This little work is offered to a generous and enlightened public; and the Proprietor trusts that the entertaining tales therein contained, may be found not only interesting, but edifying to those who may peruse them, as they are founded on fact. New York, 1836.
Narrative of John Slover, who was taken prisoner by the Miames Tribe of Indians, and of his escape from them.
The following account of the wonderful deliverance of John Slover, an American soldier, from the Indians, who had condemned him, with many other prisoners, to be burnt, is extracted from his narrative, inserted in Richard Parkinson's Tour in America, published at London in 1805. Richard Parkinson, late of Orange hill, near Baltimore, wrote the "Experienced Farmer," and has been considered as an author of undoubted credit.
"I was taken," says John Slover, "from New River, in Virginia, by the Miamese, a nation of the Indians, by us called Picts, among whom I lived six years. Afterwards being sold to a Delaware, and by him put into the hands of a trader, I was carried among the Shawanese, with whom I continued six years; so that my whole time among these nations was twelve years; that is, from the eighth to the twentieth year of my age. At the treaty of Fort Put, in the fall preceding what is called Dunrnnre's war, (which, if I am right, was in the year 1773) I came in with the Shawanese nation to the treaty: and meeting with some of my relations at that place, was by them solicited to relinquish the life a savage, which I did with some reluctance, this manner of life having become natural to me, inasmuch as I had scarcely known any other. I enlisted as s soldier in the continental army at the commencement of the present war, (the American war) and served fifteen months. Having been properly discharged, I have since married, have a family, and am in communion with the church.
Having been a prisoner among the Indians many years, and so being well acquainted with the country west of the Ohio I was employed as a guide in the expedition under Colonel William Crawford, against the Indian towns on or near the river Sandusky, in the year 1782. On Tuesday, Juan 4, we fought the enemy near Sandusky, and lay that night in our camp. The next day we fired on each other at the distance of 300 yards, doing little or no execution.
In the evening of that day, it was proposed by colonel Crawford, as I have been since informed, to draw off with order; but at the moment of our retreat, the Indians (who had probably perceived that we were about to retire) firing alarm-guns, our men broke and rode off in confusion, treading down those who were on foot and leaving the wounded men, who supplicated to be taken with them.
I was, with some others, on the rear of our troops, feeding our horses in the glade, when our men began to break. The main body of our people had passed by me a considerable distance before I was ready to set out. I overtook them before they crossed the glade, and was advanced almost in front. The company of five or six men, with which I had been immediately connected, and who were at some distance to the right of the main body, had separated from me, and had endeavored to pass a morass; for, coming up, I found their horses had stuck fast in the morass, and, endeavoring to pass, mine also in a short time stuck fast. I tried a long time to disengage my horse, until I could hear the enemy just behind me, and on each side, but in vain. Here then I was obliged to leave him. The morass was so unstable, that I was to the middle in it and it was with the greatest difficulty that I got across it; but which having at length done, I came up with the six men, who had left their horses in the same manner I had done; two of these, my companions, having lost their guns.
We travelled that night, making our course towards Detroit, with a view to shun the enemy whom we conceived to have taken the paths by which the main body of our people had retreated. Just before day, we got into a second deep morass, and were under the necessity of stepping until it was light to see our way through it. -- The whole of this day we travelled toward the Shawanese towns, with a view of throwing ourselves still farther out of the search of the enemy. About ten o'clock this day, we sat down to eat a little, having tasted nothing from Tuesday; the day of our engagement, until this time, which was on Thursday. And now the only thing we had to eat was a scrap of pork for each. We had sat down just by a warrior's path, which we had not suspected, when eight or nine warriors appeared. Running off hastily, we left our luggage and provisions, but were not discovered by the party; for skulking some time in the grass and bushes, we returned to the place, and recovered our baggage. The warriors had halloed as they passed, and were answered by others on our flanks.
We set off at break of day. About 9 o'clock the third day, we fell in with a party of the enemy, about one hundred and thirty-five miles from Fort Pitt. They had come upon our track, or had been on our flanks, and discovered us; and then, having got before, had waylaid us, and fired before we perceived them. At the first fire, one of my companions fell before me; and another just behind me; these two had guns. There were six men in company, and four guns; two of these had been rendered useless by the
5wet, when coming thro' the swamp the first night; we had tried to discharge them, but could not. When the Indians fired, I ran to a tree; but no Indian presenting himself fifteen yards before me, desired me to deliver up myself, and I should not be hurt. My gun was in good order; but, apprehending the enemy behind might discharge their pieces at me, I did not risk firing, which I had afterwards reason to regret, when I found what was to be my fate; and that the Indian who was before me, and presented his gun, was one of those who had just before tired. Two of my companions were taken with me in the same manner, the Indians assuring us we should not be hurt. One of these Indians knew me, and was of the party by whom I was taken in the last war. He came up and spoke to me, calling me by my Indian name, Mannuchcothee, and upbraiding me for coming to war against them.
The party by whom we were made prisoners, had taken some horses, and left them at the glades we had passed the day before. They had followed on our tracks from these glades; on our return to which we found the horses and rode. We were carried to a town of the Mingoes and Shawanese. I think it was on the third day we reached the town; which, as we were approaching, the Indiana in whose custody we were, began to look sour, having been kind to us before, and given us a little meat and flour to eat, which they had found or taken from some of our men on their retreat. This town is small, and we were told was about two miles distant from the main town to which they meant to carry us.
