It is only adventurers who have adventures. Quiet men have quiet lives. It is the daredevil who is the hero of thrilling exploits and startling situations. The dangers of frontier life attract only the boldest spirits. For these reasons it is, that early American history contains more romance, more adventures and more excitement than the annals of any other period or place. The colonies were populated with brave, adventurous men, the most daring spirits of the age. Such men as these were sure to find themselves in exciting situations and to perform heroic deeds.
Other countries and peoples than ours have had to gratify the appetite for adventure with fictitious exploits and imaginary heroes. The French feast on such unsubstantial banquets as the wild and improbable feats of the mysterious Count of Monte Christo, and the feverish tragedy of the Wandering Jew. Englishmen revel in the romance of chivalry and of the Middle Ages, as pictured in "Ivanhoe," "The Black Dwarf," and the "Idyls of the King." America, however, has within her reach, not only the brilliant literature of fancy, but the equally thrilling and far more substantial stories of the feats of our fathers upon the frontier.
The personal characters of these dauntless men, their inexhaustible resources, their marvelous facility of adaptation, is nowhere, better shown than in the stories of their captivities. To give just a taste of this racy food, we present the stories of three of them, taken prisoner at different times and under different circumstances, during the French and Indian war.
MAJOR ROBERT STOBO,
A brave and generous Scotchman, was appointed one of the officers in the little company with which George Washington, in 1754, attempted to protect the fort at the forks of the Ohio. He traveled in great style, in a covered wagon with a dozen servants, and keeping a sumptuous table, adorned with sparkling wines and smoking dishes of game. When Washington was surrounded at Fort Necessity, he negotiated a surrender, by the terms of which his men were allowed to retreat unharmed from the Ohio valley, and certain French captives were to be restored. As a guarantee for the latter condition, our gallant Stobo was handed over as a hostage to the French at Fort du Quesne.
The governor of Virginia refused to carry out Washington's promises, and one pleasant morning Stobo found himself a genuine prisoner. McKnight furnishes us with a graphic outline of his adventures, which we use with slight abridgment or change. Stobo at once began to reflect how he could throw Fort du Quesne into the hands of the English. He wrote letters to Washington, giving him a full plan of the fort, information as to its garrison, and urging in the most strenuous manner that an expedition be fitted out at once for the capture of the fort. These letters he intrusted to Indian messengers, staking his life on their fidelity. The messengers kept faith. The letters reached Washington all right, but no expedition could be fitted out that year. Meanwhile Stobo was sent to Quebec.
Although a prisoner, Stobo's gay and popular manners, his genial nature and his society accomplishments secured him every privilege. He was the boon companion of the army officers, and the favored gallant of every lovely lady in Quebec. Careless and gay, he determined to add to his accomplishments a knowledge of the French language. At this announcement a the salons of the city applauded. Stobo reigned without a rival.
But a change came o'er the spirit of his dreams. Braddock had marched to the forks of the Ohio, carrying with him Stobo's letters, as a guide in the attack. By strange fatuity, these compromising epistles, which escaped falling into the hands of the French when it might have been expected, now their writer was seven hundred miles away, and had forgot all about them, were left among the baggage piled helter-skelter in the bloody defile, where Braddocks's army was destroyed. Here they were found by the victors.
Stobo took no more lessons in French from his amorous lady loves. He was clapped into prison as a spy, and notified that he would be tried for his life.
He effected his escape from prison, but a reward of six thousand livres, offered to any who would bring him alive or dead, filled toe woods with thousands of eager persons, and he was soon caught and thrust into a black, horrible dungeon. He found nothing but cold stone to sit or lie on, and on the floor was daily placed an earthen pan with bread and water for his substance. In this dark and dismal dungeon his eyes soon acquired such power that he could discern a rat running over the floor, a feat for which his opportunities were ample.
In November our hero was brought before the military court, and after a brief, stern trial, was sentenced to death. The day for his execution was fixed, and he was remanded to prison. But his indomitable heart was yet unshaken, and he busied himself meditating over plans of escape. The judgement of the court, however, was not approved by King Louis, and the dungeon was exchanged for a jail, with two vigilant sentinels at the door, and two below the single window.
Many were his plans for escape. The window offered him the best chance. He found it firmly barred with iron up and down, but not across. He must cut a groove in the hard stone, so as to throw of the bars aside. He had but a sorry knife, round at the point, and as it imperil all to make a noise, his business must be come by careful, silent rubbing. The work went slowly on. Meanwhile he must gather provisions for his long journey. He managed to secrete a sort of knapsack, and on the stove he parched grain to carry with him. His room was always open to his jailers, and he had to fill the groove as fast as he made it by stuffing it with chewed bread, which was then covered by sand or ashes. Sometimes the grating noise would bring in a jailer, but the groove was so neatly concealed and the major was generally found sitting so calmly, walking, smoking, or reading, that, after peering around the room with jealous eye, the jailer was fain to depart with shaking head.
At length the groove was done; the bar had room to play, but being short and fast at top, the major could not bend it. Tying his handkerchief around the two bars, he inserted a stick, and by twisting it about had leverage enough to bring the bars together. The knapsack was now stored with over thirty pounds of different kinds of provisions, which he had managed to secrete, and all was ready for the escape.
The 30th of April was a horrible day of wind and rain and hail. The night was no better. The sleepy sentries, suspecting naught, sought favorable shelter from the wretched weather. Stobo's eyes were on guard, and as soon as he saw the place deserted he knew his time had come. Hurriedly tying about his knapsack and applying the handkerchief tourniquet, a passage was soon opened, and down he jumped into the mud below, and disappeared in the night. Far above the town he took refuge in a farmer's outhouse and anxiously awaited the chance for escape. His flight was at once detected; again six thousand livres were offered for his arrest, and the whole town turned out for the search. For two days the major lay snug. At midnight he stole stealthily out, and made straight for Charles River, crossed it with knapsack on his head, the water coming up to his chin. He proceeded to a point eight miles below Quebec, when just as he had set foot on the great road he spied some gentlemen riding towards him, who unfortunately were just as quick in spying him, and made hard after him. He was caught and dragged back to prison.
