The British Lion and the Lilies of France! Such were the emblems of the terrible antagonists on either side of the English Channel who were to contend for the incomparable prize of the North American continent. Through centuries of hate their armies had fought on the blood-soaked soil of Europe. When the hardy English colonies took root along the narrow fringe of coast between the Alleghanies and the sea, France, planting herself on the discoveries of La Salle, silently stretched out the rod of empire over the vast American interior. The old feud had fastened its fangs upon the New World.
The difference between the two nations was strikingly manifest in America. The English colonies were, from the first, neglected by their government and thrown on their own resources. The French were supported by royal bounty, and nourished with grants of power. The English founded free institutions; every man owned his own cabin and plat of ground; their government was of the people and by the people. The French transplanted coarsest feudalism; a few nobles owned the soil, while the remainder of the population were mere tenants. The principal occupation of the Englishmen was agriculture, keeping him closely at home, while the Frenchman relied mainly on the fur trade, and with his articles of traffic traversed the rivers and forests of the entire continent. The English ministers preached the gospel only to he savages within call of their colonies; but the burning zeal of the Catholic Jesuit carried him to the remote forests. The English were acquainted only with the Indians of their immediate neighborhood, while the Frenchmen insinuated themselves into the wigwams of every tribe from the lakes to the gulf. On summer evenings they danced with the squaws who visited their posts at Vincennes and elsewhere, and made the places ring with their merriment. The English aimed only at making for themselves and their children comfortable homes of liberty and peace, and held themselves sternly aloof from the natives. The French ambition was military empire. To achieve this they spared no effort and neglected no art to win the love and alliance of the red men.
The great question of the boundaries of the respective dominions was enough to have brought on war of itself, without the help of immemorial hostility and the essential antagonism of opposite institutions and religions. In the numerous wars between France and England these questions had, up to 1753, never been settled. France claimed the right to all the territory west of the Alleghanies. The English colonies, on the other hand, claimed that their territories reached between the same parallels of latitude which they occupied on the Atlantic coast, westward to the Mississippi River. In the actual military occupation of the territory, the French were far ahead of their slower and less ambitious rivals. They had dotted the wilderness with log forts before the English turned their heavy eyes to the fair domain beyond the mountains.
When in 1754 came the shock of battle, the Indians, with few exceptions, were the allies of France. A large number of Scotch, Germans, and English had from time to time pushed the line of settlements into the fertile valleys of the Alleghanies, and even beyond the mountains.
A young Virginian, George Washington, making an exploring tour, found forts frowning with cannon, and was informed that France proposed to seize every settler west of the mountains. On hearing this, Virginia placed this explorer at the head of a hundred and fifty undisciplined men who were to protect the settlers, and in particular, kill every Frenchman who interfered with the new fort which and English company was building at the forks of the Ohio. Before Washington reached there, a force of French and Indians had captured the unfinished fort, completed it for themselves, and named it Fort du Quesne. A force was dispatched against the approaching band of Englishmen, who were intrenched at Fort Necessity. When the enemy was discovered Washington gave the command "Fire!" That word kindled the world into flame. "Thus began that memorable war," writes an eloquent historian, "which, kindling among the wild forests of America, scattered its fires over the Kingdom of Europe, and the sultry empire of the Great Mogul; the war made glorious by the heroic death of Wolfe, the victories of Frederic, and the marvelous exploits of Clive; the war which controlled the destinies of America, and was the first in the chain of events which led her on to revolution, with all its vast and undeveloped consequences. On the old battle-ground of Europe, the struggle bore the same features of violence and horror which had marked the strife of former generations, But in America war assumed a new and striking aspect. A wilderness was its sublime arena. Army met army under the shadows of primeval woods, their cannon resounded over wastes unknown to civilized man, And before the hostile powers could join in battle, endless forests must be traversed and morasses passed, and everywhere the axe of the pioneer must hew a path for the bayonet of the soldier."
Washington and his little band were driven out of the country in short order. When heavy sail vessels carried the news to London and Paris, each government dispatched troops to their respective colonies. In the spring of 1775 General Braddock set out with an army of several thousand men for the conquest of Fort du Quesne. The army was composed of a force of British regulars and gay trappings and of levies of raw troops from the old colonies.
