First Hand Graphic Account of of Mayhem Among Indians and Whites
from James B. Finley's Life Among the Indians (1857)
DURING the progress of these wars, scenes of thrilling interest, and of appalling, savage barbarity, were enacted. The record of some will be known only at the great day. Others are scattered along the history of those times, as so many monumental piles, to tell us what our fathers suffered, that we might come into possession of this goodly land.
But it must be confessed that these acts of savage cruelty were not all on the side of the Indians. Indeed, had the acts of the pioneers toward the Indians always been characterized by kind treatment and fair dealing, it is doubtful whether the savage cruelties inflicted on them would ever have occurred.
To show that these statements are not unfounded in fact, we will begin these narrations with one of the most cruel and tragic outrages ever perpetrated by mortal man, whether savage or professedly civilized. This was the butchery of the Moravian Indians, by a party of whites, in 1782. The Moravian missionaries, whose zeal is unquenched by the snows of Lapland, and whose energy braves the burning sands of Arabia and Africa, had penetrated these western wilds before the white man had made his settlement, and had succeeded in establishing missions on the Tuscarawas, among the Delaware Indians. They had three stations on the river; namely, Gnadenhutten, Shoenbrun, and Salem. These villages were occupied by the Indians, all of whom had become Christianized, and were peacefully engaged in the various pursuits of civilization. Several depredations having been committed by hostile Indians, about the time of which I am writing, on the frontier inhabitants of western Pennsylvania and Virginia, they determined to retaliate, and a company of one hundred men was raised, and placed under the command of Colonel Williamson, as a corps of volunteer militia. They set out for the Moravian towns on the Tuscarawas river, and arrived within a mile of Gnadenhutten on the night of the fifth of March.
On the morning of the sixth, finding the Indians at work in their cornfield, on the west bank of the river, sixteen of Williamson’s men crossed over, two at a time, in a large sugar trough, taking their rifles with them. The remainder went into the village, where they found an Indian and squaw, both of whom they killed. The sixteen on the west side, on approaching the Indians, found them more numerous than they had anticipated. The Indians had their arms with them, which they carried not only for purposes of protection, but for killing game. The whites accosted them kindly, telling them that they had come for the purpose of taking them to a place where in future they would be protected in safety, no longer to be startled by the rude alarm of angry foes. They advised them to quit work, and go with them to Fort Pitt. Some of the tribe had been taken to that place in the preceding year, and were treated with great kindness by their white neighbors, and especially the governor of the fort, and returned to their homes with tokens of friendship and kindness. Under such circumstances, it was not surprising that the innocent and unsuspecting Moravian Indians surrendered their arms, and at once consented to place themselves under the protection and control of Williamson and his men. An Indian messenger was dispatched to Salem, for the purpose of apprising their brethren of the arrangement, and then both companies returned to Gnadenhutten. On reaching the village, a number of mounted militia started for the Salem settlement, but ere they reached it, so great was the dispatch of the messenger, that they found the Moravian Indians at that place had already left their cornfields, and were on the road to join their brethren at Gnadenhutten. Measures had been previously adopted to secure the Indians whom they had at first decoyed into their power, and accordingly they were bound, and confined in two houses, securely guarded. On the arrival of the Indians from Salem-their arms having been secured without any suspicion of their hostile intentions-they were at once seized, fettered, and divided between the two prison-houses, the males in one, and the females in the other. The number thus confined in both houses, including men, women, and children, amounted to from ninety to one hundred.
A council was then held to determine how the Moravian Indians should be disposed of. This self-constituted military court consisted of both officers and privates. Williamson put the question whether the Indians should be taken, prisoners, to Fort Pitt, or put to death, requesting those who were in favor of saving their lives to march out of rank, and form a second rank in advance. Only eighteen, out of the whole number, stepped out as the advocates of mercy. In these the feelings of humanity prevailed; but in the others, constituting the large majority, humanity and justice were utterly extinct. They had deliberately come to the conclusion to murder the whole of the Christian Indians in their power. Among the doomed were several who had contributed to aid the missionaries in the work of conversion and civilization; two of whom emigrated from New Jersey after the death of their pastor, Rev. David Brainard. One Indian female, who could speak good English, fell upon her knees before Williamson, the commander, and begged most eloquently and piteously for his protection; but all her supplications and pleadings were unheeded by the heartless and dastardly wretch, who ordered her to prepare for death.