His biographer thus quaintly laments this sad relapse into captivity: "Ill-used before, better could not be hoped for; he sickens at the thought of his sad fate; a dreary while for him to linger out in sad despondency, well barred and bolted in with treble vigilance. A long, long summer and a dismal winter were to come, and these, for what he knew, might be repeated, if life so long would stay. He could not stand the thought, his spirits failed him, his looks grew pale; corroding, pensive thought sat brooding on his forehead, and left it all in wrinkles; his long black hair grows like a badger gray, his body to a shadow wastes, and ere the winter came with her keen edge of hardened cold, his health gone; yet he must struggle still with the remaining span of life, for he must not come, and he's given up for dead.
"There dwelt, by lucky fate, in this strong capitol, a lady fair, of chaste renowned; of manners sweet, and gentle soul; long had her heart confessed for this prisoner a flame, best suite with the spirit of the times to smother, whose tender heart felt double smart at this his deep affection, which threatened certain death; her kindred was confessed, and influence, too, well known with Vaudreuil, and strange speech of love, thus she accosts the proud Canadian viceroy," etc.
We need not give this tender love song, but the burden of it was an urgent appeal to change the major's prison, and give him exercise and good air, and so a chance for his life. The prayer prevailed. The wan and wasted prisoner was allowed to walk the ramparts. By the care of this kind lady and her daughter, the major's health improved by degrees, and he became very watchful and studious to disarm all suspicion. The months passed on, and Stobo made the acquaintance of some English prisoners brought in, among others a Scotchman, by the name of Clarke, a ship carpenter by trade, who by a facile and timely change of religion, was released, and was soon employed at work in the ship-yard.
With this man and another prisoner, by the name of Stevenson, he concocted a new scheme. In order to dismiss his kind lady attendant, he feigned illness. Instead of going to bed, however, he dressed in a plain, coarse workman's dress, incased his head in a thick worsted wig, and quietly stole down the stairs, past the rooms of the family that had been so kind to him, out into the garden and leaped the wall.
No sooner out of town that he quickened his pace and made his way to a little windmill on the river, which was fixed as a rendezvous for the whole escaping party. He found them there with guns, ammunition, and provisions. March was the word, and Stobo, as leader of this gallant little band of five, moved along the river for a couple of miles. Hoping to find some vessel by which to escape. At length they came across a large birch canoe, which they carried to the water, and all safely embarked. With nimble hands they plied the paddles and flew down the strong current of the St. Lawrence. By daylight Quebec was far behind, and they sought the protection of the woods, carrying their canoe with them. As before, the major's flight was early discovered. This time the search was fruitless. The little party lay by quietly during each day, but as night came on they again would launch their bark upon the river.
On the eleventh night, as they paddled out into the broad St. Lawrence, they encountered a violent storm. The canoe filled with water, and they tried in vain to make the shore, but passed the night, tossed like a cork upon the waters, and only saved from wreck by unintermitting bailing. A piercing cold now set in, freezing their drench clothes to their backs. By morning they succeeded in again reaching shore, but in a most sorry plight. Their frozen garments rattled like coats of mail, scarce one could lift a limb, and a mother and children, who formed part of their crew, were almost dead. Two of the men, going out for game, soon ran back, frightened by the appearance of two armed savages. Stobo reassured them, and demanded to be led to a sight of them, thinking that if they were scouts for a larger party, it may be necessary to cut them off. They soon came upon the two unsuspecting savages, when Stobo broke out into a French cantata, and saluting the savages in French, seized the gun of one, while Stevenson grappled him and Clarke the other, Stobo then said they were Frenchmen, but in search of English prisoners who escaped, and that he must be sure who they were. They were much alarmed, and offered to lead the way to their tent and to the fire, of which they were the guardians, so the whole country might be alarmed at the advance up the river of any hostile fleet. These fires, they said, were placed at regular distances from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to Quebec, so that news could be speedily carried of any hostile invasion.
The wigwam was found full of furs, wild duck, and maple sugar, and the major's party began to rifle it. The Indians now realized their mistake, and the one Stevenson held gave a backward spring and gave a dreadful yell. To prevent any further noise, Stevenson had to shoot his man, and his comrade was soon made to share his fate. The camp again reached, Stobo thought it was imprudent to leave their bodies unburied, and sent back Clarke and another to inter them, which, they did by fastening a heavy stone to the feet of each, and, having carefully removed the scalps, shoving them into a deep, black pool of water. Their poor, faithful dog, which sat howling on the margin of the pool, was also shot.
They now saw out in the river a fleet of French transports, with a convoy, ferrying their slow way up to Quebec. One ship in the rear, judged by her size to be that of the commodore of the fleet, was lying to. Stobo concluded that she had seen their smoke and had sent her boat ashore to learn the meaning of it. The fire, therefore, was put out, and the canoe and baggage moved off into the woods, and then a roundabout course take to the river again. They now espied a large four-oared bateau rowing for the shore and no ship in view. "Courage, my lads!" cried the fearless Stobo. "I hope, by your assistance and God's blessing on our arms, this prize shall be own; these men our prisoners, too, and they shall lessen your fatigue and row for us; observe but what I order, and leave the rest to me."
Stobo's party now lay closely concealed among some rocks while the boat's crew pulled briskly in. Scarce had the prow bumped the beach when a volley was sent among them, by which two were wounded. The astonished Frenchmen at once cried out for quarter. The major and his companions rushed down from the rocks, and ordered out the whole five. A reverend old gentleman, who was steering, stepped out with a polite bow of submission, and very naturally asked whose prisoner he was. The major answered in French that they were British subjects, who had been prisoners in Canada, and told them that they and their boat must aid their escape. To this the old Frenchman replied, he had been a long distance down the river, and was returning with his boat laden with wheat; that he was the Chevalier La Darante, and the sole owner of the Camaraski Isles, and that, in addition to all this, he was old and feeble, and, therefore, should well be excused from being compelled to row his enemies.
To all which the major answered that if he were King Louis himself, and each of his crew a peer of the realm, he would have to row them. This ended the matter. As the shallop was too deep-laden for the expedition, much of the wheat was cast out, all hands embarking, the boat left shore, the faithful canoe dragging astern. Thus doubly manned, they could relieve the oars as well as attend the sail, which was now set to a favoring gale, and away they sped again down the St. Lawrence. Finding the canoe impeding the shallop's speed, it was cut loose and turned adrift.