It was a great event for the settlers. From far and near they flocked to see the redcoats. Every colonist along the rout who possessed a wagon was pressed into the service hauling provisions for the mighty host which, with glittering banners, wound slowly through the forests. Settlers who had no wagons served as axemen to blase a road for the army. Every neighborhood sent its company. Hundreds of men, in advance of the army, toiled day and night, felling trees, burning thickets, leveling molehills, and bridging streams, preparing a way for soldiery, the long line of wagons, and the ponderous cannon.
It was a Herculean task. The veteran troops were soon worn out in this new mode of warfare. Many a redcoat fell dead in the ranks, pierced by a ball from an unseen weapon. The raw yeomanry in advance of the army suffered heavily. In a company of three hundred, raised in one neighborhood, there were only thirty old-fashioned guns. Many a man, busily swinging his ax, and left behind somewhat by his companions, was snatched away into the forest by swarthy foes. Among these was James Smith, of whose adventures more hereafter. The slow advance of the heavy column made it necessary for twelve hundred picked troops, with light equipment, to press on, leaving the rest to follow on more slowly.
At Fort du Quesne were a small number of Frenchmen and a multitude if Indians gathered from afar and near. On the 9th of July Indian scouts reported the near approach of the British. Instantly the fort became a pandemonium. The Indian allies stamping, yelling, smearing their bodies with grease and gaudy paint, were harangued by their chiefs, and wrought into a delirium of courage and fury. Great barrels of powder, bullets, and flints were hurriedly rolled into the parade-ground and knocked open, while the frantic throng helped themselves to whatever they wanted. Shortly, at the word of ""March," there formed in single file and issued from the fort, two hundred white men and eight hundred Indians.
Seven miles from the fort, the narrow road along which the British were approaching, wound through a dark and dangerous defile into which opened two ravines. Here their foes hid in deadly ambush. When the splendid column of British regulars, with scarlet coats and gleaming gun-barrels, entered the defile to the sound of drums and the blare of trumpets, followed by the less regular ranks of ununiformed colonists, not a soul suspected that, behind every tree and fallen log, in the thick underbrush and in the shadow of mossy rocks, lurked deadly and terrible enemies.
Suddenly a volley of shots, followed by a wild, discordant clamor, was heard at the front. Quickly a hundred commands of "Halt," were shouted at the line. The troops, far ahead in the ravine, were seen to fire. In moment, the Indians on either side of the column throughout its entire length, poured in a deadly fire at point-blank range. Not an enemy could be seen, though the forest resounded with their yells, and every bush and tree blazed with the flash of their weapons. The troops, insane with panic, fired wildly on the air. The narrow defile was choked with their slain. Vainly the heroic officers sought to rally their men. Again and again they endeavored to get them to form in small detachments and drive the enemy from the woods. But the brave young officers would advance but a few steps at their head to find themselves forsaken by their men.
Almost two hours the conflict raged. Steadily the Indians kept up their fire till seven hundred out of the army of twelve hundred men were slain. Then the remainder turned and fled, leaving their dead and all their splendid equipment of cannon, small arms, wagons, tents, and clothing piled in bloody ruin in the defile. Here General Braddock was mortally wounded, and here his aid-de-camp, George Washington, calm amid the storm of death and disaster, won that reputation, which afterward caused him to be appointed commander-in-chief of the armies of the Revolution.
When the British fled, the Indians sprang wildly from their ambush to feast upon the banquet of blood. Like fiends, like monsters, like wild beasts, like incarnations of all the raging and hellish passions of the human heart, they leaped upon the slain. They scalped the corpses, crushed in their skulls with tomahawks, jumped on the breasts and stamped in the ribs, tore out the vitals, and wrenched limb from limb and member from member. Their uproar was different from the yells of battle. The forest resounded, but it was to a guttural roar, several notes below the war-whoop. It was the savage fury and satisfaction of wild beasts as the tear and mangle their bleeding prey.
