The Winning of the West, Volume Two
Theodore Roosevelt

Part 5 out of 7

withstanding the successive bayonet charges of the regulars, and the
officers had been forced to expose themselves with the utmost freedom,
in order to rally their men when beaten back. [Footnote: It would be
quite impossible to take notice of the countless wild absurdities of the
various writers who have given "histories" so-called, of the battle. One
of the most recent of them, Mr. Kirke, having accepted as the number of
the British dead two hundred and twenty-five, and the wounded one
hundred and eighty five, says that the disproportion shows "the
wonderful accuracy of the backwoods rifle"--the beauty of the argument
being that it necessarily implies that the backwoodsmen only fired some
four hundred and ten shots. Mr. Kirke's account of the battle having
been "won" owing to a remarkable ride taken by Sevier to rally the men
at the critical moment is, of course, without any historic basis

After the Victory.

The mountain-men had done a most notable deed. They had shown in
perfection the best qualities of horse-riflemen. Their hardihood and
perseverance had enabled them to bear up well under fatigue, exposure,
and scanty food. Their long, swift ride, and the suddenness of the
attack, took their foes completely by surprise. Then, leaving their
horses, they had shown in the actual battle such courage, marksmanship,
and skill in woodland fighting, that they had not only defeated but
captured an equal number of well-armed, well-led, resolute men, in a
strong position. The victory was of far-reaching importance, and ranks
among the decisive battles of the Revolution. It was the first great
success of the Americans in the south, the turning-point in the southern
campaign, and it brought cheer to the patriots throughout the Union. The
loyalists of the Carolinas were utterly cast down, and never recovered
from the blow; and its immediate effect was to cause Cornwallis to
retreat from North Carolina, abandoning his first invasion of that
State. [Footnote: "Tarleton's Campaigns," p. 166.]

The expedition offered a striking example of the individual initiative
so characteristic of the backwoodsmen. It was not ordered by any one
authority; it was not even sanctioned by the central or State
governments. Shelby and Sevier were the two prime movers in getting it
up; Campbell exercised the chief command; and the various other leaders,
with their men, simply joined the mountaineers, as they happened to hear
of them and come across their path. The ties of discipline were of the
slightest. The commanders elected their own chief without regard to rank
or seniority; in fact the officer [Footnote: Williams.] who was by rank
entitled to the place was hardly given any share in the conduct of the
campaign. The authority of the commandant over the other officers, and
of the various colonels over their troops, resembled rather the control
exercised by Indian chiefs over their warriors than the discipline
obtaining in a regular army. But the men were splendid individual
fighters, who liked and trusted their leaders; and the latter were bold,
resolute, energetic, and intelligent.

Cornwallis feared that the mountain men would push on and attack his
flank; but there was no such danger. By themselves they were as little
likely to assail him in force in the open as Andreas Hofer's
Tyrolese--with whom they had many points in common--were to threaten
Napoleon on the Danubian plains. Had they been Continental troops, the
British would have had to deal with a permanent army. But they were only
militia [Footnote: The striking nature of the victory and its important
consequences must not blind us to the manifold shortcomings of the
Revolutionary militia. The mountaineers did well in spite of being
militia; but they would have done far better under another system. The
numerous failures of the militia as a whole must be balanced against the
few successes of a portion of them. If the States had possessed wisdom
enough to back Washington with Continentals, or with volunteers such as
those who fought in the Civil War, the Revolutionary contest would have
been over in three years. The trust in militia was a perfect curse. Many
of the backwoods leaders knew this. The old Indian fighter, Andrew
Lewis, about this time wrote to Gates (see Gates MSS., Sept. 30, 1780),
speaking of "the dastardly conduct of the militia," calling them "a set
of poltroons," and longing for Continentals.]after all, however
formidable from their patriotic purpose and personal prowess. The
backwoods armies were not unlike the armies of the Scotch Highlanders;
tumultuous gatherings of hardy and warlike men, greatly to be dreaded
under certain circumstances, but incapable of a long campaign, and
almost as much demoralized by a victory as by a defeat. Individually or
in small groups they were perhaps even more formidable than the
Highlanders; but in one important respect they were inferior, for they
totally lacked the regimental organization which the clan system gave
the Scotch Celts.

The mountaineers had come out to do a certain thing--to kill Ferguson
and scatter his troops. They had done it, and now they wished to go
home. The little log-huts in which their families lived were in daily
danger of Indian attack; and it was absolutely necessary that they
should be on hand to protect them. They were, for the most part, very
poor men, whose sole sources of livelihood were the stock they kept
beyond the mountains. They loved their country greatly, and had shown
the sincerity of their patriotism by the spontaneous way in which they
risked their lives on this expedition. They had no hope of reward; for
they neither expected nor received any pay, except in liquidated
certificates, worth two cents on the dollar. Shelby's share of these,
for his services as colonel throughout '80 and '81, was sold by him for
"six yards of middling broadcloth" [Footnote: Shelby's MS.
autobiography.]; so it can be readily imagined how little each private
got for the King's Mountain expedition. [Footnote: Among these privates
was the father of Davy Crockett.]

The day after the battle the Americans fell back towards the mountains,
fearing lest, while cumbered by prisoners and wounded, they should be
struck by Tarleton or perhaps Cruger. The prisoners were marched along
on foot, each carrying one or two muskets, for twelve hundred stand of
arms had been captured. The Americans had little to eat, and were very
tired; but the plight of the prisoners was pitiable. Hungry, footsore,
and heartbroken, they were hurried along by the fierce and boastful
victors, who gloried in the vengeance they had taken, and recked little
of such a virtue as magnanimity to the fallen. The only surgeon in
either force was Ferguson's. He did what he could for the wounded; but
that was little enough, for, of course, there were no medical stores
whatever. The Americans buried their dead in graves, and carried their
wounded along on horse-litters. The wounded loyalists were left on the
field, to be cared for by the neighboring people. The conquerors showed
neither respect nor sympathy for the leader who had so gallantly fought
them. [Footnote: But the accounts of indignity being shown him are not
corroborated by Allaire and Ryerson, the two contemporary British
authorities, and are probably untrue.] His body and the bodies of his
slain followers were cast into two shallow trenches, and loosely covered
with stones and earth. The wolves, coming to the carnage, speedily dug
up the carcasses, and grew so bold from feasting at will on the dead
that they no longer feared the living. For months afterwards King's
Mountain was a favorite resort for wolf hunters.

The victory once gained, the bonds of discipline over the troops were
forthwith loosened; they had been lax at the best, and only the strain
of the imminent battle with the British had kept them tense for the
fortnight the mountaineers had been away from their homes. All the men
of the different commands were bragging as to their respective merits in
the battle, and the feats performed by the different commanders.
[Footnote: Certificate of Matthew Willoughby, in _Richmond Enquirer_, as
quoted.] The general break up of authority, of course, allowed full play
to the vicious and criminal characters. Even before the mountaineers
came down the unfortunate Carolinas had suffered from the misdeeds of
different bodies of ill-disciplined patriot troops, [Footnote: Gates
MSS., Deposition of John Satty, and others, Sept. 7, 1780; of Wm.
Hamilton, Sept. 12th, etc., etc., etc.] almost as much as from the
British and tories. The case was worse now. Many men deserted from the
returning army for the especial purpose of plundering the people of the
neighborhood, paying small heed which cause the victims had espoused;
and parties continually left camp avowedly with this object. Campbell's
control was of the slightest; he was forced to entreat rather than
command the troops, complaining that they left their friends in "almost
a worse situation than the enemy would have done," and expressing what
was certainly a moderate "wish," that the soldiers would commit no
"unnecessary injury" on the inhabitants of the county. [Footnote:
Campbell's General Orders, Oct. 14th, and Oct. 26th.] Naturally such
very mild measures produced little effect in stopping the plundering.

However, Campbell spoke in stronger terms of an even worse set of
outrages. The backwoodsmen had little notion of mercy to beaten enemies,
and many of them treated the captured loyalists with great brutality,
even on the march, [Footnote: "Our captors ... cutting and striking us
in a most savage manner,"--"South Carolina Loyalist."] Col. Cleavland
himself being one of the offenders. [Footnote: Allaire's diary, entry of
Nov. 1st.] Those of their friends and relatives who had fallen into the
hands of the tories, or of Cornwallis' regulars, had fared even worse;
yet this cannot palliate their conduct. Campbell himself, when in a fit
of gusty anger, often did things he must have regretted afterwards; but
he was essentially manly, and his soul revolted at the continued
persecution of helpless enemies. He issued a sharp manifesto in
reference to the way the prisoners were "slaughtered and disturbed,"
assuring the troops that if it could not be prevented by moderate
measures, he would put a stop to it by taking summary vengeance on the
offenders. [Footnote: Campbell's General Orders, Oct. 11th.] After this
the prisoners were, on the whole, well treated. When they met a couple
of Continental officers, the latter were very polite, expressing their
sympathy for their fate in falling into such hands; for from Washington
and Greene down, the Continental troops disliked and distrusted the
militia almost as much as the British regulars did the tories.

There was one dark deed of vengeance. It had come to be common for the
victors on both sides to hang those whom they regarded as the chief
offenders among their conquered opponents. As the different districts
were alternately overrun, the unfortunate inhabitants were compelled to
swear allegiance in succession to Congress and to king; and then, on
whichever side they bore arms, they were branded as traitors. Moreover,
the different leaders, both British and American, from Tarleton and
Ferguson to Sumter and Marion, often embodied in their own ranks some of
their prisoners, and these were of course regarded as deserters by their
former comrades. Cornwallis, seconded by Rawdon, had set the example of
ordering all men found in the rebel ranks after having sworn allegiance
to the king, to be hung; his under-officers executed the command with
zeal, and the Americans, of course, retaliated. Ferguson's troops
themselves had hung some of their prisoners. [Footnote: Allaire's Diary,
entry for Aug. 20th; also see Aug. 2d. He chronicles these hangings with
much complacency, but is, of course, shocked at the "infamous" conduct
of the Americans when they do likewise.]

All this was fresh in the minds of the Americans who had just won so
decisive a victory. They were accustomed to give full vent to the
unbridled fury of their passions; they with difficulty brooked control;
they brooded long over their own wrongs, which were many and real, and
they were but little impressed by the misdeeds committed in return by
their friends. Inflamed by hatred and the thirst for vengeance, they
would probably have put to death some of their prisoners in any event;
but all doubt was at an end when on their return march they were joined
by an officer who had escaped from before Augusta, and who brought word
that Cruger's victorious loyalists had hung a dozen of the captured
patriots. [Footnote: Shelby MS.] This news settled the doom of some of
the tory prisoners. A week after the battle a number of them were tried,
and thirty were condemned to death. Nine, including the only tory
colonel who had survived the battle, were hung; then Sevier and Shelby,
men of bold, frank nature, could no longer stand the butchery, and
peremptorily interfered, saving the remainder. [Footnote: _Do._] Of the
men who were hung, doubtless some were murderers and marauders, who
deserved their fate; others, including the unfortunate colonel, were
honorable men, executed only because they had taken arms for the cause
they deemed right.

Leaving the prisoners in the hands of the lowland militia, the
mountaineers returned to their secure fastnesses in the high
hill-valleys of the Holston, the Watauga, and the Nollchucky. They had
marched well and fought valiantly, and they had gained a great victory;
all the little stockaded forts, all the rough log-cabins on the
scattered clearings, were jubilant over the triumph. From that moment
their three leaders were men of renown. The legislatures of their
respective states thanked them publicly and voted them swords for their
services. Campbell, next year, went down to join Greene's army, did
gallant work at Guilford Courthouse, and then died of camp-fever. Sevier
and Shelby had long lives before them. [Footnote: Thirty years after the
battle, when Campbell had long been dead, Shelby and Sevier started a
most unfortunate controversy as to his conduct in the battle. They
insisted that he had flinched, and that victory was mainly due to them.
Doubtless they firmly believed what they said; for as already stated,
the jealousies and rivalries among the backwoods leaders were very
strong; but the burden of proof, after thirty years' silence, rested on
them, and they failed to make their statements good--nor was their act a
very gracious one. Shelby bore the chief part in the quarrel, Campbell's
surviving relatives, of course, defending the dead chieftain. I have
carefully examined all the papers in the case, in the Tenn. Historical
Society, the Shelby, MSS., and the Campbell MSS., besides the files of
the _Richmond Enquirer_, etc.; and it is evident that the accusation was
wholly groundless.

Shelby and Sevier rest their case:

1st, on their memory, thirty years after the event, of some remarks of
Campbell to them in private after the close of the battle, which they
construed as acknowledgments of bad conduct. Against these memories of
old men it is safe to set Shelby's explicit testimony, in a letter
written six days after the battle (see _Virginia Argus_, Oct. 26, 1810),
to the good-conduct of the "gallant commander" (Campbell).

