AMONG the many unfortunate military enterprises undertaken on the western border during the Revolutionary War, none is more notable than that against Sandusky, under Colonel William Crawford. Cornwallis had surrendered. The war with England was at an end. The patriotic minds of the colonies, inspired by the magnificent destiny dawning upon their country, were already busy with the great problems of self-government. On the western frontiers, however, the murderous forays of the Indians raged with unprecedented violence. The settlers continued to be roused at midnight in their lonely cabins by the blood-curdling war-cry. Children continued to be snatched away into captivity by dark hands thrust out from behind clumps of bushes and fallen logs. The corpses of the near and dear still continued to be found in lonely ravines or open fields.
The center of the Indian power was at Sandusky. In 1782 a permission for the organization of a great volunteer expedition against the Indians of the west was about all the government could do. This, however, was enough. Far and wide through the settlements along the Monongahela, the Youghiogheny, and the Ohio went the thrilling word that the expedition was to start on the 20th of May.
The popular heart, inspired by the successes of the Revolution, was now fired with enthusiasm and zeal for an attack on the deadly enemies of the west. In many an isolated cabin there was a lively stir of preparation. With troubled forebodings many a mother heard the resolutions of brave sons to join the march to the front. Maidens, parting from their lovers, sat in the shadow of their first sorrow. Children, whose tongues had scarcely learned to lisp the dreaded syllable of war, sobbed in solitude at the absence of the stalwart forms they loved.
The scene at Mingo Bottom, the rendezvous for the expedition, was truly American. For ten days beforehand the borderers came riding in, equipped in homely fashion for the campaign. The pioneer soldier was a curiosity. His buckskin hunting-shirt was belted at the waist. Through the belt was thrust the cruel tomahawk, the glittering scalping-knife, and the string of his ammunition-pouch. His hat of felt or fur was not infrequently decorated with tossing plumes, or the tails of animals. Over his shoulder he carried his rifle. Perhaps in his bosom was thrust some memento, a handkerchief or a scarf from some admiring maiden.
When at last the grim and motley assemblage was complete, its first task was to elect officers. William Crawford received two hundred and thirty-five out of the four hundred and sixty-five votes cast, and was declared colonel in command of the expedition. He had had considerable military experience, and was fitted by nature to be a soldier and a leader. He was ambitious, cool, and brave. Familiar with border fare, the expedition in hand was adapted to the highest qualities of his genius. Yet he accepted the command with reluctance. Before his tender farewell to his family, the prudent father made his will.
His associate officers were the very flower of the border. Among them was David Williamson, second in command; John McClelland, field major; Dr. John Knight, surgeon; John Slover, Jonathan Zane, of whom we have heard before, guides of the expedition; and an officer of the regular army, who gave his name as John Rose, who volunteered for the purpose of acting as aid-de-camp to the commanding officer.
Concerning this latter gentleman more will be said hereafter. For the present it is sufficient to say that, early in the Revolution, he had applied to the American army for a commission. Though fine looking, of elegant manners, and, as was supected [sic], of noble birth, speaking the French language, and highly gifted, his request was refused. He had studied medicine, he said, and sympathizing with the colonists, had left the Old World, against the protest of his friends, to join his fortunes with theirs. Upon the details of his history and life, the young stranger preserved the most profound silence. He had, at last, received a commission as surgeon; but, after two or three years of service, discovering a jealousy on the part of some young American officers, he had resigned. In spite of the mystery that surrounded him, he was a great favorite. It was not long before the wild borderers, assembled at Mingo Bottom, absolutely idolized the young officer, who volunteered from lack of other service.
On the 25th of May the expedition set out for Sandusky, one hundred and fifty miles away. Though not an Indian had been seen, the greatest precautions were taken against ambuscades and surprises. Their route led them through the desolate and fire-blasted settlements of the Moravians on the Muskingum.
David Williamson, the officer second in command of the expedition, was familiar with this spot. He it was who had commanded the gang of murderers, by whose bloody hands the innocent Moravian Indians had been put to death. Yet, when he found himself once more near the scene of this appalling massacre, there is no record, no evidence that his heart was moved with one sensation of regret, with a single throb of pity. Such is the brutalizing influence of war upon the warrior.
