The treaty with the Iroquois, or Six Nations, at Fort Stanwix (October 22, 1784), by which these Indian tribes ceded to the United States all their claims to the lands west of Pennsylvania, opened up the question of settling these lands by the sturdy pioneers. But as other Indian tribes claimed the right of domain, a conference was held the next year at Fort McIntosh, near the mouth of Big Beaver River, with the Chippewas, Delawares, Ottawas, and Wyandots, and a treaty concluded for the purchase of their claims. These treaties created a great commotion among certain Western Indians, who claimed that neither the Six Nations nor the tribes here mentioned had a right to cede to the United States the land in question. Accordingly, a large Indian council, composed of chiefs and delegations of the different Western tribes, was held in the month of August, 1785 at Ouatenon, on the Wabash. At this council it was reported that several Indians were killed at the hands of the whites whereupon they demanded the removal even of their old friends, the French inhabitants of Post Vincennes, declaring that the Indians were determined to make war on the American settlers, and that the French remaining would have to share their fate.
In view of these proceedings, in the autumn of 1785, Major Dougty was ordered to the mouth of the Muskingum, where he erected Fort Harmar. Enraged at this inroad made upon their territory, as they claimed, the Indians made sallies into Kentucky, killing the settlers, burning their cabins, and driving away their cattle.
As these incursions were mostly undertaken by the Wabash Indians, notably the Piankashaws, a commission was sent to Post Vincennes, to treat separately with these tribes.. Various circumstances caused the change of time and place of this conference, whereupon a treaty was made by Gen. Geo. Rogers Clark, Richard Butler, and Samuel H. Parsons, the commissioners at Fort Finney, at the mouth of the Great Miami (January 31, 1786)--not, however, with the Piankashaws, and others named in the original resolution, but with the Delawares, Wyandots, and Shawanese--whereby a tract of land was assigned these tribes at the head-waters of the two Miamis and the Wabash, west of the Chippewas.
Meanwhile the States of Connecticut and Virginia, which, by their colonial charters, possessed a claim to all the lands lying north-west of the Ohio River, ceded their title to the general government, excepting a sufficient portion to satisfy the military land-warrants issued to the officers and soldiers of the regular line in the Revolutionary war. These exceptions are known as the Connecticut or Western Reserve, and the Virginia Military District--the former in northern Ohio and the latter between the Scioto and Little Miami rivers.
During the summer of 1786 Congress began to deliberate upon a plan for the government of this Territory of the United States north-west of the river Ohio," was adopted. Shortly thereafter (October 3d) Congress ordered seven hundred troops for the defense of the settlers, and two days later Arthur St. Clair, a general of the Revolution, was appointed governor of the newly organized territory.
As the way now seemed open for settlements, the "Ohio Company," organized by officers of the army and others, in Boston, the year before, held a meeting and adopted a plan for a proposed colony on lands purchased by them on the Muskingum River. Early in the spring of the year 1788, the settlers left New England, and on April 7th the first settlement of whites in Ohio was begun, under the auspices of this company, at the mouth of the said river, where, on that day, the foundation was laid of the city of Marietta. The town was so named in honor of the French queen, Marie Antoinette. The leaders of the enterprise were Rufus Putnam, James H. Varnum, Manasseh Cutler, and Benjamin Tupper, and the purchase made by them comprised 1,500,000 acres. The most remarkable building which the settlers erected was a large fort, to be used as a place of safety in case of attack by the savages. The streets were surveyed, lots laid out, and a public square, named Campus Martius, surrounding the fort, was reserved.