At last the shades of night drew their curtain around the fearful scene. At last the gorge of blood was ended, At last the horrid appetites were appeased. Smeared from head to foot with the gore of their enemies, decked out in the gay uniforms of the soldiery, carrying the guns which had so lately been aimed at them, and dangling the reeking scalps of their foes from their belts, the Indian warriors, with eye-balls still blood-shot with the frenzy of battle and voices still raised in boasts and frantic screams, picked their reluctant way, one by one, over the mountains to their expectant squaws. Just seven Indians and four Frenchmen had been slain. That night unwonted fires blazed on the banks of the Alleghany River opposite Fort du Quesne. The groans of the shrieking victims, who had fallen alive into the hands of the Indians, pierced the night and, rising above the moan of the wind and the roar of the rushing river, penetrated even to the fort, as the torturing flames leaped up and walled them in.
The traveler through Pennsylvania looks out upon the prettiest scenery in the world. Seated in the palace-car of a lightning-express train, his fascinated eye never wearies of the swift and brilliant panorama which paints itself in changing splendors on the plate-glass window. At one moment he looks with awe on yawning precipices and rugged mountain steeps, in some cleft of which stands a little house, with difficulty kept from tumbling down the abyss. Now he beholds some lovely valley, decked out with all the beauties of the changing seasons,
In this warm and fertile spot, hemmed in by the lofty mountains, are smiling farms and happy farms. Sleek cattle graze peacefully in pastures green, and far below him, looking like a toy stands the husbandman, with plow and team afield, pausing in his toil to watch the smoking dragon of the distant train in the splendid flight. Far as the traveler's eye can reach white villages dot the sequestered vale, each with its quiet church and noisy school, through which the throngs of merry children troop all day. Anon he glides along the shore of the lovely Susquehanna, whose placid surface mirrors sky and landscape with such perplexing accuracy that the line of the opposite shore, where the water ends and the land begins, is indistinguishable.
At the time of Braddock's defeat the country was by no means so different from the above as one might think. To be sure, the railroads and bridges, the busy factory towns, and the perfectly cultivated farms are the magical handiwork of a later day. But at that time the mountains were as picturesque, the skies as blue, the valleys as fertile, the streams as crystalline, the climate as delightful as they are to-day. For all these natural endowments the colonists had an eager eye.
For fifty years the settlers had been, to some extent, passing by the more crowded and sterile shores of the ocean for this splendid country. In 1755 the population was sparse and unequally distributed, but already the fertile parts of eastern and, to some extent, central Pennsylvania were occupied by thousands of settlers. The houses were but cabins, often five miles apart. A town consisted of little more than a grist-mill, a blacksmith shop, and a meeting-house, all of logs. But for the sake of the advantages of the region, the hardy race of pioneers had left more cautious brethren behind and braved the dangers of the treacherous Indian and the ravenous beast.
The same state of affairs existed in Virginia and Maryland. The country was full of Indians, who still roamed through it in quest of game, but these were gradually withdrawing toward to the west, and those who remained gave little trouble to the pioneers. No danger had been experienced or apprehended for many years, and the settlers made and cultivated their farms without means of defense, or fears of interruption.
The arts of the French, however, had, as we have said, gradually won the Indians to their support. All through this magnificent region, as well as the ferocious tribes of the great west, was the stolid countenances and indifferent manners of the red men concealed a bitter jealousy and hatred of the English, who were driving the game from their forests and crowding the red men off their ancestral domain.
The defeat of Braddock opened the flood-gates of fury. The last obstacle was removed. The red tide of blood rolled in crimson torrents, unchecked, over the fair domain of which we write. The true history of time has never been written.
The general historian passed it over with a few lines, stating that for three years the whole region was desolated by Indian warfare. Nothing more. The panics, the massacres, the burnings, the tortures, the prayers for mercy, the uplifted tomahawks, the crushing skulls, -- all these are omitted.
The farmer plowing in his fields, the wife singing over her household tasks, the red-cheeked, laughing children romping through the orchard, -- these were the victims of a war whose ferocity and desolation are hardly equaled in history. War is the most terrible of all experiences. But there are varieties of war. The conflict of armies is grand. The carnage of the battle is awful. But the war which for its object, not the destruction of the of a military force, but the desolation of a fireside, the outrage of womanhood, the embitterment of childhood, is worse. It is harming the harmless. It is wreaking vengeance upon innocence. It is the infinitude of wickedness.