The inhabitants from this town came out with clubs and tomahawks, struck, beat and abused us greatly. One of my two companions they seized, and, having stripped him naked, blacked him with coal and water: this was the sign that he must be burnt. The man seemed to surmise it, and shed tears. He asked me the meaning of his being blacked: but I was forbid by the enemy, in their own language, to tell him what was intended. In English, which they spoke easily, having been often at Fort Pitt, they assured him he was not to be hurt. I know of no reason for making him the first object of their cruelty, unless it was that he was the oldest.
A warrior had been sent to the greater town to acquaint them with our coming, and prepare them for the frolic; for on our coming to it, the inhabitants came out with guns, clubs and tomahawks. We were told, we had to run to the council-house, about three hundred yards. The man that was blacked was about twenty yards before us, in running the gauntlet; they made him their principal object -- men, women and children beating him, and those who had guns firing loads of powder on him as he ran naked; putting the muzzles of the guns to his body, shouting, hallooing and beating their drums in the mean time.
The unhappy man had reached the door of the council-house, beat and wounded in a manner shocking to the sight; for, having arrived
6before him we had it in our power to view the spectacle; it was indeed the most horrid that can be conceived. They had cut him with their tomahawks, shot his body black, burnt it into holes with loads of powder blown into him: a large wadding had made a hole in his shoulder, whence the blood gushed.
Agreeably to the declaration of the enemy when he first set out, he had reason to think himself secure when he had reached the door of the council-house. This seemed to be his hope; for, coming up, with great struggling and endeavor, he laid hold on the door, but was pulled back and drawn away by them. Finding they intended no mercy, but putting him to death, he attempted several times to snatch or lay hold of some of their tomahawks; but being weak could not effect it. We saw him borne off, and they were a long time beating, wounding, pursuing and killing him. That same evening I saw the dead body of the man close by the council-house. It was mangled cruelly, and the blood mingled with the powder was rendered black. The same evening I saw him, after he was cut into pieces, and his limbs and his head, about two hundred yards on the outside of the town, put on poles. That evening also I saw the bodies of three others, in the same black and mangled condition; these, I was told, had been put to death the same day, and just before we reached the town. Their bodies, as they lay, were black, bloody and burnt with powder: two of these were Harrison and young Crawford. I knew the visage of Colonel Harrison and I saw his clothing and that of young Crawford as the town. They brought horses to me, and asked me if I knew them. I said, they were Harrison's and Crawford's. They said, they were.
The third of these men I did not know, but believe to have been Colonel M'Cleland, the third in command of the expedition.
The next day the bodies of these men were dragged to the outside of the town: and their carcasses being given to the dogs, their limbs and heads were stuck on poles.
My surviving companion, shortly after we had reached the council-house, was sent to another town: and I presume he was burnt or executed in the same manner.
In the evening the men assembled in the council-house. This is a large building, about fifty yards in length, and about twenty-five yards wide; and about sixteen feet in height; built of split poles, covered with bark. Their first object was to examine me, which they could do in their own language; inasmuch as I could speak the Miame, Shawanese and Delaware languages, which I had learned during my early captivity in the last war; I found I had not forgotten these languages, especially the two former, being able to speak them as well as my native tongue.
They began by interrogating me concerning the situation of our country -- what were our provisions -- our numbers -- the state of the mar between us and Britian. I informed them, Cornwallis had
7been taken; which, next day, when Matthew Elliot, with James Girty, came, he affirmed to be a lie, and the Indians seemed to give full credit to his declaration.
Hitherto I had been treated with some appearance of kindness, but not now the enemy began to alter their behavior towards me. However I was not tied, and could have escaped; but, having nothing to put on my feet, I waited some time to provide for this. In the mean time I was invited to the war-dances, which they usually continued till almost day; but I could not comply with their desire, believing these things to be the service of the devil.
The council lasted fifteen days: from fifty to one hundred warriors being usually in council, and sometimes more. Every warrior is admitted to these councils, but only the chiefs or head warriors, have the privilege of speaking. The head warriors are accounted such from the number of scalps and prisoners they have taken.
There was one council, at which I was not present. The warriors had sent for me as usual; but the squaw with whom I lived would not suffer me to go, but hid me under a large quantity of skins: it might have been from an unwillingness that I should hear in council the determination in respect to myself, that I should be burnt. About this time, twelve men were brought in from Kentucky, three of whom were burnt on this day: the remainder were distributed to other towns; and all, as the Indians informed me, were burnt.
On this day also I saw an Indian, who had just come into town, and who said that the prisoner he was bringing to be burnt, and who he said was a doctor, had made his escape from him. I knew that this must have been Dr. Knight, who went out as surgeon of the expedition. He had a wound, four inches long, in his head, which, he acknowledged, the doctor had given him: he was cut to the skull.
At this time I was told that colonel Crawford was burnt, and they greatly exalted over it. The day after the council I have mentioned, about forty warriors, accompanied by George Girty, came early in the morning round the house where I was. The squaw gave me up. I was sitting before the door of the house: they put the rope round my neck, tied my hands behind, stripped me naked, and blacked me in the usual manner. George Girty, as soon as I was tied, damned me, and said, that now I should get what I had deserved many years. I was led away to a town, distant about five miles, to which a messenger had been despatched, to desire them to prepare to receive me. Arriving at this town, I was beaten with clubs and the pipe ends of their tomahawks, and was kept some time tied to a tree before a house door. In the mean while, the inhabitants set out to another town about two miles distant, where I was to be burnt, and where I arrived about three o'clock in the afternoon.
