THERE is an egotism about nearly all Indian story-tellers. The events which these chimney-corner oracles relate are local, and closely connected with themselves or their ancestors. In the locality where they lived, the scenes of violence and the feats of heroism were unequaled. This characteristic has passed from the story-teller to the story-writer. Books of border warfare are usually books of neighborhood warfare. So it comes that the reader of two or three such books imagines that the region whose history they recount was fearfully afflicted by Indians, while other localities were exempt.
Most northern readers of Indian literature have the impression that the long warfare carried on in the Ohio valley and around the lower lakes between the white man and the red man constituted the entire struggle. They think that the savages of the south were peaceful, innocent, and happy; that every time a white man came along, the savages gave them a generous strip of land and supplied him with food, and as the settlers became more numerous and encroached more and more upon the game preserves of the lords of the forest, the latter unresistingly withdrew farther and farther to the west. This notion is false. The frontiers from the lakes to the gulf were for nearly thirty years the scene of the most furious Indian warfare. If any thing, the savages of the south were more hideous, more passionate, more cruel, and more revengeful than their northern cousins. As an illustration of this, we give in the present chapter a sketch of the border warfare of Tennessee.
In 1756 a British nobleman caused to be erected at the head of navigation on the Tennessee River, thirty miles south-west of the present busy and beautiful city of Knoxville, a stockade fort. It was called Fort Louden, named after its founder, of course. In that day this post was, perhaps, the most exposed of any on the western frontier. It was deemed to be five hundred miles from Charleston. Even when the Indians were at peace, it was a matter of the greatest difficulty to transport supplies over the lofty Alleghanies to this lonely and isolated outpost of civilization. It was garrisoned by two hundred British soldiery. Sometimes the men talked among themselves of their danger in case of an Indian war. On such occasions the bravest shuddered.
The Indian war came. Brands from the conflagration raging in the north fired the hearts of the fierce Cherokees. In a single day all communication between Fort Louden and the eastern settlements was cut off. An expedition was organized in North Carolina and Virginia to march against the Cherokees. The rangers attacked little Keowee, Estatoe, and Sugaw Town, burnt the wigwams, and put every warrior to the sword. In the brief chronicles of the time, however, we find that the expedition was ambuscaded soon after these victories, and utterly routed.
So it came about that the distant garrison of Fort Louden was left to itself. Animated by a hope of relief, the men subsisted for a month upon the flesh of lean horses and dogs, and a small supply of Indian beans, smuggled into the fort by some kind-hearted Cherokee women. When the last dog in the place was killed and eaten, the garrison, inexperienced in Indian warfare, resolved to surrender to the Cherokees on the best terms that could be had. The terms, indeed, were liberal. The soldiers marched out with their guns and ammunition, under the escort of a band of Indian hunters, who were to provide game on the homeward march. By the capitulation the white men were to withdraw unmolested.
On the first night the men were startled to learn that every one of their Indian escort had left them. They remained throughout the night in great anxiety. At daybreak one of the sentinels, which had been posted, came running in, his face white with fear, saying that he had seen a vast number of Indians, armed and painted in the most dreadful manner, creeping through the bushes toward the camp. The men, enfeebled by starvation, grasped their arms with unsteady hands. At that moment the surrounding woods burst into flame and roar. Thirty men fell dead. The survivors fled panic-stricken, only to be captured and taken back to Fort Louden.
Captain Stuart was purchased by a friendly Indian, and taken into the latter's family. A day or two afterwards the Indians discovered ten bags of powder, which had been buried in the fort to prevent their falling into the hands of the Indians, a discovery which almost cost Stuart his life. The Indians now resolved to take the cannon, which they had captured, and march against Fort Prince George. Ignorant of the management of artillery, they informed Stuart that he must go with them, and handle the cannon for them. In case he refused, the prisoners were to be brought forth and burned, one at a time, before his eyes, until his obstinacy gave way. Stuart was alarmed. He determined to escape, an undertaking in which he succeeded through the connivance of his friend, Attakullakulla. Making his way to the white settlements, he at once compelled the government to ransom such of the unhappy prisoners as still survived. A few months afterwards, a second army was sent against the Cherokees, forcing them after a terrible battle to sue for and obtain peace.