On July 9, 1788, the new governor arrived, and "the colony began to assume form." Along with the governor, Samuel Holden Parsons, John Armstrong, and James H. Varnum were appointed judges, and Winthrop Sargent, secretary. A meeting of these territorial officers was held on the 25th of the same month, when the first law was enacted-- "for regulating and establishing the militia," and the next day the official inauguration of the territorial government was promulgated by the reading of the governor's proclamation, erecting all the country ceded by the Indians east of the Scioto River into the county of Washington, and formally declaring the operations of the laws of the United States, provided for the territory by the ordinance of 1787, in force. On the 2d of September the first court was held, and opened with becoming ceremonies, which are described in the "American Pioneer," as follows:
"The procession was formed at the Point (where most of the settlers resided), in the following order: 1st, the high sheriff with his drawn sword; 2d, the citizens; 3d, the officers of the garrison at Fort Harmar; 4th, the members of the bar; 5th, the supreme judges; 6th, the governor and clergymen; 7th, the newly appointed judges of the Common Pleas, Generals Rufus Putnam and Benjamin Tupper. They marched up a path that had been cut and cleared through the forest to Campus Martius Hall (stockade), where the whole counter-marched, and the judges (Putnam and Tupper) took their seats. The clergyman, Rev. Dr. Cutler, then invoked the divine blessing. The sheriff, Colonel Ebenezer Sproat (one of nature's nobles), proclaimed with his solemn 'Oyez, that a court is opened for the administration of even-handed justice to the poor and the rich, to the guilty and the innocent, without respect to persons; none to be punished without a trial by their peers, and then in pursuance of the laws and evidence in the case.'"
The instructions received by Governor St. Clair were of this import: That, whereas no conclusive treaty had as yet been made with all the Indian tribes in regard to the boundary, he should endeavor to hold a general council with all those tribes inhabiting the country north-west of the Ohio River and about the lakes, at such times and places as he should appoint, for the purpose of ascertaining the causes of uneasiness among them, hearing their complaints, regulating the trade with them, and amicably settling all affairs concerning the lands and boundaries between them and the United States. After corresponding by runners with the Indians, it was agreed, in deference to their wishes, that a conference should be held at the falls of the Muskingum, better known as "Duncan's Falls," in what they termed their own country, beyond the guns of any fort. Early in June 1788, General Harmar received instructions from Pittsburgh, where St. Clair, on his way to Fort Harmar, stayed a few weeks, to send a detachment to "Duncan's Falls," and prepare there a council-house and buildings for storing the goods to be distributed among the Indians.
Unfortunately the detachment was treacherously attacked by some renegade Chippewa and Ottawa Indians, and two soldiers were killed and two others wounded, whereupon Governor St. Clair ordered the provisions back to Fort Harmar, and changed the place for the conference to the fort. He immediately sent messengers with a speech to the various nations and tribes, setting forth his reasons for the change, urging their coming, and guaranteeing them an unmolested attendance and a safe departure, whether a treaty should be concluded or not.
The Indians, who acted for the most part under the council and advice of the celebrated Mohawk war-chief; JOSEPH BRANT (Thayendanegea), held it, however, improper to change the location of the conference once determinated [sic], and prepared themselves for peace or war. They urged that the marauding Indians at "Duncan's Falls," who committed the attack on the sentries at the store-house, were none of the parties to the treaty, but were mere straggling renegades; and furthermore, that they had delivered into the hands of the whites all of the marauders, who were then prisoners at Fort Harmar. They furthermore assured them that the whites should have nothing to fear at the falls, but on the contrary, that they themselves could not feel easy, and consequently were hostile to holding a council to adjust peace measures under the guns of Harmar and Campus Martius.
Young John Brant, son of Thayendanegea, came down the Tuscarawas and Muskingum trail with two hundred warriors, camping at "Duncan's Falls," from where they informed Governor St. Clair by runners that they desired the treaty preliminaries to be fixed there. The governor suspected a plot to get him to the falls and abduct him; yet nothing had transpired that would warrant any suspicion of that import. He sent Brant's runners back with word that he would soon answer by a ranger.
The governor then selected for this important mission an expert and trustworthy person, Hamilton Kerr, a comrade of the celebrated Lewis Wetzel, the Indian hunter of the Ohio valley. He was perfectly reliable, comparatively shrewd, and possessed of a quick eye for observation of all such matters as might be useful information for the governor. Kerr accordingly left Fort Harmar on the road to "Duncan's Falls," to reconnoiter and to deliver St. Clair's letter.
