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the prisoners, their muskets resting against their left shoulders, and in their right hands each a tomahawk over the heads of their prisoners. We each chose our man to fire at, and taking aim deliberately had the satisfaction to see them both fall. The others instantly started ; and seeming at a loss to determine from whence the assault was made, fell on their bellies, and looked carefully around to discover the best course to take. Meantime we had recharged, and shifting our position a little, impatiently waited their rising. In a minute they raised on their hands and knees, and having as we supposed discovered the smoke of our guns rising above the bushes, attempted to crawl into a thicket on the opposite side. This gave us a good chance, and we again fired at different men, and with such effect, that we brought them both down; one lay motionless, the other crawled along a few yards.
We loaded in an instant, and rushed towards them, yet keeping an eye on the latter, as he had reached his comrade's
gun, and sat upright in a posture of defense. By our noise in the bushes he discovered the direction to fire, alas too fatally! for by this fatal shot I lost my comrade and friend Sackville.
At this moment the two prisoners who were close pinioned, endeavored to make their escape towards me; but the desperate savage again fired, and shot one of them dead; the other gained the thicket within a few yards of me. I had now once more got ready to fire, and discharged at the wounded Indian. At this discharge I wounded him in the neck, from whence I perceived the blood to flow swiftly; but he undauntedly kept his seat, and having new charged his guns, fired upon us with them both, and then fell, seemingly from faintness and loss of blood. I ran instantly to the pinioned white man, and having unbound his arms,
and armed him with the unfortunate Sackville's musket, we cautiously approached a few yards nearer the wounded Indian; when I ordered my new comrade to fire, and saw the shot take effect. The savage still lay mctionless. As soon as my companion had reloaded, we approached the Indian, whom we found not quite dead, and a tomahawk in each hand, which he flourished at us, seemingly determined not to be taken alive. I, for my own part, determined to take him alive, if possible; but my comrade prevented me by shooting him through the body.
I now inquired of my new companion what course we ought to steer, and whence the party came, from whose power I had delivered him. He informed me with respect to the course, which we immediately took, and on the
let me know that we were within about three days' march of Fort Jefferson ; that he and three others were taken by a party of ten Wabash Indians four days before in the neighborhood of that fort; that two of his companions being wounded, were immediately scalped and killed ; that the party, at the time of taking him, had in their possession seven other prisoners, three of whom were committed to the charge of a party of four Indians; what became of them he knew not; the others being worn down with fatigue, were massacred the day before, and which I found to be those whose bodies poor Sackville had discovered in the thicket; that the other two Indians were gone towards the settlements, having sworn to kill certain persons whose names he had forgotten, and that destruction seemed to be their whole drift.
My comrade, whose name on inquiry I found to be George Sexton, formerly a resident of Newport, Rhode Island, I found to be an excellent woodsman, and a man of great spirit, and so grateful for the deliverance I had been instrumental in obtaining for him, that he would not suffer me to watch for him to sleep but one hour in the four and twenty, although he was so fatigued as to have absolute need of a much greater proportion; neither would permit me to carry any of our baggage.
From the time of being joined by Sexton, we steered a southeast course as direct as possible, until the 18th
towards night, directing our course by the sun and the moss on the trees by day, and the moon by night. On the evening of the 18th, we providentially fell in with an American scouting party, who conducted us safely in a few hours to Fort Jefferson, where we were treated with great humanity, and supplied with the refreshments the fort afforded, which to me was very acceptable, as I had not tasted any thing except wild berries and ground nuts for above a week.
The week after our arrival at Fort Jefferson, I was able to return to my duty in my own regiment, which the latter end of August joined the army on an expedition against the Indians of the Miami village, the place in which I had suffered so much, and so recently, and where I had beheld so many cruelties perpetrated on unfortunate Americans. It is easier to conceive than describe the perturbation of my mind on this occasion. The risk I should run in common with my
fellow soldiers, seemed hightened by the certainty of torture that awaited me in case of being captured by the savages. However, these reflections only occasioned a firm resolution of doing my duty vigilantly, and selling my life in action as dear as possible, but by no means to be taken alive if I could evade it by an exertion short of suicide.
My captain showed me every kindness in his power on the march, indulged me with a horse as often as possible, and promised to use his influence to obtain a commission for me, if I conducted well the present expedition. Poor gentleman! little did he think he was soon to expire gallantly fighting the battles of his country! I hasten now to the most interesting part of my short narrative, the description of General St. Clair's defeat, and the scenes which succeeded it.
On the 3d of November we arrived within a few miles of the Miami village. Our army consisted of about 200 regular troops and nearly an equal number of militia. The night of the 3d, having reason to expect an attack, we were ordered under arms about midnight, and kept in order until just before day-light, at which time our scouts having been sent out in various directions, and no enemy discovered, we were dismissed from the parade to take some refreshment. The men in general, almost worn out with fatigue, had thrown themselves down to repose a little; but their rest was of short duration, for before sunrise the Indians began a desperate attack upon the militia, which soon threw them into disorder, and forced them to retire precipitately into the very heart of our camp.
Good God! what were my feelings, when, starting from my slumbers, I heard a tremendous firing all round, with yellings, horrid whoopings and expiring groans, in dreadful discord sounding in my ears. I seized my arms, ran out of my tent with several of my comrades, and saw the Indians with their bloody tomahawks and murderous knives butchering the flying militia. I fled towards them filled with desperation, discharged my firelock among them, and had the satisfaction to see one of the tawny savages fall, whose tomahawk was that instant elevated to strike a gallant officer, then engaged sword in hand with a savage in front. My example, I have reason to think, animated my companions.
Our own company now reached the place we occupied, and aided by the regulars of other companies and regiments, who joined us indiscriminately, we drove the Indians back into the bush, and soon after formed into tolerable order, under as gallant commanders as ever died in defense of America. The firing ceased for a few minutes, but it was like the interval of a tornado, calculated by an instantaneous reverse to strike the deeper horror. In one and the same minute, seemingly, the most deadly and heavy firing took place on every part of our camp: the army, exposed to the shot of the enemy, fell on every side, and drenched the plains with blood, while the discharge from our troops, directed almost at random, I am fearful did but little execution. Orders were now given to charge with bayonets. We obeyed with alacrity. A dreadful swarm of tawny savages rose from the ground, and fled before us. But alas ! our officers, rendered conspicuous by their exertions to stimulate the men, became victims to savage ingenuity, and fell so fast in common with the rest, that scarce a shot appeared as spent in vain. Advantages gained by the bayonet, were by this means, and want of due support, lost again, and our little corps obliged, in turn, repeatedly to give way before the Indians.
We were now reduced to less than half our original number of regular troops, and less than a fourth part of officers, our horses all killed or taken, our artillery men all cut off, and the pieces in the enemy's hands. In this dreadful dilemma we had nothing to do but to attempt a retreat, which soon became a flight, and for several miles amidst the yells of Indians, more dreadful to my ears than screams of damned fiends to my ideas, amidst the groans of dying men, and the dreadful sight of bloody massacres on every side perpetrated by the Indians on the unfortunate creatures they overtook. I endured a degree of torture no tung can describe or heart conceive; yet I providentially escaped unhurt, and frequently discharged my musket, I am persuaded with effect.
Providence was pleased to sustain my spirits and preserve my strength; and although I had been so far spent previous to setting out on the expedition as to be unable to go upon fatigue for several days, or even to bear a moderate degree of exercise, I reached Fort Jefferson the day after the action, about ten in the morning, having traveled on foot to effect it.