They had anticipated the cruel fate that awaited them; and their hymns of praise and fervent prayers ascended from their prison, during the whole of that eventful night, to their great Father in heaven. Their prayers and tears, and their pleadings for mercy and protection were lost upon their white murderers, but they entered the ears of an avenging God. When the morning sun arose, the work of death commenced, and a scene of human butchery occurred, of sufficient enormity to move the heart most used to blood and carnage, and gather paleness on the cheek of darkness itself. One after another, men, women, and children were led out to a block prepared for the dreadful purpose, and, being commanded to sit down, the ax of the butcher, in the hands of infuriate demons, clave their skulls. Two persons, who were present at that time, and who related to me the fearful story, assured me that they were unable to witness, but for a short time, the horrid scene. One of these men stated that when he saw the incarnate fiends lead a pretty little girl, about twelve years of age, to the fatal block, and heard her plead for her life, in the most piteous accents, till her innocent voice was hushed in death, he felt a faintness come over him, and could no longer stand the heart-sickening scene. The dreadful work of human slaughter continued till every prayer, and moan, and sigh, was hushed in the stillness of death. No sex, age, or condition was spared, from the gray-haired sire to the infant at its mother’s breast. All fell victims to the most cold-blooded murder ever perpetrated by man. There lay, in undistinguished confusion, gashed and gory, in that cellar, where they were thrown by their butchers, nearly one hundred murdered Christian Indians, hurried to an untimely grave by those who had but two days before sworn to protect them. It was an act shocking to humanity; and its perpetrators should be consigned to eternal infamy.
No wonder that the savages were excited to the highest pitch of fury. Nor was the opportunity of revenge-a revenge that might have glutted the heart of an incarnate fiend-long wanting.
The event narrated above took place on the 8th of March, 1782. On the 22d of the succeeding May, the ill-fated Colonel Crawford headed another expedition from western Pennsylvania. The army consisted of four hundred and fifty men, and commencing its march on the day above-named, it proceeded due west, visiting, in its way, the Moravian towns, which had just been the scene of such a horrible tragedy. On the 6th of June, when near the Upper Sandusky, they were attacked by the Indians, and defeated. At least one hundred were killed and taken prisoners; and of the latter, it is said, two only escaped. When the rout commenced, instead of retreating in a body, they fled in small parties, and thus fell an easy prey into the hands of their pursuers. Colonel Crawford became separated from the main body of his soldiers, by his extreme anxiety for his son, and two or three other relations, whom he suspected were in the rear, and, therefore, waited for them an unreasonable time. He, at length, fled, in company with a Dr. Knight and two others. Unfortunately, after traveling nearly two days, they were, with several others, surprised by a party of Delawares, and conducted to the Old Wyandott town. The Indians halted within two miles of the town. Here Captain Pipe, a celebrated Delaware chief, painted both Crawford and Knight black. As they were conducted toward the town, the captives observed the bodies of four of their friends, tomahawked and scalped. This was regarded as a sad presage. In a short time they overtook the five prisoners who remained alive. They were seated on the ground, and surrounded by a crowd of Indian squaws and boys, who taunted and menaced them. Crawford and Knight were compelled to sit down apart from the rest, and immediately afterward the Doctor was given to a Shawnee warrior, to be conducted to their town. The boys and squaws then fell upon the other prisoners, and tomahawked them in a moment. Crawford was then driven toward the village, Girty accompanying the party on horseback. At the village resided an Indian chief, named Wingenund.