But there was a third party that had overheard the arrangements made between the governor and the hunter. This was St. Clair's eldest daughter, Louisa. She at once resolved to become the messenger of her father's letter to John Brant, with whom she had become acquainted in Philadelphia. Without communicating her intention to any one, she set out from the fort immediately after Kerr, whom she passed on the way, she keeping the trail, while Kerr cautiously crept through the woods. A short distance above Waterford, Kerr perceived fresh tracks, and keeping the river in sight, crept on a bluff. Then rising upon his feet to espy who caused the tracks, he heard the laugh of a woman. Coming down to the trail he saw Louisa St. Clair on a pony, dressed Indian style, with a short rifle over her shoulder.
Stupefied with amazement, the ranger lost his speech, well knowing Louisa, who was the bravest and boldest girl of all at the fort. She had left, as has already been said, without the knowledge of any one; and calling "Ham" (as he was familiarly known) to his senses, told him she was going to "Duncan's Falls " to see Brant. Expostulations on his part only made her laugh the louder, and she twitted him on his comical dress--head turbaned with a red handkerchief, hunting-shirt, but no trousers, the breech-clout taking their place.
Taking her pony by the head, he led it up to the trail, and at night they supped on dried deer meat from Kerr's pouch. The pony was tied, and Louisa sat against a tree and slept, rifle in hand, while Kerr watched her. Next morning they pursued their way, and finally came in sight of the Indian camp. She then took her father's letter from the ranger, and telling him to hide and await her return, dashed off on her pony directly into the Indian camp, where she soon became a prisoner. She asked for Brant, who appeared in war panoply, but was abashed at her gaze. She handed him the letter, remarking that they had met before, he as a student on a visit from college to Philadelphia, and she as the daughter of St. Clair at school.
He bowed, being educated, read the letter, and became excited. Louisa, perceiving this, said she had risked her life to see him, and asked for a guard back to Marietta. Brant told her he guarded the brave, and would accompany her home. In the evening of the third day they arrived with Hamilton Kerr at the fort, where she introduced Brant to her father, relating the incident. After some hours Brant was escorted out of the lines, returned to the falls, and went up the valley with his warriors.
The treaty concluded at Fort Harmar February 9, 1789, was followed with naught but evil for the settlers in the territory, though two additional tribes, the Sacs and the Pottawatamies, had joined in the confirmation of the treaty of Fort McIntosh, the only result realized at this treaty. A period of Indian murders and wars now set in, which lasted with alternately increasing and diminishing waves until the year 1795. Yet even at that time, when destruction threatened all the whites at the hands of the enraged savages, the emigration westward was very great. The commandant at Fort Harmar reported that four thousand and five hundred persons passed that post between February and June in the year 1788.
In the year 1787 Captain Abraham Covalt came to Ohio from Redstone in Pennsylvania, and effected a settlement on the Little Miami, near where Milford now stands. The same year Judge John Cleves Symmes, of New Jersey, crossed the Alleghanies with a small party for the purposes of exploration and purchasing land in the new territory, and, while in the Miami country, fell in with Major Benjamin Stites, of Redstone, who had been pursuing some Indian horse-thieves. The latter, learning the intentions of Symmes and his party, at once set about securing an interest in the new purchase. When the explorers returned east, Symmes obtained from Congress a grant of all the lands lying between the two Miami Rivers, and running north to the treaty line, the entire tract being supposed to contain one million acres. Upon actual survey it was found to contain only about 750,000 acres, and of this Symmes eventually paid for less than 250,000. As soon as he had obtained from Congress the patent to his lands, he published (November 26, 1787) a pamphlet, setting forth in most glowing terms the bean-ties and value of the "Miami Lands," together with the advantages offered to the first settlers.
Encouraged by the reports of the fertility of the soil, the prospects of larger gains, and the advantages to be secured for themselves and their families, a small party, composed mostly of land surveyors and agents, immediately left New Jersey to visit the "Miami Purchase." Among this party was Matthias Denman, who bought from Symmes the eighteenth section and the fractional section seventeen bordering on the Ohio River, of the first fractional range of Symmes's lands, between seven and eight hundred acres, at a price of five shillings per acre, continental currency, then worth but five shillings per pound. Upon this land, for which Denman paid, in real value, only about $125, is now situated the principal portion of the city of Cincinnati, with its thousands of elegant palaces and business blocks, valued at upwards of a hundred million dollars.