The march was designed to be hasty. The plan was to surprise the savages. Day after day they advanced, without finding the print of a single moccasin or hearing the crack of a single hostile rifle. It was not the advance of an army with banners, to the music of the fife and drum. It was the insidious movement, swift and silent, of a mighty serpent, winding stealthily through the sunless forests toward the unsuspecting towns of the Indians. Now and then an incident happened which attracted the attention of the men. Some of the volunteers lost their horses, and were compelled to return to the settlements. This the borderers regarded as a bad sign. "Perhaps the rest of us will not go back at all!" said one of the men.
On another day, a fox got into the lines. The men at once surrounded it on all sides, but in spite of their utmost efforts to capture it, the animal escaped. In every considerable company of men there will be some who are positively and blindly superstitious. In addition to these there will be a larger number of credulous and talkative persons who, when informed that a certain thing is an omen or sign, at once take it up as a matter of fact. So it came to be whispered through the camp that the escape of the fox was a bad omen. "If the whole army," said they, "is unable to kill a fox, under such circumstances, what success can be expected against Indians?"
The army at last emerged from the forests, which they had traversed, into the rolling prairies of Ohio. "To most of the volunteers," says the historian of this expedition, "the sight of the plains was a novel one. The high, coarse grass, the islands of timber, the gradually undulating surface, were all objects of surprise. Birds of strange plumage flew over them, prairie hens rose before them, sailing away and slowly dropping into the grass on either hand. Sand-hill cranes blew their shrill pipes, startled by the sudden apparition. Prairie owls, on cumbrous wings, fluttered away in the distance, and the noisy bittern was heard along the streamlets. Wild geese were frightened from their nests, and, occasionally, in widening circles far above them, soared the imperial eagle."
At length the destination of the expedition, into which the entire western border had concentrated its energy and valor, was almost reached. On the morning of the 4th of June the men were awake and ready for the march before the brightness of the sunrise had illuminated the landscape. Throughout the whole camp there was a bustle of unusual excitement. Through their long march scarcely an Indian had been seen. The men felt themselves to be approaching a crisis. Their nerves were strung at the highest tension. Guns were examined, and fresh charges put in. Packs were readjusted, and saddle girths carefully tightened. The army were encamped near the site of the present village of Wyandot in the county of that name in the State of Ohio.
The march was begun just as the flaming disk of day appeared above the horizon. The direction taken was nearly north-west. Six miles' travel brought them to the mouth of the Little Sandusky. The spot was a familiar one to Slover. He had been taken captive by the Miami Indians when only eight years of age, spending the next six years of his life with that tribe.
Three Indian trails led from the spot of which we are now speaking. One south-east, through the Plains, to Owl Creek, now the Vernon River, leading thence to Walhomding. This was the route taken by the Moravian missionaries and their converts at the time of their exile from the settlements on the Muskingum to the barren plains of Sandusky. A second trail led to the south, up the east side of the Little Sandusky. The third ran to the south-west, toward the Shawanese town upon Mad River. Besides these, there was also a fourth trace, leading north along the east side of the river, through the woods.
This latter was the one which Crawford took. The army moved cautiously, for Slover assured Crawford that the Wyandot town was near at hand. Following the turn of the river, the army marched rapidly in a westerly direction. There was an opening in the woods, towards which the men pressed on eagerly. Just before them lay the Wyandot town, the goal of the expedition.
Yet, though a hostile army was now within full view of the place, there was no sign of life in the village. The shrill war-cry, the screams of the squaws, the barking of the dogs, were all wanting. Were the inhabitants of the place asleep, or was the village enchanted? As the invaders drew nearer, they found, to their surprise, that the Wyandot town was without an inhabitant. All was a solitude. The empty huts were silent and deserted. Grass was growing in the doorways. The ashes of the camp-fires seemed to have been beaten by many a rain since the hot coals had glowed in their midst.
The army was astonished. Some mistake had been made. Where, then, was Sandusky, the principal town of the Wyandots, to attack which the volunteers had traveled one hundred and sixty miles? A halt was called. It was one o'clock in the afternoon, the officers of the army were hastily called together for a council of war, to consider the strange aspect of affairs.