To lie by in the day was now impossible, neither did the major like much to trust his prisoners ashore. About noon they noted a lofty frigate, which had been convoy to the fleet of transports. This sudden and dreadful apparition gave no small alarm. Since they could not stand a fight, a run was resolved upon. Stobo took the helm, and ordered all to pull hard and to spread the sail, so as to pass the frigate's stern.
The usual signal to heave to came from the frigate, but the party paid it no attention; a second followed, which was likewise disregarded. The third report came accompanied by a shot which whizzed over their heads uncomfortably near. Then followed shot after shot, as long as the boat was in sight. The boat flew along, continuing on its course all night. The old Chevalier's remonstrance as to the hardships and indignities he was compelled to undergo, passed unheeded. "Il est fortune de guerre, monsieur," was all the reply vouchsafed by the major.
Days sped on. Capes, islands, and mountains were passed, one by one, but fortunately no sail was met. At length, a boat was found upon the beach, and Stobo told the Chevalier that he would let him go. All things being ready, the two parties took separate ways. Stobo's boat continued all night. With the morning they espied abreast of them a ship at anchor, and heard the signal to heave to. This they declined, when a swivel, loaded with grape, opened fire, and after that another, completely riddling their sail, but doing no further damage. On they pushed, all that day and the next, but after that they were no quite so fortunate. Toward evening a dreadful storm arose. At the point they now were, the St. Lawrence was very broad, and the waves ran as high as upon the ocean, while the surf was quite as loud and dangerous. To beach the boat, however, was the only salvation for them, and straight to the shore they let her drive, Near the shore she came upon a rock with a dreadful shock, bursting open the boats' bows and filling her with water. The boat was completely demolished. Soaking as they were, a wet and dreary night was passed.
Next morning the boat's wreck was hauled ashore, and all, under the direction of Clarke, the ship carpenter, set to work to make it sea-worthy again. With wistful search they scanned the shore for nails and pieces of board to patch the old hulk. Eight days were spent in this tedious and disheartening work, and the stock of provisions was getting fearfully low. At length the boat was ready for the first pitch and oakum, carefully gathered from sticks found along many miles of shore. Stockings, handkerchiefs, and other articles of dress were used to stuff the joints, and the frail cutter was ready for launching.
Just as this interesting ceremony was about to be performed, two sails were seen standing down the river, and, finally, their anchors were dropped right off the point where the crazy vessel sat upon the stocks.
At this crises Stobo conceived a desperate scheme. Ordering his companions to lie still, he ran forward to the shore, fired his gun and waved his handkerchief. The signal was answered from the ship, a boat was lowered, and manned by two men and a boy, rowed within a short distance of the shore. One of the men asked what he wanted. Stobo answered, in good French, that he was on the king's errand, and wanted passage down the river, for which he would pay well, and that if they came ashore he had a bottle of choice rum which he would be glad to offer. This proved too much for their prudence. In three minutes they were ashore guzzling the liquor. When well under its spell, it was a quick task to make them prisoners. Stobo then offered them life on condition of their giving true information of the numbers on board the ships. He said he would examine them separately, and if they disagreed, all would be killed. Their accounts agreed.
It was now night. The two men were bound to a tree, and the one woman, with drawn tomahawk, left to guard them. The boy was taken into the boat, to pilot them. Two rowed, while two were busy bailing out the leaky craft. Swiftly they pulled along side the dark hull of the French sloop. No watch was kept. Stobo and his company climbed quickly on board. Some unavoidable noise aroused the crew. The first man who came on deck was shot. A short struggle over powered the crew, who fought at a disadvantage. Stobo found, to his joy, that the sloop was well armed, while the other vessel, the schooner, had no cannon. The vessels were carrying provisions for a party of three hundred Indians at Quebec. Stobo instantly ordered his men to put the sloop under way, and ran up the British flag.
In a few minutes the sloop was laid right alongside the schooner, and without a note of warning, a heavy volley of balls swept the deck of the schooner, killing every man in sight. The Indians on board sprang into the water. The whites cried for quarter. Stobo and his men, having boarded the prize, stood, with cocked muskets at the companion door; boldly ordered down the prisoners, one by one from the sloop; removed every thing valuable from the latter and smaller vessel; transferred the swivels, then deliberately set fire to the sloop, which lighted up the whole heavens with a lurid glare.
All this time the poor woman stood trembling on the shore, keeping guard over the first two prisoners. When the thunder of the broadside was heard, the noise went to her heart like death's last summons. She was sure the guns were fired at Stobo and the rest, since she knew they had no guns. She was just about to surrender herself to her own two prisoners, and to entreat then to save her children, when she saw the vessel on fire. With fear and wonder, she kept her own thoughts. Stobo selected two of his best men and two prisoners and sent them ashore for the company there. They brought all safely on board. The hatches being closed on no less than eighteen prisoners, which was too many to be safe, they were ordered up by ones, and eight were sent adrift in a small boat with provisions aplenty, a musket, and fishing-tackle, while the French schooner sailed away under British colors.
The small boat's party made straight to shore, and thence to the nearest military post, and told all that had happened. The officer, having heard of Stobo's escape from Quebec and the munificent prize offered for his capture, at once raised every man that could be spared, armed a suitable vessel, and made chase after the schooner. Too Late! By this time Stobo was far ahead, and kept steadily on his course for several days, until the Island of St. Johns appeared. By scudding along on one side of the isle, they chanced to miss a British fleet which was passing toward the river by the other channel. The armed sloop in pursuit of them, however, had no such good luck, for she was captured by the British.
At length our adventurous party sighted Cape Breton, away across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and soon gained the British fortified port of Louisburg, having been full thirty-eight days making the voyage from Quebec. The news of this wonderful and gallant escape flew from mouth to mouth, and the whole place was in a ferment of excitement. Stobo was for a short time observed of ass observers. The schooner, with its valuable furs and other goods, was sold, and Stobo gave all his own share of the proceedings to the poor woman and her children who had so long been his patient companions.