2d, on the fact that Campbell was seen on a black horse in the rear
during the fighting; but a number of men of his regiment swore that he
had given his black horse to a servant who sat in the rear, while he
himself rode a bay horse in the battle. See their affidavits in the

3d, on the testimony of one of Shelby's brothers, who said he saw him in
the rear. This is the only piece of positive testimony in the case. Some
of Campbell's witnesses (as Matthew Willoughby) swore that this brother
of Shelby was a man of bad character, engaged at the time in stealing
cattle from both Whigs and Tories.

4th, on the testimony of a number of soldiers who swore they did not see
Campbell in the latter part of the battle, nor until some moments after
the surrender. Of course, this negative testimony is simply valueless;
in such a hurly burly it would be impossible for the men in each part of
the line to see all the commanders, and Campbell very likely did not
reach the places where these men were until some time after the
surrender. On the other hand, forty officers and soldiers of Campbell's,
Sevier's, and Shelby's regiments, headed by General Rutledge, swore that
they had seen Campbell valiantly leading throughout the whole battle,
and foremost at the surrender. This positive testimony conclusively
settles the matter; it outweighs that of Shelby's brother, the only
affirmative witness on the other side. But it is a fair question as to
whether Campbell or another of Shelby's brothers received De Peyster's



John Sevier.
John Sevier had no sooner returned from doing his share in defeating
foes who were of his own race, than he was called on to face another set
of enemies, quite as formidable and much more cruel. These were the red
warriors, the ancient owners of the soil, who were ever ready to take
advantage of any momentary disaster that befell their hereditary and
victorious opponents, the invading settlers.

For many years Sevier was the best Indian fighter on the border. He was
far more successful than Clark, for instance, inflicting greater loss on
his foes and suffering much less himself, though he never had any thing
like Clark's number of soldiers. His mere name was a word of dread to
the Cherokees, the Chickamaugas, and the upper Creeks. His success was
due to several causes. He wielded great influence over his own
followers, whose love for and trust in "Chucky Jack" were absolutely
unbounded; for he possessed in the highest degree the virtues most
prized on the frontier. He was open-hearted and hospitable, with winning
ways towards all, and combined a cool head with a dauntless heart; he
loved a battle for its own sake, and was never so much at his ease as
when under fire; he was a first-class marksman, and as good a horseman
as was to be found on the border. In his campaigns against the Indians
he adopted the tactics of his foes, and grafted on them some important
improvements of his own. Much of his success was due to his adroit use
of scouts or spies. He always chose for these the best woodsmen of the
district, men who could endure as much, see as much, and pass through
the woods as silently, as the red men themselves. By keeping these
scouts well ahead of him, he learned accurately where the war parties
were. In the attack itself he invariably used mounted riflemen, men
skilled in forest warfare, who rode tough little horses, on which they
galloped at speed through the forest. Once in position they did the
actual fighting on foot, sheltering themselves carefully behind the
tree-trunks. He moved with extreme rapidity and attacked with
instantaneous suddenness, using ambushes and surprises wherever
practicable. His knowledge of the whereabouts and size of the hostile
parties, and the speed of his own movements, generally enabled him to
attack with the advantage of numbers greatly on his side. [Footnote: The
old Tennessee historians, headed by Haywood, base their accounts, of the
actions on statements made by the pioneers, or some of the pioneers,
forty or fifty years after the event; and they do a great deal of
bragging about the prowess of the old Indian fighters. The latter did
most certainly perform mighty deeds; but often in an entirely different
way from that generally recorded; for they faced a foe who on his own
ground was infinitely more to be dreaded than the best trained European
regulars. Thus Haywood says that after the battle of the Island Flats,
the whites were so encouraged that thenceforward they never asked
concerning their enemies, "how many are they?" but "where are they?" Of
course, this is a mere piece of barbaric boasting. If the whites had
really acted on any such theory there would have been a constant
succession of disasters like that at the Blue Licks. Sevier's latest
biographer, Mr. Kirke, in the "Rear-guard of the Revolution," goes far
beyond even the old writers. For instance, on p. 141 he speaks of
Sevier's victories being "often" gained over "twenty times his own
number" of Indians. As a matter of fact, one of the proofs of Sevier's
skill as a commander is that he almost always fought with the advantage
of numbers on his side. Not a single instance can be produced where
either he or any one else during his lifetime gained a victory over
twenty times his number of Indians, unless the sieges are counted. It is
necessary to keep in mind the limitations under which Haywood did his
work, in order to write truthfully; but a debt of gratitude will always
be due him for the history he wrote. Like Marshall's, it is the book of
one who himself knew the pioneers, and it has preserved very much of
value which would otherwise have been lost. The same holds true of
Ramsey.] He could then outflank or partially surround the Indians, while
his sudden rush demoralized them; so that, in striking contrast to most
other Indian fighters, he inflicted a far greater loss than he received.
He never fought a big pitched battle, but, by incessantly harrying and
scattering the different war bands, he struck such terror to the hearts
of the Indians that he again and again, in a succession of wars, forced
them into truces, and for the moment freed the settlements from their
ravages. He was almost the only commander on the frontier who ever
brought an Indian war, of whatever length, to an end, doing a good deal
of damage to his foes and suffering very little himself. Still, he never
struck a crushing blow, nor conquered a permanent peace. He never did
any thing to equal Clark's campaigns in the Illinois and against
Vincennes, and, of course, he cannot for a moment be compared to his
rival and successor, grim Old Hickory, the destroyer of the Creeks and
the hero of New Orleans.

Sevier's Cherokee Campaigns.

When the men of the Holston or upper Tennessee valley settlements
reached their homes after the King's Mountain expedition, they found
them menaced by the Cherokees. Congress had endeavored in vain to
persuade the chiefs of this tribe to make a treaty of peace, or at least
to remain neutral. The efforts of the British agents to embroil them
with the whites were completely successful; and in November the Otari or
Overhill warriors began making inroads along the frontier. They did not
attack in large bands. A constant succession of small parties moved
swiftly through the county, burning cabins, taking scalps, and, above
all, stealing horses. As the most effectual way of stopping such
inroads, the alarmed and angered settlers resolved to send a formidable
retaliatory expedition against the Overhill towns. [Footnote: Campbell
MSS. Letter of Gov. Thos. Jefferson, Feb. 17, 1781.] All the Holston
settlements both north and south of the Virginia line joined in sending
troops. By the first week in December, 1780, seven hundred mounted
riflemen were ready to march, under the joint leadership of Colonel
Arthur Campbell and of Sevier, the former being the senior officer. They
were to meet at an appointed place on the French Broad.

Sevier started first, with between two and three hundred of his Watauga
and Nolichucky followers. He marched down to the French Broad, but could
hear nothing of Campbell. He was on the great war trace of the southern
Indians, and his scouts speedily brought him word that they had
exchanged shots with a Cherokee war party, on its way to the
settlements, and not far distant on the other side of the river. He
instantly crossed, and made a swift march towards the would-be
marauders, camping on Boyd's Creek. The scouts were out by sunrise next
morning--December 16th,--and speedily found the Indian encampment, which
the warriors had just left. On receipt of the news Sevier ordered the
scouts to run on, attack the Indians, and then instantly retreat, so as
to draw them into an ambuscade. Meanwhile the main body followed
cautiously after, the men spread out in a long line, with the wings
advanced; the left wing under Major Jesse Walton, the right under Major
Jonathan Tipton, while Sevier himself commanded the centre, which
advanced along the trail by which the scouts were to retreat. When the
Indians were drawn into the middle, the two wings were to close in, when
the whole party would be killed or captured.

The plan worked well. The scouts soon came up with the warriors, and,
after a moment's firing, ran back, with the Indians in hot pursuit.
Sevier's men lay hid, and, when the leading warriors were close up, they
rose and fired. Walton's wing closed in promptly; but Tipton was too
slow, and the startled Cherokees ran off through the opening he had
left, rushed into a swamp impassable for horsemen, and scattered out,
each man for himself, being soon beyond pursuit. Nevertheless, Sevier
took thirteen scalps, many weapons, and all their plunder. In some of
their bundles there were proclamations from Sir Henry Clinton and other
British commanders.

The Indians were too surprised and panic-struck to offer any serious
resistance, and not a man of Sevier's force was even wounded. [Footnote:
Campbell MSS. Copy of the official report of Col. Arthur Campbell, Jan.
15, 1781. The accounts of this battle of Boyd's Creek illustrate well
the growth of such an affair under the hands of writers who place
confidence in all kinds of tradition, especially if they care more for
picturesqueness than for accuracy. The contemporary official report is
explicit. There were three hundred whites and seventy Indians. Of the
latter, thirteen were slain. Campbell's whole report shows a jealousy of
Sevier, whom he probably knew well enough was a man of superior ability
to himself; but this jealousy appears mainly in the coloring. He does
not change any material fact, and there is no reason for questioning the
substantial truth of his statements.

Forty years afterward Haywood writes of the affair, trying to tell
simply the truth, but obliged to rely mainly on oral tradition. He
speaks of Sevier's troops as only two hundred in number; and says
twenty-eight Indians were killed. He does not speak of the number of the
Indians, but from the way he describes Sevier's troops as encircling
them, he evidently knew that the white men were more numerous than their
foes. His mistake as to the number of Indian dead is easily explicable.
The official report gives twenty-nine as the number killed in the entire
campaign, and Haywood, as in the Island Flats battle, simply puts the
total of several skirmishes into one.

Thirty years later comes Ramsey. He relies on traditions that have grown
more circumstantial and less accurate. He gives two accounts of what he
calls "one of the best-fought battles in the border war of Tennessee";
one of these accounts is mainly true; the other entirely false; he does
not try to reconcile them. He says three whites were wounded, although
the official report says that in the whole campaign but one man was
killed and two wounded. He reduces Sevier's force to one hundred and
seventy men, and calls the Indians "a large body."

Thirty-four years later comes Mr. Kirke, with the "Rear-guard of the
Revolution." Out of his inner consciousness he evolves the fact that
there were "not less than a thousand" Indians, whom Sevier, at the head
of one hundred and seventy men, vanquishes, after a heroic combat, in
which Sevier and some others perform a variety of purely imaginary
feats. By diminishing the number of the whites, and increasing that of
the Indians, he thus makes the relative force of the latter about
_twenty-five times as great as it really was_, and converts a clever
ambuscade, whereby the whites gave a smart drubbing to a body of Indians
one fourth their own number, into a Homeric victory over a host six
times as numerous as the conquerors.

This is not a solitary instance; on the contrary it is typical of almost
all that is gravely set forth as history by a number of writers on these
western border wars, whose books are filled from cover to cover with
just such matter. Almost all their statements are partly, and very many
are wholly, without foundation.]Having thus made a very pretty stroke,
Sevier returned to the French Broad, where Campbell joined him on the
22d, with four hundred troops. Among them were a large number of
Shelby's men, under the command of Major Joseph Martin. The next day the
seven hundred horsemen made a forced march to the Little Tennessee; and
on the 24th crossed it unopposed, making a feint at one ford, while the
main body passed rapidly over another. The Indians did not have the
numbers to oppose so formidable a body of good fighters, and only
ventured on a little very long range and harmless skirmishing with the
vanguard. Dividing into two bodies, the troops destroyed Chota and the
other towns up and down the stream, finding in them a welcome supply of
provisions. The next day Martin, with a detachment, fell on a party of
flying Indians, killed one, and captured seventeen horses loaded with
clothing, skins, and the scanty household furniture of the cabins; while
another detachment destroyed the part of Chilhowee that was on the
nearer side of the river. On the 26th the rest of Chilhowee was burned,
three Indians killed, and nine captured. Tipton, with one hundred and
fifty men, was sent to attack another town beyond the river; but owing
to the fault of their commander, [Footnote: His "unmilitary behavior,"
says Campbell. Ramsey makes him one of the (imaginary) wounded at Boyd's
Creek. Kirke improves on this by describing him as falling "badly
wounded" just as he was about to move his wing forward, and ascribes to
his fall the failure of the wing to advance.] this body failed to get
across. The Indian woman, Nancy Ward, who in '76 had given the settlers
timely warning of the intended attack by her tribesmen here came into
camp. She brought overtures of peace from the chiefs; but to these
Campbell and Sevier would not listen, as they wished first to demolish
the Hiawassee towns, where the warriors had been especially hostile.
Accordingly, they marched thither. On their way there were a couple of
skirmishes, in which several Indians were killed and one white man. The
latter, whose name was Elliot, was buried in the Tellico town, a cabin
being burned down over his grave, that the Indians might not know where
it was. The Indians watched the army from the hills. At one point a
warrior was seen stationed on a ridge to beat a drum and give signals to
the rest; but the spies of the whites stole on him unawares, and shot
him. The Hiawassee towns and all the stores of provisions they contained
were destroyed, the work being finished on the last day of the year.