Here also was a council-house, a part of it covered and part of it without a roof. In the part of it where no cover was, but only sides
8built up, there stood a post about sixteen feet in height, and in the middle of the house, around the post there were three piles of wood built, about three feet high and four feet from the post. Being brought to the post, my arms were tied behind me and the thong or cord, with which they were bound, was fastened to the post; a rope also was about my neck, and tied to the post about four feet above my head. During the time they were tying me, the piles of wood were kindled and began to flame. Death by burning, which appeared to be now my fate, I had resolved to sustain with patience. The grace of God had made it less alarming to me: for, on my way this day, I had been greatly exercised in regard to my latter end. -- I knew myself to have been a regular member of the church, and I have sought repentance for my sins; but although I had often heard of the faith of assurance, had known nothing of it; but early this day, instantaneously, by a change wrought upon me, sudden and perceivable as lightning, an assurance of my peace made with God, sprang up in my mind. The following words were the subject of my meditation -- "In peace shalt thou see God. Fear not those who can kill the body. In peace shalt thou depart." I was on this occasion, by a confidence in mind not to be resisted, fully assured of my salvation. This being the case, I was willing, satisfied and glad to die.
I was tied to the post, as I have already said, and the flame was now kindled. The day was clear, and not a cloud to be seen: -- if there were clouds low in the horizon, the sides of the house prevented me from seeing them: but I heard no thunder, nor observed any signs of approaching rain. Just as the fire of one pile began to blaze, the wind rose: from the time when they began to kindle the tire, and to tie me to the post, until the wind began to blow, about fifteen minutes had elapsed. The wind blew a hurricane, and the rain followed in less than three minutes. The rain fell violently, -- and the fire, though it began to blaze considerably, was instantly extinguished. The rain lasted about a quarter of an hour.
When it was over, the savages stood amazed, and were a long time silent. At last, one said, "We will let him alone till morning, and take a whole day's frolic in burning him." The sun at this time was about three hours high. It was agreed upon, and the rope about my neck was untied, and making me sit down, they began to dance around me. They continued dancing in this manner until eleven o'clock at night: in the mean time, beating, kicking, and wounding me with their tomahawks and clubs.
At last, one of the warriors asked me if I was sleepy, I answered, "Yes." The head warrior then chose out three men to take care of me. I was taken to a blockhouse; my arms were tied, until the cord was hid in the flesh in two places, viz: round the wrist, and above the elbows. A rope was fastened about my neck, and tied to a beam of the house, put permitting me to lie down on a board. The three warriors were constantly harrassing and troubling
9me saying, "How will you like to eat fire tomorrow? You kill no more Indians now." I was in expectation of their going to sleep, when, at length, an hour before day break, two laid down; the third smoked his pipe, talked to me, and asked the same painful questions. About half an hour after he also laid down, and I heard him begin to snore. Instantly I went to work; and (as my arms were perfectly dead with the cord) I laid myself down upon my right arm, which was behind my back; and keeping it fast with my fingers, which had still some life and strength, I slipped the cord from my left arm, over my elbow and my wrist. One of the warriors now got up and stirred the fire: I was apprehensive that I should be examined, and thought it was over with me; but my hopes revived when now he laid down again. I then attempted to unloose the rope about my neck, and tried to gnaw it, but in vain; as it was as thick as my thumb, and as hard as iron, being made of a Buffalo hide: I wrought with it a long time, gave it up, and could see no relief. At this time I saw day-break, and heard the cock crow, -- I made a second attempt, almost without hope, pulling the rope by putting my fingers between my neck and it, and, to my great surprise, it came easily untied; it was a noose with two or three knots tied over it.
I stept over the warriors as they lay; and having got out of the house, looked back to see if there was any disturbance; I then ran through the town into a cornfield. In my way, I saw a squaw, with four or five children, lying asleep under a tree: going a different way into the field, I untied my arm, which was greatly swelled, and turned black. Having observed a number of horses in the glade as I ran through it, I went back to catch one, and on my way found a piece of an old rug or quilt, hanging on a fence, which I took with me. Having caught the horse, the rope with which I had been tied serving for a halter, I rode off. The horse was strong and swift: and the woods being open, and the country level, about ten o'clock that day I crossed the Sciota river, at a place, by computation, fifty full miles from the town. I had rode about twenty miles on this Sciota by 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when the horse began to fail, and could no longer go on a trot. I instantly left him and on foot ran about twenty miles farther that day, making in the whole the distance of near one hundred miles. In the evening I heard hallooing behind me, and for this reason did not halt until about ten o'clock at night, when I sat down, was extremely sick, and vomited; but when the moon rose, which might have been about two hours after, I went on, and traveled until day.
During the night I had a path; but in the morning I judged it prudent to forsake the path and take a ridge, for the distance of fifteen miles, in a line at right angles to my course: putting back, as I went along, with a stick, the weeds which I had bended, lest I should be tracked by the enemy. I lay the next night, on the waters of Muskingum. The nettles had been troublesome to me
10after crossing the Sciota, having nothing to defend myself, but the piece of a rug which I had found, and which, while I rode, I used under me by way of a saddle. The briars and thorns were now painful to, and prevented me from traveling in the night, until the moon appeared: in the mean time, I was hindered from sleeping, by the musquitos; for even in the day I was under the necessity of traveling with a handful of bushes to brush them from my body.