Within two days Stobo set out to join Wolfe in his great expedition against Quebec. He is said to have been the man who pointed out the path up the steep cliffs by which the final assault was made. On the fall of the great citadel of Canada, Stobo was ordered to carry the dispatches of General Amherst, at Boston. On the way, the vessel he sailed in was attacked and captured by a French privateer. Stobo managed to pass as a common sailor, and was set adrift in a boat with one day's provisions. After four days of anxious toil at the oars, he reached Halifax, and thence made his way on foot to Boston.
On a November day in the year 1759, Stobo appeared among his old friends in Virginia. He was hailed as one risen from the dead. The Virginia Assembly presented him with one thousand pounds, and passed a resolution in praise of his heroism. He was also granted a year's leave of absence from his regiment on full pay. He went to England, and was honored by an interview with Pitt himself. At this point history loses sight of him. This shining portion of his career is known to all the world, but the fate of the man who accomplished such remarkable feats is unknown.
COLONAL, JAMES SMITH
Was in May, 1755 a boy of eighteen years. He was one of the many settlers who went out to clear a path for the passage of Braddock's army through the wilderness. One morning he was ordered to go several miles to the rear to hurry up the provision wagons. On his return trip he was ambushed and captured by Indians. With a savage grasping either arm, he was forced to run over broken and rocky ground for fifteen miles. After a halt for the night, his captors pushed on to Fort du Quesne. On the journey, Smith received his share of moldy biscuit, roast venison, and wild turkey, faring comfortably, till he reach the neighborhood of the fort, where he was forced to run the gauntlet. In this amusement the poor fellow was badly hurt, but, through the ministration of a French physician at the fort, he recovered.
After the terrible rout of Braddock's army the painted allies of the French began to withdraw from the fort, to return to their own people. Smith's captors took him with them to a town on the Muskingum river. He describes the novel reception given.
"On my arrival at the aforesaid town, a number of Indians collected about me, and one of them began to pull the hair out of my head. He had some ashes on a piece of bark, in which he frequently dipped his fingers, in order to take the firmer hold; and so he went on as if plucking a turkey, until he had all the hair out of my head, except a small spot three or four inches square on my crown; this they cut off with a pair of scissors, excepting three locks, which they dressed up with ornaments. After this they bored my nose and ears, and fixed me off with ear-rings and nose jewels; then they ordered me to strip off my clothes and put on a breech-clout, which I did. I made no doubt but they were putting me to death.
"The old chief, holding me by the hand, made a long speech, very loud, and when he handed me to three young squaws, who led me down the bank, into the river, until the water was up to our middle. The squaws then made signs to plunge myself into the water, but I did not understand them -- I thought that the result of the council was that I should be drowned, and these young ladies were to be the executioners. All three laid violent hold of me, and I for some time opposed them with all my might, which occasioned loud laughter by the multitude that were on the bank of the river. At length one of the squaws made out to speak a little English (for I believe they began to be afraid of me). And said 'no hurt you;' on his I gave myself up to their ladyships, who were as their word; for, though they plunged me under water, and washed and rubbed me severely, yet I could not say they hurt me much.
"These young women then led me up to the council house, where some of the tribe were ready with new clothes for me. They gave me a new ruffled shirt, which I put on; also a pair of leggins done off with ribbons and beads; likewise a pair of moccasins, and garters dressed with beads, porcupine quills, and red hair; also a tinsel laced cappo. They again painted my head and face with various colors, and tied a bunch of red feathers to one of the locks they had left on the crown of my head, which stood up five or six inches. They seated me on a bearskin, and gave me a pipe, tomahawk, and polecat-skin pouch, which had been skinned pocket fashion, and contained tobacco, spunk, flint, and steel. When I was thus seated, the Indians came in, dressed and painted in their grandest manner. As they came in they took their seats, and for a considerable time there was a profound silence -- everyone was smoking; but not a word was spoken among them."
At length an old chief made a lengthy harange, informing Smith that by this ceremony he had been adopted into the tribe. "From that day to this," said he, after a captivity of many years, "I never knew them to make any distinction between me and themselves, in any respect whatever."
That evening a band of braves, who were about to go on the war-path, collected together for the war-dance. An old Indian began to sing and beat time on a rude drum. "Each warrior had a tomahawk, spear, or war-mallet in his hand, and they all moved regularly toward the east, or the way they intended to go to war. At length, they all stretched their tomahawks toward the Potomac, and giving a hideous yell, they wheeled quick about, and danced in the same manner back.
"Each warrior then sung a war-song, and, striking a post with his tomahawk, in a loud voice told what warlike exploits he had done, and what he now intended to do, which were answered by the other warriors with loud shouts of applause. Some who had not before intended to go to war, at this time were so animated by this performance that they took up the tomahawk, and sung the war-song, which was answered with shouts of joy, as they were then initiated into the present marching company.
"The next morning this company all collected at one place, with their heads and faces painted with various colors, and packs upon their backs. They marched off, all silent except the commander, who, in the front, sung the traveling song. Just as the rear passed the end of town, they began to fire in their slow manner, from the front to the rear, which were accompanied with shouts and yells from all quarters."
Smith's first hunting expedition resulted disastrously to his reputation. He was out with a party on a six weeks' hunt. One day his Indian friends gave him a gun, and told him to take the dogs, go down to the creek, and try to kill some turkeys. He was further cautioned not to get lost. When some distance from camp, he found some buffalo tracks. Instantly all thought of such small game as turkeys vanished. The young hunter became fired with ambition to kill a buffalo. All day he followed the trail. At nightfall he found himself without turkeys, and much less buffalo. Worse than this, he was completely lost. He fired his gun, and halted, but met no response. The next morning the Indians hunted him up by his tracks. "On my return to camp,: says he, "they took my gun from me, and for this rash step, I was reduces to bow and arrows for near two years."
One day he displeased the Indians in some way, and the next morning found they erected a large frame-work, which he concluded was a gallows, on which he was to be hung. The structure proved, however, to have no more dangerous purpose than to serve as a drying rack for skins.