When Denman arrived at Limestone (now Maysville, Ky.), he associated himself with Colonel Robert Patterson and a person named Jean Filson, a Frenchman from Kentucky, who acted as a school-master in Lexington, and likewise as a land-surveyor. Filson was a man of some prominence in the western backwoods, having written a "History of Kentucky," which was published in Philadelphia, and of which a French and German edition had likewise appeared, the first in Paris, the latter in Frankfort-on-the-Main. These three men resolved to found a town upon the Denman purchase, of which Filson, who knew the place, prepared a plan, calling it Losantiville. This name which was a curious combination of Greek, Latin, and French was to designate at once the locality of the town: "L," standing for Licking; "os," the month; "anti," opposite; and ville," the village--The village opposite the mouth of the Licking River. In December, a party, among them Patterson, Filson, Judge Symmes, and others, made an expedition to the Miami valley, from which Filson never returned, having been probably murdered by the Indians.
The first actual settlers of the town arrived December 28, 1788, and in the spring thereafter the first log-cabin was erected on the spot whore now the great metropolis of the Ohio valley stands. Already, however, two other settlements had been begun on the lands of Symmes. In November, 1788, Major Stites (Heckewelder says his name, properly spelled, was Steitz, which, pronounced in German, is identical with the English Stites), Colonel Spencer, Major Gano, Judge Goforth, and others, settled themselves a short distance below the mouth of the Little Miami river, calling the place "Columbia," and on January 29, 1789, Judge Symmes left Limestone with another party, settling at the North Bend, where he had designated that the future great city of the Miami country should be located, and which he named in honor of his mother, "Cleves." When the latter party arrived at the Bend, they immediately proceeded to erect from the planks of the flat-boats, with which they had descended the river, a number of temporary huts to shelter them against the cold, rain, and snow. At the earnest solicitations of the judge, General Harmar had in December, 1788, dispatched a company under command of Captain Kearsey, numbering forty-eight rank and file, to protect the improvements just begun or in contemplation of beginning, in the Miami country, and a party was also sent from Limestone to guard the settlement at Columbia, where they soon after arrived. When Captain Kearsey left Fort Harmar, it was his intention to occupy with his men "Fort Finney," at the mouth of the Great Miami, which had shortly before been erected there by Captain Ziegler, and which was located somewhat in close proximity of Symmes's intended settlement at the Bend. This intention was, however, not consummated, on account of the flood in the river, which spread over the lowlands, rendered it difficult to reach the fort, whereupon Captain Kearsey descended with his men to "Fort Steuben," at the falls of the Ohio (now Louisville), leaving the settlers of Cleves entirely unprotected.
Symmes complained to Major Willis, the commander at the falls, of the conduct of Captain Kearsey, and urging the necessity of protection of the settlers, asked that a fort might be built at the Bend. As Captain Kearsey reported that "Fort Finney" was unavailable for the guarding of the settlement there, Major Willis dispatched Ensign Lutz, with a squad of seventeen or eighteen men, to Cleves, which, for the time, removed the apprehensions of the pioneers at that place. It was not long, however, before the Indians made an attack on them, in which one soldier was killed, and one soldier and four or five other persons were wounded.
Although the three settlements in the Miami purchase had but one object in view and shared the common danger, yet there existed a strong spirit of rivalry among them, each feeling a peculiar pride in the prosperity of the particular colony to which he belonged. That spirit produced a strong influence of the feelings on the pioneers of the different villages, and an esprit de corps, scarcely to be expected under circumstances so critical and dangerous as those which threatened them. For some time it was a matter of doubt which of the rivals, Columbia, Cincinnati, or North Bend (Cleves) would eventually become the chief seat of business. In the beginning Columbia, the eldest of the three, took the lead, both in number of its inhabitants, and the convenience and appearance of its dwellings. It was a flourishing village, and many believed it would become the great business town of the Miami country. That delusion, however, lasted but a short time. Next, the North Bend settlement gained a decided advantage over it, especially since the landing of the troops to protect the settlers, which induced many of the first adventurers to plant themselves there, believing that the place would thus afford them greater security than the other localities.