Leaving the officers of the volunteer army in anxious consultation, let us briefly sketch the state of affairs among the Indians. The reverses experienced by them early in the year, together with the Gnadenhutten massacre, had roused the Indians to the highest activity and watchfulness. Every white settlement on the frontier was placed under the surveillance of invisible spies. When the cabins of the pioneers began to be pervaded by an unusual stir in preparation for the expedition against Sandusky, fleet runners, unbeknown to the white men, bore the startling news to the villages of their tribes.
When the assemblage of volunteers took place at Mingo Bottom, every movement was observed by subtle scouts, and the tHings reported to their chiefs. That a great expedition was forming was evident. Its destination, however was unknown. In every forest through which the army had passed lurked unseen savages, watching their course. Meanwhile, runners were dispatched to every village, bearing the news that the Indians must concentrate all their forces to successfully resist this invasion. Messengers were also dispatched to Detroit, begging the British commandant to send instant and powerful aid to his Indian allies. The old Wyandot town had been deserted some time before this. Its people had removed to a point on the river eight miles below the old town. Its location was five miles below the present town of Upper Sandusky, just where the Kilbourne road crosses the river.
That the destination of Crawford and his men was to be the Sandusky towns seemed clear to the Indians. In this they were confirmed by Crawford's encampment on the night of the 3d of June. Eighteen miles down the river from that camp was the chief Wyandot town, where the warriors were prepared to march at any instant. Eleven miles in another direction stood the village of Captain Pipe, the war chief of the Delawares. Here, too, the savages stood all night long plumed and ready for battle.
On the morning of the 4th of June the Delaware war-chief moved forward with his two hundred braves to an appointed rendezvous with the Wyandot braves. From the village of the latter the squaws and Children were carefully removed and concealed in a deep ravine. The traders in the town hastily packed their goods and started for Detroit.
Besides the Wyandots, whose numbers exceeded those of the Delawares, the combined forces of which already surpassed the volunteer army, there was also moving to the Indian rendezvous, to other re-enforcements. From the Shawanese town, forty miles away, were coming two hundred braves of that tribe. They were not expected to arrive until the next day. From the north was coming powerful succor of a different sort. The commandant of Detroit had dispatched to the scene of action Butler's Mounted Rangers, with three pieces of artillery.
It was impossible for this re-enforcement to reach the rendezvous before the 5th of June. Far in advance of the Rangers, however, mounted on the swiftest horse in the company, rode Matthew Elliott at the top of his speed. He it was who was to have command of all the allied forces. He reached his command about noon of the fourth. Second in command to him was his fellow-ruffian and Tory, Simon Girty. Such were the preparations made for the destruction of Crawford's army.
The council of war, held on the site of the deserted Wyandot town, resulted in an advance in search of the real Sandusky, which Slover rightly believed to be eight miles farther down the river. The army had proceeded some three or four miles when some of the men expressed an earnest desire to return home, for the reason that there remained only five days' provisions. Crawford again called a halt. His officers were at once summoned for another council. Jonathan Zane urged an immediate retreat. He was of the opinion that the Indians would in the end bring an overwhelming force against them. The failure to discover any Indians as yet convinced him that they were concentrated at some point not far away for a determined resistance. In this view Crawford coincided. It was, however, at last, resolved to continue the advance during the afternoon, and, in case of continued failure to meet the enemy, that a retreat should be commenced during the night.
In front of the army rode a party of scouts. The country. was rolling prairie, flecked with island-groves of thickly growing trees. At one of these green oases the scouts reined in their panting horses. One mile to the east of them lay the Sandusky River, its winding course marked out upon the landscape by a fringe of forest trees. Midway between the grove and the river ran the trail leading to the Wyandot town. South-west of the grove, not very far off, was a cranberry marsh, impassable to horsemen. This swamp the scouts had passed without discovering it. After a few moments' pause, this advance guard put spurs to their horses, and galloped on over the prairie. Having left the grove about a mile to the rear, the scouts suddenly discovered a large body of Indians running directly toward them--they were in sight of the Indian rendezvous. One of their number, riding their fleetest horse, at once galloped back to inform Crawford of the enemy's whereabouts. The rest retired slowly as the savages advanced.
Just as the Americans had finished their council of war the breathless scout dashed in, bearing the news of the discovery of the Indians. In a moment the lagging army took fire with enthusiasm, and started forward at the top of their speed. They found that the Indians had already reached the island grove and taken possession of it. Crawford's military eye at once discerned this to be a strategic point. By a rapid charge the Indians were driven, and the Americans, in turn, took possession of the cover.