His first winter was spent with his adopted brother, Tontileaugo, and a small company of Indians, in a cabin, which they erected near the shores of Lake Erie. Though warm and comfortable, they were in great distress for want of food. There were only two men in camp besides Smith. These had to provide food for several families of squaws and children. The crust on the snow would break through at every step, alarming the deer at the hunter's approach, and reducing them to the single chance of hunting bear holes. This became their daily occupation. Sometimes they drove the bear out of the hollow trees; at other times, Smith and Tontileaugo would chop the tree down with their tomahawks. On these hunts they would build a little bark shelter for themselves, where, as Smith says, "we were quite snug." In the month of February, the squaws went to work to make maple sugar, collecting the water in bark vessels, holding a hundred gallons, and boiling it in two large brass kettles. Towards spring, they also made vessels of dried deer skin, in which they stored the oil rendered by frying bear's fat.
While out on a hunt with Tontileaugo, Smith one day remained in the little camp, while his companion went out for game. A Wyandotte came to the camp, and begged for some food. Smith gave him a shoulder of roasted venison, for which he was very thankful. That night Smith related the circumstance to Tontileaugo, who said that was right, but that of course Smith gave him sugar and bear's oil to eat his venison with. Smith said he had not. This answer angered the Indian greatly. "You behaved just like a Dutchman. Do you not know when strangers come to our camp, we ought to give them the best we have?"
The next winter Smith was invited by a visiting chief, named Tecaughretanego, to go with him to another part of the country. Smith hesitated to leave his old friends, but Tontileaugo said that his new friend was a greater man than he was, and rather advised him to go. The region to which Smith went was northwestern Ohio and eastern Michigan. Game was tolerably abundant, and the Indians had many apples stored up. Here too, Smith saw for the first time, cranberries, which grew in swamps, and were gathered by the Indians when the swamp was frozen. "These berries, " Smith remarks, "were about as large as rifle bullets, of a bright red color, an agreeable sour, though rather too sour of themselves, but when mixed with sugar had a very agreeable taste." Smith met with a thrilling adventure, which he relates as follows.
"I went out with Tecaughretanego and some others a beaver hunting; but we did not succeed; and our return we saw where several raccoons had passed while the snow was soft, though there was now a crust upon it. We all made a halt, looking at the raccoon tracks. As they saw a tree with a hole in it, they told me to go and see if they had gone in threat; and if they had to halloo, and they would come and take them out. When I went to that tree, I found they had gone past; but I saw another the way they had gone, and proceeded to examine that, and found they had gone up it. I then began to halloo, but could have no answer.
"As it began to snow and blow most violently, I returned, and proceeded after my company, and for some time could see their tracks; but the old snow being only about three inches deep, and a crust upon it, the present driving snow soon filled up the tracks. As I had only a bow, arrows, and tomahawk with me, and no way to strike a fire, I appeared to be in a dismal situation, and as the air was dark with snow, I had little more prospect of steering my course than I would in the night. At length I came to a hollow tree, with a hole at one side that I could go in at. I went in, and found that was a dry place, and the hollow was about three feet in diameter, and high enough for me to stand in. I found that there was also a considerable quantity of soft, dry, rotten wood around this hollow. I therefore concluded that I would lodge here, and that I would go to work and stop up the door of my house. I stripped off my blanket (which was all the clothes that I had, excepting breech-clout, leggins, and moccasins), and with my tomahawk fell to chopping at the top of a fallen tree that lay near, and carried wood and set it up on end against the door, until I had it three or four feet thick, all around, excepting a hole I had left to creep in at. I had a block prepared that I could haul after me, to stop this hole; and before I went in I put in a number of small sticks, that I might more effectually stop it on the inside.
"When I went in I took my tomahawk and cut down all the dry, rotten wood I could get, and beat it small. With it I made a bed like a goose-nest or hog-bed, and with the small sticks stopped every hole, until my house was almost dark. I stripped off my moccasins, and danced in the center of my bed for about half an hour, in order to warm myself. In this time my feet and whole body were agreeably warmed. The snow, in the meanwhile, had stopped all the holes, so that my house was dark as a dungeon; though I knew that it could not be dark out of doors. I then coiled myself up in my blanket, lay down in my little round bed, and had a terrible night's lodging.
"When I awoke, all was dark -- not the least glimmering of light was to be seen. Immediately, I recollected that I was not to expect light in this new habitation, as there was neither door or window in it. As I could hear the storm raging, and did not suffer much cold as I was then situated, I concluded I would stay in my nest until I was certain it was day. When I had reason to conclude it was surely day, I arose and put on my moccasins, which I had put under my head to keep from freezing. I then endeavored to find the door, and had to do all by the sense of feeling, which took me some time. At length I found the block, but it being heavy, and a large quantity of snow having fallen on it, at the first attempt I did not move it. I then felt terrified. Among all the hardships I had sustained, I never knew before what it was to be thus deprived of light. This, with the other circumstances attending to it, appeared grievous.
"I went straightway to bed again, wrapped my blanket around me, and lay mused awhile, and then prayed to Almighty God to direct and protect me, as he had done heretofore. I once again attempted to move away the block, which proved successful; it moved about nine inches. With this a considerable quantity of snow fell in from above, and I immediately received light; so that I found a very great amount of snow had fallen, above what I had ever seen in one night. I then knew why I could not easily move the block, and I was rejoiced at obtaining the light, that all my other difficulties seemed to vanish. I then turned into my cell, and returned God thanks for having once more received the light of heaven. At length I belted my blanket around me, got my tomahawk, bow and arrows, ant went out of my den.
"I was now in tolerable high spirits, though the had fallen three feet deep, in addition to what was on the ground before; and the only imperfect guide I had, in order to steer my course to camp, was the trees, as the moss generally grows on the north-west side of them, if they are straight. I proceeded on, wading through the snow, and about twelve o'clock (as it appeared afterwards, from that time to night, for it was yet cloudy), I came upon the creek that our camp was on, about half a mile below the camp; and when I came in sight of the camp, I found there was great joy, by the shouts and yelling of the boys."
This and another somewhat similar adventure so improved Smith's reputation that, soon after, the Indians went to Detroit and bought him a fine new gun. At the time of this purchase, the Indians, having a large surplus of beaver skins, resolved to expend them for brandy. Those who were to get drunk invited Smith to join in the revel, but he preferred to remain with the sober party, whose duty it was to prevent the debauchees from hurting themselves and one another. This dangerous task met with only partial success during the several days of the drunk, which lasted till the beaver skins were exhausted.