It appears, however, that Ensign Lutz, the commander of the little party posted there for the protection of the settlers, did not feel himself positively bound to erect the fort at any particular place, but that he had, the liberty to select the best spot calculated to afford the most extensive protection to the settlers at large. Viewing his duty in that light, he put up a small temporary work, sufficiently strong to give security to his men, however much Judge Symmes entreated him to erect at once a substantial and spacious block-house sufficient for the protection of the inhabitants of the village. In fact, Ensign Lutz shortly thereafter left the Bend and went to Losantiville with his command, where he immediately began the construction of a strong military work, which was completed during the course of the summer of 1789, when Major Doughty arrived here with troops from Fort Harmar. There is a romantic story connected with this change of base on the part of Ensign Lutz, which is told by Judge Burnet in his "Notes on the Early Settlement of the Northwestern Territory," as follows:
"While the officer in command at North Bend was looking out very leisurely for a suitable site on which to build the block-house, he formed an acquaintance with a beautiful black-eyed female, who called forth his most assiduous and tender attentions. She was the wife of one of the settlers at the Bend. Her husband saw the danger to which he would be exposed if he remained where he was. He therefore resolved at once to remove to Losantiville, and very promptly executed his resolution. As soon as the gallant commandant discovered that the object of his admiration had changed her residence he began to think that the Bend was not an advantageous situation for a military work, and communicated that opinion to Judge Symmes, who strenuously opposed it. His reasoning, however, was not as persuasive as the sparkling eyes of the fair Dulcinea, then at Losantiville. The result was a determination to visit Losantiville and examine its advantages for a military post, which he communicated to the judge, with an assurance that if, on examination, it did not prove to be the most eligible place, he would return and erect the fort at the Bend. The visit was quickly made and resulted in a conviction that the Bend could not be compared with Losantiville as a military position. The troops were accordingly removed to that place, and the building of a block-house commenced. That movement, produced by a cause whimsical and apparently trivial in itself, was attended with results of incalculable importance. It settled the question, whether North Bend or Cincinnati was to be the great commercial town of the Miami country. Thus we see what unexpected results are sometimes produced by circumstances apparently trivial. The incomparable beauty of a Spartan dame produced a ten years' war, which terminated in the destruction of Troy; and the irresistible charms of another female transferred the commercial emporium of Ohio from the place where it had been commenced to the place where it now is. If this captivating American Helen had continued at the Bend, the garrison would have been erected there, population, capital, and business would have centered there, and there would have been the Queen City of the West."
Hardly was the "Fort Washington," as it was called, at Losantiville completed when General Harmar, in December, 1789, removed his head-quarters from Marietta thither, taking possession of the fort with three companies, leaving Major Denny in command of Fort Harmar. On the second day of January thereafter Governor St. Clair arrived at Fort Washington, on his way to Fort Steuben, stopping over for a few days. He was much pleased with the fort and the settlement adjoining it, so he at once resolved to remove the seat of government from Marietta to Cincinnati. He issued on January 5th a proclamation, dividing the entire territory into four counties, as follows: All that portion lying east of the Scioto River and south of the treaty line was called Washington county, that part lying between the Scioto and the Big Miami rivers was called Hamilton county, the territory between the Big Miami and Wabash rivers was called Knox county, and the part west of the Wabash to the Mississippi was called St. Clair county. At the same time he changed the name "Losantiville," into, "Cincinnati,"--which name appears for the first time in St. Clair's proclamation of January 5, 1790.
The continued influx of whites into the territory annoyed the Indians greatly. They resolved, at all hazards, to repress these inroads upon their hunting-grounds. Councils were held in the villages on the Muskingum and the upper Miamis, as well as at Detroit; and the most threatening and highly inflammatory speeches were uttered against the settlers, whom they agreed to drive again across the Ohio River. During the winter 1789-1790 all the settlements began to swarm with Indians round them, lurking about the woods and fields, killing those that dared to venture without the reach of the guns of the forts and block-houses.
The whites were by no means at ease during this state of affairs. Scouts were engaged, bold and daring men, to watch every movement of the savages, and to report their preparations. As early as the year 1789, General Harmar engaged quite a number of them, of which the brothers Robert and William McClellan, John White, and the brothers Miller were the most noted and skillful adventurers. Of Robert McClellan and White the following thrilling incident is related by the venerable General John Sanderson, of Lancaster, as communicated by Rev. J. B. Finley in his autobiography.