By 1776 north-eastern Tennessee was studded with many settlements. There were grist mills, cleared fields, clusters of cabins, and blacksmith's shops at many eligible points. The beauty of the scenery, the delightful climate, and the fertile soil had attracted many adventurous spirits. On these happy communities burst the news of a Cherokee invasion. Nancy Ward, the wife of a Cherokee chief, sent warnings to the settlers of the intrigues of British agents among her people.
The warnings given by the kind-hearted squaw proved true. Such preparations for defense as were possible were hastily made. One band of warriors fell upon the settlements near Long Island. They were met by a force of pioneers, who, instead of waiting in the fort, had determined to attack the Indians and save the settlements. The battle took place at sunset. The white men were victorious. More than forty Indians were killed during the ten minutes which the engagement occupied.
In the midst of the struggle Lieutenant Moore shot a big Cherokee chief in the knee. Moore sprang on him with a drawn knife, which the Indian caught by the blade. A desperate struggle followed. The combatants rolled over and over, each clinging to the knife with one hand, and seeking with the other to inflict some mortal wound on his antagonist. The Indian's hand was cut to the bone by the knife blade. Yet he still held on. Moore finally succeeded in getting his tomahawk loose from his belt, and with a quick circle in the air killed his enemy.
Another division of the Cherokees stole toward the settlements on the Wollichucky River. The settlers at Gillespie Station fled before the invaders to Watauga. The Indians, coming upon the freshly deserted settlement, paused not to destroy the corn, stock, and improvements, but hurried on in hot pursuit of the flying white men. Scarcely were the latter safely sheltered behind the palisade, when the pursuers dashed up and assaulted the fort at Watauga. The assault on the fort was unsuccessful, but some stragglers without fell into the hands of the Indians. A Mrs. Bean was captured, taken back to the Indian towns, and condemned to death. She was tied, taken to the top of a mound, and was about to be burned, when Nancy Ward interfered and saved her life.
James Cooper and Samuel Moore were out making clapboards, when they were attacked by the Indians. Cooper leaped into the river, hoping to dive and escape. The water was too shallow. And he was killed. Twenty feet further down, the river was deeper. Had he ran to that spot, he might have escaped. Moore was carried away by the Indians, and burned to death.
After the withdrawal of the Indians, a corpse was found in a thicket near the fort. The man had been flying for refuge, and in two minutes would have reached the gate.
The settlers of the south were terrible fighters. One army of two thousand men marched against the southern towns of the Cherokees, burning thirty or forty villages. At the same time, another force of eighteen hundred men fell upon the over-hill towns. This force was confronted by three thousand warriors. At night the white men built enormous camp-fires, and erected lodges, as if to encamp for several days. In the darkness a strong detachment was sent down the river with instructions to cross and fall upon the flank of the enemy. The Indians were assembled on Big Island, in French Broad River. That night they fled. The maneuvering of the whites had been discovered. The invading army advanced into the heart of the Indian country unopposed by a single warrior.
In the center of the Indian towns which fell into their hands, the whites were astonished to find a circular tower thirty feet in diameter and twenty feet high, built of cane, and covered with dirt. Within were rude couches, arranged around the wall. This was the council-house, and on these couches the chieftains of the south, more fond of luxury than those of a colder clime, reclined at ease during their deliberations. In one of these structures were arranged the terms of peace.
While these events were happening east of the Cumberland Mountains, there were as yet west of the mountains no permanent settlements. Now and then a few bold explorers from Kentucky pushed their way down into the wilderness, but few had the courage to remain. One settlement was formed near Bledsoe's Lick, in the very heart of the Chickasaw Nation.
In 1778 two hunters, Spencer and Holliday, came from Kentucky into this region. Spencer found a hollow tree, and announced his intention of living in it. In vain Holliday endeavored to persuade him to return to Kentucky. The man was fascinated with the notion of living in a tree. No argument nor entreaty could move him. With true southern generosity he accompanied his companion part of the way home. Holliday had lost his knife. Spencer at parting broke the blade of his own in two, and gave his comrade half. Spencer then returned to his hollow tree.