The firing began at four o'clock in the afternoon. The Indians, led by Elliott and Girty, were concealed by the thick, high grass of the open prairie. They would creep forward, unseen, close to the trees, and fire upon the Americans from their concealment. Some of the borderers climbed the trees, and from their bushy tops took deadly aim at the heads of the enemy moving about in the grass. Great execution was done in this way. One man said afterward, "I do not know how many Indians I killed, but I never saw the same head again above the grass after I shot at it." The battle raged with fury. Every tree and log in the grove blazed with the incessant flashes of the American rifles. Not a foe was visible on either side. Yet every point in the surrounding prairie gave forth continuous explosions, and, over all floated a bank of white smoke.
The afternoon was exceedingly sultry. Not a breath of air was stirring. The river was a mile away. No spring or stream of water was to be found in the grove. The soldiers were attacked by the intolerable torment of thirst. In this emergency one of the men, John Sherrard, distinguished himself. In the excitement of the conflict he had rendered his gun useless by ramming a ball into the barrel without having put in a charge of powder. He said "I will not be idle." He went in search of water. He found a place where a tree had been torn up by the roots. In the cavity left in the around had collected a pool of stagnant water. Pushing aside the green scum, he filled his canteen and hat, and ran to carry the water to his thirsty comrades. During the afternoon he made twenty trips of this kind.
For a while the issue of the battle was doubtful. Toward sunset the fire of the savages weakened. Their caution about exposure increased. They had evidently suffered. At dark they had withdrawn beyond the range of the American rifles. The Americans, being left in possession of the field, were the victors. To guard against a night surprise, each party resorted to the same device. They built a line of huge camp-fires, and then fell back from them for some distance. By this means any approaching foe would be revealed. The loss of the American army was five killed and nineteen wounded. The battle-field was three miles north, and half a mile east of the spot now occupied by the court-house in Upper Sandusky.
At sunrise on the beautiful morning of the 5th of June, occasional shots at long range began to be exchanged between the contending forces. As the day advanced the enemy's firing continued to be slack and irregular. As to the cause of this feebleness the Americans were fatally mistaken. They regarded it as an indication of depression occasioned by the defeat of the previous day. In fact, however, the Wyandots and Delawares were abundantly satisfied with simply being able to hold the Americans in check until the arrival of the band of braves from the Shawanese village, and of the redoubtable Butler's Rangers. Every hour brought these re-enforcements, of which the Americans were totally ignorant, nearer to the field of battle.
Crawford would gladly have attacked the foe early in the day, but the volunteers seemed in a poor condition for the undertaking. Many of the men were sick from the fatigues of the march. Others were suffering from the combined effects of the heat and of the poisonous water which they had been compelled to drink. Besides these there were nineteen wounded. Fifteen or twenty more were required to nurse the sick. These subtractions from the little army so weakened its strength for the time being that it was thought best to withhold the attack until nightfall. The morning was spent in comparative repose. The volunteers were confident of an easy victory. The men lay in the shade, already chatting gayly of the success of the expedition. Some even talked of the welcome they would receive on their return. A change, however, was to come over the spirit of the idlers in the grove.
An hour or two after noon a sentinel stationed in a copse north-east of the grove discovered a small speck at a great distance in the prairie. As his eager eye watched the apparition. it grew larger. A few moments later he perceived it to be a body of mounted men. Pausing yet a moment, it became plain that these troops were white men. The sentinel stood no longer, but dashed toward his commander with information of the discovery. The grove at once became the scene of animation and excitement. The loungers sprang from their mossy couches and buckled on their fierce equipment for battle. Horses were saddled, the wounded were carried to the rear. While the volunteers were thus making their active preparations for a battle, the officers were grouped in a hurried council of war. The notion of an attack was at once abandoned, in the presence of the civilized foe. A defensive policy was all that remained. It was no longer a question of the destruction of the Indian towns; it was a question of the destruction of the army.
While deliberating upon the critical situation, another scout came running in with the news of the approach of other re-enforcements to the enemy. The officers looked with anxious gaze in the direction indicated; there they beheld, in full career over the open prairie, the painted warriors of the Shawanese, with fluttering plumes and fantastic decorations, coming to the help of their brethren.