Measure, if you can, the frantic, maddening grief of one husband, returning at sunset from his toil in the forest, to find the little cabin home a heap of embers, and his precious wife a mutilated corpse. Conceive, if you can, the heart-breaking anguish of one mother, as she sees the yelling fiends sink the tomahawk into the skull of her sleeping infant, or worse yet, sees her children, the pride and joy of all her life, torn from her arms, and carried captive to the distant wigwams of the west. Imagine, if it be possible, the tearful sorrow, the blighting loneliness of one childish heart, as the little fellow, running in glee to call his father to the evening meal, finds the fond form stretched beside the half-chopped log, stilled forever into the unresponsive hush of death. Take such as these. Sound with line and plummet the black waves of agony which beat in restless surge within a single human heart. Then multiply this by all the thousands who suffered thus, at the time of which we write. The awful sum of sorrow will reach the stars!
So complete was the work of these savages, as for three years they roamed at will through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, that few were left alive to tell the story. The greater part of all the suffering and desolation never became known to history. The sufferers died, carrying the secret of their fate with them into oblivion. Yet in spite of this, the busy voice of tradition whispers a thousand tales of horror.
If we descended from the stately narrative of the general historian to the local traditions and histories of countries and neighborhoods, we would find one rich with traditions of the past. Each smiling valley has its stories of horror; each mountain its thrilling legends. Not a rippling stream is there whose waters have not been reddened with the tide of a massacre; not a lonely dell from the moaning wind has not carried the shrieks and pleadings of suffering ones.
Within two months from Braddock's defeat, the work of slaughter began. The frontiers were open and defenseless. The Indians in great force appeared suddenly in Cumberland county. From this point their detachments swept the entire country with fire and sword. The inhabitants fell by hundreds, easy victims to savage atrocities. The people, living in the greatest dread, besought the government at Philadelphia to protect them. On October 29th,1755, John Harris, the founder of Harrisburg, a trader of great energy and ability, wrote as follows to the governor:
"We expect the enemy upon us every day, and the inhabitants are abandoning their plantations, being greatly discouraged at the approach of such a number of cruel savages, and no sign of assistance. The Indians are cutting us off every day, and I had a certain count of about fifteen hundred Indians, besides French, being on their march against us and Virginia, and now close on our borders, their scouts scalping our families on our frontiers daily……. Consider our terrible situation and rouse your people downwards, and not let about fifteen hundred villains distress such a number of inhabitants as is in Pennsylvania. They now have many thousands of bushels of our corn and wheat in possession already."
In response to this and a hundred similar appeals, the Legislature was convened, but the Quakers who opposes it declared themselves opposes to war, and refused to do any thing. Meanwhile the work of fire and slaughter went on. In Berks County hundreds of houses were lain in ashes, hundreds of persons scalped and slain, and many, without distinction of age or sex, taken captive and subjected to frightful tortures, Says one letter of the time, "The county is in a most dismal condition. It can't hold out long. Help for God's sake. Consternation, poverty, and confusion everywhere."
An assault was made on a settlement of twenty-five persons at the end of the mouth of Penn's creek, on the Susquehanna, from which not one escaped. The only history of the bloody deed is that given by neighbors who came to bury the dead. "We found but thirteen, who were men and elderly women. The children, we suppose to be carried away prisoners. The house where we suppose they finished the murder we found burnt up; the man of it, Jacob King, lying just by it. He lay on his back barbarously burnt, and two tomahawks stuck in his forehead… Terror has driven almost all the inhabitants, except for a few of us who are willing to stay and defend the land. But as we are not all able to defend it for the want of guns and ammunition, and are few in numbers, without assistance, we must flee and leave the country to the mercy of the enemy."
By the dark waters of the Lehigh, in what is now Carbon county, the Moravian Brethren had founded a settlement of Christian Indians, called Gnadenhutten. A half mile off they had laid out a farm, built a mill, a blacksmith's shop, a meeting-house, and a dwelling. This later settlement was called Mahoning. On an evening in November the white brethren were at supper. The dark night and the roaring of the wintry blast through the valley, stripping the trees of their last brown leaves, made the little band of devoted people all the more thankful for the warm fire and smoking meal.
