« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
chief Tecumseh, who subsequently became one of the most distinguished warriors of his nation and age.
To avenge themselves upon the hostile Indians on the Little Miami, whose incursions and depredations had become exceedingly harassing to the settlements, none was so fit as Captain Kenton. With a volunteer company of thirty-seven men, all excellent hunters and woodsmen, young, bold, cautious, and trained by himself, he set out in pursuit of a band of Indian marauders, which had retired from the settlements with a large number of horses. Following their trail across the Ohio and advancing up the Little Miami, he discovered “ signs” of his near approach to an Indian encampment on the East Fork, about a mile above the present town of Williamsburg, in Hamilton county, Ohio. Concealing his company from observation, he advanced to reconnoiter the camp, in company with three excellent marksmen, among whom was Cornelius Washburn, whose pulse was as regular and whose nerves were as steady while taking aim at an Indian as if he were practicing at the target, and who had never failed to distinguish himself as an intrepid soldier. An Indian on horseback, hunting for deer, with his horse-bell open,* was approaching in the distance. Kenton, concealing himself and his companions, directed Washburn to shoot the Indian so soon as fairly within reach of his rifle. The savage advanced, unconscious of danger, until he had reached an open place, when Kenton, to arrest his attention, gave a signal with his voice. The Indian instantly halted to discover whence the sound, and in a moment, at the crack of Washburn's rifle, he fell to the ground a lifeless corpse. Such are the artifices mutually practiced by the white man and the Indian.
Kenton and his companion remained stationary, while Washburn and a comrade advanced cautiously along the trail to make further observations. A few hundred yards brought them within hearing of a large number of horse-bells, indicative of the Indian camp, near which the horses were feeding. With the utmost circumspection, Washburn quickly retired to communicate the fact to his captain. A council was immediately held for the arrangements preparatory to the approaching conflict. Having determined upon the time for attack, Kenton, in company with Washburn, advanced to make a personal examination of the strength and position of the enemy. He discovered their encampment on the second bottom of the creek, comprising a large number of linen tents and markees; the number of Indians he could not discover.
* The Indians have a bell attached to each borse, to facilitate their search for them when at large in the woods. If a deer hear the sound of a horse-bell in the forest, instead of flying, he will stand with wonder, and gaze steadily at the horse to which it is attached, while the hunter is enabled to take deliberate aim.-Kenton. See M'Donald's Sketches, &c.
Believing the savages greatly superior in numbers, he resolved to avail himself of the advantage which might result from the panic and confusion of a night attack. The evening was cloudy and drizzly, and the night would be dark and quiet. Pursuit can not be made in the night; and as he might need the protection of the night for retreat in case of defeat, he resolved to make the assault at midnight, when the enemy would be asleep and unprepared. At the appointed time, Kenton led on his little band cautiously and silently toward the sleeping host. So well had this advance been made, that they were undiscovered when within ten paces of the line of encampment and tents.* Divided into four equal parties, within striking distance, at a signal from Kenton each man at the first fire silenced a warrior, and rushed with terrific yells toward the tents. The alarm was general and the confusion instantaneous. Those who had escaped the first fire fled precipitately from the tents; but the assailants were too few to make a simultaneous attack on all the tents. The Indians rallied boldly, and returning to the unoccupied tents, seized their arms, and returned the fire with much animation. The warriors from another encampment, on a lower terraced flat, which had not been discovered in the first reconnoisance, now came to the aid of their friends, when Kenton, surprised at their numbers, and perceiving an attempt to surround him, ordered a speedy retreat, after the skirmish had continued only a few minutes. The retreat was continued without delay until they reached the south side of the river in safety.t
In this perilous enterprise only one man, John Barr, was killed, and one captured by the Indians, Alexander M·Intyre, who was executed by them next day.I The Indian loss in this skirmish, as was ascertained subsequently from a white man living among them, was about thirty killed and several wounded. The whole number of savages was about two hundred, of whom some were women.
* M'Donald's Sketches, p. 254, 255.
Idem, p. 257.
| Idem, p. 256.
After the first alarm, they were rallied and brought back to the contest by a fearless chief, who inspired courage wherever "he moved. This was the undaunted Tecumseh, afterward king of the Shawanese. This war party consisted of about one hundred and fifty warriors ; and had it not been for the courage of their chief in checking the flight, and in rallying them by his authority and example, they would have been routed by less than one fourth of their number of “ hunters from Kentucky.”
The tents and markees in possession of this party were doubtless those which had been lost by Harmar and St. Clair in their disastrous defeats in 1790 and 1791.