The second night I reached Cushakim. Next day came to Newcomer's Town, where I got about seven raspberries, which was the first thing I ate from the morning in which the Indians had taken me to burn, until this time, which was now about three o'clock the fourth day. I felt hunger very little, but was extremely weak: I swam Muskingum river at the Old Comer's Town, the river being about two hundred yards wide. Having reached the bank, looked back; and thought I had a start of the Indians, should any pursue. That evening I traveled about five miles; next day came to Stillwater, a small river, in a branch of which I got two small cray fish to eat. Next night I lay within five miles of Wheeling; but had not slept a wink during the whole time, it being rendered impossible by the musquitos, which it was my constant employment to brush away. Next day I came to Wheeling, and saw a man on the island in the Ohio, opposite to that post, and calling to him, and asking for particular persons who had been on the expedition, and told him I was Slover, at length, with great difficulty, he was persuaded to come over, and bring me across in his conoe.
The want of provision in the camp of Burgoyne, had now began to be severely felt; the Americans had seized their last supply, which some boats contained; all resort to the country lying round, where tory friends were to be found, was totally cut off.
The insulted Americans had fenced them in as with a wall of vengeance, which could not be passed; famine had commenced its unnerving power, sickness was multiplied among the soldiery, fever attended with its deliriums, raved from couch to couch. Water, water, was the incessant cry.
And although the Hudson on the one side of the camp, poured along its silent waters, and the rapid stream of Fish Creek roared sweetly in the ears of the sick and desponding forces, yet it was impossible to snatch a drop from these dreadfully guarded waters, an hundred bullets were sure to pierce whoever made the attempt, soon as they stooped to touch the silver current.
But such was the cries for water, of the sick and dying, that their women, moved by pity, were made superior to the dreadful crisis, (imagining that the Americans would not from gallantry of feeling,
11shoot a female,) snatched hastily their pails, and ran to the shores to try what the event might be.
Their opinion of the enemy, as it proved, with respect to their persons, was correctly formed, but their pails were doomed to a harder fate, for while they could not find it in their hearts to spill the blood of defenceless females, they were sure to riddle their pails so they hung from their hands, so that little or no water in this way could be procured.
In this dilemma, a faithful wife, who had left her native country for love of her husband, who was one of the unfortunate Hessians, sold by his government to the King of England for a certrin sum a head, to fight in a cause, the merits or demerits of which he knew nothing; this woman as she moved from couch to couch, listening to the moans of the sick for water, suddeuly resolved; I too will try, perhaps I may succeed to bring a little.
Her husband tried to dissuade her, but she persisted her sympathies were strong, for as a kind and comforting angel, she had made it her business to hover over the diseased, and wounded of her countrymen, (the Hessians,) all the while she had been in the army.
She sprang along the adventurous path that led to the dreaded shore, her husband following close as far as he dare -- already she stood at the brink in full view of the guns on the other side, for a moment she cast an imploring glance that way, and then to heaven, for protection; her right hand had dashed the vessel deep among the humid waters; a struggle to clear the open shore, and reach the deeply shaded bank, had marked her agitated demeanor, when a ball aimed at her pail, struck, as she had stooped over the vessel too low, her angel bosom -- the blood spouted and dyed the ground, before her quivering frame fell crimsoned in the gore of her faithful heart.
Her husband who had waited but at a short distance for her return, had not moved his constant eye from his all of earth, while within, his soul vibrated between the vast extremes of hope and despair, her screach struck his ear, her realing frame showed him that the shaft of death had cleft her heart asunder.
She had but touched the ground where she fell, when his arms enclosed her, dyed in blood spouting from her bosom; frantic with grief, he dreaded not the flash of the deadly rifle, but bore her to the camp, struggling in the pangs of dissolution, while he impressed on her fading forehead, the last kiss of fervent affection.
The grief of this man was respected, not a gun moved its trigger, hushed were the volleys of the sympathising, yet brave Vermonters; her pail, not her person, had been the aim of the distressed marksman, the green-mountain boy.
In the summer of 1780, the British troops made frequent incursions into New Jersey, ravaging and plundering the country, and committing numerous atrocities upon its inhabitants. In June, a large body of the enemy, commanded by Gen. Kniphausen, landed at Elizabethtown Point, and proceeded into the country. They were much harassed in their progress by Col. Dayton, and the troops under his command. When they arrived at Connecticut Farms, according to their usual but sacrilegious custom, they burnt the Presbyterian church, parsonage house and a considerable part of the village. But the most cruel and wanton act that was
13perpetrated during this incursion, was the murder of Mrs. Caldwell, the wife of the Rev. Mr. Caldwell of Elizabethtown.
This amiable woman, seeing she enemy advancing, retired with her house keeper, a child of three years old, an infant of eight months, and a little maid, to a room secured on all sides by stone walls, except at a window opposite the enemy. She prudently took this precaution to avoid the danger of transient shots, should the ground be disputed near the place, which happened not to be the case; neither was their any firing from either party near the house, until the fatal moment, when Mrs. Caldwell, unsuspicious of any immediate danger, sitting on the bed with her little child by the hand, and her nurse, with her infant babe by her side, was instantly shot dead by an unfeeling British soldier, who had come round to the unguarded part of the house, with an evident design to perpetrate the horrid deed. Many circumstances attending this inhuman murder, evince, not only that it was committed by the enemy with design, but also, that it was by the permission, if not by the command, of Gen. Kniphausen, in order to intimidate the populace to relinquish their cause. A circumstance which aggravated this piece of cruelty, was, that when the British officers were made acquainted with the murder, they did not interfere to prevent the corpse from being stript and burnt, but left it half the day, stripped in part, to be tumbled about by the rude soldiery; and at last it was removed from the house, before it was burnt, by the aid of those who did not belong to the army.