Not a great distance off another white man had erected a temporary cabin. Neither the owner of the cabin nor the occupant of the tree knew of the other's proximity. One morning Spencer happened to pass near by, leaving the print of his enormous foot in the rich soil. Soon afterward the strange hunter discovered the tracks. The alarm of Robinson Crusoe at discovering the footprints of the cannibals on his lonely island was not greater than the hunter's fright at his discovery. He at once concluded that the track, which was very large, had been made by some giant. Leaving every thing behind him but his gun, the man fled through the wilderness, and never stopped until he reached the distant settlements on the Wabash River. Spencer continued his lonely life for more than a year.
The fair region which had so fascinated Spencer was not destined to remain a solitude. From the north and east brave pioneers were making their way amid incomparable hardships, to reclaim this region from the grasp of barbarism. The adventures of one party of emigrants who set out in boats from the fort on Holston River, are well worth mentioning. There must have been of men, women, and children some two hundred in the company. Their departure was made December 22, 1779. Their course lay down the Holston and Tennessee rivers.
One day one of the boats was wrecked against an island and much of the cargo lost. While the other crews were attempting to save the precious property, Reuben Harrison went into the wood to look for game. Night came and the man did not return. At intervals guns were fired, but without result. On the following day the migrants proceeded on their way, leaving the lost man's father and a few others still engaged in frantic search. In two or three days they found the man, almost famished. He had lost his way.
The trials of the emigrants were many. On the 6th of March, one of the party died. That night Mrs. Ephraim Peyton was delivered of a child. On the following day the fleet passed an Indian village. The savages seemed friendly, but on leaving the place the emigrants were alarmed to find a body of Indians keeping up with them along the shore.
Here Mr. Stewart was killed. He had embarked with the company on Holston River, but on account of the fact that his family were afflicted with the small-pox, his boat, with twenty-eight persons, was kept a mile or more to the rear of the others. At night, when the encampment was made by the main party, a horn was sounded as a signal to the infected boat to stop also. The Indians, noticing the isolation of this boat, intercepted it, and killed or captured the entire company. The cries of the unfortunate people were distinctly heard by those in the other boats. Yet, for fear of the savages, and of the more terrible enemy of disease, no rescue was attempted.
Toward evening of the same day, John Cotton's canoe overturned. The company, pitying his distress, landed in order to assist him. As they touched the bank Indians attacked them, and the emigrants were driven off with loss. An hour later the boat of Jonathan Jennings ran on a rock, "where," says the historian of the expedition, "we were compelled to leave Jennings and his family, perhaps to be slaughtered by their merciless enemies."
About four o'clock the next morning cries of "Help poor Jennings," reached the ears of the emigrants. The man had followed them after a terrible adventure. No sooner had the fleet disappeared than the Indians commenced firing at him. Jennings had ordered his people to throw over the cargo and try to get the boat off the rock. Three men of the company, instead of obeying, had jumped overboard and made their way to land. The women in the boat, left alone with Jennings, who was a brave and clear-headed man, kept at the task with desperate exertions. Mrs. Jennings finally gave the boat a terrific shove, almost precipitating herself into the water, but nevertheless getting it off the rock.
The narrator, at this point, gives us a biography from birth to death of Mrs. Peyton's infant. He says: "It is to be remarked that Mrs. Peyton, who was the night before delivered of an infant, which was unfortunately killed in the hurry and confusion incident to such a disaster, assisted Mrs. Jennings considerably." After many other adventures, the party made their way to the Ohio, and thence up the Cumberland River, where they settled at Big Salt Lick. The trials of this party were but specimens of the misfortunes which befell many others, but the selfishness with which they refused to help each other in distress, it is hoped, was not usual.
During one of the intervals of peace with the Cherokees, Colonel James Hubbardt and a companion ventured to one of their towns on a trading expedition. Hubbardt's family had been butchered by Indians in Virginia, and he had become a dangerous foe to every savage. In the Cherokee wars many an Indian's scalp had fallen into his hands. On one occasion he had a conflict with an Indian named Butler. The savage, terribly punished, escaped alive to brood over the injury and meditate revenge. Learning of Hubbardt's presence in the Indian country, Butler and a friend sought him for the purpose of killing him. The met on a narrow trail leading through the forest.
