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own life, especially where the incidents border on the marvelous. Prodigies but seldom happen, and the veracity of the relaters of them is still less frequently vouched for. However, as the dispensations of Providence towards me have been too striking not to make a deep and grateful impression, and as the principal part of them can be attested by living evidences, I shall proceed, being confident that the candid reader will pardon the inaccuracies of an illiterate soldier, and that the tender-hearted will drop a tear of sympathy, when they realize the sufferings of such of our unfortunate country folks as fall into the hands of the western Indians, whose tender mercies are cruelties.
I was born and brought up at Falmouth, Casco-bay, where I resided until I attained to the seventeenth year of my age. My parents were poor, the farm we occupied small and hard to cultivate, their family large and expensive, and every way fitted to spare me to seek a separate fortune; at least these ideas had gained so great an ascendency in my mind, that I determined, with the consent of my parents, to look out for a mean of supporting myself.
Having fixed on the matter firmly, I took leave of my friends, and sailed the 1st of May, 1791, on board a schooner for Boston. Being arrived at this capital, and entirely out of employ, I had uneasy sensations, and more than once sincerely wished myself at home with my parents. However, as I had set out on an important design, and as yet met with no misfortune, pride kept me from this act, while necessity urged me to fix speedily on some mode of obtaining a livelihood.
My mind was severely agitated on this subject one morning, when a young officer came into my room, and soon entered into conversation on the pleasures of a military life, the great chance there was for an active young man to obtain promotion, and the grand prospect opening for making great fortunes in the western country. His discourse had the desired effect; for after treating me with a bowl or two of punch, I enlisted, with a firm promise on his side to assist me in obtaining a sergeant's warrant before the party left Boston.
An entire new scene now opened before me. Instead, of becoming a sergeant, I was treated severely for my ignorance in a matter I had till then scarcely thought of, and insultingly ridiculed for remonstrating against the conduct of the officer. I suffered great uneasiness on these and other accounts of a similar kind, for some time; at length, convinced of the futility of complaint, I applied myself to study the exercise, and in a few days became tolerably expert,
The beginning of July we left Boston, and proceeded on our way to join the western army. When we arrived at Fort Washington, I was ordered to join Capt. Phelon's company, and in a few days set out on the expedition under Gen. Harmar. Those alone who have experienced, can tell what hardships men undergo in such excursions: hunger, fatigue and toil, were our constant attendants. However as our expectations were raised with the idea of easy conquest, rich plunder, and fine lands in the end, we made a shift to be tolerably merry: for my own part, I had obtained a sergeantcy, and flattered myself I was in the direct road to honor, fame and fortune.
Alas! how fluctuating are the scenes of life ! how singularly precarious the fortune of a soldier! Before a single opportunity presented, in which I could have a chance to signalize myself, it was my lot to be taken in an ambuscade, by a party of Kickappoo Indians, and with ten others constrained to experience scenes, in comparison of which our former distresses sunk into nothing. We were taken on the bank of the Wabash, and immediately conveyed to the Upper Miami, at least such of us as survived. The second day after we were taken, one of my companions, by the name of George Aikins, a native of Ireland, became so faint with hunger and fatigue, that he could proceed no further. A short council was immediately held among the Indians who guarded us, the result of which was that he should
be put to death. This war no sooner determined on, than a scene of torture began. The captain of the guard approached the wretched victim who lay upon the ground, and with his knife made a circular incision on the skull; two others immediately pulled off the scalp; after this they each of them struck him on the head with their tomahawks, then stripped him naked, stabbed him with their knives in every sensitive part of the body, and left him weltering in blood, though not quite dead, a wretched victim to Indian rage and hellish barbarity.
We were eight days on our march to the Upper Miami, during which painful travel, no pen can describe our sufferings from hunger, thirst and toil. We were met, at the entrance of the town, by above five hundred Indians, besides squaws and children, who were apprised of our approach by a most hideous yelling made by our guard, and answered repeatedly from the village. Here we were all severely beaten by the Indians, and four of our number, viz. James Durgee of Concord, Samuel Forsythe of Beverly, Robert Deloy of Marblehead, and Uzz Benton of Salem, who fainted under their heavy toils, were immediately scalped and tomahawked in our presence, and tortured to death with every infliction of misery that Indian ingenuity could invent.