Mrs. Caldwell was an amiable woman, of a sweet and even temper, discreet, prudent, benevolent, soft and engaging in her manners, and beloved by all her acquaintance. She left nine promising children.
Mrs. Caldwell's death was soon followed by that of her husband. In November 1781, Mr. Caldwell hearing of the arrival of a young lady at Elizabethtown Point, whose family, in New York, had been peculiarly kind to the American prisoners, rode down to escort her up to town. Having received her into his chair, the sentinel observing a little bundle tied in the lady's handkerchief, said it must be seized for the state. Mr. Caldwell instantly left the chair, saying he would deliver it to the commanding officer, who was then present; and as he stept forward with this view, another soldier impertinently told him to stop, which he immediately did; the soldier, notwithstanding, without further provocation, shot him dead on the spot. Such was the ultimate fate of Mr. Caldwell. His public discourses were sensible, animated and persuasive; his manner of delivery agreeable and pathetic. He was a warm patriot, and greatly distinguished himself in supporting the cause of his suffering country. As a husband be was kind; as citizen given to hospitality. The villian who murdered him was seized and executed.
The following affecting and authentic story, related to me by a lady of respectability and piety, who was an eye witness to a part of what she relates, strikingly illustrates the Indian character and customs, and shews the high importance of giving to these natives of our wide wilderness, the benefits of our laws and religion.
"Jenny was the wife a Choctaw, who murdered an Indian of his own tribe, about twenty years ago; fled over the Mississippi into Louisiana, where he was overtaken and put to death by his pursuers. Jenny, with four or five small children, of whom Tom was the eldest, afterwards settled in the neighborhood of St. Francisville, Louisiana, where lived a lady, a widow, of much benevolence and wealth, who had compassion on Jenny, and acted towards her the part of a friend.
"About six years ago, Tom, then of the age of about twenty-five, murdered an old Indian; for which act, according to an unalterable law of the nation, his life was demanded, and he was sentenced to die. The day of his execution was fixed, and had arrived, and the relatives and friends, both of the murdered, and the murderer, with others, a mingled throng, were assembled, after their usual manner, and all things were ready for inflicting on the criminal the sentence of the law. At this moment of strong and mingled feeling, Jenny the mother, pressed through the crowd to the spot where her son stood, by the instruments prepared to take his life. She then addressed the chiefs and the company, demanding the life of her, offering in its stead her own. Her plea was this. "Tom is young. He has a wife, children, brothers, sisters, all looking to him for council and support. I am old. I have only a few days at most, and can do but little more for my family. Nor is it strictly just; rather is it a shame to take a new shirt for an old one."
The magnanimous offer of Jenny was accepted, and a few hours allowed her to prepare for her death. In this interval she repaired to the house of her kind and liberal friend, and protector, Mrs. T. whose place of residence was in the near vicinity of this awful scene, for the purpose of giving her, her last look and farewell. Mrs. T. was all this time in ignorance of what had passed in the camp, and of Jenny's offer and determination: nor did Jenny divulge them to Mrs. T. She had come, she said, to beg a coffin, and winding sheet for her son; adding, "When the sun has reached its height, (pointing upwards,) Tom dies." Not suspecting the arrangement Jenny had made to preserve her son, Mr. T. with
comforting words, gave her all the requested. When asked what should be the length of the coffin and the grave clothes, Jenny replied -- "Make them to suit my size, and they will answer for my son."
Soon after Jenny had left Mrs. T's for the camp, where all things were ready for her execution, a messenger, in haste, arrived, and informed Mrs. T. what was passing in the camp, and that Jenny was immediately to die. Mrs. T. hastened to the scene, with the intention of rescuing her friend; but Jenny, the moment she saw her carriage coming, at a distance, imagining, doubtless, what was her object, standing by her grave, caught the muzzle of the gun, the prepared instrument of her death, and pointing it to her heart, entreated the executioner to do his duty. He obeyed and she fell dead.
"During five years after this, Tom was treated with sneers and contempt by the friends of the old man, whom he had murdered. They said to him: "You coward; let your mother die for you. You afraid to die coward." Tom could not endure all this. A year ago, Tom met a son of the old man whom he had murdered, on the banks of the Mississippi, ten miles from his home, and for some cause unknown, (probably he had been his principle tormentor,) plunged his knife into him, giving him a mortal wound. He returned home with indications of triumph, brandishing his bloody knife, and without waiting for inquiry, confessed what he had done. He told his Indian friends that he would not live to be called a coward. "I have been told," he said, "that I fear to die. Now you shall see that I can die like a man." A wealthy planter, whose house he passed, he invited to witness how he could die. This was on the Sabbath. Monday twelve o'clock was the hour which he appointed for this self-immolation.