On January 1, 1781, the army broke up into detachments which went home
by different routes, some additional towns being destroyed. The Indians
never ventured to offer the invaders a pitched battle. Many of the war
parties were absent on the frontier, and, at the very time their own
country was being invaded, they committed ravages in Powell's Valley,
along the upper Holston, and on the Kentucky road, near Cumberland Gap.
The remaining warriors were cowed by Sevier's first success, and were
puzzled by the rapidity with which the troops moved; for the mounted
riflemen went at speed wherever they wished, and were not encumbered by
baggage, each man taking only his blanket and a wallet of parched corn.

All the country of the Overhill Cherokees was laid waste, a thousand
cabins were burned, and fifty thousand bushels of corn destroyed.
Twenty-nine warriors in all were killed, and seventeen women and
children captured, not including the family of Nancy Ward, who were
treated as friends, not prisoners. But one white man was killed and two
wounded. [Footnote: Campbell MSS. Arthur Campbell's official report. The
figures of the cabins and corn destroyed are probably exaggerated. All
the Tennessee historians, down to Phelan, are hopelessly in the dark
over this campaign. Haywood actually duplicates it (pp. 63 and 99)
recounting it first as occurring in '79, and then with widely changed
incidents as happening in '8l--making two expeditions. When he falls
into such a tremendous initial error, it is not to be wondered at that
the details he gives are very untrustworthy. Ramsey corrects Haywood as
far as the two separate expeditions are concerned, but he makes a number
of reckless statements apparently on no better authority than the
traditions current among the border people, sixty or seventy years after
the event. These stand on the same foundation with the baseless tale
that makes Isaac Shelby take part in the battle of Island Flats. The
Tennessee historians treat Sevier as being the chief commander; but he
was certainly under Campbell; the address they sent out to the Indians
is signed by Campbell first, Sevier second, and Martin third. Haywood,
followed by Ramsey, says that Sevier marched to the Chickamauga towns,
which he destroyed, and then marched down the Coosa to the region of the
Cypress Swamps. But Campbell's official report says that the towns "in
the neighborhood of Chickamauga and the Town of Cologn, situated on the
sources of the Mobile" were _not_ destroyed, nor visited, and he
carefully enumerates all the towns that the troops burned and the
regions they went through. They did not go near Chickamauga nor the
Coosa. Unless there is some documentary evidence in favor of the
assertions of Haywood and Ramsey they cannot for a moment be taken
against the explicit declaration of the official report.

Mr. Kirke merely follows Ramsey, and adds a few flourishes of his own,
such as that at the Chickamauga towns "the blood of the slaughtered
cattle dyed red the Tennessee" for some twenty miles, and that "the
homes of over forty thousand people were laid in ashes." This last
estimate is just about ten times too strong, for the only country
visited was that of the Overhill Cherokees, and the outside limit for
the population of the devastated territory would be some four thousand
souls, or a third of the Cherokee tribe, which all told numbered perhaps
twelve thousand people.]

In the burnt towns, and on the dead warriors, were found many letters
and proclamations from the British agents and commanders, showing that
almost every chief in the nation had been carrying on a double game; for
the letters covered the periods at which they had been treating with the
Americans and earnestly professing their friendship for the latter and
their determination to be neutral in the contest then waging. As
Campbell wrote in his report to the Virginian governor, no people had
ever acted with more foolish duplicity.

Before returning, the three commanders, Campbell, Sevier, and Martin,
issued an address to the Otari chiefs and warriors, and sent it by one
of their captured braves, who was to deliver it to the head-men.
[Footnote: Campbell MSS. Issued at Kai-a-tee, Jan. 4, 1781; the copy
sent to Governor Jefferson is dated Feb. 28th.] The address set forth
what the white troops had done, telling the Indians it was a just
punishment for their folly and perfidy in consenting to carry out the
wishes of the British agents; it warned them shortly to come in and
treat for peace, lest their country should again be visited, and not
only laid waste, but conquered and held for all time. Some chiefs came
in to talk, and were met at Chota [Footnote: The Tennessee historians
all speak of this as a treaty; and probably a meeting did take place as
described; but it led to nothing, and no actual treaty was made until
some months later.]; but though they were anxious for peace they could
not restrain the vindictive spirit of the young braves, nor prevent them
from harassing the settlements. Nor could the white commanders keep the
frontiersmen from themselves settling within the acknowledged boundaries
of the Indian territory. They were constantly pressing against the
lines, and eagerly burst through at every opening. When the army marched
back from burning the Overhill towns, they found that adventurous
settlers had followed in its wake, and had already made clearings and
built cabins near all the best springs down to the French Broad. People
of every rank showed keen desire to encroach on the Indian lands.
[Footnote: Calendar of Va. State Papers, II., letter of Col. Wm.
Christian to Governor of Virginia, April 10, 1781.]

The success of this expedition gave much relief to the border, and was
hailed with pleasure throughout Virginia [Footnote: State Department
MSS., No. 15, Feb. 25, 1781.] and North Carolina. Nevertheless the war
continued without a break, bands of warriors from the middle towns
coming to the help of their disheartened Overhill brethren. Sevier
determined to try one of his swift, sudden strokes against these new
foes. Early in March he rode off at the head of a hundred and fifty
picked horsemen, resolute to penetrate the hitherto untrodden wilds that
shielded the far-off fastnesses where dwelt the Erati. Nothing shows his
daring, adventurous nature more clearly than his starting on such an
expedition; and only a man of strong will and much power could have
carried it to a successful conclusion. For a hundred and fifty miles he
led his horsemen through a mountainous wilderness where there was not so
much as a hunter's trail. They wound their way through the deep defiles
and among the towering peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, descending by
passes so precipitous that it was with difficulty the men led down them
even such surefooted beasts as their hardy hill-horses. At last they
burst out of the woods and fell like a thunderbolt on the towns of the
Erati, nestling in their high gorges. The Indians were completely taken
by surprise; they had never dreamed that they could be attacked in their
innermost strongholds, cut off, as they were, from the nearest
settlements by vast trackless wastes of woodland and lofty, bald-topped
mountain chains. They had warriors enough to overwhelm Sevier's band by
sheer force of numbers, but he gave them no time to gather. Falling on
their main town, he took it by surprise and stormed it, killing thirty
warriors and capturing a large number of women and children. Of these,
however, he was able to bring in but twenty, who were especially
valuable because they could be exchanged for white captives. He burnt
two other towns and three small villages, destroying much provision and
capturing two hundred horses. He himself had but one man killed and one
wounded. Before the startled warriors could gather to attack him he
plunged once more into the wilderness, carrying his prisoners and
plunder, and driving the captured horses before him; and so swift were
his motions that he got back in safety to the settlements. [Footnote:
_Do_. Letters of Col. Wm. Christian, April 10, 1781; of Joseph Martin,
March 1st; and of Arthur Campbell, March 28th. The accounts vary
slightly; for instance, Christian gives him one hundred and eighty,
Campbell only one hundred and fifty men. One account says he killed
thirty, another twenty Indians. Martin, by the way, speaks bitterly of
the militia as men "who do duty at times as their inclination leads
them." The incident, brilliant enough anyhow, of course grows a little
under Ramsey and Haywood; and Mr. Kirke fairly surpasses himself when he
comes to it.] The length of the journey, the absolutely untravelled
nature of the country, which no white man, save perhaps an occasional
wandering hunter, had ever before traversed, the extreme difficulty of
the route over the wooded, cliff-scarred mountains, and the strength of
the Cherokee towns that were to be attacked, all combined to render the
feat most difficult. For its successful performance there was need of
courage, hardihood, woodcraft, good judgment, stealth, and great
rapidity of motion. It was one of the most brilliant exploits of the
border war.

Even after his return Sevier was kept busy pursuing and defeating small
bands of plundering savages. In the early summer he made a quick inroad
south of the French Broad. At the head of over a hundred hard riders he
fell suddenly on the camp of a war party, took a dozen scalps, and
scattered the rest of the Indians in every direction. A succession of
these blows completely humbled the Cherokees, and they sued for peace;
thanks to Sevier's tactics, they had suffered more loss than they had
inflicted, an almost unknown thing in these wars with the forest
Indians. In midsummer peace was made by a treaty at the Great Island of
the Holston.

End of the War with the British and Tories.

During the latter half of the year, when danger from the Indians had
temporarily ceased, Sevier and Shelby led down bands of mounted riflemen
to assist the American forces in the Carolinas and Georgia. They took an
honorable share under Marion in some skirmishes against the British and
Hessians but they did not render any special service, and Greene found
he could place no reliance on them for the actual stubborn campaigns
that broke the strength of the king's armies. They enlisted for very
short periods, and when their time was up promptly returned to their
mountains, for they were sure to get home-sick and uneasy about their
families; and neither the officers nor the soldiers had any proper idea
of the value of obedience. Among their own hills and forests and for
their own work, they were literally unequalled; and they were ready
enough to swoop down from their strongholds, strike some definite blow,
or do some single piece of valiant fighting in the low country, and then
fall back as quickly as they had come. But they were not particularly
suited for a pitched battle in the open, and were quite unfitted to
carry on a long campaign. [Footnote: Shelby MSS. Of course Shelby paints
these skirmishes in very strong colors. Haywood and Ramsey base their
accounts purely on his papers.]; [Footnote: Ramsey and his followers
endeavor to prove that the mountain men did excellently in these 1781
campaigns; but the endeavor is futile. They were good for some one
definite stroke, but their shortcomings were manifest the instant a long
campaign was attempted; and the comments of the South Carolina
historians upon their willingness to leave at unfortunate moments are on
the whole just. They behaved somewhat as Stark and the victors at
Bennington did when they left the American army before Saratoga;
although their conduct was on the whole better than that of Stark's men.
They were a brave, hardy, warlike band of irregulars, probably better
fighters than any similar force on this continent or elsewhere; but
occasional brilliant exceptions must not blind us to the general
inefficiency of the Revolutionary militia, and their great inferiority
to the Continentals of Washington, Greene, and Wayne. See Appendix.]

In one respect the mountain men deserve great credit for their conduct
in the Carolinas. As a general thing they held aloof from the
plundering. The frightful character of the civil war between the whigs
and tories, and the excesses of the British armies, had utterly
demoralized the southern States; they were cast into a condition of
anarchic disorder, and the conflicts between the patriots and loyalists
degenerated into a bloody scramble for murder and plunder wherein the
whigs behaved as badly as ever the tories had done. [Footnote: In the
Clay MSS. there is a letter from Jesse Benton (the father of the great
Missouri Senator) to Col. Thos. Hart, of March 23d, 1783, which gives a
glimpse of the way in which the tories were treated even after the
British had been driven out; it also shows how soon maltreatment of
royalists was turned into general misrule and rioting. The letter runs,
in part, as follows:

"I cannot help mentioning to You an Evil which seems intaild upon the
upper part of this State, to wit, Mobbs and commotions amongst the
People. I shall give you the particulars of the last Work of this kind
which lately happend, & which is not yet settled; Plunder being the
first cause. The Scoundrels, under the cloak of great Whigs cannot bear
the thought of paying the unfortunate Wretches whom Fame and ill will
call Tories (though many of them perhaps honest, industrious and useful
men) for plunderd property; but on the other Hand think they together
with their Wives and Children (who are now beging for Mercy) ought to be
punished to the utmost extremity. I am sorry that Col. O Neal and his
Brother Peter, who have been useful men and whom I am in hopes are
pretty clear of plundering, should have a hand in Arbitrary measures at
this Day when the Civil Laws might take place.

"One Jacob Graves son of old John of Stinking Quarter, went off & was
taken with the British Army, escaped from the Guards, came & surrendered
himself to Gen'l Butler, about the middle of Last month & went to his
Family upon Parole. Col. O Neal being informed of this, armed himself
with Gun and sword, went to Graves's in a passion, Graves shut the Door,
O Neal broke it down, Graves I believe thinking his own Life at stake,
took his Brothers Gun which happened to be in the house & shot O Neal
through the Breast.

"O Neal has suffered much but is now recovering. This accident has
inflamed and set to work those who were afraid of suffering for their
unjust and unwarrantable Deeds, the Ignorant honest men are also willing
to take part against their Rulers & I don't know when nor where it is to
end, but I wish it was over. At the Guilford Feb'y Court Peter O Neal &
others armed with clubs in the Face of the Court then sitting and in the
Court house too, beat some men called Tories so much that their Lives
were despaired of, broke up the Court and finally have stopd the civil
Laws in that County. Your old Friend Col. Dunn got out at Window, fled
in a Fright, took cold and died immediately. Rowan County Court I am
told was also broke up.