To the fierce and insulting challenge of his Indian enemy, Hubbardt replied with soft words, leaning his rifle against the tree, and drawing forth a bottle of whisky, which he offered to the savages. These things the chieftain received with stony indifference. His eye alone indicated emotion. In it blazed the fiercest fires of scorn and hate. Hubbardt wished to avoid a conflict. The troubled pioneers had had little enough of peace. A fight with Butler meant another war. The white man avoided taking up his gun. He simply placed his hand upon the barrel. The Indian commenced to move his horse from side to side, and quick as lightning raised his gun, and fired. The ball cut the hair from Hubbardt's head, but failed to wound. The Indians at once retreated, but Hubbardt shot his enemy, and killed him, before he had proceeded a hundred feet.
The history of the Tennessee settlements during the decade of 1780 to 1790 is a tangled mass of murders, outrages, surprises, captivities, burnings, and avenging expeditions. It was a time which tried men's souls. Hardly a settlement of West Tennessee escaped the hand of the destroyer. On the 2d of April, 1781, a desperate attack was made on the fort at the bluff on the Cumberland River. The garrison observed three warriors approaching. Suddenly the trio halted, fired at the fort, and took to their heels. Nineteen horsemen at once started in pursuit. The latter had proceeded some distance from the fort, when a lot of savages rose up in the thicket, and fired. The whites dismounted for battle. Their horses, frightened by the guns, ran off. Several of the men were killed outright, while the rest fled for the fort.
Meanwhile a line of Indians rushed forward between the men and the stockade. But for the greed of a few savages not a man would have escaped. As the horses of the whites galloped away, a number of Indians left the line in pursuit of them. Toward the gap thus made the flying white men ran. At this moment a pack of hounds from the fort flew at the Indians, and embarrassed them sufficiently to prevent them from filling up the interval until several of the whites had passed through toward the fort.
In the flight Isaac Lucas fell, wounded by a rifle ball. An Indian ran forward to scalp him, but Lucas, supporting himself on one hand, fired, and killed the savage. His comrades in the fort cheered the exploit, and rushing forth, rescued him.
Edward Swanson in his flight was pursued by a powerful Indian. The latter came closer and closer. Swanson could hear his every breath. Suddenly the white man felt the cold muzzle of a rifle on the back of his neck, and heard the click of the trigger. The gun failed to go off. Swanson seized the gun barrel, and with a jerk emptied the priming from the pan. The Indian at once clubbed his gun, and knocked his antagonist down. At this moment John Buchanan fired, wounding the Indian, and enabling Swanson to escape.
The year 1788 was memorable for the adventure of Colonel James Brown, a Revolutionary soldier, who was emigrating to Western Tennessee, to take possession of the lands awarded him for his military services. He had with him his wife, five sons, and four daughters, together with some slaves. Warned by the settlers, who had had a bitter experience of many years of unintermittent warfare with the Indians, of the danger of a passage through the lonely Cumberland Gap, as well as along the Indian-haunted trail through the mountains, he determined to descend the Tennessee River to the Ohio, thence by way of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers to his destination.
He had a boat built at the settlement on the Holston River. Around its sides were placed bulwarks of heavy oak plank. These were perforated with port-holes. In the stern of the boat was provided the additional defense of a swivel gun. Five young men besides Brown's family joined the party. The start was made on the 4th of May. At an Indian town three or four days' journey down the river, the chief and a few warriors met the voyagers, and appeared friendly enough. Their friendliness, however, was but the mask of treachery
That night swift runners set out for the lower towns, carrying news of the passage of the vessel down the river, and of the exact strength of its crew. Two days afterwards, the voyagers were disturbed to see four canoes coming up the river with ten Indians in each. They carried white flags. Colonel Brown ordered them to remain at a distance. To this no attention was paid. Brown at once put his boat about, and prepared to sink the canoes with a shot from his swivel-gun. At that moment the Indians cried out that it was a time of peace, and claimed protection under a treaty, that they only wished to find out where the white men were going, and to trade with them. Brown was inexperienced in Indian fighting. He knew nothing of the treaty, but supposing that there might be some such thing, and fearful of bringing on an Indian war, directed the young men not to fire.