"Here," says the lady who gives me this information, who was present, and relates what she saw, "here a scene was presented which baffles description. As I approached, Tom was walking forward and back again, still keeping in his hand the bloody knife, which he seemed to consider, as the duelist does his sword or pistol, his badge of honor. With all his efforts to conceal it, he discovered marks of an agitated mind. The sad group present, consisted of about ten men, and as many females; the latter, with sorrowful countenances, were employed in making an overshirt for Tom's burial. The men, all except two brothers of Tom, were present, smoking their pipes, with apparent unconcern. Several times Tom examined his gun, and remained silent. His grave had been dug the day before, and he had laid himself down in it, to see it if suited as to length and breadth. When the shirt was completed, and handed to him, he immediately drew it over another garment, the only one he had on; drew a pair of calico sleeves on his arms; tied two black silk handkerchiefs round each shoulder, crossed on the breast, and a third wrapped about his head. His long hair was
tied with a blue ribbon, and a yard or two on each arm, above the elbow. The pipe of peace went round three times. The old chiefs wife then arose, retired into the bushes, and sung the Death-song, in words rendered in English, "Time is done; death approaches." This done, Tom went round and shook hands with every one present. While he held the hand of one of his neighbors, a white man, he said to him, "farewell; you see me no more in this world. When you die you see me." His neighbor said, "Tom, where are you going?" "I am going to my mother," said Tom. -- "Where is your mother?" "In a good place." "But Tom will you not wait? Perhaps the friends of the young man you killed, will accept of a ransom. We will do what we can to save you." Tom replied: "No, I will die."
[We give the following story of La Fayette and the Aborigine Girl of the far west, from Levassuer's Journal, because we think the incidents of the life of so great a man, as was the Marquis La Fayette, cannot be too often repeated in the ears of Americans, as by it the memory of that philanthropy and greatly patriotic Frenchman is enstamped on the memory of the nation and the historic page of the country.]
I was still among the Indians, questioning the hunter as to the situation and force of their tribes, when I saw the secretary of the governor of Louisiana, Mr. Cair approach, who came to propose that I should go with him to visit an Indian encampment at a very short distance from the village. After about a quarter of an hour's walk, we arrived at a fence, which we climbed, and behind which two horses attracted our attention, by the noise of the bells hung round their necks. A little further on, the pass enlarging, formed a delightful little valley, in the middle of which some huts of bark were raised in a half circle. This was the Indian camp we sought. After a minute examination of this little camp, we were about to leave it, when I was arrested on the border of the streamlet which ran through it, by the sight of a small mill-wheel which appeared to have been thrown on the bank by the rapidity of the current. I took it up and placed it where I thought it had been originally put by the children, on two stones a little above the water, and the wings, made it turn rapidly. The puerility (which probably would have passed from my memory, if on the same evening it had not placed me before the Indians in a situation sufficiently extraordinary) greatly excited the attention of the old woman, who, by her gestures, expressed to us a lively satisfaction.
On returning to Kaskaskia, M. De Syon, who, on the invitation of Gen. La Fayette, left Washington city with us, to visit the southers
17and western states. Like us, he had just made an excursion into the neighborhood, and appeared quite joyous at the discovery he had made. He had met, in the midst of the forest, at the head of a troop of Indians, a pretty young woman who spoke French very well, and expressed herself with a grace at which he appeared as much astonished as we were. She had asked him if it was true that Lafayette was at Kaskaskia, and on his replying affirmatively, she manifested a great desire to see him. "I always carry with me," said she to M. de Syon, "a relique that is very near to me. I would wish to show it to him. It would prove to him that his name is not less venerated in the midst of our tribes than among the white Americans for whom he fought." And in speaking thus, she drew from her bosom a little pouch which enclosed a letter carefully wrapped in several pieces of paper. "It is from Lafayette," said she, "he wrote it to my father a long time since, and my father, when he died, left it to me as the most precious thing he possessed. At the sight of this letter, M. de Syon proposed to the Indian girl to go with him to Kaskuskiu, assuring her that General Lafayette would be very much pleased to see her. But this proposition seemed to embarrass her, and under various pretexts she refused to come. "However," she added, "if you have any thing to say to me this evening, you will find me in my camp, which is close by the village. Any one can direct you the way, for I am well known at Kaskaskia. My name is Mary."
Afterwards I spoke to Gen. Lafayette of the meeting with the young Indian girl; and from the desire he manifested to see her, I left the table with M. de Syon, at the moment when the company began to exchange patriotic toasts, and sought me a guide to Mary's camp. We soon arrived at the middle of the camp, which was lighted by a large fire, around which a dozen Indians were squatted, preparing their supper. They received us with cordiality, and as soon as they were informed of the object of our visit, one of them conducted us to Mary's hut, whom we found sleeping on a bison skin. At the voice of M. de Syon, which she recognised, she arose and listened attentively to the invitation from Gen. Lafayette to come to Kaskaskia. She seemed quite flattered by it, but said, before deciding to accompany us, she wished to mention it to her husband. While she was consulting with him, I heard a piercing cry, and turning round, I saw near me the old woman I had found alone in the camp in the morning. She had just recognised me by the light of the fire, and designated me to her companions, who, quitting immediately their occupations, rushed round me in a circle, and began to dance with demonstrations of great joy and gratitude. Their tawny and nearly naked bodies, their faces fantastically painted, their expressive gesticulations, the reflection of the fire, which gave a red tinge to all the surrounding objects; every thing gave to this scene something of an infernal aspect, and I fancied myself for an instant in the midst of demons. Mary witnessed my embarrassment,
18put an end to it by ordering the dance to cease, and then explained to me the honors which they had just paid me. "When we wish to know if an enterprise we meditate will be happy, we place in a rivulet a small wheel slightly supported on two stones. -- If the wheel turns during three suns without being thrown down, the augury is favorable; but if the current carries it away, and throws it upon the bank, it is a certain proof that our project is not approved by the Great Spirit, unless, however, a stranger comes to replace the little wheel before the end of the third day. You are this stranger who has restored our manitou and our hopes, and this is your title to be thus celebrated among us." In pronouncing these last words, an ironical smile played on her lips, which caused me to doubt her faith in the manitou. "You do not appear to be very much convinced," said I to her, "of the efficacy of the service which I have rendered you in raising the manitou?" She silently shook her head. Then raising her eyes, "I have been taught," said she, "to place my confidence higher. All my hopes are in the God I have been taught to believe in -- the God of the Christians."