This chief had been known to Crawford some time before, and had been on terms of true friendship with him, and kindly entertained by him at his own house; and such acts of kindness all red men remember with gratitude. Wingenund does not appear to have been present when the first preparations were made for burning the prisoner, but resided not far from the fatal spot, and had retired to his cabin, that he might not see the sentence of his nation executed upon one calling him his friend; but Crawford requested that he might be sent for, cheering his almost rayless mind with the faint hope that he would interpose and save him. Accordingly, Wingenund soon appeared in the presence of the bound and naked white man.
He was asked by Crawford if he knew him, who said, he believed he did, and asked, “Are you not Colonel Crawford?” “I am,” replied the Colonel. The chief discovered much agitation and embarrassment, and ejaculated, “So!-Yes!-Indeed!” “Do you not recollect the friendship that always existed between us, and that we were always glad to see each other?” said Crawford. “Yes,” said the chief, “I remember all this, and that we have often drank together, and that you have been kind to me.” “Then I hope,” added Crawford, “the same friendship still continues.” “It would, of course,” said Wingenund, “were you where you ought to be, and not here.” “And why not here?” said the Colonel. “I hope you would not desert a friend in time of need. Now is the time for you to exert yourself in my behalf, as I should do for you, were you in my place.” “Col. Crawford,” replied Wingenund, “you have placed yourself in a situation which puts it out of my power and that of others of your friends to do any thing for you.” “How so, Captain Wingenund?” said the Colonel. He added, “By joining yourself to that execrable man, Williamson and his party; the man who but the other day murdered such a number of the Moravian Indians, knowing them to be friends; knowing that he ran no risk in murdering a people who would not fight, and whose only business was praying.” “But I assure you, Wingenund,” said Crawford, “that had I been with him at the time, this would not have happened. Not I alone, but all your friends, and all good men, wherever they are, reprobate acts of this kind.” “That may be,” said Wingenund, “yet these friends, these good men, did not prevent him from going out again, to kill the remainder of those inoffensive, yet foolish Moravian Indians! I say foolish, because they believed the whites in preference to us. We had often told them that they would be, one day, so treated by those people who called themselves their friends! We told them that there was no faith to be placed in what the white men said; that their fair promises were only intended to allure us, that they might the more easily kill us, as they have done many Indians before they killed these Moravians.” “I am sorry to hear you speak thus,” said Crawford; “as to Williamson’s going out again, when it was known that he was determined on it, I went out with him to prevent him from committing fresh murders.” “This,” said Wingenund, “the Indians would not believe, were even I to tell them so.” Crawford then asked, “And why would they not believe it?” “Because,” replied Wingenund, “it would have been out of your power to prevent his doing what he pleased.” “Out of my power?” exclaimed the Colonel, and asked, “Have any Moravian Indians been killed or hurt since we came out?” “None,” answered the chief; “but you went first to their town, and finding it empty and deserted, you turned on the path toward us. If you had been in search of warriors only, you would not have gone thither. Our spies watched you closely. They saw you while you were embodying yourselves on the other side of the Ohio. They saw you cross that river-they saw where you encamped at night-they saw you turn off from the path to the deserted Moravian town-they knew you were going out of your way-your steps were constantly watched, and you were suffered quietly to proceed, till you reached the spot where you were attacked.”
Crawford, doubtless, with this sentence, ended his last rays of hope. He asked, with faint emotion, “What do they intend to do with me?” when Wingenund frankly replied, “I tell you with grief. As Williamson, with his whole cowardly host, ran off in the night, at the whistling of our warrior’s balls, being satisfied that now he had no Moravians to deal with, but men who could fight, and with such he did not wish to have any thing to do-I say, as he escaped, and they have taken you, they will take revenge on you in his stead.” “And is there no possibility of preventing this?” said Crawford; “can you devise no way to get me off? You shall, my friend, be well rewarded if you are instrumental in saving my life.” “Had Williamson been taken with you,” answered the chief, “I and some friends, by making use of what you have told me, might, perhaps, have succeeded in saving you; but as the matter now stands, no man would dare to interfere in your behalf. The king of England himself, were he to come to this spot, with all his wealth and treasure, could not effect this purpose. The blood of the innocent Moravians, more than half of them women and children, cruelly and wantonly murdered, calls aloud for revenge. The relatives of the slain, who are among us, cry out and stand ready for revenge. The nation to which they belonged will have revenge. The Shawnees, our grandchildren, have asked for your fellow-prisoner; on him they will take revenge! revenge1 The Moravians, whom you went to destroy, having fled, instead of avenging their brethren, the offense is become national, and the nation itself is bound to take revenge!”