"If O Neal should die I fear that a number of the unhappy wretches
called Tories will be Murdered, and that a man disposed to do justice
dare not interfere, indeed the times seem to imitate the commencement of
the Regulators."] Men were shot, houses burned, horses stolen, and
negroes kidnapped; even the unfortunate freedmen of color were hurried
off and sold into slavery. It was with the utmost difficulty that a few
wise and good commanders, earnest lovers of their country, like the
gallant General Pickens, were able to put a partial stop to these
outrages, and gather a few brave men to help in overcoming the foreign
foe. To the honor of the troops under Sevier and Shelby be it said that
they took little part in these misdeeds. There were doubtless some men
among them who shared in all the evil of that turbulent time; but most
of these frontier riflemen, though poor and ignorant, were sincerely
patriotic; they marched to fight the oppressor, to drive out the
stranger, not to ill-treat their own friends and countrymen.

Towards the end of these campaigns, which marked the close of the
Revolutionary struggle, Shelby was sent to the North Carolina
Legislature, where he served for a couple of terms. Then, when peace was
formally declared, he removed to Kentucky, where he lived ever
afterwards. Sevier stayed in his home on the Nolichucky, to be
thenceforth, while his life lasted, the leader in peace and war of his
beloved mountaineers.

Quarrels over the Land

Early in 1782 fresh difficulties arose with the Indians. In the war just
ended the Cherokees themselves had been chiefly to blame. The whites
were now in their turn the aggressors the trouble being, as usual, that
they encroached on lands secured to the red men by solemn treaty. The
Watauga settlements had been kept compact by the presence of the
neighboring Indians. They had grown steadily but slowly. They extended
their domain slightly after every treaty, such treaty being usually
though not always the sequel to a successful war; but they never gained
any large stretch of territory at once. Had it not been for the presence
of the hostile tribes they would have scattered far and wide over the
country, and could not have formed any government.

The preceding spring (1781) the land office had been closed, not to be
opened until after peace with Great Britain was definitely declared, the
utter demoralization of the government bringing the work to a
standstill. The rage for land speculation, however, which had continued,
even in the stormiest days of the Revolution, grew tenfold in strength
after Yorktown, when peace at no distant day was assured. The wealthy
land speculators of the seaboard counties made agreements of various
sorts with the more prominent frontier leaders in the effort to secure
large tracts of good country. The system of surveying was much better
than in Kentucky, but it was still by no means perfect, as each man
placed his plot wherever he chose, first describing the boundary marks
rather vaguely, and leaving an illiterate old hunter to run the lines.
Moreover, the intending settler frequently absented himself for several
months, or was temporarily chased away by the Indians, while the
official record books were most imperfect. In consequence, many
conflicts ensued. The frontiersmen settled on any spot of good land they
saw fit, and clung to it with defiant tenacity, whether or not it
afterwards proved to be on a tract previously granted to some land
company or rich private individual who had never been a hundred miles
from the sea-coast. Public officials went into these speculations. Thus
Major Joseph Martin, while an Indian agent, tried to speculate in
Cherokee lands. [Footnote: See Va. State Papers, III., 560.] Of course
the officer's public influence was speedily destroyed when he once
undertook such operations; he could no longer do justice to outsiders.
Occasionally the falseness of his position made him unjust to the
Indians; more often it forced him into league with the latter, and made
him hostile to the borderers. [Footnote: This is a chief reason why the
reports of the Indian agents are so often bitterly hostile towards those
of their own color.]

Before the end of the Revolution the trouble between the actual settlers
and the land speculators became so great that a small subsidiary civil
war was threatened. The rough riflemen resolutely declined to leave
their clearings, while the titular owners appealed to the authority of
the loose land laws, and wished them to be backed up by the armed force
of the State. [Footnote: See in Durrett MSS. papers relating to Isaac
Shelby; letter of John Taylor to Isaac Shelby, June 8, 1782.]

The government of North Carolina was far too weak to turn out the
frontiersmen in favor of the speculators to whom the land had been
granted,--often by fraudulent means, or at least for a ridiculously
small sum of money. Still less could it prevent its unruly subjects from
trespassing on the Indian country, or protect them if they were
themselves threatened by the savages. It could not do justice as between
its own citizens, and it was quite incompetent to preserve the peace
between them and outsiders. [Footnote: Calendar of Va. State Papers,
III., p. 213.] The borderers were left to work out their own salvation.

Further Indian Troubles.

By the beginning of 1782 settlements were being made south of the French
Broad. This alarmed and irritated the Indians, and they sent repeated
remonstrances to Major Martin, who was Indian agent, and also to the
governor of North Carolina. The latter wrote Sevier, directing him to
drive off the intruding settlers, and pull down their cabins. Sevier did
not obey. He took purely the frontier view of the question, and he had
no intention of harassing his own staunch adherents for the sake of the
savages whom he had so often fought. Nevertheless, the Cherokees always
liked him personally, for he was as open-handed and free-hearted to them
as to every one else, and treated them to the best he had whenever they
came to his house. He had much justification for his refusal, too, in
the fact that the Indians themselves were always committing outrages.
When the Americans reconquered the southern States many tories fled to
the Cherokee towns, and incited the savages to hostility; and the
outlying settlements of the borderers were being burned and plundered by
members of the very tribes whose chiefs were at the same time writing to
the governor to complain of the white encroachments. [Footnote: _Do_.,
p. 4.]

When in April the Cherokees held a friendly talk with Evan Shelby they
admitted that the tories among them and their own evil-disposed young
men committed ravages on the whites, but asserted that most of them
greatly desired peace, for they were weak and distressed, and had shrunk
much in numbers. [Footnote: _Do_., p. 171, April 29, 1782.] The trouble
was that when they were so absolutely unable to control their own bad
characters, it was inevitable that they should become embroiled with the

The worst members of each race committed crimes against the other, and
not only did the retaliation often fall on the innocent, but,
unfortunately, even the good men were apt to make common cause with the
criminals of their own color. Thus in July the Chickamaugas sent in a
talk for peace; but at that very time a band of their young braves made
a foray into Powell's valley, killing two settlers and driving off some
stock. They were pursued, one of their number killed, and most of the
stock retaken. In the same month, on the other hand, two friendly
Indians, who had a canoe laden with peltry, were murdered on the Holston
by a couple of white ruffians, who then attempted to sell the furs. They
were discovered, and the furs taken from them; but to their disgrace be
it said, the people round about would not suffer the criminals to be
brought to justice. [Footnote: _Do_., pp. 213, 248.]

The mutual outrages continued throughout the summer, and in September
they came to a head. The great majority of the Otari of the Overhill
towns were still desirous of peace, and after a council of their
head-men the chief Old Tassel, of the town of Chota, sent on their
behalf a strong appeal to the governors of both Virginia and North
Carolina. The document is written with such dignity, and yet in a tone
of such curious pathos, that it is worth giving in full, as putting in
strongest possible form the Indian side of the case, and as a sample of
the best of these Indian "talks."

"A Talk to Colonel Joseph Martin, by the Old Tassell, in Chota, the 25th
of September, 1782, in favour of the whole nation. For His Excellency,
the Governor of North Carolina. Present, all the chiefs of the friendly
towns and a number of young men.

"Brother: I am now going to speak to you. I hope you will listen to me.
A string. I intended to come this fall and see you, but there was such
confusion in our country, I thought it best for me to stay at home and
send my Talks by our friend Colonel Martin, who promised to deliver them
safe to you. We are a poor distressed people, that is in great trouble,
and we hope our elder brother will take pity on us and do us justice.
Your people from Nolichucky are daily pushing us out of our lands. We
have no place to hunt on. Your people have built houses within one day's
walk of our towns. We don't want to quarrel with our elder brother; we,
therefore, hope our elder brother will not take our lands from us, that
the Great Man above gave us. He made you and he made us; we are all his
children, and we hope our elder brother will take pity on us, and not
take our lands from us that our father gave us, because he is stronger
than we are. We are the first people that ever lived on this land; it is
ours, and why will our elder brother take it from us? It is true, some
time past, the people over the great water persuaded some of our young
men to do some mischief to our elder brother, which our principal men
were sorry for. But you our elder brothers come to our towns and took
satisfaction, and then sent for us to come and treat with you, which we
did. Then our elder brother promised to have the line run between us
agreeable to the first treaty, and all that should be found over the
line should be moved off. But it is not done yet. We have done nothing
to offend our elder brother since the last treaty, and why should our
elder brother want to quarrel with us? We have sent to the Governor of
Virginia on the same subject. We hope that between you both, you will
take pity on your younger brother, and send Col. Sevier, who is a good
man, to have all your people moved off our land. I should say a great
deal more, but our friend, Colonel Martin, knows all our grievances, and
he can inform you. A string." [Footnote: Ramsey, 271. The "strings" of
wampum were used to mark periods and to indicate, and act as reminders
of, special points in the speech.]

The speech is interesting because it shows that the Indians both liked
and respected Sevier, their most redoubtable foe; and because it
acknowledges that in the previous war the Cherokees themselves had been
the wrongdoers. Even Old Tassel had been implicated in the treacherous
conduct of the chiefs at that period; but he generally acted very well,
and belonged with the large number of his tribesmen who, for no fault of
their own, were shamefully misused by the whites.

The white intruders were not removed. No immediate collision followed on
this account; but when Old Tassel's talk was forwarded to the governor,
small parties of Chickamaugas, assisted by young braves from among the
Creeks and Erati, had already begun to commit ravages on the outlying
settlements. Two weeks before Old Tassel spoke, on the 11th of
September, a family of whites was butchered on Moccasin Creek. The
neighbors gathered, pursued the Indians, and recaptured the survivors.
[Footnote: Calendar of Va. State Papers, III., p. 317.] Other outrages
followed, throughout the month. Sevier as usual came to the rescue of
the angered settlers. He gathered a couple of hundred mounted riflemen,
and made one of his swift retaliatory inroads. His men were simply
volunteers, for there was no money in the country treasury with which to
pay them or provide them with food and provisions; it was their own
quarrel, and they furnished their own services free, each bringing his
horse, rifle, ammunition, blanket, and wallet of parched corn. Naturally
such troops made war purely according to their own ideas, and cared
nothing whatever for the commands of those governmental bodies who were
theoretically their superiors. They were poor men, staunch patriots, who
had suffered much and done all they could during the Revolution
[Footnote: _Do_.]; now, when threatened by the savages they were left to
protect themselves, and they did it in their own way. Sevier led his
force down through the Overhill towns, doing their people no injury and
holding a peace talk with them. They gave him a half breed, John Watts,
afterwards one of their chiefs, as guide; and he marched quickly against
some of the Chickamauga towns, where he destroyed the cabins and
provision hoards. Afterwards he penetrated to the Coosa, where he burned
one or two Creek villages. The inhabitants fled from the towns before he
could reach them; and his own motions were so rapid that they could
never gather in force strong enough to assail him. [Footnote: The
authority for this expedition is Haywood (p. 106); Ramsey simply alters
one or two unimportant details. Haywood commits so many blunders
concerning the early Indian wars that it is only safe to regard his
accounts as true in outline; and even for this outline it is to be
wished we had additional authority. Mr. Kirke, in the "Rear-guard," p.
313, puts in an account of a battle on Lookout Mountain, wherein Sevier
and his two hundred men defeat "five hundred tories and savages." He
does not even hint at his authority for this, unless in a sentence of
the preface where he says, "a large part of my material I have derived
from what may be termed 'original sources'--old settlers." Of course the
statement of an old settler is worthless when it relates to an alleged
important event which took place a hundred and five years before, and
yet escaped the notice of all contemporary and subsequent historians. In
plain truth unless Mr. Kirke can produce something like contemporary--or
approximately contemporary--documentary evidence for this mythical
battle, it must be set down as pure invention. It is with real
reluctance that I speak thus of Mr. Kirke's books. He has done good
service in popularizing the study of early western history, and
especially in calling attention to the wonderful careers of Sevier and
Robertson. Had he laid no claim to historic accuracy I should have been
tempted to let his books pass unnoticed; but in the preface to his "John
Sevier" he especially asserts that his writings "may be safely accepted
as authentic history." On first reading his book I was surprised and
pleased at the information it contained; when I came to study the
subject I was still more surprised and much less pleased at discovering
such wholesale inaccuracy--to be perfectly just I should be obliged to
use a stronger term. Even a popular history ought to pay at least some
little regard to truth.] Very few Indians were killed, and apparently
none of Sevier's people; a tory, an ex-British sergeant, then living
with an Indian squaw, was among the slain.