"When the brandy was gone and the drinking club sober, they appeared much dejected. Some of them were crippled, others badly wounded, a number of their fine new shirts tore, and several blankets were burned. A number of squaws were also in this club, and neglected their corn-planting. We could now hear the effects of the brandy in the Ottawa town. They were singing and yelling in the most hideous manner, both night and day; but their frolic ended worse than ours: five Ottawas were killed and a great many wounded."
One night a squaw reported that the dreadful Mohawks were in the vicinity. Every one at once took to the bushes, except Manetohcoa, the conjurer, who placed himself before the fire, to exercise his magic. Among his implements were dyed feathers, and the shoulder-blade of a wild-cat. After many incantations and performances, he called loudly for the rest to come back. Breathless with awe, his audience listened while he announced that, instead of a number of Mohawks appearing on the flatbone, the pictures of two wolves had come, and that no enemy was near. Upon his assurance the whole camp went to sleep at once. In the morning his magic was verified by the presence of wolf-tracks, and the entire absence of moccasin prints.
Smith writes: "If there is any such thing as a wizard, I think Manetohcoa was as likely to be one as any man, as he was a professed worshiper o the devil. But let him be a conjurer or not, I am persuaded that the Indians believed what he told them upon this occasion, as well as if it had come from an infallible oracle, or they would not, after such an alarm as this, go all to sleep in an unconcerned manner."
Tecaughretanego was an Indian of unusual intelligence. He had lofty opinions and original ideas on every subject with which he had opportunity to become acquainted. Smith said that he was the best reasoner he ever saw, and, as compared with other Indians, was as Socrates among the common Athenians. But the old chief was no longer influential or active. He was sixty years of age, and was so disabled by rheumatism as to be confined in his wigwam. It happened that one winter Smith found himself encamped alone with the old chief and his young son, Murganey, at a great distance from any other Indians. Here the old man was attacked by rheumatism, and so lamed and disabled that a removal was out of the question. On Smith's exertions the three depended to be kept from starvation. The story of the time is preserved in Smith's narrative.
"Though Tecaughretanego endured much pain and misery, yet he bore it all with wonderful patience, and would often endeavor to entertain me with cheerful conversation. Sometimes he would applaud me for my diligence, skill, and activity; and at other times he would take great care in giving me instructions concerning the hunting and trapping business. He would also tell me that if I failed of success we would suffer very much, as we were about forty miles from any one living, that we knew of; yet he would not intimate that he apprehended we were in any danger, but still supposed that I was fully adequate to the task.
"From Christmas until some time in February we had always plenty of bear meat and venison. During this time I killed much more than we could use, but having no horses to carry in what I killed, I left part of it in the woods. In February, there came a snow, with a crust which made a great deal of noise when walking on it, and frightened away the deer; and as bear and beaver were scarce here, we got entirely out of provision. After I had hunted two days without eating any thing, and had very short allowance for some days before, I returned late in the evening, faint and weary.
"When I came into our hut, Tecaughretanego asked what success. I told him not any. He asked me if I was not very hungry. I replied that the keen appetite seemed in some measure removed, but I was both faint and weary. He commanded Nunganey, his little son, to bring me something to eat, and he brought me a kettle with some bones and broth. After eating a few mouthfuls, my appetite violently returned, and I thought the victuals had a most agreeable relish, though it was only fox and wild-cat bones which lay about the camp, which the ravens and turkey-buzzards had picked; these Nunganey had collected and boiled, until the sinews that remained on the bones would strip off.
"I speedily finished my allowance, such as it was, and when I had ended my sweet repast, Tecaughretanego asked me how I felt. I told him that I was much refreshed. He then handed me his pipe and pouch, and told me to make a smoke. I did so. He then said he had something of importance to tell me, if I was now composed and ready to hear it. I told him that I was ready to hear him. He said the reason why he deferred his speech till now was because few men are in a right humor to hear good talk when they are extremely hungry, as they are then generally fretful discomposed, 'but as you appear now to enjoy calmness and serenity of mind, I will now communicate to the thoughts of my heart, and those things that I know to be true.
"Brother -- As you have lived with the white people, you have not had the same advantage of knowing that the great Being above feeds his people, and gives them their meat in due season, as we Indians have, who are frequently out of provisions, and yet are wonderfully supplied, and that so frequently, that it is evidently the hand of the great Owaneeyo1 that doth this. Whereas the white people have commonly large stocks of tame cattle that they can kill when they please, and also their barns and cribs filled with grain, and therefore have not the same opportunity of seeing and knowing that they are supported by the Ruler of heaven and earth. I know that you are now afraid that we will perish of hunger, but you have no just reason to fear this. I have been young, but am now old; I have been frequently under the like circumstances that we now are, and that some time or other in almost every year of my life; yet I have hitherto been supported, and my wants supplied in time of need. Owaneeyo sometimes suffers us to be in want, in order to teach us our dependence upon him, and to let us know that we are to love and serve him; and likewise to know the worth of the favors that we receive, and to make us more thankful. Be assured that you will be supplied with food, and that just in the right time' but you must continue diligent in the use of means. Go to sleep, and rise early in the morning, go on a hunting; be strong, and exert yourself like a man, and the Great Spirit will direct your way.
"The next morning I went out, and steered about an east course. I proceeded on slowly for about five miles, and saw deer frequently; but as the crust on the snow made a great noise, they were always running before I spied them, so that I could not get a shot. A violent appetite returned, and I became intolerably hungry. It was now that I concluded I would run off to Pennsylvania, my native country. As the snow was on the ground, and Indian hunters almost the whole way before me, I had but a poor prospect of making my escape, but my case appeared desperate. If I stayed here, I thought I would perish with hunger, and if I met Indians, they could but kill me.
"I then proceeded on as fast as I could walk, and when I got about ten or twelve miles from our hut, I came upon fresh buffalo tracks as they were passing through a small glade. I ran with all my might and headed them, where I lay in ambush, and killed a very large cow. I immediately kindled a small fire, and began to roast the meat, but could not wait till it was done; I ate it almost raw. When hunger was abated, I began to be tenderly considerate of my old Indian brother and the little boy I had left in a perishing condition. I made haste and packed up what meat I could carry, secured what I left from the wolves, and returned homeward.