“My fate then is fixed,” said the wretched man, “and I must prepare to meet death in its worst form.” “Yes, Colonel,” replied the chief; “I am sorry for it, but can not do any thing for you. Had you attended to the Indian principle, that as good and evil can not dwell together in the same heart, so a good man ought not to go into evil company, you would not be in this lamentable situation. You see, now, when it is too late, after Williamson has deserted you, what a bad man he must be! Nothing now remains for you but to meet your fate like a brave man. Farewell, Colonel Crawford! they are coming, I will retire to a solitary spot.” Having said these words, he withdrew.
It is said that Wingenund shed tears at parting with his former friend.
The preparations for the horrible tragedy were soon completed. A large stake was driven into the ground, and piles of dry wood heaped up around it. Colonel Crawford’s hands were then tied behind his back; a strong rope was produced, one end of which was fastened to the ligature between his wrists, and the other to the bottom of the stake. The rope was long enough to permit him to walk round the stake several times and then return. Fire was then applied to the hickory poles, which lay in piles at the distance of six or seven yards from the stake.
The Colonel observing these terrible preparations, called to Girty, who sat on horseback, at the distance of a few yards from the fire, and asked if the Indians were going to burn him. Girty replied in the affirmative. The Colonel heard the intelligence with firmness, merely observing that he would bear it with fortitude. When the hickory poles had been burnt asunder in the middle, Captain Pipe arose and addressed the crowd in a tone of great energy, and with animated gestures, pointing frequently to the Colonel, who regarded him with an appearance of unruffled composure. As soon as he had ended, a loud whoop burst from the assembled throng, and they all rushed at once upon the unfortunate Crawford. For several seconds the crowd was so great around him that Knight could not see what they were doing; but in a short time they had dispersed sufficiently to give him a view of the Colonel.
His ears had been cut off, and the blood was streaming down each side of his face. A terrible scene of torture now commenced. The warriors shot charges of powder into his naked body, commencing with the calves of his legs, and continuing to his neck. The boys snatched the burning hickory poles and applied them to his flesh. As fast as he ran around the stake, to avoid one party of tormentors, he was promptly met at every turn by others, with burning poles, red-hot irons, and rifles loaded with powder only; so that in a few minutes nearly one hundred charges of powder had been shot into his body, which had become black and blistered in a dreadful manner. The squaws would take up a quantity of coals and hot ashes, and throw them upon his body, so that in a few minutes he had nothing but fire to walk upon.
In the extremity of his agony, the unhappy Colonel called aloud upon Girty, in tones which rang through Knight’s brain with maddening effect: “Girty! Girty! shoot me through the heart! Quick! quick! Do not refuse me!” “Don’t you see I have no gun, Colonel!” replied the renegade, bursting into a laugh, and then turning to an Indian beside him, he uttered some brutal jests upon the naked and miserable appearance of the prisoner. While this awful scene was being acted, Girty rode up to the spot where Dr. Knight stood, and told him that he had now had a foretaste of what was in reserve for him at the Shawnee towns. He swore that he need not expect to escape death, but should suffer it in all the extremity of torture.