Suddenly the dogs set up a loud barking. Some one went out to see what was the matter. A shot was heard. Every one rushed to open the door. As the light streamed out the yard was seen to be alive with savages, who instantly fired, killing two persons. The remainder fled to the garret, heavily barricading the door. After vain efforts to burst open the door, the Indians fired the house. Three persons escaped by jumping from the flaming building. The rest, seven men, three women, and one child were shot in the attempt or burned alive. The settlement was plundered and destroyed, while the neighbors at Gnadenhutton fled to Bethlehem, thirty miles away.
This dreadful work was but the first act in the drama of destruction in this neighborhood. Seven settlements were in turn destroyed. The whole population of the country fled, and a region of settled farms, a hundred miles wide, was left without a single white inhabitant. The interior towns were choked and crowded with these wretched refugees, who poured into them, destitute of food, clothing or means, and overwhelmed with the great sorrow which had visited them.
A letter, written to Benjamin Franklin, from Easton, Pennsylvania, which much have been a hundred or more miles from the border settlements, says: "The settlers on this side of the mountain are actually removed and we are now the frontier. Our poor people of this town have quite expended their little substance and are wearing out with watching. Seeing themselves neglected they are moving away as fast as they can. Pray do something for our speedy relief or the whole country will be entirely ruined. All this part of the country is now entirely lost, and the enemy are penetrating further and further, and if immediate measures are not taken, they will soon be in sight of Philadelphia. They whole country is flying before them."
The slaughter was by no means confined to this section of the state. The same state of affairs existed everywhere, even to Greene county in the extreme south-west. Still the Quaker Legislature refused to help. Popular indignation knew no bounds. The bodies of the dead and mangled were sent to Philadelphia, hauled around the streets in public view, and placarded "THESE ARE THE VICTIMS OF THE QUAKER POLICY OF NON-RESISTANCE!" A vast mob assembled, piled the corpses in the doorway, and demanded that instant action be taken.
At last, with great reluctance, the Assembly ordered the erection of a chain of stockade forts at the mountain passes from Easton to Bedford, a line of two hundred and fifty miles, at a cost of half a million dollars. These forts varied in size, but were much alike in structure. The stockade included from a half to two acres, and consisted of log set close together in the ground and extending twelve feet above. Another row inside made it a double stockade. At the corners were projections, and within the enclosure was merely a block-house. This was a solid log building, generally octagonal in form, of which the upper story projected about three feet beyond the lower to enable the defenders to fire on the enemy beneath, and prevent fires from being built against the walls, which were appropriately pierced with port-holes.
Although this line of forts had been begun, the year 1756 only brought new horrors. The first region to suffer was what is now Franklin county. The savages remained there a month. Two brothers, named Craig, were captured on their way to McDowell's mill. Sixty men started in pursuit. A sharp fight resulted in the favor of the savages. An attempt made by the latter to surprise the fort resulted in another desperate encounter in a thicket near its walls.
The attempt to surprise the fort at McDowell's they wear foiled. But Indians are tireless. Defeated at one point, they will strike at another. When a man named Barr was fired at and escaped, they went and burned his and all the neighbors' houses. When defeated at McDowell's they went to McCord's fort. Here they were in luck. They burned the fort in process of construction. They killed twenty-seven of its defenders. William Mitchell had collected a dozen reapers to cut his grain. Being cautious, they took their guns into the harvest field. But a man can not carry a gun and wield a scythe at the same time. Nor can a reaper stand all the time in one place. So the men laid down their weapons. The Indians waited. In two hours the reapers had mowed so much that they were two hundred yards from their guns. It is unnecessary to tell what followed. The Indians carried away twelve more guns than they brought. They also left twelve corpses in the field. The Great Reaper had gathered the little reapers.
These massacres were not all. The Conococheague is a creek. On its banks was a settlement. It was composed of brave men, hard-working women, and laughing children. One day there was a war whoop in the forest. There were some shots, some shrieks, some gasps. Suddenly the Conococheague, which is naturally as clear as crystal, became ruddy. This unusual color proceeded from the wounds in thirty-nine bodies which were thrown into its current. Thirty-nine had been the exact number of living souls in the settlement.