This foray brought but a short relief to the settlements. On Christmas
day three men were killed on the Clinch; and it was so unusual a season
for the war parties to be abroad that the attack caused widespread
alarm. [Footnote: Calendar of Va. State Papers, III., p. 424.] Early in
the spring of 1783 the ravages began again. [Footnote: _Do_., p. 479.]
Some time before General Wayne had addressed the Creeks and Choctaws,
reproaching them with the aid they had given the British, and
threatening them with a bloody chastisement if they would not keep the
peace. [Footnote: State Department MSS. Letters of Washington, No. 152,
Vol. XI., Feb. I, 1782.] A threat from Mad Anthony meant something, and
the Indians paid at least momentary heed. Georgia enjoyed a short
respite, which, as usual, the more reckless borderers strove to bring to
an end by encroaching on the Indian lands, while the State authorities,
on the other hand, did their best to stop not only such encroachments,
but also all travelling and hunting in the Indian country, and
especially the marking of trees. This last operation, as Governor Lyman
Hall remarked in his proclamation, gave "Great Offence to the Indians,"
[Footnote: Gazette of the State of Georgia, July 10. 1783.] who
thoroughly understood that the surveys indicated the approaching
confiscation of their territory.

Towards the end of 1783 a definite peace was concluded with the
Chickasaws, who ever afterwards remained friendly [Footnote: Va. State
Papers, III., p. 548.]; but the Creeks, while amusing the Georgians by
pretending to treat, let their parties of young braves find an outlet
for their energies by assailing the Holston and Cumberland settlements.
[Footnote: _Do_., p. 532.] The North Carolina Legislature, becoming
impatient, passed a law summarily appropriating certain lands that were
claimed by the unfortunate Cherokees. The troubled peace was continually
threatened by the actions either of ungovernable frontiersmen or of
bloodthirsty and vindictive Indians. [Footnote: _Do_., p. 560.] Small
parties of scouts were incessantly employed in patrolling the southern

Growth of the Settlements.

Nevertheless, all pressing danger from the Indians was over. The Holston
settlements throve lustily. Wagon roads were made, leading into both
Virginia and North Carolina. Settlers thronged into the country, the
roads were well travelled, and the clearings became very numerous. The
villages began to feel safe without stockades, save those on the extreme
border, which were still built in the usual frontier style. The
scattering log school-houses and meeting-houses increased steadily in
numbers, and in 1783, Methodism, destined to become the leading and
typical creed of the west, first gained a foothold along the Holston,
with a congregation of seventy-six members. [Footnote: "History of
Methodism in Tennessee," John B. M'Ferrin (Nashville, 1873), I., 26.]

These people of the upper Tennessee valleys long continued one in
interest as in blood. Whether they lived north or south of the Virginia
or North Carolina boundary, they were more closely united to one another
than they were to the seaboard governments of which they formed part.
Their history is not generally studied as a whole, because one portion
of their territory continued part of Virginia, while the remainder was
cut off from North Carolina as the nucleus of a separate State. But in
the time of their importance, in the first formative period of the young
west, all these Holston settlements must be treated together, or else
their real place in our history will be totally misunderstood.
[Footnote: Nothing gives a more fragmentary and twisted view of our
history than to treat it purely by States; this is the reason that a
State history is generally of so little importance when taken by itself.
On the other hand it is of course true that the fundamental features in
our history can only be shown by giving proper prominence to the
individual state life.]

Frontier Towns.

The two towns of Abingdon and Jonesboro, respectively north and south of
the line, were the centres of activity. In Jonesboro the log
court-house, with its clapboard roof, was abandoned, and in its place a
twenty-four-foot-square building of hewn logs was put up; it had a
shingled roof and plank floors, and contained a justice's bench, a
lawyers' and clerk's bar, and a sheriff's box to sit in. The county of
Washington was now further subdivided, its southwest portion being
erected into the county of Greene, so that there were three counties of
North Carolina west of the mountains. The court of the new county
consisted of several justices, who appointed their own clerk, sheriff,
attorney for the State, entry-taker, surveyer, and registrar. They
appropriated money to pay for the use of the log-house where they held
sessions, laid a tax of a shilling specie on every hundred pounds for
the purpose of erecting public buildings, laid out roads, issued
licenses to build mills, and bench warrants to take suspected persons.
[Footnote: Ramsey, 277. The North Carolina Legislature, in 1783, passed
an act giving Henderson two hundred thousand acres, and appointed Joseph
Martin Indian agent, arranged for a treaty with the Cherokees, and
provided that any good men should be allowed to trade with the Indians.]

Abingdon was a typical little frontier town of the class that
immediately succeeded the stockaded hamlets. A public square had been
laid out, round which, and down the straggling main street, the few
buildings were scattered; all were of logs, from the court house and
small jail down. There were three or four taverns. The two best were
respectively houses of entertainment for those who were fond of their
brandy, and for the temperate. There were a blacksmith shop and a couple
of stores. [Footnote: One was "kept by two Irishmen named Daniel and
Manasses Freil" (_sic_; the names look very much more German than
Irish).] The traders brought their goods from Alexandria, Baltimore, or
even Philadelphia, and made a handsome profit. The lower taverns were
scenes of drunken frolic, often ending in free fights. There was no
constable, and the sheriff, when called to quell a disturbance, summoned
as a posse those of the bystanders whom he deemed friendly to the cause
of law and order. There were many strangers passing through; and the
better class of these were welcome at the rambling log-houses of the
neighboring backwoods gentry, who often themselves rode into the taverns
to learn from the travellers what was happening in the great world
beyond the mountains. Court-day was a great occasion; all the
neighborhood flocked in to gossip, lounge, race horses, and fight. Of
course in such gatherings there were always certain privileged
characters. At Abingdon these were to be found in the persons of a
hunter named Edward Callahan, and his wife Sukey. As regularly as
court-day came round they appeared, Sukey driving a cart laden with
pies, cakes, and drinkables, while Edward, whose rolls of furs and deer
hides were also in the cart, stalked at its tail on foot, in full
hunter's dress, with rifle, powder-horn, and bullet-bag, while his fine,
well-taught hunting-dog followed at his heels. Sukey would halt in the
middle of the street, make an awning for herself and begin business,
while Edward strolled off to see about selling his peltries. Sukey never
would take out a license, and so was often in trouble for selling
liquor. The judges were strict in proceeding against offenders--and even
stricter against the unfortunate tories--but they had a humorous liking
for Sukey, which was shared by the various grand juries. By means of
some excuse or other she was always let off, and in return showed great
gratitude to such of her benefactors as came near her mountain cabin.
[Footnote: Campbell MSS.; an account of the "Town of Abingdon," by David
Campbell, who "first saw it in 1782."]

Court-day was apt to close with much hard drinking; for the backwoodsmen
of every degree dearly loved whiskey.



James Robertson.

Robertson had no share in the glory of King's Mountain, and no part in
the subsequent career of the men who won it; for, at the time, he was
doing his allotted work, a work of at least equal importance, in a
different field. The year before the mountaineers faced Ferguson, the
man who had done more than any one in founding the settlements from
which the victors came, had once more gone into the wilderness to build
a new and even more typical frontier commonwealth, the westernmost of
any yet founded by the backwoodsmen.

Robertson had been for ten years a leader among the Holston and Watauga
people. He had at different times played the foremost part in organizing
the civil government and in repelling outside attack. He had been
particularly successful in his dealings with the Indians, and by his
missions to them had managed to keep the peace unbroken on more than one
occasion when a war would have been disastrous to the whites. He was
prosperous and successful in his private affairs; nevertheless, in 1779,
the restless craving for change and adventure surged so strongly in his
breast that it once more drove him forth to wander in the forest. In the
true border temper he determined to abandon the home he had made, and to
seek out a new one hundreds of miles farther in the heart of the
hunting-grounds of the red warriors.

The point pitched upon was the beautiful country lying along the great
bend of the Cumberland. Many adventurous settlers were anxious to
accompany Robertson, and, like him, to take their wives and children
with them into the new land. It was agreed that a small party of
explorers should go first in the early spring, to plant corn, that the
families might have it to eat when they followed in the fall.

The Cumberland Country.

The spot was already well known to hunters. Who had first visited it
cannot be said; though tradition has kept the names of several among the
many who at times halted there while on their wanderings. [Footnote: One
Stone or Stoner, perhaps Boon's old associate, is the first whose name
is given in the books. But in both Kentucky and Tennessee it is idle to
try to find out exactly who the first explorers were. They were
unlettered woodsmen; it is only by chance that some of their names have
been kept and others lost; the point to be remembered is that many
hunters were wandering over the land at the same time, that they drifted
to many different places, and that now and then an accident preserved
the name of some hunter and of some place he visited.] Old Kasper
Mansker and others had made hunting trips thither for ten years past;
and they had sometimes met the Creole trappers from the Illinois. When
Mansker first went to the Bluffs, [Footnote: The locality where
Nashborough was built, was sometimes spoken of as the Bluffs, and
sometimes as the French Lick.] in 1769, the buffaloes were more numerous
than he had ever seen them before; the ground literally shook under the
gallop of the mighty herds, they crowded in dense throngs round the
licks, and the forest resounded with their grunting bellows. He and
other woodsmen came back there off and on, hunting and trapping, and
living in huts made of buffalo hides; just such huts as the hunters
dwelt in on the Little Missouri and Powder rivers as late as 1883,
except that the plainsmen generally made dug-outs in the sides of the
buttes and used the hides only for the roofs and fronts. So the place
was well known, and the reports of the hunters had made many settlers
eager to visit it, though as yet no regular path led thither. In 1778
the first permanent settler arrived in the person of a hunter named
Spencer, who spent the following winter entirely alone in this remote
wilderness, living in a hollow sycamore-tree. Spencer was a giant in his
day, a man huge in body and limb, all whose life had been spent in the
wilderness. He came to the bend of the Cumberland from Kentucky in the
early spring, being in search of good land on which to settle. Other
hunters were with him, and they stayed some time. A creole trapper from
the Wabash was then living in a cabin on the south side of the river. He
did not meet the new-comers; but one day he saw the huge moccasin tracks
of Spencer, and on the following morning the party passed close by his
cabin in chase of a wounded buffalo, halloing and shouting as they
dashed through the underwood. Whether he thought them Indians, or
whether, as is more likely, he shared the fear and dislike felt by most
of the Creoles for the American backwoodsmen, cannot be said; but
certainly he left his cabin, swam the river, and plunging into the
forest, straightway fled to his kinsfolk on the banks of the Wabash.
Spencer was soon left by his companions; though one of them stayed with
him a short time, helping him to plant a field of corn. Then this man,
too, wished to return. He had lost his hunting-knife; so Spencer went
with him to the barrens of Kentucky, put him on the right path, and
breaking his own knife, gave his departing friend a piece of the metal.
The undaunted old hunter himself returned to the banks of the
Cumberland, and sojourned throughout the fall and winter in the
neighborhood of the little clearing on which he had raised the corn
crop; a strange, huge, solitary man, self-reliant, unflinching, cut off
from all his fellows by endless leagues of shadowy forest. Thus he dwelt
alone in the vast dim wastes, wandering whithersoever he listed through
the depths of the melancholy and wintry woods, sleeping by his camp-fire
or in the hollow tree-trunk, ever ready to do battle against brute or
human foe--a stark and sombre harbinger of the oncoming civilization.

Spencer's figure, seen through the mist that shrouds early western
history, is striking and picturesque in itself; yet its chief interest
lies in the fact that he was but a type of many other men whose lives
were no less lonely and dangerous. He had no qualities to make him a
leader when settlements sprang up around him. To the end of his days he
remained a solitary hunter and Indian fighter, spurning restraint and
comfort, and seeking the strong excitement of danger to give zest to his
life. Even in the time of the greatest peril from the savages he would
not stay shut up in the forts, but continued his roving, wandering life,
trusting to his own quick senses, wonderful strength, and iron nerves.
He even continued to lie out at night, kindling a fire, and then lying
down to sleep far from it. [Footnote: _Southwestern Monthly_, Nashville,
1852, vol. II. General Hall's narrative.]

Robertson Travels Thither.

Early in the year 1779 a leader of men came to the place where the old
hunter had roamed and killed game; and with the new-comer came those who
were to posses the land. Robertson left the Watauga settlements soon
after the spring opened, [Footnote: It is very difficult to reconcile
the dates of these early movements; even the contemporary documents are
often a little vague, while Haywood, Ramsey, and Putnam are frequently
months out of the way. Apparently Robertson stayed as commissioner in
Chota until February or March, 1779, when he gave warning of the
intended raid of the Chickamaugas, and immediately afterwards came back
to the settlements and started out for the Cumberland, before Shelby
left on his Chickamauga expedition. But it is possible that he had left
Chota before, and that another man was there as commissioner at the time
of the Chickamauga raid which was followed by Shelby's counter-stroke.]
with eight companions, one of them a negro. He followed Boon's
trace,--Wilderness Road,--through Cumberland Gap, and across the
Cumberland River. Then he struck off southwest through the wilderness,
lightening his labor by taking the broad, well-beaten buffalo trails
whenever they led in his direction; they were very distinct near the
pools and springs, and especially going to and from the licks. The
adventurers reached the bend of the Cumberland without mishap, and fixed
on the neighborhood of the Bluff, the ground near the French Lick, as
that best suited for their purpose; and they planted a field of corn on
the site of the future forted village of Nashborough. A few days after
their arrival they were joined by another batch of hunter-settlers, who
had come out under the leadership of Kasper Mansker.

