded. It was then discovered, that during all the time spent in the negotiation, the Indians were employed in removing their women and children, old people and effects, from the upper towns. The towns were burned and the corn cut up. The party then returned to the place from which they sat out, bringing with them the three remaining chiefs, who were sent to Williamsburg. They were released at the peace the succeeding fall.
The army were out of provisions before they left the towns, and had to subsist on weeds, one ear of corn each day, with a very scanty supply of game. The corn was obtained at one of the Indian towns.
Gen. M'Intosh's campaign.
In the spring of the year 1773, government having sent a small force of regular troops, under the command of Gen. M'Intosh, for the defense of the western frontier, the general, with the regulars and militia from Fort Pitt, descended the Ohio about thirty miles, and built Fort M'Intosh, on the site of the present Beaver town. The fort was made with strong stockades, furnished with bastions, and mounted with one 6-pounder. This station was well selected as a point for a small military force, always in readiness to pursue or intercept the war parties of Indians, who frequently made incursions into the settlements on the opposite side of the river in its immediate neighborhood. The fort was well garrisoned and supplied with provisions during the summer.
Sometime in the fall of the same year, Gen. M’Intosh received an order from government to make a campaign against the Sandusky towns. This order he attempted to obcy with one thousand men; but owing to the delay in making necessary outfits for the expedition, the officers, on reaching Tuscarawa, thought it best to halt at that place, build and garrison a fort, and delay the farther prosecution of the campaign until the next spring. Accordingly they erected Fort Laurens on the bank of the Tuscarawa. Some time after the completion of the fort, the general returned with the army to Fort Pitt, leaving Col. John Gibson with a command of one hundred and fifty men to protect the fort until spring. The Indians were soon acquainted with the existence of the fort, and soon convinced our people, by sad experience, of the bad policy of building and attempting to hold a fort so far in advance of our settlements and other forts.
The first annoyance the garrison received from the Indians was some time in the month of January. In the night time they caught most of the horses belonging to the fort, and taking them off some distance into the woods, they took off their bells, and formed an ambuscade by the side of a path leading through the high grass of a prairy at a little distance from the fort. În the morning the Indians rattled the horse bells at the farther end of the line of the ambuscade. The plan succeeded; a fatigue of sixteen men went out for the horses and fell into the snare. Fourteen were killed on the spot, two were taken prisoners, one of whom was given up at the close of war, the other was never afterwards heard of.
Gen. Benjamin Biggs, then a captain in the fort, being officer of the day, requested leave of the colonel to go out with the fatigue party, which fell into the ambuscade. "No," said the colonel," this fatigue party does not belong to a captain's command. When I shall have occasion to employone of that number, I shall be thankful for your service; at present you must attend to your duty in the fort.” On what trivial circumstances do life and death sometimes depend !
In the evening of the day of the ambuscade, the whole Indian army, in full war dress and painted, marched in single file through a prairy in view of the fort. Their number, as counted from one of the bastions, was 847. They then took up their encampment on an elevated piece of ground at a small distance from the fort, on the opposite side of the river. From this camp they frequently held conversations with the people of our garrison. In these conversations, they seemed to deplore the long continuance of the war and hoped for peace; but were much exasperated at the Americans for attempting to penetrate so far into their country. This great body of Indians continued the investment of the fort, as long as they could obtain subsistence, which was about six weeks.
An cld Indian by the name of John Thompson, who was with the American army in the fort, frequently went out among the Indians during their stay at their encampment, with the mutual consent of both parties. A short time before the Indians left the place, they sent word to Col. Gibson, by the old Indian, that they were desirous of peace, and that if he would send them a barrel of flour they would send in their proposals the next day; but although the colonel complied with their request, they marched off without fulfilling their engagement.
The commander, supposing the whole number of the Indians had gone ofl, gave permission to Col. Clark, of the Pennsylvania line, to escort the invalids, to the number of eleven or twelve, to Fort M'Intosh. The whole number of this detachment was fifteen. The wary Indians had left a party behind, for the purpose of doing mischief. These attacked this party of invalids and their escort, about two miles from the fort, and killed the whole of them with the exception of four, amongst whom was the captain, who ran back to the fort. On the same day a detachment went out from the fort, brought in the dead, and buried them with the honors of war, in front of the fort gate.
In three or four days after this disaster, a relief of seven hundred men, under Gen. M’Intosh, arrived at the fort with a supply of provisions, a great part of which was lost by an untoward accident. When the relief had reached within about one hundred yards of the fort, the garrison gave them a salute of a general discharge of musketry, at the report of which the pack horses took fright, broke loose and scattered the provisions in every direction through the woods, so that the greater part of them could never be recovered again.
Among other transactions which took place about this time, was that of gathering up the remains of the fourteen men for interment, who had fallen in the ambuscade during the winter, and which could not be done during the investment of the place by the Indians. They were found mostly devoured by the wolves. The