In the beginning of the year 1790 the block-house and stockade above the mouth of the Hockhocking River was a frontier post for the hardy pioneers of the North-western Territory. In its vicinity nature was as yet undisturbed in its pristine condition. The ax of the woodsman had not been heard here, nor had the bosom of the earth been ripped open by the furrowing plow of the busy husbandman. A primeval forest stretched itself in every direction for miles and miles, only interrupted here and there by small spots of green and flowing prairies, waving their golden bloom in the silent beauty of nature. One of the most luxuriant of these prairies of the Hockhocking valley was where the town of Lancaster now stands. Its beauty, fertility of the soil, and picturesqueness of scenery attracted even the savages, who built here one of their principal villages. Its location in the south-eastern center of what is now the State of Ohio, well advanced both towards the settlements at Marietta and Cincinnati, made it a suitable place for the concentration of the Indian warriors in an attempt upon either of these colonies. The tribes north and west would meet here to consult, and from here the war-paths led forth in different directions.
It was but natural, during the exciting period of 1789-90, when the aggressions upon their soil were advancing onward slowly, but firmly, from the mouths of the Muskingum and the Miamis, threatening the eventual complete inundation of all the territory south of the Lake Erie, that this place, lying almost equi-distant from both threatening localities, should be selected as the place of rendezvous of the Indians, whose war-spirit was up and whose tomahawks had been unburied for active hostility. Information was soon received at the garrison of Fort Harmar that the Indians were gathering for the purpose of striking a blow at some one of the frontier settlements, and to meet this crisis, the commandant dispatched two of the most trustworthy and best skilled spies to watch their movements, and report the same. These two men were Robert McClellan and John White, "two spirits that never quailed at danger, and as unconquerable as the Libyan lion." In the early autumn of 1790 they left their comrades at Marietta and moved on through the thick plum and hazel bushes with the noiseless tread of the panther, armed with their unerring and trusty rifles. Having arrived in the vicinity of the Indian village, they climbed the prominence now known as Mount Pleasant, whose western termination is a perpendicular cliff of rocks, several hundred feet in height, and from which a beautiful view is had of the entire plain. Here our spies took up a position from which they could observe all the movements of the Indians in the valley below. Every day added new accessions of warriors to the company. They witnessed their exercises of horse-racing, running foot-races, ball-playing, jumping, throwing the tomahawk, and dancing--the old sachems looking on with their Indian indifference, the squaws engaged in their usual drudgery, and the children in their playful gambols. The arrival of each new war party was greeted with terrible shouts, which, striking the mural face of Mount Pleasant, re-echoed from the various indentations of the surrounding hills in a thousand reverberations, as if a million fiends were gathered at a universal revelry. Terrific as these yells would sound in the ear of those unaccustomed to Indian war-festivities, they were but martial music to our spies; strains, which awakened their watchfulness, and newly strung their courage and bravery. From their early youth they had been accustomed to it, having been bred in the frontiers. They were well practiced in all the subtilty, craft, and cunning of the Indian warfare, as well as the ferocity and blood-thirsty nature of the savage warriors, and consequently not at all excited at the scenes seen in and heard from the valley at their feet.
The place of observation selected by them was well chosen nor did they neglect to efface carefully and completely all traces of their presence. On several occasions small parties of Indians would ascend Mount Pleasant from the eastern side for the purpose of scouting the country in the vicinity of their camping-ground, in order to satisfy themselves that they were not watched or surprised by their enemy. Then the spies would seclude themselves in the deep fissures of the rocks on the west, again leaving their hiding-places when their uninvited and unwelcome visitors had disappeared. Besides this, their place was well-secured, having but one narrow entrance over a ridge, which could be passed by only one person at a time, and which was in complete command of their rifles. They were, therefore, not likely to be ensnared by the cunning of their foes, nor to fall victims to their scalping-knives and tomahawks, without a desperate, and on their part, advantageous struggle.