As soon as the corn was planted and cabins put up, most of the intending
settlers returned to their old homes to bring out their families,
leaving three of their number "to keep the buffaloes out of the corn."
[Footnote: Haywood, 83.] Robertson himself first went north through the
wilderness to see George Rogers Clark in Illinois, to purchase
cabin-rights from him. This act gives an insight into at least some of
the motives that influenced the adventurers. Doubtless they were
impelled largely by sheer restlessness and love of change and
excitement; [Footnote: Phelan, p. 111, fails to do justice to these
motives, while very properly insisting on what earlier historians
ignored, the intense desire for land speculation.] and these motives
would probably have induced them to act as they did, even had there been
no others. But another and most powerful spring of action was the desire
to gain land--not merely land for settlement, but land for speculative
purposes. Wild land was then so abundant that the quantity literally
seemed inexhaustible; and it was absolutely valueless until settled. Our
forefathers may well be pardoned for failing to see that it was of more
importance to have it owned in small lots by actual settlers than to
have it filled up quickly under a system of huge grants to individuals
or corporations. Many wise and good men honestly believed that they
would benefit the country at the same time that they enriched themselves
by acquiring vast tracts of virgin wilderness, and then proceeding to
people them. There was a rage for land speculation and land companies of
every kind.

The private correspondence of almost all the public men of the period,
from Washington, Madison, and Gouverneur Morris down, is full of the
subject. Innumerable people of position and influence dreamed of
acquiring untold wealth in this manner. Almost every man of note was
actually or potentially a land speculator; and in turn almost every
prominent pioneer from Clark and Boon to Shelby and Robertson was either
himself one of the speculators or an agent for those who were. Many
people did not understand the laws on the subject, or hoped to evade
them; and the hope was as strong in the breast of the hunter, who made a
"tomahawk claim" by blazing a few trees, and sold it for a small sum to
a new-comer, as in that of the well-to-do schemer, who bought an Indian
title for a song, and then got what he could from all outsiders who came
in to dwell on the land.

This speculative spirit was a powerful stimulus to the settlement not
only of Kentucky, but of middle Tennessee. Henderson's claim included
the Cumberland country, and when North Carolina annulled his rights, she
promised him a large but indefinitely located piece of land in their
place. He tried to undersell the state in the land market, and
undoubtedly his offers had been among the main causes that induced
Robertson and his associates to go to the Cumberland when they did. But
at the time it was uncertain whether Cumberland lay in Virginia or North
Carolina, as the line was not run by the surveyors until the following
spring; and Robertson went up to see Clark, because it was rumored that
the latter had the disposal of Virginia "cabin-rights"; under which each
man could, for a small sum, purchase a thousand acres, on condition of
building a cabin and raising a crop. However, as it turned out, he might
have spared himself the journey, for the settlement proved to be well
within the Carolina boundary.

Many Settlers Join Him.

In the fall very many men came out to the new settlement, guided thither
by Robertson and Mansker; the former persuading a number who were bound
to Kentucky to come to the Cumberland instead. Among them were two or
three of the Long Hunters, whose wanderings had done so much to make the
country known. Robertson's especial partner was a man named John
Donelson. The latter went by water and took a large party of immigrants,
including all the women and children, down the Tennessee, and thence up
the Ohio and Cumberland to the Bluff or French Lick. [Footnote: The plan
was that Robertson should meet this party at the Muscle Shoals, and that
they should go from thence overland; but owing to the severity of the
winter, Robertson could not get to the shoals.] Among them were
Robertson's entire family, and Donelson's daughter Rachel, the future
wife of Andrew Jackson, who missed by so narrow a margin being mistress
of the White House. Robertson, meanwhile, was to lead the rest of the
men by land, so that they should get there first and make ready for the
coming of their families.

Robertson's party started in the fall, being both preceded and followed
by other companies of settlers, some of whom were accompanied by their
wives and children. Cold weather of extraordinary severity set in during
November; for this was the famous "hard winter" of '79-80, during which
the Kentucky settlers suffered so much. They were not molested by
Indians, and reached the Bluff about Christmas. The river was frozen
solid, and they all crossed the ice in a body; when in mid-stream the
ice jarred, and--judging from the report--the jar or crack must have
gone miles up and down the stream; but the ice only settled a little and
did not break. By January first there were over two hundred people
scattered on both sides of the river. In Robertson's company was a man
named John Rains, who brought with him twenty-one horned cattle and
seventeen horses; the only cattle and horses which any of the immigrants
succeeded in bringing to the Cumberland. But he was not the only man who
had made the attempt. One of the immigrants who went in Donelson's
flotilla, Daniel Dunham by name, offered his brother John, who went by
land, L100 to drive along his horses and cattle. John accepted, and
tried his best to fulfil his share of the bargain; but he was seemingly
neither a very expert woodsman nor yet a good stock hand. There is no
form of labor more arduous and dispiriting than driving unruly and
unbroken stock along a faint forest or mountain trail, especially in bad
weather; and this the would-be drover speedily found out. The animals
would not follow the trail; they incessantly broke away from it, got
lost, scattered in the brush, and stampeded at night. Finally the
unfortunate John, being, as he expressed it, nearly "driven mad by the
drove," abandoned them all in the wilderness. [Footnote: MSS. on "Dunham
Pioneers," in Nashville Hist. Society. Daniel, a veteran stockman, was
very angry when he heard what had happened.]

Voyage of the "Adventure."

The settlers who came by water passed through much greater peril and
hardship. By a stroke of good fortune the journal kept by Donelson, the
leader of the expedition, has been preserved. [Footnote: Original MS.
"Journal of Voyage intended by God's permission in the good boat
_Adventure_ from Fort Patrick Henry of Holston River to the French Salt
Springs on Cumberland River, kept by John Donelson." An abstract, with
some traditional statements interwoven, is given by Haywood; the journal
itself, with some inaccuracies, and the name of the writer misspelt by
Ramsey; and in much better and fuller shape by A. N. Putnam in his
"History of Middle Tennessee." I follow the original, in the Nashville
Historical Society.] As with all the other recorded wanderings and
explorations of these backwoods adventurers, it must be remembered that
while this trip was remarkable in itself, it is especially noteworthy
because, out of many such, it is the only one of which we have a full
account. The adventures that befell Donelson's company differed in
degree, but not in kind, from those that befell the many similar
flotillas that followed or preceded him. From the time that settlers
first came to the upper Tennessee valley occasional hardy hunters had
floated down the stream in pirogues, or hollowed out tree-trunks. Before
the Revolution a few restless emigrants had adopted this method of
reaching Natchez; some of them made the long and perilous trip in
safety, others were killed by the Chickamaugas or else foundered in the
whirlpools, or on the shoals. The spring before Donelson started, a
party of men, women, and children, in forty canoes or pirogues, went
down the Tennessee to settle in the newly conquered Illinois country,
and skirmished with the Cherokees or their way. [Footnote: State
Department MSS., No. 51, Vol. II., p. 45:


"CHICKASAW NATION, May 25, 1779.

"Sir,--I was this day informed that there is forty large Cannoes loaded
with men women and children passed by here down the Cherokee River who
on their way down they took a Dellaway Indian prisoner & kept him till
they found out what Nation he was of--they told him they had come from
Long Island and were on their way to Illinois with an intent to
settle--Sir I have some reason to think they are a party of Rebels. My
reason is this after they let the Dellaway Indian at liberty they met
with some Cherokees whom they endeavoured to decoy, but finding they
would not be decoyed they fired on them but they all made their Escape
with the Loss of their arms and ammunition and one fellow wounded, who
arrived yesterday. The Dellaway informs me that Lieut. Governor Hamilton
is defeated and himself taken prisoner," etc.

It is curious that none of the Tennessee annalists have noticed the
departure of this expedition; very, very few of the deeds and wanderings
of the old frontiersmen have been recorded; and in consequence
historians are apt to regard these few as being exceptional, instead of
typical. Donelson was merely one of a hundred leaders of flotillas that
went down the western rivers at this time.]

Donelson's flotilla, after being joined by a number of other boats,
especially at the mouth of the Clinch, consisted of some thirty craft,
all told--flat-boats, dug-outs, and canoes. There were probably two or
three hundred people, perhaps many more, in the company; among them, as
the journal records, "James Robertson's lady and children," the latter
to the number of five. The chief boat, the flag-ship of the flotilla,
was the _Adventure_, a great scow, in which there were over thirty men,
besides the families of some of them.

They embarked at Holston, Long Island, on December 22d, but falling
water and heavy frosts detained them two months, and the voyage did not
really begin until they left Cloud Creek on February 27, 1780. The first
ten days were uneventful. The Adventure spent an afternoon and night on
a shoal, until the water fortunately rose, and, all the men getting out,
the clumsy scow was floated off. Another boat was driven on the point of
an island and sunk, her crew being nearly drowned; whereupon the rest of
the flotilla put to shore, the sunken boat was raised and bailed out,
and most of her cargo recovered. At one landing-place a man went out to
hunt, and got lost, not being taken up again for three days, though
"many guns were fired to fetch him in," and the four-pounder on the
Adventure was discharged for the same purpose. A negro became "much
frosted in his feet and legs, of which he died." Where the river was
wide a strong wind and high sea forced the whole flotilla to lay to, for
the sake of the smaller craft. This happened on March 7th, just before
coming to the uppermost Chickamauga town; and that night, the wife of
one Ephraim Peyton, who had himself gone with Robertson, overland, was
delivered of a child. She was in a boat whose owner was named Jonathan

The next morning they soon came to an Indian village on the south shore.
The Indians made signs of friendliness, and two men started toward them
in a canoe which the _Adventure_ had in tow, while the flotilla drew up
on the opposite side of the river. But a half-breed and some Indians
jumping into a pirogue paddled out to meet the two messengers and
advised them to return to their comrades, which they did. Several canoes
then came off from the shore to the flotilla. The Indians who were in
them seemed friendly and were pleased with the presents they received;
but while these were being distributed the whites saw a number of other
canoes putting off, loaded with armed warriors, painted black and red.
The half-breed instantly told the Indians round about to paddle to the
shore, and warned the whites to push off at once, at the same time
giving them some instructions about the river. The armed Indians went
down along the shore for some time as if to intercept them; but at last
they were seemingly left behind.

In a short time another Indian village was reached, where the warriors
tried in vain to lure the whites ashore; and as the boats were hugging
the opposite bank, they were suddenly fired at by a party in ambush, and
one man slain. Immediately afterwards a much more serious tragedy
occurred. There was with the flotilla a boat containing twenty-eight
men, women, and children, among whom small-pox had broken out. To guard
against infection, it was agreed that it should keep well in the rear;
being warned each night by the sound of a horn when it was time to go
into camp. As this forlorn boat-load of unfortunates came along, far
behind the others, the Indians, seeing its defenceless position, sallied
out in their canoes, and butchered or captured all who were aboard.
Their cries were distinctly heard by the rearmost of the other craft,
who could not stem the current and come to their rescue. But a dreadful
retribution fell on the Indians; for they were infected with the disease
of their victims, and for some months virulent small-pox raged among
many of the bands of Creeks and Cherokees. When stricken by the disease,
the savages first went into the sweat-houses, and when heated to
madness, plunged into the cool streams, and so perished in multitudes.

When the boats entered the Narrows they had lost sight of the Indians on
shore, and thought they had left them behind. A man, who was in a canoe,
had gone aboard one of the larger boats with his family, for the sake of
safety while passing through the rough water. His canoe was towed
alongside, and in the rapids it was overturned, and the cargo lost. The
rest of the company, pitying his distress over the loss of all his
worldly goods, landed, to see if they could not help him recover some of
his property. Just as they got out on the shore to walk back, the
Indians suddenly appeared almost over them, on the high cliffs opposite,
and began to fire, causing a hurried retreat to the boats. For some
distance the Indians lined the bluffs, firing from the heights into the
boats below. Yet only four people were wounded, and they not
dangerously. One of them was a girl named Nancy Gower. When, by the
sudden onslaught of the Indians, the crew of the boat in which she was
were thrown into dismay, she took the helm and steered, exposed to the
fire of the savages. A ball went through the upper part of one of her
thighs, but she neither flinched nor uttered any cry; and it was not
known that she was wounded until, after the danger was past, her mother
saw the blood soaking through her clothes. She recovered, married one of
the frontiersmen, and lived for fifty years afterwards, long enough to
see all the wilderness filled with flourishing and populous States.