It was the 4th of August when we were taken, and our unhappy companions were massacred on the 13th. News was that day received of the destruction of Harmar's army; numbers of scalps were exhibited by the warriors, and several prisoners, among whom were three women and six children, carried through the village, destined to a Kickappoo settlement further westward. The 15th of August, four more of my fellow prisoners, viz. Lemuel Saunders of Boston, Thomas Tharp of Dorchester, Vincent Upham of Mistick, and Younglove Croxal of Abingdon, were taken from us; but whether they were massacred or preserved alive I am unable to say. After this nothing material occur. red for a fortnight, except that we were several times seyerely whipped on the receipt of bad news, and our allowance of provisions lessened, so that we were apprehensive of starving to death, if we did not fall an immediate sacrifice to the fire or tomahawk; but heaven had otherwise decreed.
On the night following the 30th of August, our guard, which consisted of four Indians, tired out with watching, laid down to sleep, leaving only an old squaw to attend us. Providence so ordered that my companion had, by some means, got one of his hands at liberty, and having a knife in his pocket, soon cut the withs that bound his feet, and that which pinioned my arms, un perceived by the old squaw, who sat in a drowsy position, not suspecting harm, over a small fire in the wigwam.
I ruminated but a few moments on our situation. There was no weapon near us, except my companion's knife, which he still held. I looked on him to make him observe me, and the same instant sprung and grasped the squaw by the throat to prevent her making any noise, and my comrade in a moment cut her throat from ear to ear, down to the neck bone. He then seized a tomahawk and myself a rifle, and striking at the same instant, dispatched two of our enemies. The sound of these blows awakened the others; but before they had time to rise, we renewed our strokes on them, and luckily to so good an effect as to stun them; and then repeating the blow, we sunk a tomahawk in each of their heads, armed ourselves completely, and taking what provisions the wigwam afforded, we committed ourselves to the protection of Providence, and made the best of our way into the wilderness.
The compass of a volume would scarce contain the events of our progress through the wilderness; but as they were uninteresting to any but us, I shall only observe generally, that the difficulties of the journey were too great to have been endured by any who had less interest than life at stake, or a less terrible enemy than Indians to fear. Hunger, thirst and fatigue, were our constant companions. We traveled hard day and night, except the few hours absolutely requisite for repose, that nature might not sink under her oppression, at which period one constantly watched while the other slept. In this tiresome mode, we proceeded until the 15th of September, having often to shift our direction on account of impassable bogs, deep morasses and hideous precipices, without meeting any adventure worthy of note: On the morning of the 15th, as we were steering nearly a north course in order to avoid a bog that interrupted our course southeast, we found the bodies of an old man, a woman and two children, newly murdered, stript and scalped. This horrid spectacle chilled our blood: We viewed the wretched victims, and from what we could collect from circumstances, concluded that they had been dragged away from their homes, and their feet being worn out, had been inhumanly murdered, and left weltering in their blood. We were at å great loss now to determine what course to steer; at length we pitched upon a direction about northwest, and walked on as fast as possible to escape thë savages,
About noon this day we came to a good spring, which was a great relief to us, but which we had great reason a few minutes aftertvards to believe would be the last of our earthly comforts. My companion, Richard Sackville, a corporal of Capt. Newman's company, stepped aside into the thicket, on some occasion, and returned with the account that a few rods distant he had discovered four Indians with two miserable wretches bound, sitting under a tree eating; and that if I would join him, he would either relieve the captives or perish in the attempt. The resolution of my worthy comrade pleased me greatly; and as no time was to be lost, we set immediately about the execution of our design, Sackville took the lead, and conducted me undiscovered within fifty yards of the Indians. Two of them were laid down, with their muskets in their arms, and appeared to be asleep; the other two sat at the head of