Let us take a survey of the situation. Crawford and his men were still encamped in the small grove. To the north of them, in the direction of their town, were encamped the Wyandots, supported by the newly arrived Butler's Rangers. To south of the grove, and a little to the west of the trail along which the army had come, were posted the Delawares. This position they had assumed during the battle of the previous day. Posted as they were, in the rear or Crawford, they endangered his retreat. The Shawanese, as if by previous arrangement, encamped to the south-east of the grove. The trail along which the army must pass in case of retreat was thus made to run between the two camps of the Shawanese and the Delawares--a maneuver of great skill.
As the council of war continued, small squads of Indians were discovered pouring in from all quarters as re-enforcements. But one course was open to the Americans. That was retreat. Orders were given for a retrograde movement, to commence at nine o'clock that night. The dead were buried. For the seven dangerously wounded, litters were made. The army was to march in four divisions, keeping the wounded in the center. As soon as it was dark the sentinels were called in, and the body formed for the march, with Crawford at the head.
At the moment of starting, the enemy, having discovered the intentions of the Americans, opened a hot fire. Some of the men became alarmed. The arrangements for a regular retreat were, in the excitement and panic of the moment, forgotten. The men in the foremost ranks started to run, and, the example being contagious, the whole army was soon in full flight. The seven men in the litters were left behind. Of these, five were helped upon comrades' horses. Two unfortunate men were left to the insatiate vengeance of the savages. The first division, under Major McClelland, was soon engaged with the Delawares and Shawanese. McClelland fell from his horse, dangerously wounded, at the first fire. Calling to John Orr, who was on foot, the wounded captain bade the man take his horse, and make his escape, which he did. In the darkness and confusion McClelland was believed by the few who saw him fall, either to have been killed outright, or to have been trampled to death under the hoofs of the oncoming horses. In fact, he was reserved for a more dreadful fate.
The enemy, on their part, fearful lest Crawford's movements formed some kind of maneuver, and not a flight, hesitated in their pursuit. Meanwhile, the rear divisions, seeing McClelland's party furiously attacked by the Delawares, bore off to the south-west to avoid the Indians, leaving their struggling companions to their left. At an earlier point in the narrative mention has been made of a vast cranberry swamp, lying west of the trail followed by the army in its advance. Into this swamp, owing to the darkness, some of the Americans unfortunately blundered. Many of the men were compelled to leave their horses hopelessly mired in the bog. To add to their danger, the Americans were attacked in the rear by the enemy, suffering considerable loss. The remainder skirted the morass on the west, clear around, to a point nearly opposite that of their entrance to the swamp.
A little before daylight they again found themselves on the trail, having, in their march, described a half circle around the swamp, of which the center was the present town of Upper Sandusky. The men of McClelland's division had fought their way along the diameter of the circle, and, in a badly demoralized condition, reunited with their friends at the deserted Wyandot village. At this point a halt was made. Straggling parties came up with the others, until nearly three hundred of the volunters [sic] were once more together.
An investigation was made, to find who were missing. To the great sorrow of the entire army, Colonel Crawford was nowhere to be found. Nothing was known of him. Whether killed, captured, or escaped was a matter of conjecture. Dr. John Knight and John Slover, together with the brave McClelland, were also missing. The command of the army now devolved upon Williamson, who, seconded by the brilliant military genius of Rose, made the most powerful exertions to rally the broken army for a regular retreat.
Even in the midst of such tragic scenes as these occur incidents calculated to provoke a smile. One of the volunteers discovered a brass kettle, left in a deserted Indian sugar-camp. In spite of his peril, the prize was too great for his prudence. He dismounted from his horse, seized a huge bowlder [sic], and pounded the utensil flat for transportation. Through all the exciting scenes of the retreat, this article kept its place on Vance's saddle.
John Sherrard, the man who had carried water to his comrades during the battle, had, in the confusion of the flight from the grove, become separated from his companions. In company with Daniel Harbaugh, he followed the track of the army as best he could. Riding through the forest soon after sunrise on the 6th, Harbaugh, less agile than his companion, was shot by an Indian. Sherrard, sickened at the death of his companion, nevertheless removed the saddle and bridle from the dead man's horse and substituted them for his own, which were inferior. He had proceeded but a short distance, when he recklessly resolved to return for a pack of provisions which he had left tied to his own saddle. Securing this, he resumed his journey, and overtook the retreating army.