"I scarcely thought on the old man's speech, while I was almost distracted with hunger, but on my return was much affected with it, reflected on myself for my hard-heartedness and ingratitude in attempting to run off and leave the vulnerable old man and little boy to perish with hunger. I also considered how remarkably the old man's speech had been verified in our providentially obtaining a supply. I thought also of that part of his speech which treated of the fractious dispositions of hungry people, which was the only excuse I had for my base inhumanity in attempting to leave them in the most deplorable situation.
"As it was moonlight, I got home to our hut, and found the old man in his usual good humor. He thanked me for my exertion, and bid me to sit down, as I must certainly be fatigued, and he commanded Nunganey to make haste and cook. I told him I would cook for him, and let the boy lay some meat on the coals for himself; which he did, but ate it almost raw, as I had done. I immediately hung on the kettle, with some water, and cut the beef in thin slices, and put them in. When it had boil a while, I proposed taking it off the fire, but the old man replied, 'let it be done enough." This he said in as patient and unconcerned a manner as if he had not wanted one single meal. He commanded Nunganey to eat no more beef at that time, lest he hurt himself, but told him to sit down, and after some time he might sup some broth; this command he reluctantly obeyed.
"When we were all refreshed, Tecaughretanego delivered a speech upon the necessity and pleasure of receiving the necessary supports of life with thankfulness, knowing that Owaneeyo is the great giver."
It was April before the old chief could be removed. The river being low, he said that he would pray for rain. "Tecaughretanego made himself a sweat-house, which he did by sticking a number of hoops in the ground, each hoop forming a semi-circle; this he covered all round with blankets and skins. He then prepared hot stones, which he rolled into this hut, and then went into it himself with a kettle of water in his hand, mixed with a variety of herbs, which he had formerly cured, and had now with him in his pack; they provided an odoriferous perfume. When he was in, he told me to pull down the blankets behind him, and cover all up close, which I did, and then he began to pour the water upon the hot stones, and to sing aloud. He continued in his vehement hot place about fifteen minutes. All this he did in order to purify himself before he could address the Supreme Being."
When he came out of his sweat-house, he began to burn tobacco and pray in the following manner: " 'O Great Being! I thank that that I have obtained the use of my legs again; that I am able to walk about and kill turkeys, etc., without feeling exquisite pain and misery. I know that thou art a hearer and a helper, and therefore I will call upon thee. Grant that my knees and ankles may be right well, and that I may be able, not only to walk, but to run and jump logs, as I did last fall. Grant that on this voyage we may frequently kill bears, as they may be crossing the Scioto and Sandusky. Grant that we may kill plenty of turkeys along the banks, to stew with our fat bear meat. Grant that rain may come to raise the Ollentangy about two or three feet, and that we may cross in safety down to Scioto, without danger of our canoe being wrecked on the rocks. And now, O Great Being! Thou knowest how matters stand; thou knowest that I am a great lover of tobacco, and though I know when not when I may get any more, I now make a present of the last I have unto thee, as a free burnt offering; therefore, I expect thou wilt hear and grant these requests, and I, thy servant, will return thanks, and love the for thy gifts.' "
While the old chief went through his devotions with the most profound solemnity, the irreverent Smith, greatly amused to see him waste all his tobacco, unfortunately laughed at him. The savage paid no attention to it at this time, but when the ceremony was over he scolded Smith roundly. The later apologized, smoked some dried willow bark with him, the tobacco being all gone, and to patch up matters told him a good deal about Christianity. "I told him something of the method of reconciliation with an offended God, as revealed in my Bible. He said he liked my story better than that of the French priests, but he thought that he was too old to begin to learn a new religion, therefore he should continue to worship God in the way he had been taught, and that if future happiness was to be had in his way of worship, he expected he would obtain it, and if it was inconsistent with the honor of the Great Spirit to accept him in his own way of worship, he hoped that Owaneeyo would accept of him in the way I had mentioned, or in some other way, though he might now be ignorant of the channel through which mercy might be conveyed. He said that he believed that Owaneeyo would hear and help every one that sincerely waited upon him.
In a few days the rains descended and the floods came, and the chief, duly reminding Smith that it was in answer to hi prayer, said that they might now embark for their people.
Smith remained with the Indians till the summer of 1759, when his tribe happened to be near Montreal. Here he heard of a French ship which had on board English prisoners to be taken across the sea and exchanged for Frenchmen. His resolution was made up. He managed to be taken captive by the French as a means of getting away from the Indians. After some months in prison he was exchanged, and in 1760, made his way back to his Pennsylvania home, where he was joyfully received. His parents had never known whether he had been killed or taken prisoner. One sorrow awaited him. His sweetheart was married to another man.
Smith took a very prominent part in the Indian wars from this time forth. He was a colonel in the Revolutionary war, and in 1788 removed to Bourbon county, Kentucky. Here he became a prominent man, being a member of legislature for many years. In his later years he wrote a narrative of his adventures among the Indians, which is, by far the best specimen of that kind of literature extant. It has been called the American Robinson Crusoe. The quotations we have made show its interesting graphic style.
THE BARD FAMILY
Among the stories of Indian captivities which are in existence is one which purports to have been prepared by Archibald Bard, a son of the persons figuring in the narrative.
Richard Bard owned, in 1758, a small grist-mill in York county, Pennsylvania.
One morning in April, a band of Indians surrounded the mill and cabin. The doors were closed, but the Indians prepared to fire the house, and the inmates chose to surrender. These were Mr. Bard and his wife, a servant-girl and boy, and a Lieutenant Potter. The savages also captured a lad named White, who was bringing a bag of corn to the mill to be ground, and two men named Hunter and McManimy, who were at work in a neighboring field. At a short distance from the house the Indians deliberately tomahawked Potter and Hunter. The remaining captives were hurried on at a break-neck speed over the mountains.