One of the clumsy craft, however, did not share the good fortune that
befell the rest, in escaping with so little loss and damage. Jonathan
Jennings' boat, in which was Mrs. Peyton, with her new-born baby, struck
on a rock at the upper end of the whirl, the swift current rendering it
impossible for the others to go to his assistance; and they drifted by,
leaving him to his fate. The Indians soon turned their whole attention
to him, and from the bluffs opened a most galling fire upon the disabled
boat. He returned it as well as he could, keeping them somewhat in
check, for he was a most excellent marksman. At the same time he
directed his two negroes, a man and woman, his nearly grown son, and a
young man who was with him, to lighten the boat by throwing his goods
into the river. Before this was done, the negro man, the son, and the
other young man most basely jumped into the river, and swam ashore. It
is satisfactory to record that at least two of the three dastards met
the fate they deserved. The negro was killed in the water, and the other
two captured, one of them being afterwards burned at the stake, while
the other, it is said, was ultimately released. Meanwhile Mrs. Jennings,
assisted by the negro woman and Mrs. Peyton, actually succeeded in
shoving the lightened boat off the rock, though their clothes were cut
in many places by the bullets; and they rapidly drifted out of danger.
The poor little baby was killed in the hurry and confusion; but its
mother, not eighteen hours from child-bed, in spite of the cold, wet,
and exertion, kept in good health. Sailing by night as well as day, they
caught up with the rest of the flotilla before dawn on the second
morning afterwards, the men being roused from their watch-fires by the
cries of "help poor Jennings," as the wretched and worn-out survivors in
the disabled boat caught the first glimpse of the lights on shore.

Having successfully run the gauntlet of the Chickamauga banditti, the
flotilla was not again molested by the Indians, save once when the boats
that drifted near shore were fired on by a roving war party, and five
men wounded. They ran over the great Muscle Shoals in about three hours
without accident, though the boats scraped on the bottom here and there.
The swift, broken water surged into high waves, and roared through the
piles of driftwood that covered the points of the small islands, round
which the currents ran in every direction; and those among the men who
were unused to river-work were much relieved when they found themselves
in safety. One night, after the fires had been kindled, the tired
travellers were alarmed by the barking of the dogs. Fearing that Indians
were near by, they hastily got into the boats and crossed to camp on the
opposite shore. In the morning two of them returned to pick up some
things that had been left; they found that the alarm had been false, for
the utensils that had been overlooked in the confusion were undisturbed,
and a negro who had been left behind in the hurry was still sleeping
quietly by the camp-fires.

On the 20th of the month they reached the Ohio. Some of the boats then
left for Natchez, and others for the Illinois country; while the
remainder turned their prows up stream, to stem the rapid current--a
task for which they were but ill-suited. The work was very hard, the
provisions were nearly gone, and the crews were almost worn out by
hunger and fatigue. On the 24th they entered the mouth of the
Cumberland. The _Adventure_, the heaviest of all the craft, got much
help from a small square-sail that was set in the bow.

Two days afterwards the hungry party killed some buffalo, and feasted on
the lean meat, and the next day they shot a swan "which was very
delicious," as Donelson recorded. Their meal was exhausted and they
could make no more bread; but buffalo were plenty, and they hunted them
steadily for their meat; and they also made what some of them called
"Shawnee salad" from a kind of green herb that grew in the bottoms.

On the last day of the month they met Col. Richard Henderson, who had
just come out and was running the line between Virginia and North
Carolina. The crews were so exhausted that the progress of the boats
became very slow, and it was not until April 24th that they reached the
Big Salt Lick, and found Robertson awaiting them. The long, toilsome,
and perilous voyage had been brought to a safe end.

There were then probably nearly five hundred settlers on the Cumberland,
one half of them being able-bodied men in the prime of life. [Footnote:
Two hundred and fifty-six names are subscribed to the compact of
government; and in addition there were the women, children, the few
slaves, and such men as did not sign.] The central station, the capitol
of the little community, was that at the Bluff, where Robertson built a
little stockaded hamlet and called it Nashborough [Footnote: After A.
Nash; he was the governor of North Carolina; where he did all he could
on the patriot side. See Gates MSS. Sept. 7, 1780.]; it was of the usual
type of small frontier forted town. Other stations were scattered along
both sides of the river; some were stockades, others merely
block-houses, with the yard and garden enclosed by stout palings. As
with all similar border forts or stations, these were sometimes called
by the name of the founder; more rarely they were named with reference
to some natural object, such as the river, ford, or hill by which they
were, or commemorated some deed, or the name of a man the frontiersmen
held in honor; and occasionally they afforded true instances of
clan-settlement and clan-nomenclature, several kindred families of the
same name building a village which grew to be called after them. Among
these Cumberland stations was Mansker's (usually called Kasper's or
Gaspers--he was not particular how his name was spelled), Stone River,
Bledsoe's, Freeland's, Eatons', Clover-Bottom, and Fort Union.

As the country where they had settled belonged to no tribe of Indians,
some of the people thought they would not be molested, and, being eager
to take up the best lands, scattered out to live on separate claims.
Robertson warned them that they would soon suffer from the savages; and
his words speedily came true--whereupon the outlying cabins were
deserted and all gathered within the stockades. In April roving parties
of Delawares, Chickasaws, and Choctaws began to harass the settlement.
As in Kentucky, so on the banks of the Cumberland, the Indians were the
first to begin the conflict. The lands on which the whites settled were
uninhabited, and were claimed as hunting-grounds by many hostile tribes;
so that it is certain that no one tribe had any real title to them.

Formation of a Government.

True to their customs and traditions, and to their race-capacity for
self-rule, the settlers determined forthwith to organize some kind of
government under which justice might be done among themselves, and
protection afforded against outside attack. Not only had the Indians
begun their ravages, but turbulent and disorderly whites were also
causing trouble. Robertson, who had been so largely instrumental in
founding the Watauga settlement, and giving it laws, naturally took the
lead in organizing this, the second community which he had caused to
spring up in the wilderness. He summoned a meeting of delegates from the
various stations, to be held at Nashborough; [Footnote: It is to Putnam
that we owe the publication of the compact of government, and the full
details of the methods and proceedings by which it was organized and
carried on. See "History of Middle Tennessee," pp. 84-103.] Henderson
being foremost in advocating the adoption of the plan.

In fact, Henderson, the treaty-maker and land-speculator, whose purchase
first gave the whites clear color of title to the valleys of the
Kentucky and Cumberland, played somewhat the same part, though on a
smaller scale, in the settlement made by Robertson as in that made by
Boon. He and the Virginian commissioner Walker, had surveyed the
boundary line and found that the Cumberland settlements were well to the
south of it. He then claimed the soil as his under the Cherokee deed;
and disposed of it to the settlers who contracted to pay ten dollars a
thousand acres. This was but a fraction of the State price, so the
settlers were all eager to hold under Henderson's deed; one of the
causes of their coming out had been the chance of getting land so cheap.
But Henderson's claim was annulled by the legislature, and the
satisfaction-piece of 200,000 acres allotted him was laid off elsewhere;
so his contracts with the settlers came to nothing, and they eventually
got title in the usual way from North Carolina. They suffered no loss in
the matter, for they had merely given Henderson promises to pay when his
title was made good.

The settlers, by their representatives, met together at Nashborough, and
on May 1, 1780, entered into articles of agreement or a compact of
government. It was doubtless drawn up by Robertson, with perhaps the
help of Henderson, and was modelled upon what may be called the
"constitution" of Watauga, with some hints from that of Transylvania.
[Footnote: Phelan, the first historian who really grasped what this
movement meant, and to what it was due, gives rather too much weight to
the part Henderson played. Henderson certainly at this time did not
aspire to form a new State on the Cumberland; the compact especially
provided for the speedy admission of Cumberland as a county of North
Carolina. The marked difference between the Transylvania and the
Cumberland "constitutions," and the close agreement of the latter with
the Watauga articles, assuredly point to Robertson as the chief author.]
The settlers ratified the deeds of their delegates on May 13th, when
they signed the articles, binding themselves to obey them to the number
of two hundred and fifty-six men. The signers practically guaranteed one
another their rights in the land, and their personal security against
wrong-doers; those who did not sign were treated as having no rights
whatever--a proper and necessary measure as it was essential that the
naturally lawless elements should be forced to acknowledge some kind of

The compact provided that the affairs of the community should be
administered by a Court or Committee of twelve Judges, Triers or General
Arbitrators, to be elected in the different stations by vote of all the
freemen in them who were over twenty-one years of age. Three of the
Triers were to come from Nashborough, two from Mansker's, two from
Bledsoe's, and one from each of five other named stations. [Footnote:
Putnam speaks of these men as "notables"; apparently they called
themselves as above. Putnam's book contains much very valuable
information; but it is written in most curious style and he interlards
it with outside matter; much that he puts in quotation marks is
apparently his own material. It is difficult to make out whether his
"tribunal of notables" is his own expression or a quotation, but
apparently it is the former.] Whenever the freemen of any station were
dissatisfied with their Triers, they could at once call a new election,
at which others might be chosen in their stead. The Triers had no
salaries, but the Clerk of the Court was allowed some very small fees,
just enough to pay for the pens, ink, and paper, all of them scarce
commodities. [Footnote: Haywood, 126.] The Court had jurisdiction in all
cases of conflict over land titles; a land office being established and
an entry taker appointed. Over half of the compact was devoted to the
rules of the land office. The Court, acting by a majority of its
members, was to have jurisdiction for the recovery of debt or damages,
and to be allowed to tax costs. Three Triers were competent to make a
Court to decide a case where the debt or damage was a hundred dollars or
less; and there was no appeal from their decision. For a larger sum an
appeal lay to the whole Court. The Court appointed whomsoever it pleased
to see decisions executed. It had power to punish all offences against
the peace of the community, all misdemeanors and criminal acts, provided
only that its decisions did not go so far as to affect the life of the
criminal. If the misdeed of the accused was such as to be dangerous to
the State, or one "for which the benefit of clergy was taken away by
law," he was to be bound and sent under guard to some place where he
could be legally dealt with. The Court levied fines, payable in money or
provisions, entered up judgments and awarded executions, and granted
letters of administration upon estates of deceased persons, and took
bonds "payable to the chairman of the Committee." The expenses were to
be paid proportionately by the various settlers. It was provided, in
view of the Indian incursions, that the militia officers elected at the
various stations should have power to call out the militia when they
deemed it necessary to repel or pursue the enemy. They were also given
power to fine such men as disobeyed them, and to impress horses if need
be; if damaged, the horses were to be paid for by the people of the
station in the proportion the Court might direct. It was expressly
declared that the compact was designed as a "temporary method of
restraining the licentious"; that the settlement did not desire to be
exempt from the ratable share of the expense for the Revolutionary war,
and earnestly asked that North Carolina would immediately make it part
of the State, erecting it into a county. Robertson was elected chairman
of the Court, and colonel of the militia, being thus made both civil and
military commandant of the settlement. In common with the other Triers
he undertook the solemnization of marriages; and these were always held
legal, which was fortunate, as it was a young and vigorous community, of
which the members were much given to early wedlock.

Thus a little commonwealth, a self-governing state, was created. It was
an absolute democracy, the majority of freemen of full age in each
stockade having power in every respect, and being able not only to
elect, but to dismiss their delegates at any moment. Their own good
sense and a feeling of fair play could be depended upon to protect the
rights of the minority, especially as a minority of such men would
certainly not tolerate any thing even remotely resembling tyranny. They
had formed a representative government in which the legislative and
judicial functions were not separated, and were even to a large extent
combined with the executive. They had proceeded in an eminently
practical manner, having modelled their system on what was to them the
familiar governmental unit of the county with its county court and
county militia officers. They made the changes that their peculiar
position required, grafting the elective and representative systems on
the one they adopted, and of course enlarging the scope of the court's
action. Their compact was thus in some sort an unconscious reproduction
of the laws and customs of the old-time court-leet, profoundly modified
to suit the peculiar needs of backwoods life, the intensely democratic
temper of the pioneers and above all the military necessities of their
existence. They had certain theories of liberty and justice; but they
were too shrewd and hard-headed to try to build up a government on an
entirely new foundation, when they had ready to hand materials with
which they were familiar. They knew by experience the workings of the
county system; all they did was to alter the immediate channel from
which the court drew its powers, and to adapt the representation to the
needs of a community where constant warfare obliged the settlers to
gather in little groups, which served as natural units.

When the settlers first came to the country they found no Indians living
in it, no signs of cultivation or cleared land, and nothing to show that
for ages past it had been inhabited. It was a vast plain, covered with
woods and canebrakes, through which the wild herds had beaten out broad
trails. The only open places were the licks, sometimes as large as
corn-fields, where the hoofs of the game had trodden the ground bare of
vegetation, and channelled its surface with winding seams and gullies.
It is even doubtful if the spot of bare ground which Mansker called an
"old field" or sometimes a "Chickasaw old field" was not merely one of
these licks. Buffalo, deer, and bear abounded; elk, wolves, and panthers
were plentiful.