At two o'clock in the afternoon of the 6th of June, the retreating army, by that time somewhat rallied from the demoralization of the night, were attacked from the rear by a large force of the enemy. The volunteers succeeded in beating off the foe, an achievement in which they were aided by a terrible thunder-storm which broke over the combatants. When the rain ceased the foe renewed the attack, and at night the two armies slept within sight of each other. In the morning shots were again exchanged near the spot where the village of Crestline now stands. Thenceforth the retreat of the broken and dispirited army was continued without interruption.
It is not to be supposed that the volunteers all reached home at once. For days they continued to straggle back. Some of the men became completely bewildered. Nicholas Dawson had become separated from his companions, and was endeavoring to make his way home when he was discovered by two other volunteers. Dawson at that time was traveling in exactly the wrong direction, going back toward Sandusky. The men attempted to convince him of his error, but he pertinaciously insisted that he was right. At last the men told him that he would certainly be captured by the savages and tortured to death if he proceeded in his present course, and that as it would be better for him to die from a painless and sudden gun-shot wound than from the merciless barbarities of the savages, they would kill him out of friendship. This argument proved successful. Dawson turned about reluctantly, and, with the others, reached home in safety.
Philip Smith and a young man named Rankin had also become separated from the army, owing to the loss of their horses. They had their guns, but were afraid to use them to procure game for fear of attracting the attention of the Indians. By chance they came across an Indian pony, which Smith undertook to dispatch with his tomahawk. The animal, however, proved to be an expert dodger. Rankin at last blindfolded it, and thus enabled Smith to deal a fatal blow. On the flesh of the pony they subsisted for some time.
On the third night of their retreat two volunteers on horses fell in with them. While proceeding along the banks of a stream they were ambuscaded by four savages. Smith was in the act of stooping to get a drink from the river. The two men on horseback were shot dead. Smith seized a gun and ran up the bank after his companion, Rankin, who had also taken to flight. The latter mistook Smith for a enemy, and three times attempted to shoot him. He succeeded, however, in dodging, until he came near enough to be recognized. Escaping from these Indians, the wanderers came upon a camp, evidently just deserted. A white man, freshly scalped, lay on the ground. As they looked at him, he took his hand and rubbed his bloody head. He had been scalped while alive, but, of course, death was near. Over the camp fire hung a pot of boiling hominy. This the famished wanderers feared to eat lest it should be poisoned. They, at last, reached home naked, footsore, and famished. To acquaintances they were unrecognizable. The loved ones of their families, however, knew the wanderers at once.
Many were the cabins of the frontier in which were weeping of women and wailing of children for the brave ones which returned not. Sherrard made his home with the widowed mother of James Paull, who had also accompanied the expedition. Concerning her boy nothing could be learned. At the moment of retreat from the grove, Sherrard noticed that the young man was sound asleep. He gave the sleeper a shake, and shouted, "Up, James! let's be off. They're all starting, and we'll be left." He had seen the young man spring to his feet, but at that moment lost sight of him in the darkness, and of his fate could tell nothing. The poor widow bore her mighty sorrow alone, and never ceased to look for the return of her boy.
Sherrard had another distressing scene to go through with. As soon as he had obtained a little rest, he started to return the pack-saddle of Daniel Harbaugh, which he had taken from his dead companion's horse, to his widow. The story of her husband's death was heart-breaking to the sorrowing woman. She, however, knew that he was dead. Though stricken with grief she was not doomed to be haunted forever after by a fearful uncertainty.
Among those who could learn nothing definite concerning their loved relatives, was Hannah Crawford, wife of the colonel in command of the expedition. For a long time she suffered from hope deferred until the heart grew sick indeed. When at last she heard the awful truth, which will be hereafter related in these pages, she was of all the sorrowing ones of the stricken frontier the most to be commiserated.