The next important partisan enterprise within the limits of Kentucky was condueted by Captain Kenton. In June, 1793, a party of Indians had attacked and captured “ Morgan's Station," from which they had retired rapidly across the Ohio to their towns upon the Yoctangee, or Paint Creek. Captain Kenton immediately raised a party of thirty men, and moved rapidly across the country to intercept them near the Scioto. Having reached Paint Creek at "Reeve's Crossings,” he discovered the “ fresh signs” of a large party of Indians. Pursuing the trail down the creek until close upon them, he halted his party, and, in company with Michael Cassady, proceeded to reconnoiter the enemy's camp. He found the Indians encamped upon the bank of the creek, with three fires ; many were carousing and singing, with other indications of mirth and conscious security. Having viewed their position, he deferred the contemplated attack until just before daylight next morning. It was made in three opposite directions, and carried forward with a vigorous assault by three divisions of ten men each. The Indians were routed in great consternation, with the loss of four warriors, including a white man who had been captured when a child, and who to all appearance was an Indian. Kenton and his troop reached home in safety, having lost only one man, Joseph Jones, in the assault.* Incursions by marauding parties still continued occasionally to annoy the settlements of Kentucky, and Kenton was ever ready to engage in any hazardous enterprise connected with the defense of the inhabitants. The regular spies had discovered the trail of twenty Indians, who were advancing through the country in quest of horses and plunder, and it fell to Kenton's lot to raise a company for the pursuit and capture of the depredators. With a party of seven men, among them Cornelius Washburn, he crossed at Limestone, and proceeded down the river to Holt's Creek. Here, on the south side of the river, he found the Indian canoes concealed in the bottom, and withdrawing his men to the opposite side, he patiently awaited the return of the Indian marauders, with their horses and plunder. On the fourth day three Indians returned with six horses, which they drove across the river. After the horses had been passed over, the Indians raised one of the canoes and followed them. As the canoe approached the shore where Kenton's party laid in ambush, perceiving that one of them was a white ñan, he directed his men to spare him. The first fire killed both Indians as the canoe struck the shore. To the surprise of all, the white man refused to be taken, and they were compelled to shoot him in self-defense. His ears were slit, his nose bored, and he otherwise possessed the marks of an Indian. On the same day, four hours afterward, two more Indians and one white man, with five horses, arrived, and the horses were crossed over in like manner. Another canoe was raised, and the whole party passed over in it. As they approached the shore, one simultaneous discharge killed every soul.*
* M‘Donald's Sketches, p. 258, 259.
During the night the main body of the party arrived, with thirty horses stolen from Bourbon county, and gave a signal by hooting like owls. The signal not being answered from the opposite side, suspicion was awakened, and, after a cautious reconnoissance, one Indian silently swam the river, and approached in the rear of the ambuscade. Suddenly he gave the signal to his party by three deep and long yells, when, in his native tongue, he warned them of the lurking danger, and bade them escape for their lives, for a party of white men were in ambuscade. The words were well understood by Kenton and several of his men, who were familiar with the Indian tongue. At the signal the Indians Aled precipitately in the dark, leaving all their horses in the hands of their enemies. In less than one hour a detachment of militia from Bourbon county arrived, in hot pursuit of the fugitives.
* M'Donald's Sketches, p. 260.
Such is the character of the daring and perilous encounters to which the frontier settlers have been exposed in innumerable instances.
POLITICAL CONDITION OF THE “DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY,” FROM 1783
UNTIL ITS ADMISSION INTO THE FEDERAL UNION AS AN INDEPENDENT STATE.-A.D. 1783 to 1794.
Argument.--Retrospect of the political Condition of the District.-Causes for political
Discontent.— The People desire an independent State Government.–First Conven. tion in 1784.- Second Convention in May, 1785.— Third Convention recommended. Great Emigration ta Kentucky in 1786.—Improved Condition of the Kentucky Settlements in 1786.-Measures adopted by the third Convention.-Action of the Virginia Legislature in favor of Separation.-Requisite Action by Kentucky unavoidably delayed.—Fourth Convention appointed for August, 1787.–First Newspaper in Kentucky.---Agricultural and commercial Prosperity in 1787.-Navigation of the Mississippi commenced.—Fifth Convention held in September, 1787.-Sixth Convention in July, 1788.-Diversity of political Sentiment.--Political Parties.-Action of the sixth Convention. Prominent Men.—Corresponding Action of the Virginia Legislature.-Final Action of this Convention, and Application for Assent of Congress. --Assent of Congress granted February 4th, 1791.-Boundaries of the new State. -First State Governor and Legislature convened June 4th, 1792, for the organization of State Government.-Causes of the protracted delay of Separation. A new Experiment in Political Philosophy.-Notice of political Parties.--Foreign Influence. -Spanish Intrigue.-Increasing Trade with New Orleans.—The fluctuating Policy of Spain with regard to the Navigation of the Mississippi.--Genet's Intrigue for the Invasion of Louisiana in 1793-94.—Measures taken by the Federal Government to suppress the contemplated Invasion.-Reluctance of Governor Shelby to interfere in the Plans of Genet.-Increasing Population of Kentucky in 1794.–New Counties organized.-Kentucky levies for the Campaign in the Northwestern Territory.-Advantages derived by Kentucky from Treaties of London and Madrid.-Last Efforts of Spain to detach Kentucky from the Union.—Progressive Wealth and Popula. tion of Kentucky.-Governors of Kentucky.
[A.D. 1783.] The political relations of Kentucky had already become a source of great anxiety, as well as inconvenience and danger, to the people. Removed five hundred miles from the capital, their dependence upon Virginia was like that. of a remote province, governed by laws enacted by strangers, too remote to appreciate their wants or their grievances. Such was the tardy intercourse between them and the state govern