Knight, whose mind was deeply agitated at the sight of the fearful scene before him, took no notice of Girty, but preserved an impenetrable silence. Girty, after contemplating the Colonel’s sufferings for a few moments, turned again to Knight, and indulged in a bitter invective against a certain Colonel Gibson, from whom, he said, he had received deep injury, and dwelt upon the delight with which he would see him undergo such tortures as those which Crawford was the suffering. He observed, in a taunting tone, that most of the prisoners had said, that the white people would not injure him, if the chance of war was to throw him into their power; but, that for his own part, he should be loth to try the experiment. “I roast me alive, with more pleasure than those red fellows are now broiling the Colonel! What is your opinion, Doctor? Do you think they would be glad to see me?” Still Knight made no answer, and in few minutes Girty rejoined the Indians.
The terrible scene had now lasted more than two hours, and Crawford had become much exhausted. He walked slowly around the stake, spoke in a low tone, and earnestly besought God to look with compassion upon him, and pardon his sins. His nerves had lost much of their sensibility, and he no longer shrunk from the firebrands with which they incessantly touched him. At length he sunk in a fainting fit upon his face, and lay motionless. Instantly an Indian sprung upon his back, kneeled lightly upon one knee, made a circular incision with his knife upon the crown of his head, and clapping the knife between his teeth, tore the scalp off with both hands. Scarcely had this been done, when a withered hag approached with a board full of burning embers, and poured them upon the crown of his head, now laid bare to the bone. The Colonel groaned deeply, arose, and again walked slowly around the stake. But why continue a description so horrible? Nature at length could endure no more, and at a late hour in the night he was released by death form the hands of his tormentors.
Whether Girty really took pleasure in the torture of Colonel Crawford, or was forced by circumstances to seem to enjoy it, is a question which historians have generally been in too much haste to determine. It is well known that at the time of Crawford’s expedition the Indians were very much exasperated by the cold-blooded slaughter of the Moravian red men at Gnadenhutten-an atrocity without a parallel in border warfare-and to have seemed merciful to the whites for a single moment would have fatal to Girty. Indeed, it is said that when he spoke of ransoming the Colonel, Captain Pipe threatened him with death at the stake. Let justice be rendered even to the worst of criminals.
Dr. Knight, made bold or desperate by the torture he had witnessed, effected his escape from the Shawnee warrior to whose care he was committed, and after much suffering, reached the settlements. From him the greater portion of the account of Crawford’s death is derived, and corrected by the statements of Indians present on the occasion.
To augment, if possible, the horror of this dreadful tragedy, the son of Colonel Crawford was compelled to witness it, and, not long after, was subjected to the same cruel fate (Heroes of the West).
From above, we turn to a tragedy scarcely less horrible, which will exhibit another phase of savage cruelty. Early in April, 1787, a party of fourteen Indians attacked a family living at Cooper’s Run, in Bourbon county. The family consisted of the mother, two sons of mature age, a widowed daughter, with an infant in her arms, two grown daughters, and a daughter of ten years. They occupied a double cabin. In one division were the two grown daughters and the smaller girl; in the other, the remainder of the family. At evening twilight, a knocking was heard at the door of the latter, asking in good English, and the customary phrase of the country, “Who keeps the house?” As the sons were opening the door, the mother forbade, affirming there were Indians there. The young men sprang to their guns. The Indians, being refused admittance, made an effort at the opposite door. They beat open the door of that room with a rail, and endeavored to take the three girls prisoners. The little girl escaped into the woods. But the distracted and bewildered child ran to the other door, and cried for help. The brothers wished to fly to her relief, but the mother forbade her door to be opened. The merciless tomahawk soon hushed the cries of the child in the silence of death. While a part of the Indians were murdering this poor child, one of the older sisters was captured by them and bound. The other defended herself bravely with a knife, killing one Indian outright, but was then killed herself by another. The Indians, having obtained possession of one half of the house, set it on fire. The rest of the family, who were now shut up in the other part of the cabin, had now to choose between a frightful death in the flames, and the hazard of attempting to escape from the tomahawks of the savages. The latter stationed themselves in the dark angles of the fence, where they were concealed in the darkness, while the bright glare of the flames exposed any who might attempt to escape, to the deadly aim of their rifles. One son took charge of his aged and infirm mother, and the other of his widowed sister and her infant. They started in different directions, and attempted to leap the fence at different points. The mother was shot dead, and the other brother was also killed, gallantly defending his sister. The widowed sister with her infant, and one of the brothers, escaped the massacre. These persons alarmed the settlement. Thirty men, commanded by Colonel John Edwards, arrived, the next day, to witness this horrid spectacle of murder and ruin. In the mean time, considerable snow had fallen, so that it was easy to pursue the Indians by their trail. In the evening of that day, they came upon the expiring body of the captured young woman, murdered but a few moments before their arrival. The Indians had discovered that they were pursued by the barking of a dog. The pursuing party, however, overtook and killed two of the Indians, who had apparently staid behind as a rear-guard, or to enable the others to escape.