As has been stated, to the genius and exertions of John Rose, aid-de-camp to Colonel Crawford, more than to any thing else was due the fact that so many of the expedition escaped destruction. Without detailing his further splendid services to the colonies, we here give his own explanation of the mystery which surrounded him. Just before leaving America, he wrote to his friend, General Irvine, his true history. His name, he said, was not John Rose, but Gustavus H. de Rosenthal, of Lavonia, Russia, a baron of the empire. He had had a duel, brought on by a blow inflicted by his enemy upon an aged uncle. In the encounter, which took place in an apartment in the royal palace St. Petersburg, he had killed his antagonist. He at once fled to America to draw his sword in behalf of the colonies. At the close of the Revolution he received from the emperor a pardon, as a result of which he returned to his native land.
It yet remains for us to detail the remarkable adventures, or perchance the tragic doom, of those men who, either at the moment of retreat from the grove, or subsequently in the confusion and entanglement in the cranberry marsh, became at once separated from their companions and found themselves alone in the midst of an enemy's country, separated from the nearest white settlement by a wilderness one hundred and sixty miles in width, infested by swarms of hostile Indians, who were certain to scour the woods in every direction in search of stragglers from the retreating and broken army.
Among those who had the misfortune to lose their horses in the mire of the cranberry marsh were John Slover, the guide, and James Paull. These, with five others, being pursued by savages, fled in a northerly direction. After pursuing this course all night they turned, for some unaccountable reason, toward the southwest. About ten o'clock in the forenoon they halted to eat. Each man had a scrap of pork. From this they proposed to make a sumptuous breakfast.
Hardly had the poor fellows seated themselves on the ground when a file of Indian warriors was discovered coming along a neighboring trail which the volunteers had not observed. The latter ran off, leaving their baggage and provisions, but were not discovered. Their loss of provisions, scanty though the supply was, was a most serious mishap. At last they resolved to return and secure them, which was accomplished successfully. At twelve o'clock they perceived another party of Indians approaching, but by skulking in the grass and bushes of the prairie, they again escaped discovery.
The progress of the party was slow, one of the men having burnt his foot, and the other being attacked with rheumatism, contracted from exposure to the rain storm which has been previously mentioned. When at last they struck woodland, they turned due east in their line of march. On the 7th of June, the man with the rheumatism was left behind in a swamp. Waiting for him some time," says Slover, in his narrative, "I saw him coming within one hundred yards, as I sat on the body of an old tree mending my moccasins; but takin my eye from him I saw him no more. He had not observed our tracks, but had gone a different way. We whistled on our chargers, and afterwards halloed for him, but in vain." This man afterwards reached his home in safety. The terrible adventures which he escaped by thus missing his way will be hereafter related.
The man with the burned foot was James Paull. On the afternoon of the 5th, in making their hurried preparations for retreat, he, with many others, was engaged in baking bread. In this task some of the men, for want of a better baking-pan, made use of a spade which had been picked up in the desolated settlement of the Moravians. When the last loaf had been turned out, the hot spade was thrown down, and Paull had stepped on it with his bare foot, burning himself badly.
Passing through what is now Wayne county, about nine o'clock on the 8th of June, the party was ambuscaded by a band of Shawanese. With tireless pertinacity, these red detectives of the wilderness had all the while been on the trail of the fugitives. Two of the white men were shot dead. Paull, notwithstanding his burnt foot, ran for his life, and escaped.
Slover and the other two men were taken captives. By a remarkable coincidence, one of the captors had been in the party which had captured Slover in the mountains of Virginia when but a boy. The Indian, however, ad nothing but curses for his old acquaintance. Sick at heart, the three prisoners started for the Shawanese towns, on Mad 'River, in what is now Log(n county, Ohio.
On the third day after their capture they came in sight of a small Indian village. Slover had hoped that his old captor might treat him with some clemency. On his entrance to the village this hope was dashed in pieces. The inhabitants of the place, crazy with joy over the great victory at Sandusky, were delighted to find that the fun was not yet over. They at once began the enjoyment of abusing the captives. The three white men were beaten with clubs, chastised with lashes, and buffeted by the vile mob from one side of the village to the other.
This treatment was not the most ominous circumstance. The rabble seized one of Slover's companions, the oldest man in the party, and stripped him naked. Two of them at once began the task of painting the unfortunate man black. As the artists progressed with their work a dense throng of hideous squaws and screaming children surrounded them, watching every stroke of the brush with intense interest. The captive, alarmed at the proceeding, began to surmise that it was an indication that he was to be burnt. He broke down in tears and called to Slover, asking him what it meant. With devilish temper, the Indians warned Slover not to tell the man any thing.