The Indians came alongside the boat. Presently seven or eight more canoes came up. At this re-enforcement, the savages coolly began to transfer the cargo of the boat to their own canoes. Brown begged them not to take his little property, all that remained to him at the close of the Revolutionary War. Their spokesman replied that their chief was away, but would return that night, and make the Indians give up what they had taken, and further, promised to furnish a pilot to take the boat down some dangerous rapids. The voyagers looked on in utter helplessness while the robbery continued. Suddenly a hideous looking savage caught one of the white boys by the throat, and was about to kill him with a sword. Colonel Brown sprang forward to protect his sin. The Indian let go of the child, but struck at the father, cutting his head nearly off. Another Indian seized the wounded man, and to the inexpressible anguish of the family, threw him overboard.
The Indians took possession of the boat, and headed it toward the shore. They landed at the town of Nickajack. The Indians got out, taking with them the women and children, and ordered the young men to take the boat to a point a little farther down the shore. As they started to obey, the savages from the shore fired at, and killed, every man on board.
The prisoners met different fates. Little Joseph Brown was taken by an old white man and his wife to their home. The old man looked much like an Indian; there was no external difference. The boy had scarcely reached their house when a very large old squaw came in a towering rage. She yelled out that the boy ought to be killed, as otherwise he would live to guide an army to the place. The old Irishman stood in the door, and informed the squaw that the boy should not be killed. At this moment the squaw's son came up, and asked if there was a white man in the house. The old man answered, "Only a bit of a boy."
The white man who had thus voluntarily undertaken the protection of young Brown was a British deserter, who had lived among the Cherokees for some years. Young Brown had been captured by a son of the deserter's wife, a French woman, who had been taken by the Indians when a child.
When Cutleotoy insisted on killing young Brown, the old man answered that the boy was his son's prisoner. Incensed at this, the Indian, who was a man in authority, rushed upon the Irishman with uplifted tomahawk. The latter at once cried out that he might have the boy. The savage jerked the child out of the house into the midst of a group o Indians, who were carrying the scalps of the boy's murdered brothers. They took the clothes off of the little fellow, and he knelt down in the act of prayer, expecting each moment to be struck dead. The old French woman begged the Indians not to kill him there, lest his spirit should haunt the road along which she passed on her way to the spring.
A couple of Indians made off with the boy, when Cutleotoy stopped and said, as the child was the prisoner of poor Job, (the French woman's son), it was wrong to take him. He, himself, had a negro from the boat, and was afraid that Job would come and kill his prisoner.
That night the chief of the town, named The Breath, came home. He was displeased at what been done. He sent for the captive-boy, and told him that his only safety would be for him to be adopted into his family. This was done, and the little gentleman from a northern city was transformed into a young savage, with a scalp-lock and ear-rings. The boy found a friend in a grandson of the French woman.
While young Joseph met with these adventures, his two sisters were carried off by some Creek Indians, who took part in the capture. The Cherokees pursued, recaptured the girls, and brought them back. The children became servants of the Indian families in which they lived. Mrs. Brown was carried off by another band of Creeks, driven on foot more than two hundred miles, and became a slave in one of their villages. After long delay she escaped, and made her way to the residence of McGillevray, the great chief of the Creeks, and told him her misfortunes. The latter at once generously ransomed her from her captor, as also one of the daughters, and the two were restored to their friends. In time, McGillevray performed the same kind office for little Joseph Brown. Of him we will hereafter see how the prophecy of the old squaw, that he would live to guide an army against Nickajack, was fulfilled.
In 1792 and 1793 the Indian outrages came thick and fast. Every settler passing along the road, every planter at work in his cotton-field, every ferryman pushing his boat with heavy oar through the sluggish current of the river, was liable to fall a victim to some shaft of destruction from and unseen hand. If we take the annals of the time for a single fortnight, and itemize the outrages committed by Indians, it would read something like this:
January 22, 1793. John Pates killed and scalped by Indians on Crooked Creel.
January 24th. The Cherokees stole three of William Davidson's horses.
