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forward, a portion of their nation remained, and, we think, justly, hostile to the United Colonies. *
Those colonies, meanwhile, had become convinced, from the massacres at Wyoming and Cherry Valley, that it was advisable to adopt some means of securing the northwestern and western frontiers against the recurrence of such catastrophes; and, the hostile tribes of the Six Nations being the most numerous and deadly foes, it was concluded to begin by strong action against them. Washington had always said, that the only proper mode of defence against the Indians was to attack them, and this mode he determined to adopt on this occasion. Some difference of opinion existed, however, as to the best path into the country of the inimical Iroquois ; that most lovely country in the west of New York, which is now fast growing into a granary for millions of men. General Schuyler was in favor of a movement up the Mohawk river ; the objection to which route was, that it carried the invaders too near to Lake Ontario, and within reach of the British. The other course proposed was up the Susquehanna, which heads, as all know, in the region that was to be reached. The latter route was the one determined upon by Washington for the main body of troops, which was to be joined by another body moving up the Mohawk, and also by detachments coming from the western army, by the way of the Alleghany and French Creek ; upon further thought, however, the movement from the West was countermanded.t All the arrangements for this grand blow were made in March and April, but it was the last of July before General Sullivan got his men under way from Wyoming, where they had gathered ; and, of course, information of the proposed movements had been given to the Indians and Tories, so that Brant, the Johnsons, and their followers, stood ready to receive the invaders.
They were not, however, strong enough to withstand the Americans ; and, having been defeated at the battle of Newtown, were driven from village to village, and their whole country was laid waste. Houses were burned, crops and orchards destroyed, and every thing done, that could be thought of, to render the country uninhabitable. Of all these steps Mr. Stone speaks fully. Forty towns, he tells us, were burnt,
* Stone, Vol. I. p. 405.
Sparkss Washington, Vol. VI. pp. 183, et seq.
and more than one hundred and sixty thousand bushels of corn. Well did the Senecas name Washington, whose armies did all this, " the Town-Destroyer. Having performed this portion of his work, Sullivan turned homeward again from the beautiful valley of the Genesee ; leaving Niagara, whither the Indians fled, as to the stronghold of British power in that neighbourhood, untouched. This conduct, Mr. Stone thinks " difficult of solution,” * as he supposes the conquest of that post to have been one of the main objects of the expedition. Such, however, was not the fact. Originally it had been part of the proposed plan to attack Niagara ; † but, early in January, Washington was led to doubt, and then to abandon, that part of the plan, thinking it wiser to carry on, merely, “ some operations on a smaller scale against the savages.” |
One of these smaller operations was the march of Colonel Daniel Brodhead, who had succeeded M Intosh in command at Fort Pitt, against the tribes along the Alleghany and up French Creek. These tribes Washington speaks of, as “the Mingo and Muncey tribes,” to which Mr. Stone adds the Senecas, as though he were ignorant, that the Senecas formed one of the Mingo tribes, the very one, doubtless, referred to by Washington under the general term. The towns of these Indians were also laid waste, and their crops destroyed.
The immediate result of these prompt and severe measures, was to bring the Delawares, Shawanese, and even the Wyandots, to Fort Pitt, on a treaty of peace. There Brodhead met them, on his return in September, and a long conference was held, to the satisfaction of both parties. Further west, in July, Colonel Bowman had made an unsuccessful attack upon the Shawanese village, known to us as Chillicothe, in the Miami country ; and, in November, Rogers and Benham suffered terribly in a battle with the savages opposite the mouth of the Little Miami. Into the particulars of these battles we cannot enter. Indeed, much as has been written about them, we are yet in the dark, touching many points that ought to be perfectly understood. For instance, there is still some doubt as to the position of the In* Vol. II. p. 36. Sparks's Washington, Vol. VI. pp. 120, 146, # Ibid., pp. 162 - 166. § Vol. II. p. 41.
dian towns, against which expeditions marched from Kentucky, in 1779, 1780, and afterwards. And with respect to those very savages, from whom Rogers and his comrades suffered so much, there is doubt. Butler says, they were going against Kentucky, “under Birde, a Canadian Frenchman,” and quotes from a letter written to him by the son of Benham, who was with the sufferers, and one of the greatest of them. But did not Mr. Benham, the son, refer to that expedition, under Colonel Byrd, in June, 1780, spoken of by-Butler a little further on ? *
The events of 1779, in the West, with the exception of Clark's grand blow, were far less favorable than among, and east of, the mountains. The next year, however, saw the scene reversed ; for, though Byrd, with forces such as had not been before seen on the dark and bloody ground, marched into the very centre of it, and seemed in the way of utterly sweeping it of its settlers and stations, he in truth did but little. And that little was more than avenged by the excursion of Clark against the Miami Shawanese. With nearly a thousand men he marched from the spot where Cincinnati now stands, against the towns upon the Little Miami and Mad River, all of which he destroyed, together with the crops standing about them, and so effectually defeated and stripped the savages, as to prevent any considerable annoyance, on their part, for more than a twelvemonth afterwards.f The Mohawk valley, during that same summer, saw other scenes enacted. The Johnsons and Brant came upon it three seyeral times, burning, killing, wasting ; so that, by autumn, the whole country, above Schenectady, was a wilderness. It was a fearful retaliation for the devastations of Sullivan. In the course of that sad summer many curious and interesting events and adventures occurred, of which Mr. Stone speaks
* See Butler, pp. 103, 110, 550. Upon this and many similar points of western history, we hope to be enlighiened by a work, which we hear that Dr. Drake, of Cincinnati, has in hand; a full history of that city, founded upon an Address, delivered by him at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of that growing place. This writer, as a writer of fact, takes precedence, in our opinion, of all those that have thus far arisen in the West. His “ Picture of Cincinnati,” published twenty years since, is still sought after, and deservedly so. It is just what it claimed to be. And we do not doubt, that his forthcoming work will be equally creditable to him and his adopted land; for we believe that he is not a native of the West, though early there.