Without salt, life is unbearable. John Grey and Robert Innis went to Carlisle to purchase it. The providences of God are inscrutable. On the return, while descending the mountain, a bear ran across the path frightening Grey's horse, which threw him and ran away. Innis was anxious to get home. He left his companion behind. It took the latter all day to catch his horse and readjust his pack. This made him lose his temper. It also saved his life. When he reached the fort, where he lived, its logs were well burned. Every occupant of it, including Innis, had been killed or taken prisoner. Failing to fine the remains of his wife and daughter, Grey rightly concluded they had been taken prisoner. They had been carried to Canada.
Poor Grey, after every effort to hear of their whereabouts, died of a broken heart. His will divided his little farm equally between wife and daughter. If the daughter did not return, her share was to go to a sister. The widow returned in a year, and proved the will, and received her half. Her daughter was still captive. In 1764, all Indian captives, by terms of the peace, were brought to Philadelphia. Mrs. Grey failed to find her daughter, but, in order to get the daughter's share of the property, claimed another child as her own. The stratagem succeeded for a time. But as years rolled on, the spurious heir developed course features, loose morals, and vile manners. The heirs of the sister brought suit, and, in 1836, it was decided the supposed heir was not Grey's child.
At the time of Mrs. Grey's capture, other bands of Indians were doing similar things in other places. In what is Lehigh county, there were a few settlers who still dared to remain. It was a folly. As the family of Frederick Reichelsderfer sat down to breakfast, they were fired upon from a window and every one killed. At the house of Jacob Gerhart all were killed outright, except two children. These little fellows had crawled under a bed. This, however, reserved them for a worse fate. They were burned alive.
These instances are selected at random from a hundred others. But how about other places? Mifflin county is one hundred miles west of Lehigh. Fort Granville had a strong garrison. The settlers, crowded into the stockade for safety, asked to have a part of the troops act as guards while they reaped their harvest. Unless grain could be had, starvation would ensue. Only twenty-four men remained at the fort. That night the Indians attacked it, and set it on fire.
Besides the garrison, three women and six children were captured. The prisoners were hurried away. In the morning they were treated to a rare sight. A soldier, named Turner, was tied to a stake. Some gun-barrels were heated red hot and run through his body. The sickening odor of burnt flesh was delicious to the Indians. After three hours Turner no longer cried. This spoiled their fun. An Indian boy of eight years was held up in the arms of its proud father, with a tomahawk in the boy's hand. The cherub took careful aim. He split Turner's head open in one stroke. This feat so delighted the fond parent that he gave the infant prodigy a bow and arrows.
About this time the Quakers in Philadelphia formed a "Peace Association." The association at once bought a number of splendid presents and sent them to the Indians, to "propitiate" them. It was a bold step, so bold that one laughs right out at it. On August 24, 1756, another desperate plea was sent to Philadelphia, "begging, for God's sake," as it reads, "that you take pity on our poor families."
There were reasons for this outcry. A band of Indians had spread new desolation in the neighborhood in which lived the petitioners. Among this band an Indian named Cotties wanted to be made chief or captain. The warriors laughed at him. "Where are the scalps of the enemies you claim to have killed? You are but a squaw!" That night Cotties and an Indian boy disappeared from the camp. The reproach stung him. Rivalry in slaughter, competition in destruction -- such a contest is terrible. Cotties determined to compete with the entire band of sixty Indians in the red tournament.
At Sherman's Creek lives William Sheridan with his family. On a fashionable city street, as many as two children in one family are unusual. On the frontier it is different. Population is needed. William Sheridan had thirteen children. Cotties hid himself in the bushes. When Sheridan came out for fire-wood, Cotties buried a knife in his heart. Presently the oldest son came out to look for his father, and was similarly treated. In half an hour Cotties had sixteen scalps at his belt.
Half a mile down the creek, buried in deep wood, stood a solitary cabin, occupied by two old men and a woman. Thither proceeded the terrible Cotties. He entered the dark wood. In an hour he emerged. It could be seen that he carried nineteen scalps instead of sixteen. The three new ones came from the three old people. When Cotties returned to his camp, the braves threw down their weapons. Nineteen scalps in one day! The whole band had only taken eighteen in the same time. They begged the redoutable Cotties to become their chief. Such a hero was little short of a demi-god.