Yet there were many signs that in long by-gone times a numerous
population had dwelt in the land. Round every spring were many graves,
built in a peculiar way, and covered eight or ten inches deep by mould.
In some places there were earth-covered foundations of ancient walls and
embankments that enclosed spaces of eight or ten acres. The Indians knew
as little as the whites about these long-vanished mound-builders, and
were utterly ignorant of the race to which they had belonged. [Footnote:
Haywood. At present it is believed that the mound-builders were Indians.
Haywood is the authority for the early Indian wars of the Cumberland
settlement, Putnam supplying some information.]

Indian Hostilities.

For some months the whites who first arrived dwelt in peace. But in the
spring, hunting and war parties from various tribes began to harass the
settlers. Unquestionably the savages felt jealous of the white hunters,
who were killing and driving away the game, precisely as they all felt
jealous of one another, and for the same reason. The Chickasaws in
particular, were much irritated by the fort Clark had built at Iron
Bank, on the Mississippi. But the most powerful motive for the attacks
was doubtless simply the desire for scalps and plunder. They gathered
from different quarters to assail the colonists, just as the wild beasts
gathered to prey on the tame herds.

The Indians began to commit murders, kill the stock, and drive off the
horses in April, and their ravages continued unceasingly throughout the
year. Among the slain was a son of Robertson, and also the unfortunate
Jonathan Jennings, the man who had suffered such loss when his boat was
passing the whirl of the Tennessee River. The settlers were shot as they
worked on their clearings, gathered the corn crops, or ventured outside
the walls of the stockades. Hunters were killed as they stooped to drink
at the springs, or lay in wait at the licks. They were lured up to the
Indians by imitations of the gobbling of a turkey or the cries of wild
beasts. They were regularly stalked as they still-hunted the game, or
were ambushed as they returned with their horses laden with meat. The
inhabitants of one station were all either killed or captured. Robertson
led pursuing parties after one or two of the bands, and recovered some
plunder; and once or twice small marauding parties were met and
scattered, with some loss, by the hunters. But, on the whole, very
little could be done at first to parry or revenge the strokes of the
Indians. [Footnote: Putnam, p. 107, talks as if the settlers were
utterly unused to Indian warfare, saying that until the first murder
occurred, in this spring, "few, if any" of them had ever gazed on the
victim of scalping-knife and tomahawk. This is a curiously absurd
statement. Many of the settlers were veteran Indian fighters. Almost all
of them had been born and brought up on the frontier, amid a succession
of Indian wars. It is, unfortunately, exceedingly difficult in Putnam's
book to distinguish the really valuable authentic information it
contains from the interwoven tissue of matter written solely to suit his
theory of dramatic effect. He puts in with equal gravity the "Articles
of Agreement" and purely fictitious conversations, jokes, and the like.
(See pp. 126, 144, and _passim_.)]

Horses and cattle had been brought into the new settlement in some
number during the year; but the savages killed or drove off most of
them, shooting the hogs and horned stock, and stealing the riding
animals. The loss of the milch cows in particular, was severely felt by
the women. Moreover, there were heavy freshets, flooding the low bottoms
on which the corn had been planted, and destroying most of the crop.

These accumulated disasters wrought the greatest discouragement among
the settlers. Many left the country, and most of the remainder, when
midsummer was past, began to urge that they should all go back in a body
to the old settlements. The panic became very great. One by one the
stockades were deserted, until finally all the settlers who remained
were gathered in Nashborough and Freelands. [Footnote: By some accounts
there were also a few settlers left in Eaton's Station; and Mansker's
was rarely entirely deserted for any length of time.] The Cumberland
country would have been abandoned to the Indians, had Robertson not
shown himself to be exactly the man for whom the crisis called.

Robertson was not a dashing, brilliant Indian fighter and popular
frontier leader, like Sevier. He had rather the qualities of Boon, with
the difference that he was less a wandering hunter and explorer, and
better fitted to be head of a settled community. He was far-seeing,
tranquil, resolute, unshaken by misfortune and disaster; a most
trustworthy man, with a certain severe fortitude of temper. All people
naturally turned to him in time of panic, when the ordinarily bold and
daring became cowed and confused. The straits to which the settlers were
reduced, and their wild clamor for immediate flight, the danger from the
Indians, the death of his own son all combined failed to make him waver
one instant in his purpose. He strongly urged on the settlers the danger
of flight through the wilderness. He did not attempt to make light of
the perils that confronted them if they remained, but he asked them to
ponder well if the beauty and fertility of the land did not warrant some
risk being run to hold it, now that it was won. They were at last in a
fair country fitted for the homes of their children. Now was the time to
keep it. If they abandoned it, they would lose all the advantages they
had gained, and would be forced to suffer the like losses and privations
if they ever wished to retake possession of it or of any similar tract
of land. He, at least, would not turn back, but would stay to the bitter

His words and his steadfast bearing gave heart to the settlers, and they
no longer thought of flight. As their corn had failed them they got
their food from the woods. Some gathered quantities of walnuts,
hickory-nuts, and shelbarks, and the hunters wrought havoc among the
vast herds of game. During the early winter one party of twenty men that
went up Caney Fork on a short trip, killed one hundred and five bears,
seventy-five buffaloes, and eighty-seven deer, and brought the flesh and
hides back to the stockades in canoes; so that through the winter there
was no lack of jerked and smoke-dried meat.

The hunters were very accurate marksmen; game was plenty, and not shy,
and so they got up close and rarely wasted a shot. Moreover, their
smallbore rifles took very little powder--in fact the need of excessive
economy in the use of ammunition when on their long hunting-trips was
one of the chief reasons for the use of small bores. They therefore used
comparatively little ammunition. Nevertheless, by the beginning of
winter both powder and bullets began to fail. In this emergency
Robertson again came to the front to rescue the settlement he had
founded and preserved. He was accustomed to making long, solitary
journeys through the forest, unmindful of the Indians; he had been one
of the first to come from North Carolina to Watauga; he had repeatedly
been on perilous missions to the Cherokees; he had the previous year
gone north to the Illinois country to meet Clark. He now announced that
he would himself go to Kentucky and bring back the needed ammunition;
and at once set forth on his journey, across the long stretches of
snow-powdered barrens, and desolate, Indian-haunted woodland.



Robertson passed unharmed through the wilderness to Kentucky. There he
procured plenty of powder, and without delay set out on his return
journey to the Cumberland. As before, he travelled alone through the
frozen woods, trusting solely to his own sharp senses for his safety.

Attack on Freeland's.

In the evening of January 15, 1781, he reached Freeland's station, and
was joyfully received by the inmates. They supped late, and then sat up
for some time, talking over many matters. When they went to bed all were
tired, and neglected to take the usual precautions against surprise;
moreover, at that season they did not fear molestation. They slept
heavily, none keeping watch. Robertson alone was wakeful and suspicious;
and even during his light slumbers his keen and long-trained senses were
on the alert.

At midnight all was still. The moon shone brightly down on the square
block-houses and stockaded yard of the lonely little frontier fort; its
rays lit up the clearing, and by contrast darkened the black shadow of
the surrounding forest. None of the sleepers within the log-walls
dreamed of danger. Yet their peril was imminent. An Indian war band was
lurking near by, and was on the point of making an effort to carry
Freeland's station by an attack in the darkness. In the dead of the
night the attempt was made. One by one the warriors left the protection
of the tangled wood-growth, slipped silently across the open space, and
crouched under the heavy timber pickets of the palisades, until all had
gathered together. Though the gate was fastened with a strong bar and
chain, the dextrous savages finally contrived to open it.

In so doing they made a slight noise, which caught Robertson's quick
ear, as he lay on his buffalo-hide pallet. Jumping up he saw the gate
open, and dusky figures gliding into the yard with stealthy swiftness.
At his cry of "Indians," and the report of his piece, the settlers
sprang up, every man grasping the loaded arm by which he slept. From
each log cabin the rifles cracked and flashed; and though the Indians
were actually in the yard they had no cover, and the sudden and
unexpected resistance caused them to hurry out much faster than they had
come in. Robertson shot one of their number, and they in return killed a
white man who sprang out-of-doors at the first alarm. When they were
driven out the gate was closed after them; but they fired through the
loopholes; especially into one of the block-houses, where the chinks had
not been filled with mud, as in the others. They thus killed a negro,
and wounded one or two other men; yet they were soon driven off.
Robertson's return had been at a most opportune moment. As so often
before and afterwards, he had saved the settlement from destruction.

Other bands of Indians joined the war party, and they continued to hover
about the stations, daily inflicting loss and damage on the settlers.
They burned down the cabins and fences, drove off the stock and killed
the hunters, the women and children who ventured outside the walls, and
the men who had gone back to their deserted stockades. [Footnote:
Haywood says they burned "immense quantities of corn"; as Putnam points
out, the settlers could have had very little corn to burn. Haywood is
the best authority for the Indian fighting in the Cumberland district
during '80, '81, and '82. Putnam supplies some details learned from Mrs.
Robertson in her old age. The accounts are derived mainly from the
statements of old settlers; but the Robertsons seem always to have kept
papers, which served to check off the oral statements. For all the
important facts there is good authority. The annals are filled with name
after name of men who were killed by the Indians. The dates, and even
the names, may be misplaced in many of these instances; but this is
really a matter of no consequence, for their only interest is to show
the nature of the harassing Indian warfare, and the kind of adventure
then common.]

Attack on Nashborough.

On the 2d day of April another effort was made by a formidable war party
to get possession of one of the two remaining stations--Freeland's and
Nashborough--and thus, at a stroke, drive the whites from the Cumberland
district. This time Nashborough was the point aimed at.

A large body [Footnote: How large it is impossible to say. One or two
recent accounts make wild guesses, calling it 1,000; but this is sheer
nonsense; it is more likely to have been 100.] of Cherokees approached
the fort in the night, lying hid in the bushes, divided into two
parties. In the morning three of them came near, fired at the fort, and
ran off towards where the smaller party lay ambushed, in a thicket
through which ran a little "branch." Instantly twenty men mounted their
horses and galloped after the decoys. As they overtook the fugitives
they saw the Indians hid in the creek-bottom, and dismounted to fight,
turning their horses loose. A smart interchange of shots followed, the
whites having, if any thing, rather the best of it, when the other and
larger body of Indians rose from their hiding-place, in a clump of
cedars, and running down, formed between the combatants and the fort,
intending to run into the latter, mixed with the fleeing riflemen. The
only chance of the hemmed-in whites was to turn and try to force their
way back through their far more numerous foes. This was a desperate
venture, for their pieces were all discharged, and there was no time to
reload them; but they were helped by two unexpected circumstances. Their
horses had taken flight at the firing, and ran off towards the fort,
passing to one side of the intervening line of Indians; and many of the
latter, eager for such booty, ran off to catch them. Meanwhile, the
remaining men in the fort saw what had happened, and made ready for
defense, while all the women likewise snatched up guns or axes, and
stood by loopholes and gate. The dogs in the fort were also taking a
keen interest in what was going on. They were stout, powerful animals,
some being hounds and others watch dogs, but all accustomed to contests
with wild beasts; and by instinct and training they mortally hated
Indians. Seeing the line of savages drawn up between the fort and their
masters, they promptly sallied out and made a most furious onset upon
their astonished foes. Taking advantage of this most opportune
diversion, the whites ran through the lines and got into the fort, the
Indians being completely occupied in defending themselves from the dogs.
Five of the whites were killed, and they carried two wounded men into
the fort. Another man, when almost in safety, was shot, and fell with a
broken thigh; but he had reloaded his gun as he ran, and he killed his
assailant as the latter ran up to scalp him. The people from the fort
then, by firing their rifles, kept his foes at bay until he could be
rescued; and he soon recovered from his hurt. Yet another man was
overtaken almost under the walls, the Indian punching him in the
shoulder with the gun as he pulled the trigger; but the gun snapped, and
a hunter ran out of the fort and shot the Indian. The gates were closed,
and the whites all ready; so the Indians abandoned their effort and drew
off. They had taken five scalps and a number of horses; but they had
failed in their main object, and the whites had taken two scalps,
besides killing and wounding others of the red men, who were carried off
by their comrades.

After the failure of this attempt the Indians did not, for some years,
make any formidable attack on any of the larger stations. Though the
most dangerous of all foes on their own ground, their extreme caution
and dislike of suffering punishment prevented them from ever making
really determined efforts to carry a fort openly by storm; moreover,
these stockades were really very defensible against men unprovided with
artillery, and there is no reason for supposing that any troops could
have carried them by fair charging, without suffering altogether
disproportionate loss. The red tribes acted in relation to the
Cumberland settlements exactly as they had previously done towards those
on the Kentucky and Watauga. They harassed the settlers from the outset;
but they did not wake up to the necessity for a formidable and combined
campaign against them until it was too late for such a campaign to
succeed. If, at the first, any one of these communities had been forced
to withstand the shock of such Indian armies as were afterwards brought


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