I had at first been much astonished to hear an Indian woman speak French so well, and I was not less so in learning that she was a christian: Mary peceived it, and to put an end to my surprise, she related to me her history, while her husband and those who were to accompany her to Kaskaskia, hastily took their supper of maize, cooked in milk. She informed me that her father, who was a chief of one of the nations who inhabited the shores of the great lakes of the north, had formerly fought with a hundred of his followers under the orders of Lafayette, when the latter commanded an army on the frontiers -- that he had acquired much glory, and gained the friendship of the Americans. A long time after, that is, about twenty years ago, he left the shores of the great lakes with some of his warriors, his wife and daughter; and after having marched a long time, he established himself on the shores of the river Illinois.
"I was very young then, but have not yet, however, forgotten the horrible sufferings we endured during this long journey, made in a rigorous winter, across a country peopled by nations with whom we were unacquainted. They were such that my poor mother, who nearly always carried me on her shoulders, already well loaded with baggage, died under them some days after our arrival. My father placed me under the care of another woman who also emigrated with us, and occupied himself in securing the tranquil possession of the lands on which we had come to establish ourselves, by forming alliances with our new neighbors. The Kickapoos were those who received us best, and we soon considered ourselves as forming a part of their nation. The year following, my father was chosen by them, with some from among themselves, to go and regulate some affairs of the nation with the agent of the United States, residing here at Kaskaskia. He wished that I should be of the company; for although the Kickspoos had shown themselves
very generous and hospitable towards him he feared that some war might break out in his absence, as he well knew the intrigues of the English to excite the Indians against the Americans. This same apprehension induced him to accede to the request made by the American agent to leave me in his family, to be educated with his infant daughter. My father had much esteem for the whites of that great nation for whom he had formerly fought. He never had cause to complain of them, and he who offered to take charge of me inspired him with great confidence by the frankness of his manners, and above all by the fidelity with which he treated the affairs of the Indians. He therefore left me, promising to return to see me every year after the great winter's hunt. He came, in fact, several times afterwards; and I notwithstanding the disagreeableness of a sedentary life, grew up answering the expectations of my careful benefactor and his wife. I became attached to the daughter, who grew up with me, and the truths of the christian religion easily supplanted in my mind the superstition of my father, whom I had scarcely known. Yet I confess to you, notwithstanding the influence of religion and civilization on my youthful heart, the impressions of infancy were not entirely effaced. If the pleasure of wandering conducted me into the shady forest, I breathed more freely, and it was with reluctance that I returned home. When, in the cool of the evening, seated in the door of my adopted father's habitation, I heard in the distance, through the silence, of the night, the piercing voice of the Indians, rallying to return to the camp, I started with a thrill of joy, and my feeble voice imitated the voice of the savage with a facility that affrighted my young companion. And when occasionally some warriors came to consult my benefactor in regard to their treaties, or hunters to offer him a part of the produce of their chase, I was always the first to run to meet and welcome them. I testified my joy to thorn by every imaginable means, and I could not avoid admiring and wishing for their simple ornaments, which appeared to me far preferable to the brilliant decorations of the whites.
"In the meanwhile, for five years my father had not appeared at the period of the return from the winter's hunting, -- but a warrior whom I had often seen with him, came and found me one evening at the entrance of the forest, and said to me, ‘Mary, thy father is old and feeble, he has been unable to follow us here -- but he wishes to see thee once more before he dies, and he charged me to conduct thee to him.’ In saying the words he forcibly took my hand, and dragged me with him. I had not even time to reply to him, nor even take any resolution, before we were at a great distance, and I saw well that there was no part left for me but to follow him. We marched nearly all night, and at the dawn of day we arrived at a bark hut, built in the middle of a little valley. Here I saw my father; his eyes turned towards the just rising sun. His face was painted as for battle. His tomahawk, ornamented with many
scalps, was beside him -- he was calm and silent, as an Indian who awaiteth death. As soon as he saw me he drew from a pouch a paper wrapped with care in a very dry skin, and gave it to me, re-questing that I should preserve it as a most precious thing. ‘I wished to see thee once more before dying,’ said he, ‘and give thee this paper, which is the most powerful charm (manilou) which thou can't [?] employ with the whites to interest them in thy favor; for all those to whom I have shown it, have manifested towards me a particular attachment. I received it from a French warrior, whom the English dreaded as much as the Americans loved, and with whom I fought in my youth.’ After these words my father was silent; -- next morning he expired. Sciakapa, the name of the warrior who came for me, covered the body of my father with branches of trees, and took me back to my guardian."
Here Mary suspended her narrative, and presented to me a letter a little darkened by time, but in good preservation. "Stay," said she to me, smiling, "you see that I have faithfully complied with the charge of my father, -- I have taken great care of his manilou." I opened the letter, and recognized the signature and hand writing of Gen. Lafayette. It was dated at Head Quarters, Albany, June, 1778, after the northern campaign, and addressed to Panisciowa, an Indian chief of one of the Six Nations to thank him for the courageous manner in which he had served the American cause.