Many were the desperate encounters between individual combatants, about this period. One occurred in 1779, at Bricket’s fort, in western Virginia. A Mr. Morgan came in contact with two Indians, and was pursued by them. Being old and infirm, he soon began to falter in his race for life. But he understood the tactics of Indian warfare too well to allow himself to be overtaken in an open race. Accordingly he stopped suddenly behind a tree, and waited his chance for a shot. The Indians did the same; but one of them was not sufficiently shielded by his tree, and Morgan, watching his opportunity, fired at the exposed part of his body. The shoot took effect, and the savage rolled upon the ground in his agony. The other Indian instantly resumed the chase, and Morgan’s gun, being now unloaded, he was compelled to run again. The Indian gained rapidly upon him. His gun was already poised for the deadly shot, when Morgan suddenly turned aside, and the ball passed by him. It was now a struggle for life, in single combat. Morgan struck with his gun. The Indian threw his tomahawk, which cut off one finger, and otherwise wounded his hand, and at the same time knocked the gun from his grasp. They closed, and Morgan being an expert wrestler, threw the Indian. But his powerful foe soon succeeded in getting on top, and now feeling sure of his prey, he uttered a demoniac yell, at the same time feeling for his knife. A woman’s apron, which, in his savage fondness for fantastic dress, he had bound round his waist, prevented his grasping the knife. Morgan just then seized the fingers of the savage between his teeth, which he clinched to good effect. The Indian at length got his knife unloosed, and seemed again on the point of consummating the butchery of his victim. But unfortunately for himself, he had seized the handle down by the blade, and Morgan succeeded in grasping the handle above. As the Indian drew it from the scabbard, Morgan crippled another finger with his teeth, causing the hand to relax a little from its grasp, and thus succeeded in drawing the knife through the band of the savage, cutting a deep wound, and thus gained entire possession of it. Both now sprang erect. But Morgan still has the finger firmly clinched between his teeth. With this advantage, he soon succeeded in plunging the knife to its hilt in the savage, who now sunk down, and was soon dispatched.
During these bloody wars, also, exploits were performed by females worthy of a record upon the pages of the world’s history. Once occurred at Dunkard’s creek, about the same time as the former. Two or three families had fled for safety to the house of a Mr. Bozarth. The Indians came upon it when it contained only Mr. Bozarth and two other men. Warned by the children, who were playing outside, that the “ugly red men” had come, one of the men ran to the door. He received a shot and fell. The Indian, who had shot him, sprang in after him, and grappling with the other white man was thrown down. Having no weapon, he called upon Mrs. Bozarth for a knife. Not finding a knife, she seized an ax, and with a single blow cleft the head of the savage. At that moment another Indian shot the white man dead. Mrs. Bozarth, by a well-directed blow, leveled the savage with her ax. Others were crowding in behind; the first received a blow on the head. As the others drew back, she succeeded in closing and fastening the door. The two white men, though both severely wounded, aided the heroine in maintaining the defense, till a detachment from a neighboring settlement came up for their relief. All the children in the yard were butchered by the incarnate fiends. The whole transaction lasted hardly three minutes; and yet, considering the numbers and circumstances, it was a severe and bloody affair.