January 27th. A party of Indians assaulted the house of Mr. Nelson, near Knoxville. Two of his sons, James and Thomas, were killed.
February 1st. Fourteen horses stolen from Flat Creek.
February 3d. Two young men named Clements killed.
February 5th. William Massey and Adam Green ambuscaded and killed at the gap of Powell's Mountain.
February 7th. A party of Indians burned the house of Gallaher.
February 9th. Great alarm on the frontier. Two hundred white men, women, and children crowded together in great discomfort at Craig's Stockade.
And so we might go on with the red record, week after week, and month after month.
Andrew Creswell was a settler, living in the neighborhood of McGaughey's station. He had with him his family and two other men. One day William Cunningham, walking along a winding road through the forest, heard a shot, felt a sharp pain in his right arm, and saw behind a neighboring tree the figure of a lurking Indian. Cunningham ran with all haste to Creswell's house. He clutched the door-knob, pushed his way in, and fell breathless on the floor. Every inmate of the cabin knew at once what it meant. Doors and windows were barricaded. They waited, but no foe appeared. An agitated conference was held as to whether they should abandon the cabin and seek refuge at McGaughey's station or not. Mrs. Creswell spoke. She said, "I would rather die than go live in the filth and confinement of the stockade."
"Then," said Creswell, "I will defend this house until it is burned over my head." Every preparation was made for defense. From the barn-door a long lever reaching into the house underneath the ground, was arranged so that it could not be opened except from the inside of the house. With this and other arrangements Creswell calmly awaited the foe. Whether they ever came or not we do not know. Such was the courage of the settlers.
Exasperated by these and similar outrages, the settlers took such retaliatory measures as were possible. Volunteer expeditions went out every season to attack the Indians. Toward the latter part of December 1793, breathless scouts reported that one thousand mounted Indians were marching against Knoxville.
Two or three accidents caused them to abandon their purpose. First, there was a quarrel between some of the leaders as to their rank. Again, there was a bitter schism in the camp growing out of the question of whether all the inhabitants of Knoxville should be massacred or only the men. Besides these things the Indians, passing by a small fort just as the sunrise gun was fired, imagined that their secret advance was discovered. They halted. In sight was a house occupied by Alexander Cavet, his household numbering thirteen women and children, and three men.
Upon this little place the Indians determined to wreak revenge for their disappointment. As a troop of yelling savages ran toward the house its defenders, fired, killing two and wounding three of the assailants. After a moment's hesitation a half-breed, who spoke English, called aloud to the garrison for a surrender, and promising that their lives should be spared. The house was at once surrendered. The unhappy and fearful family marched out of the door. They had scarcely looked around when a band of Indians, led by Double Head, fell upon them, and slaughtered all but one boy, who was carried into captivity. It had been better that he should have died with his brothers and sisters than have survived for his ultimate fate. The whole place was then given over to the flames. The firing was heard at Knoxville, and the whole town was thrown into a panic. In fact, however, no attack was made.
This invasion led to a counter invasion on the part of the whites. An expedition of seven hundred mounted men set out against the Indian towns. Estinaula was found deserted. The huts were destroyed, and a camp pitched in the vicinity.
That night the sentinels heard a peculiar rustling of the high sedge grass. At first they thought it was but the autumnal wind. In a few moments the sound became clearer, and they discovered that it was rythmical. In fact, it was caused by the creeping of hundreds of warriors toward the white men's camp. The assailants fired a volley into the camp, but withdrew, doing little damage. The next night the whites built large camp-fires, and then withdrew to another position. Again the Indians advanced. Again they fired their volley. This time, however, as the smoke cleared way they saw nothing but the flickering of the camp-fires and the darkness of the forest beyond. The army pushed on to Etowah, which occupied a position neat that of the present city of Rome, Georgia.
A heavy battle took place at this point. Great numbers of the Indians were killed. The town was burnt, and the object of the expedition was accomplished. This expedition was commanded by Colonel, afterwards Governor, Sevier, the most noted of all the Indian fighters of Tennessee. He was in thirty-five battles, and yet in all his engagements lost only fifty-six men. Such was his strategy. Etowah was his last battle. The Indian wars were drawing to a close.