Sometimes luck was against the Indians. James Bell, while out hunting for deer, discovered three savages. One of them he fired at and wounded. From the shots of the others he protected himself by a large tree. But a tree is a protection only on one side. There were two Indians. They moved in opposite directions to checkmate Bell. This would have succeeded had not shot and killed one of them. The third turned to fly, taking the dead savage on his back. Bell fired. His ball passed through the corpse and lodged in the living body.
One evening a settler came in from the forest and found his cabin burnt, and his wife and children murdered. As he looked on the ruin, a tempest of fire swept through his being. In moment the waving foliage of hopes and loves, of sympathies and compassion were burnt out, leaving his nature like the charred trucks of trees through which has passed the roaring forest fire. A demon entered into and possessed him. As he walked to and fro before the heap of ashes which had borne the precious name of home, his clenched fist was shaken at the surrounding forest. His teeth were gnashed together. A storm came up. The rains of heaven beat down unnoticed upon his unprotected head. The crack of the thunderbolt, the flash of the forked lightning alike failed to attract his attention.
It was midnight. By the dull glow of the cabin embers the man could be seen, still walking backward and forward. The storm ceased, but not the walker. At last morning dawned. A bird caroled its early song from the leafy branches of a mighty tree. The man paused. He looked around with a bewildered air. At a distance, in a puddle of water, lay his hat, where it had fallen the night before. He picked it up. As he did so his eye fell upon the corpse of his child. He started. He had been living over his entire life. He recollected himself. With a heavy heart he dug a grave and reverently laid away to rest the bodies of the dead. One mighty burst of tears, one last look at the little homestead, and he was gone. Henceforth all aims and ambitions, all hopes and affections were fused into one overmastering passion -- Revenge. Caves and mountains became his dwelling-place.
Before this calamity he had not been known to a half dozen men. They soon forgot him. The pioneers found corpses of Indians in the forest, half devoured by birds of prey. When they saw it they said, "He has been here." They heard the crack of a rifle at midnight in the mountains, and said, "It is he." One night a settler hearing a shot near by, threw open his door. A dead savage lay before it, and a voice called out from the woods, "I have saved your lives." That was all. He was the protector of the settlers. Though they not his name, he was well known. He was spoken of as "Captain Jack," "The Black Rifle," "Half Indian," and "The Wild Hunter of the Juniata." At one time he had about him a band of men as formidable as himself. At last he disappeared. The grateful settlers perpetuated his memory. They said that every night at midnight, he revisited, in spirit form, a favorite spring, drank from its clear depths, and then vanished. Who is there that can say it is not so?
Kittanning was an Indian village on the Alleghany River, the stronghold of Jacobs and Shingas, the most ferocious and blood thirsty of the Indian chiefs. From this point were sent out many of those terrible war parties, which swept the defenseless frontier with desolation and destruction. On the 30th of August, 1756, Colonel John Armstrong, with a band of three hundred brave frontiersmen, set out to attack this nest of thunderbolts. A journey of seven days brought them within six miles of the village. At this point, a half dozen Indians were found sitting around a fire in the woods. As Armstrong's plan was to surprise the town, these fellows were left in peace for the time being, a dozen men under Lieutenant Hogg, remaining to watch them, while the main body made a detour and pushed on to the village.
The attack was made at sunrise, through a cornfield which concealed their approach. A desperate fight ensued. The houses were fired. Again and again the Indians were called on to surrender. But the offer was invariably refused. They defended their houses with desperate courage. Jacobs, the chief, was shot in getting out of a window. As the flames walled in many for whom escape was impossible, they set up the death song, which rose in wild and plaintive notes above the din of the conflict. The store of powder in each house, which the Indians had boasted was sufficient for ten years' war, explodes with terrible force, flinging many an unfortunate high in air. Eleven captives were rescued; the village and great stores of provisions were destroyed, and forth warriors killed, the majority escaping by flight.
Only the night before, an advance party of twenty-four Indians had gone out on an expedition against the frontier. Lieutenant Hogg attacked these, but was defeated, after losing several of his best men. He, himself, though badly wounded, was overlooked by the enemy, and lay in the forest, helpless and hopeless, until he was fortunately discovered and rescued by the victorious army on its return march. For this valiant service, the city of Philadelphia presented Armstrong with a memorial medal.