† Butler, pp. 110, 117.
at oncns, without an, captures, Indians tem alive, and wing the
fully. Indeed, this is among the most interesting and original portions of his volumes. Into most of his details we cannot, of course, follow him, but must ask our reader's patience, for a few moments, while we tell the story of the Sammons family, greatly abridged, however, from the narrative given by our author. *
Old Mr. Sammons, with three sons and one or more daughters, lived upon the old Johnson estate, which had been sequestrated. Sampson, the father, was a sturdy old Whig, and well known to Sir John, whom he had often had a talk with about the rebellion. His sons, Frederick, Jacob, and Thomas, the youngest eighteen at the time of which we write, were much of the same mind and body ; young Sampsons, knotty and fearless. ' Sir John, knowing their characters, thought he would catch them alive, and take them to Canada ; so he sent his Indians out of the way, and, by good management, captured the whole race early in the morning, without a blow. The old man and his boys were at once bound, and marched off in the direction of Canada, though but a little way. That night the youngest boy, by the aid of the wife of a British officer, managed to escape ; and the next morning, the father, having procured an interview with the Tory chief, read him such a lecture upon the ingratitude of thus treating one, who had formerly stood by him, and upon the iniquity of his conduct generally, that he too was set free, and a span of his horses returned to him. But Frederick and Jacob were less fortunate, and were taken to the fortress of Chamblee, just within Canada, between Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence. At that post there were about seventy prisoners, and not a very strong garrison ; so that the first thing, to which the young Sampsons made up their minds, was an escape. Finding however, their fellow-captives indisposed to do any thing for themselves, Jacob and Frederick determined to act without the rest ; and, accordingly, the first time they were taken out of the fort together, to assist in some common service, they sprang from the ranks, at a concerted signal, and “put,” as the phrase is in the West. The guards, startled, and less fleet of foot, could not catch them, and, though Jacob sell and sprained his ancle, he managed, under cover of the
* Stone, Vol. II. pp. 72 - 136.
smoke, produced by the gun-shots made at them, to hide himself in a clump of bushes, which his pursuers did not think of searching. It had been agreed, previously, between the brothers, that, in case of separation, they were to meet at a known spot at ten o'clock at night. Jacob, the lame one, mistook the hour, and, having gone to the spot and not finding his brother there, he left it, with the intention of getting as far from the fort as possible before daylight, his accident making time especially important to him. He accordingly pushed up the western bank of the Sorel river toward Lake Champlain, intending to swim it just below the lake, and then find his way along the eastern shore. Various events, however, occurred to prevent his doing this ; but, after running great risk, by putting himself within the power of a Tory, whose chief excellence seems to have been the possession of a most kind and fearless wife, he was so lucky as to find a canoe, of which he took charge, and in which he made good headway toward home, until, in one of the narrow passes of Champlain, the British fortifications, on both sides, forced him to leave his vessel and take to the woods again.
He was without shoes, food, or gun, and had to find his way to Albany, through an unknown wilderness, along the Vermont shore. For four days he lived on birch-bark. Then he caught a few fish, and managed also to secure a wild duck. The fish and duck he ate raw. Thus he labored on during ten days. His feet, meanwhile, had become so badly cut, and so intolerably sore, that he could scarce crawl, and swarms of musquitoes made every moment of rest a moment of misery. While thus wretched and worn out, he was bitten upon the calf of the leg by a rattlesnake. And what did this young Sampson do then ? Yield and die ? Not he. With one stroke of his jack-knife he laid his leg open, producing a plenteous flow of blood ; and, with another, slew the poisonous reptile. And then came a day or two of such experience as few meet with in this life. Sammons, worn to a skeleton, with feet ragged from wear and tear, — his leg wounded and not a soul within twenty miles to help, — lay there under the log where he had been bitten, a little fire burning by him, which he had kindled by the aid of a dry fungus, - living on the rattlesnake which he had slain! He ate the heart and fat first, says Mr. Stone, and felt strengthened by the repast. What a power there is in such a soul !