For food they depended on jerked venison and corn bread, with which their knapsacks were well filled. They dared not kindle a fire, and the report of a shot from one of their rifles would at once have divulged their presence, and brought upon them the entire force of the Indians. For drink they depended upon some rain-water which still stood in the hollows of some of the rocks; but, after a short period, this store was exhausted, and they were thrown upon the alternative of either finding a new supply or abandoning their position. There was, however, the river flowing at the foot of the rock, and from it they resolved to procure their drink. But it was a dangerous undertaking, for the river was open to the view of the village, and the party being discovered would unquestionably bring upon him the savages, with the unerring shots from their rifles or the fatal arrow. To accomplish this most hazardous enterprise, McClellan, being the oldest, resolved to make the attempt; and, with his trustworthy rifle in his hand, and their two canteens strung across his shoulders, he cautiously descended by a circuitous route to the prairie, skirting the hills on the north, and, under cover of the hazel thickets, he reached the river, and, turning a bold point of the hill, he found a beautiful and fresh spring within a few feet of the river bank. He filled his canteens, and returned in safety to his companion. It was now determined to have a fresh supply of water every day, and this duty was performed alternately. But "the jug," says the proverb, "goes to the well until it breaks;" and the procuring of their water-supply was destined one day to end their observations. This episode is described by General Sanderson, as follows:
"On one of these occasions, after White had filled his canteens, he sat a few minutes watching the limpid element as it came gurgling out of the bosom of the earth, when the light sound of footsteps caught his practiced ear, and upon turning around he saw two squaws within a few feet of him. Upon turning the jut of the hill, the eldest squaw gave one of those far-reaching whoops peculiar to Indians. White at once comprehended his perilous situation. If the alarm should reach the camps or town, he and his companion must inevitably perish. Self-preservation compelled him to inflict a noiseless death on the squaws, and in such a manner as, if possible, to leave no trace behind. Ever rapid in thought and prompt in action, he sprang upon his victims with the rapidity and power of the lion, and, grasping the throat of each, sprang into the river. He thrust the head of the eldest under the water. While making strong efforts to submerge the younger, who, however, powerfully resisted him, and during the short struggle with this young athlete, to his astonishment, she addressed him in his own language, though in almost inarticulate sounds. Releasing his hold, she informed him that she had been a prisoner for ten years, and was taken from below Wheeling, and that the Indians had killed all the family, and that her brother and herself were taken prisoners, but he succeeded on the second night in making his escape. During this narrative White had drowned the elder squaw, and had let her float off with the current, where it would not, probably, be found out soon. He now directed the girl to follow him, and, with his usual speed and energy, pushed for the mount. They had scarcely gone half-way when they heard the alarm-cry some quarter of a mile down the stream. It was supposed some party of Indians, returning from hunting, had struck the river just as the body of the squaw floated past. White and the girl succeeded in reaching the mount, where McClellan had been no indifferent spectator to the sudden commotion among the Indians. The prairie party warriors were seen immediately to strike off in every direction, and White and the girl had scarcely arrived before a party of some twenty warriors reached the eastern acclivity the mount and were cautiously and carefully keeping under cover. Soon the spies saw their swarthy foes as they glided from tree to tree and rock to rock, till their position was surrounded, except on the western perpendicular side, and all hope of escape was cut off. In this perilous condition, nothing was left but to sell their lives as dearly as possible, and this they resolved to do, and advised the girl to escape to the Indians, and tell them she had been taken prisoner. She said. 'No! death to me, in the presence of my own people, is a thousand times sweeter than captivity and slavery. Furnish me with a gun, and I will show you I can fight as well as die. This place I leave not. Here my bones shall lie bleaching with yours, and should either of you escape, you will carry the tidings of my death to my few relations.' Remonstrance proved fruitless. The two spies matured their plan of defense, and vigorously commenced the attack from the front, where, from the narrow backbone of the mount, the savages had to advance in single file and without any covert. Beyond this neck the warriors availed themselves of the rocks and trees in advancing, but in passing from one to the other they must be exposed for a short time, and a moment's exposure of their swarthy forms was enough for the unerring rifles of the spies. The Indians being entirely ignorant of how many were in ambuscade, made them the more cautious how they advanced.