Yet the Indian ravages were unchecked. The line of forts, the heroic efforts of the settlers, were nothing. When the third year after Braddock's defeat rolled around, the boundless brutalities of the Indians, instead of being checked, were more constant, more widespread, and more terrible than before.
What at the beginning of the war had been the interior, in which danger was never apprehended, became in turn the frontier. The country was absolutely depopulated. The territory now forming many counties, which in 1755, was tolerably settled, became a howling wilderness, and was abandoned to savages and wild beasts. The bold invaders pushed farther and farther to the east. One day Philadelphia learned that a band of warriors had sacked and pillaged the country and massacred the inhabitants, only thirty miles away.
The instances we have given are only a few drops from a mighty flood, only a few dead coals from a tremendous conflagration. There is enough of insecurity, of transitoriness in life at best. The universal tragedy goes on around us perpetually. Each of us comes to take his turn in the last act of the dreadful drama.
Yet to all this, for the pioneers of Pennsylvania and of all new countries, were added the horrors of border warfare. As the family huddled around the fire-place at evening, they felt that each rattle of the shutter of the wintry blast might be the work of a savage hand. The rustling leaves of the forest might only conceal the approach of moccasined feet. Each trip to the well after nightfall for a bucket of water was like a sally from a beleaguered fort. Every shadow might hide a dusky form. Behind every tree might hide a murderous enemy. The bark of the dogs, or the querulous cackling of the sleepy hens, might the warning of the approach of an Indian war party. Life had no security. The regularity of toil, the pursuit of ambitions, the routine of the family, the quiet succession of tasks in the respective seasons -- all this was broken into and interrupted.
But why not fly? Why wait until the crimsoned tomahawk was raised in the air, and the little cabin crackled in the flames? It is easy to answer. To fly was to lose home and all means of subsistence, and become homeless refugees, starving wanderers, pensioners on a cold and reluctant charity. Added to the real danger of the situation were the fantastic horrors of the imagination. In such a community wild rumors filled every breeze. Hardly a day passed that some messenger of alarm did not dash past the cabin on flying steed. A hundred times a year the settlers took refuge in the forts from imaginary enemies.
In such sorrows did the rivalries of France and England involve the innocent settlers of distant Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. In this did the arts of the Frenchmen turn the rage of the Indians against the English in favor of himself. Yet it was useless. England, defeated and humiliated on every battle-field, whether in Europe or America, called to her help a single man, an invalid, without fortune, family, or party. That man was William Pitt. With the voice of an archangel he roused the States of Protestantism to wage a war for mastery against the despotic monarchy and the institutions of the Middle Ages, and to secure humanity its futurity of freedom. The mighty alliance he created humbled the haughty monarch of the French and changed the destinies of mankind.
In 1758 three great military expeditions were fitted out by the English in America. One of these achieved the conquest of Louisburg; another that of Fort Frontenac. A third was dispatched, under General Forbes, to attack Fort du Quesne, and if possible, drive the savages from the country. It was successful. The fort at the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers once more passed into the hands of the English. With unanimous voice the new fort, rising on the ruins of the old was named FORT PITT, in honor of the great statesman, whose genius was overwhelming the enemies of England. "Pittsburg," says Bancroft, "is the most enduring trophy of the glory of William Pitt. Long as the Monongahela and the Alleghany shall flow to form the Ohio, long as the English tongue shall be the language of freedom in the boundless valley which their waters traverse, his name shall stand inscribed on the Gateway of the West."
The year 1759 witnessed another series of victories planned be Pitt. Among these was the memorable and dramatic fall of Quebec. These successes continued without interruption, until, on September 8, 1760, the French surrendered all of Canada to the English. Everywhere the Lilies of France were supplanted by the British Lion.
So far as France was concerned, the peace, which had come to the bruised and bleeding pioneers of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, on the fall of Fort de Quesne, and which was now re-enforced by the surrender of Canada, and all French forts, was permanent. Such the settlers believed it to be. Unfortunately, France, in winning the Indians to her cause, and deluging in blood the country of their enemies, had evoked a spirit which would not down at her bidding.
Retyped and reformatted by Ray and Kathy Leigh