On the fifth day Mr. Bard received a severe beating with the club of a gun, almost disabling him. One-half of his head had been painted red. This indicated that one-half of the council were in favor of putting him to death, and the other half opposed it. Bard's thoughts were busy with plans for escape, but he was not allowed to communicate with his wife. At last they were ordered to dress some turkeys. During the labor the wretched husband and wife signaled that, if possible, each should escape separately at the first opportunity, and if only one got away, that every effort should be made to secure the release of the other. Bard's chance came. He was ordered to bring water from a spring twenty yards away. Mrs. Bard engaged the attention of the Indians at the moment, and instead of stopping at the spring, her husband bound away into the forest.
The Indians soon missed him, and gave chase. Bard, being so lame that he could not run far, crawled into a hollow log, where he lay till his pursuers had passed him., and then started in a different direction. Bruised, footsore, and famished, he pressed on all that day and the next, hardly daring to look behind him, much less stop.
"Towards the close of the second day," says the narrator, "he came to a mountain four miles across, and at the top covered with snow. By this time he was almost exhausted, having traveled nearly constantly for two days and nights, and being without food, except for a few buds plucked from the trees as he went along; his shoes were worn out, and the country he traveled through being extremely rough and in many places covered with briers of a poisonous nature, his feet were very much lacerated and swollen. To add to his difficulties, the mountain was overgrown with laurel, and the snow lodged upon its leaves so bent it down that he was unable, in many places, to get along in his weak condition, except by creeping upon his hands and knees under the branches.
"Three days had now elapsed since his escape; and, although he feared that the Indians were still in pursuit of him, and that by traveling along the mountain they would find his tracks in the snow, and by that means be led to his place of concealment, yet he found himself so lame that he could proceed no further. His hands, also, by crawling upon them in the snow, became almost as much swollen as his feet. He was therefore compelled to lie by, without much prospect, indeed, of ever proceeding any further on his journey. Besides the danger of being overtaken by his savage pursuers, he was, in fact, in a starving condition, not having tasted food since his escape, except the buds already mentioned, plucked, as he journeyed on, from the bean-wood, or red-bud tree as it is called.
"On the fifth day, however, as he was creeping on his hands and knees (not being able to walk) in search of buds or herbs to appease his hunger, he was fortunate enough to see a rattlesnake, which he killed and ate raw. After lying by three or four days, he allayed the swelling in his feet by puncturing the festered parts with a thorn; he then tore up his breeches, and the pieces bound up his feet as well as he could. Thus prepared, he again set out upon his journey, limping along with great pain; but he had no other alternative, except to remain where he was and die. He had gone but a few miles when, from a hill he had just ascended, he was startled by the welcome sound of drum; he called as loud as he could, but there was no one to answer; it was but a delusion of the imagination.
"On the eighth day he crossed the Juniata by wading it, which, on account of his lameness, he accomplished with great difficulty. Shivering in his wet clothes, he luckily caught sight of a camp-fire left by some hunters. Here he passed the night in comparative comfort. In the morning he was horrified to come suddenly upon three Indians, probably the builders of the camp-fire. They proved, however, to be friendly, and assisted him to Fort Littleton, where he obtained food and rest.."
To return to the other captives. Shortly after her husband's escape, Mrs. Bard received a terrible beating from a squaw. When the party prepared to move on, the wretched woman pleaded to be left where she was. The answer that she might, if she preferred to be tomahawked rather than proceed. One day the party arrived at an Indian town. McManimy was detained outside the squalid village, while the rest were taken in; Mrs. Bard receiving a terrible scratching from the long nails of the squaws.
Poor McManimy met with a worse fate. A circle of Indians formed around him, and commenced beating him. A stake was meanwhile driven in the ground, to which he was then bound. The scene of torture the commenced. Some threw shovelfuls of hot coals on him, Others heated gun-barrels red-hot, and seared his flesh, until the sickening odor polluted the air. The wretched man was at last released from his sufferings by death.
Soon after this, Mrs. Bard was separated from the other captives, and saw them no more. The only comfort she had was some information from a white woman, who had been taken captive three years before, and had taken an Indian husband. This woman told her that the belt of wampum around her neck was that she was not to be put to death, but was designed to be the wife of some warrior. She added that, as soon as a captive woman could speak the Indian tongue, they were forded to take an Indian husband or to be put to death. Mrs. Bard took the hint, and during the whole time of her captivity, two years and a half, she never uttered a single word in the Indian tongue. During this time she was treated by the family in which se lived with marked kindness. They removed, soon after her arrival, to the head-waters of the Susquehanna. The fatigues of this journey, following so closely on the other, brought on a dangerous illness, confining her for several months. In spite of the rough fare, and rougher accommodations, she recovered, and lived both to hope for liberty and receive it.
When Mr. Bard was partially recovered, at Fort Littleton, his anxiety for his wife impelled him to leave his bed and start to Fort Pitt. After Arriving there, he found some Indians arranging for a peace. He visited their camp across the river, and recognizing some of his old captors, questioned them eagerly about his wife. They told him to come back the next day. That night a young man who had been taken captive in childhood, and had been adopted into the tribe, crossed to the fort and warned Bard not to come, as he had promised, the next day, as a plot was perfected to kill him.
From this time the disappointed man never ceased to search for his wife. Her removal to the Susquehanna threw him completely in the dark as to her whereabouts. At last, he obtained a clue, and wrote her a letter, telling her to promise her captors forty pounds for her release. But the plan failed, either through the non-delivery of the letter, or the distrust of the Indians. Among other schemes, he hired an Indian to steal his wife, but at the last moment the fellow refused to go on such a dangerous and doubtful errand. At last, peace having been made, Bard determined at every hazard to go for his wife himself. He did so, found her, and succeeded in purchasing her release.
A tragic incident occurred in connection with Mrs. Bard's return home. Among the Indians was an adopted brother, who had been kind to her, and Mr. Bard invited him to come and see him sometime. It was not long before the Indian accepted the invitation. While on his visit, the poor red man got drunk at a neighboring tavern, and received a dangerous stab wound in a quarrel. Mr. Bard cared for the wounded Indian in the most attentive manner, and he recovered. On his return to his people, the savage was accused of disloyalty, and of having become a white man. A council of braves was held, his death decreed, and the same day the fiat was put into execution.
Retyped and reformatted by Ray and Kathy Leigh