"After bravely maintaining the fight in front and keeping the enemy in check, they discovered a new danger threatening them. The arch foe now made evident preparations to attack them on the flank, which could be most successfully done by reaching an isolated rock lying in one of the ravines on the southern hillside. This rock once gained by the Indians, they could bring the spies under point-blank shot of the rifle without the possibility of escape. Our brave spies saw the hopelessness of their situation, which nothing could avert but a brave companion and an unerring shot. These they had not; but the brave never despair. With this impending fate resting upon them they continued calm and calculating, and as unwearied as the strongest desire of life and the resistance of a numerous foe could produce. Soon McClellan saw a tall and swarthy figure preparing to spring from a covert so near to the fatal rock that a bound or two would reach it and all hope of life then was gone. He felt that all depended on one single advantageous shot; and, although but an inch or two of the warrior's body was exposed, and that at a distance of eighty or a hundred yards, he resolved to risk all, coolly raised his rifle to his face, and shading the sight with his hand, he drew a bead so sure that he felt conscious it would do the deed. He touched the trigger with his finger; the hammer came down, but, in place of striking fire, it broke his flint into many pieces; and, although he felt that the Indian must reach the rock before he could adjust another flint, he proceeded to the task with the utmost composure. Casting his eye to the fearful point suddenly he saw the warrior stretching every muscle for the leap; and with the agility of the panther he made the spring, but instead of reaching the rock, he gave a most hideous yell, and his dark body fell and rolled down the steep into the valley below. He had evidently received a death shot from some unknown hand. A hundred voices re-echoed from below the terrible shout. It was evident that they had lost a favorite warrior as well as being disappointed, for a time, of the most important movement. A very few minutes proved that the advantage gained would be of short duration; for already the spies caught a glimpse of a tall, swarthy warrior, cautiously advancing to the covert so recently occupied by his fellow-companion. Now, too, the attack in front was renewed with increased fury, so as to require the incessant fire of both spies to prevent the Indians from gaining the eminence; and in a short time McClellan saw a warrior making preparations to leap on the fatal rock. The leap was made, and the Indian turning a somersault, his corpse rolled down the hill toward his former companion. Again an unknown agent had interposed in their behalf. This second sacrifice cast dismay into the ranks of the assailants, and just as the sun was disappearing behind the western hills the foe withdrew for a short distance to devise some new mode of attack. This respite came most seasonably to our spies, who had kept their ground and bravely maintained the unequal fight from nearly the middle of the day.
"Now, for the first time, was the girl missing; and the spies thought that through terror she had escaped to her former captors, or that she had been killed during the fight; but they were not long left to conjecture. The girl was seen emerging from behind a rock and coming to them with a rifle in her hand. During the heat of the fight she saw a warrior fall, who had advanced some distance before the rest, and, while some of them changed their position, she resolved at once, live or die, to possess herself of his gun and ammunition; and crouching down beneath the underbrush, she crawled to the place and succeeded in her enterprise. Her keen and watchful eye had early noticed the fatal rock, and hers was the mysterious hand by which the two warriors fell; the last being the most intrepid and blood-thirsty of the Shawnee tribe, and the leader of the company which killed her mother and sister, and took her and her brother prisoners.
"Now in the west arose dark clouds, which soon overspread the whole heavens, and the elements were rent with the peals of thunder. Darkness, deep and gloomy, shrouded the whole heavens; this darkness greatly embarrassed the spies in their contemplated night escape, supposing that they might readily lose their way, and accidentally fall on their enemy; but a short consultation decided the plan. It was agreed that the girl should go foremost, from her intimate knowledge of the localities, and another advantage might be gained in case they should fall in with any of the parties or outposts--from her knowledge of their language she might deceive the sentinels, as the sequel proved; for scarcely had they descended a hundred yards, when a low whist from the girl warned them of their danger. The spies sunk silently to the ground, where, by previous engagement, they were to remain till the signal was given by the girl to move on. Her absence for the space of a quarter of an hour began to excite the most serious apprehensions. Again she appeared, and told them she had succeeded in removing two sentinels to a short distance, who were directly in their route.
Created November 25, 2001
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