On the 22d of April, 1794, the cabin of Dr. Cozby, seven miles above Knoxville, was the scene of an adventure. Cozby was an expert Indian-fighter. He was always prepared for an attack, and knew every sign of an approaching enemy. On the evening in question he noticed a disturbance among his animals. A few moments later, he discovered twenty warriors stealthily surrounding his house. The doors were closed and barred. Cozby took his two guns, and placing himself at a port-hole, issued commands in a loud voice to a lot of imaginary soldiers. The Indians, supposing the house strongly garrisoned, gradually sneaked away.
Two miles further on lived William Casteel and his family. In the morning a neighbor, Anthony Reagan, west to Casteel's cabin to go hunting with him, as had been arranged. He went in. lying near the fire-place, he was horrified to discover his friend Casteel, half-dressed, and with his brains scattered over the floor by a blow from a war-club. Near by lay his wife, with a butcher-knife sticking in her side, one hand cut off, and the other arm broken. At her feet lay a bloody ax, with which she had defended herself to the last. In one bed lay one of the daughters. A huge knife had been thrust through the cover onto her heart. In the corner lay the mangled body of a babe, and another daughter, ten years old, lay on the floor bleeding from six wounds. As the man's horrified gaze swept around the apartment of death, an awful fear entered into and possessed him. He fled. When he reached the nearest house he had become cooler. He had recovered his senses.
A company of neighbors assembled. Armed with guns and knives, and examining with suspicion every clustering thicket, they made their way to the scene of the tragedy. A grave was dug. The corpses, one by one, were carried out by reverent hands and laid away. When they picked up the body of Elizabeth, the daughter wounded in six places, the girl moaned. Seeing signs of life, the neighbors at once carried her to one of their houses. After two years she recovered, and lived without a scalp to an extreme age.
In September, 1794, a large volunteer army assembled at Knoxville for what was designed, and indeed proved to be, the last great Indian expedition within the borders of what in now the State of Tennessee. Colonel Whitley, of Kentucky, who had gallantly brought a company of men from his own State to the assistance of his distressed neighbors, was chosen commander-in-chief. The guide of the expedition was Joseph Brown, who was about to fulfill the prophecy of the old squaw, that he would live to lead an army against Nickajack. So successfully and so secretly did he perform his task, that the entire town of Nickajack fell into the hands of the whites with scarcely the loss of a man. Fifty-five warriors were killed in the place. Some hastily jumped into their canoes and sought to escape. Others swam the river. But nearly all were killed.
A mile above Nickajack stood the larger village of Running Water. Thither fled such of the Indians as succeeded in escaping, where they posted themselves behind rocks on the sides of a mountain, to await the attack. This was made with great skill. The men pushed their way, undiscovered, toward the village, through a field of standing corn. At the river bank were six canoes. Twenty-five warriors were standing by, as if about to embark. A volley from the column in the cornfield laid every boasting brave in the lowly dust.
Another line of men approached the Indian position from another direction. On their way the men passed two cabins, which a detachment was at once detailed to attack. A squaw stood outside of the door to watch. When the whites were discovered, the brave warriors within the cabin gallantly shut and barred the door, leaving the poor squaw outside. She attempted to escape by flight, but after a hard chase was captured. She was carried up to the town, and placed with other prisoners in canoes. As the boat in which she was carried was being taken down the river, the squaw loosened her clothes, sprang head foremost into the river, disengaging herself artfully from the encumbrance, leaving the garments floating upon the water. She swan with the grace and swiftness of a fish. A cry went up of "shoot her, shoot her." But the men who were near, admiring her address and agility, were gallant enough to suffer her escape.
Another detachment, in command of Joseph Brown, was placed at the mouth of a creek, to cut off the escape of any who should be missed by the two main columns. Colonel Whitley mounted a small swivel-gun on his own riding horse, so that he could wheel and fire in any direction. Brown was recognized by the captives, and whenever they caught sight of him they gnashed their teeth and lifted up their voices in howls of rage.
This battle was fought on the 13th of September, 1794. It broke the spirit of the hostile savages, and virtually ended the Indian troubles of Tennessee.
Retyped and reformatted by Ray and Kathy Leigh