Another, and perhaps a still more striking instance of female heroism occurred, in 1791, in Nelson county. The house of a Mr. Merrill was assaulted by savages. Hearing the dogs barking, Mr. Merrill opened the door to ascertain the cause. He was fired at, and fell wounded into the room. The savages attempted to rush in after him, but Mrs. Merrill and her daughter succeeded in closing the door. The assailants began to hew a passage through it with their tomahawks; and, having made a hole large enough, one of them attempted to squeeze through it into the room. Undismayed, the courageous woman seized an ax, gave the ruffian a fatal blow as he sprang through, and he sunk quietly to the floor. Another, and still another, followed till four of the number had met the same fate. The silence within induced one of them to pause and look through the crevice in the door. Discovering the fate of those who had entered, the savages resolved upon another mode of attack. Two of their number clambered up to the top of the house, and prepared to descend the broad, wooden chimney. This new danger was promptly met. Mrs. Merrill did not desert her post; but directed her little son to cut open the feather bed, and pour the feathers upon the fire. This the little fellow did with excellent effect. The two savages, scorched and suffocated, fell down into the fire, and were soon dispatched by the children and the wounded husband. At that moment a fifth savage attempted to enter the door; but he received a salute upon the head, from the ax held by Mrs. Merrill, that sent him howling away. Thus seven of the savages were destroyed by the courage and energy of this heroic woman. When the sole survivor reached his town, and was asked, “what news?” a prisoner heard his reply –“bad news! The squaws fight worse than the long knives.”
The above story I have often heard from the lips of Mrs. Merrill herself. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. After the death of her first husband she was married to a Mr. Hunter. She settled on Paint creek, in 1797; and subsequently died there, in the triumphs of faith.
One more anecdote must close this chapter. Two boys, Henry and James Johnson, living on Short creek, on the west bank of the Ohio, while at play, some distance from the house, were taken prisoners by two savages. They were led several miles into the wood, and then the Indians built a fire, and lay down for the night-each holding one of the captive boys in his arms. The younger wept bitterly at finding himself in the hands of the savage monsters, but his older brother tried to comfort him. The little one soon fell asleep in the muscular arms of his master. The other slept not; his mind was too busy. At length, finding his keeper sound asleep, he gradually slipped from his arms, and arose to his feet. He might have run away, and escaped; but there was his little brother asleep in the arms of his savage master, and he would not leave him. At first, he stepped around, and to try the soundness of the Indians’ sleep, he renewed the fire -knowing if they awoke and found him thus occupied it would occasion no alarm. But their sleep was too profound to be disturbed. He then walked up to his brother, gently woke him, and drew him from the embrace of his master. The older brother put the muzzle of one of their guns to the ear of one of the Indians, and directed his brother to put his finger on the trigger, and pull it the moment he saw the hatchet descending on the head of the other. The plan succeeded. The tomahawk descended and the gun went off at the same moment. The first blow of the tomahawk was not fatal. “Lay on,” cries out the little fellow; “I have done it for mine.” A few more blows from the older boy “did it” also for the other Indian. The two boys immediately started for home; and just as the day was dawning they came round the corner of the log-cabin, and heard their mother, in agony, lamenting their hard fate, and saying that they had been taken prisoners and perhaps killed by the Indians. The joy of that meeting it would be difficult to describe, but we can readily conceive of the pride and delight with which that mother listened to the narrative of the heroic achievements of her two sons.
When I traveled Wills Creek circuit in 1809, I became acquainted with the Johnson family. The father and mother were still living. Henry, their oldest son, was a class-leader and steward in the Church at St. Clairsville; James, the younger son, was a local preacher on the circuit. From the different members of the family-and especially from the mother-I have often heard the above narrative; and have also been upon the very spot where the Indians were killed.
Autobiography. Drake’s Indians of North America.