"Well," said Mary, "now that you know me well enough to introduce me to General Lafayette, shall we go to him that I may also greet him whom my father revered as the courageous warrior and the friend of our nations?" "Willingly," I replied, "but it seems to me that you have promised to inform us in what manner, after having tasted for some time the sweets of civilization, you came to the rude and savage life of the Indians?" At this question Mary looked downwards and seemed troubled. However, after a slight hesitation, she resumed in a lowertone: -- "After the death of my father, Sciakapa often returned to see me. We soon became attached to each other. He did not find it difficult to determine me to follow him into the forest, where I became his wife. The resolution very much afflicted my benefactors. But when they saw that I found myself happy, they pardoned me; and each year during all the time that our encampment is established near Kaskaskia, I rarely pass a day without going to see them. If you wish, we can visit them, for their house is close by our way, and you will see, by the reception they will give me, that they retain their esteem and friendship."
Mary pronounced the last words with a degree of pride, which proved to us that she feared that we might have formed a bad opinion of her, on account of her flight from the home of her benefactors with Sciakapa. We accepted the proposition, and she gave the signal for departure. At her call her husband and eight warriors presented themselves to escort us. M. de Syon offered her
21his arm, and we began our march. We were all very well received by the family of Mr. Mesnurd; but Mary, above all, received the most tender marks of affection from the persons of the household. Mr. Mesnerd, Mary's adopted father, was at Kaskaskia, as one of the committee charged with the reception of Lafayette, and Mrs. Mesnard asked us if we would undertake to conduct her daughter to the ball which she herself was prevented from attending by indisposition. We assented with pleasure; and while Mary assisted Miss Mesnerd to complete her toilet, we seated ourselves round a great fire in the kitchen.
After a little time, we took leave of Mrs. Mesnerd, and found our Indian escort, who had waited patiently for us at the door, and who resumed their position near us at some distance in front, to guide and protect our march, as if we had been crossing an enemy's country. The night was quite dark, but the temperature was mild, and the fire flies illuminated the atmosphere around us. M. de Syon conducted Miss Mesnerd, and I gave my arm to Mary, who notwithstanding the darkness, walked with a confidence and lightness which only a forest life could produce. The fire flies attracted and interested me much; for although this was not the first time I had observed them, I had never before seen them in such numbers. I asked Mary if these insects, which, from their appearance, seem likely to astonish the imagination, had never given place among the Indians to popular beliefs or tales. "Not among the nations of these countries, where every year we are familiarized with their great numbers," said she to me, "but I have heard that among the tribes of the north they commonly believe that they are the souls of departed friends who return to console them, or demand the performance of some promise. I even know several ballads on this subject. One of them appears to have been made a long time since in a nation which lived further north, and no longer exist. It is by songs that great events and popular traditions are ordinarily preserved among us; and this ballad, which I have often heard sung by the young girls of our tribe, leaves, no doubt as to the belief of some Indians concerning the fire fly." I asked her to sing me this song which she did with much grace. Although I did not comprehend the words, which were Indian, I observed a great harmony in their arrangement, and in the very simple music in which they were sung an expression of deep melancholy.
When she had finished the ballad, I asked her if she could not translate it for me into French, so that I might comprehend the sense: "With difficulty," she said, "for I have always found great obstacles to translating exactly the expressions of our Indians into French when I have served them as interpreter with the whites. -- But I will try."
Mary ended her ballad, and I expressed to her my thanks as we arrived at the bridge of Kaskaskia. There Sciakapa collected his escort, said a few words to his wife, and left us to enter the village
22alone. We approached the house of Mr. Morrison at which the ball was given to Gen. Lafayette. I then felt that Mary trembled. Her trouble was so great that she could not conceal it from me. I asked the cause. "If you would spare me a great mortification," she said, "you will not conduct me among the ladies of Kaskaskin. They are now without doubt in their most brilliant dresses, and the coarseness of my clothes will inspire them with contempt and pity; two sentiments which equally affect me. Besides, I know that they blame me for having renounced the life of the whites, and I feel little at ease in their presence." I promsed what she desired, and she became assured. Arrived at Mr. Morrison's, I conducted her into a lower chamber, and went to the hall to inform General Lafayette that the young Indian girl awaited him below. He hastened down and several of the committee with him. He saw and heard Mary with pleasure, and could not conceal his emotion on recognising his letter, and observing with what holy veneration it had been preserved during nearly half a century in a savage nation, among whom he had never supposed his name had even penetrated. On her part the daughter of Panisciowa expressed with vivacity the happiness she enjoyed, in seeing him along with whom her father had the honor to fight for the good American cause.
After a half hour's conversation, Mary manifested a wish to retire, and I accompanied her to the bridge, where I replaced her under the care of Sciakapa and his escort, and bade them farewell.
The Americans believe that all creatures have souls, not only men and women, but brutes, vegetables, nay, even the most inanimate things, as stocks and stones. They believe the same of all the works of art, as of knives, boats, looking-glasses; and that as any of these things perish, their souls go into another world, which is inhabited by the ghosts of men and women.
For this reason they always place by the corpse of their dead friend, a bow and arrows, that he may make use of the souls of them in the other world, as he did of their wooden bodies in this. How absurd soever such an opinion as this may appear, our European philosophers have maintained several notions altogether as improbable. Some of Plato's followers in particular, when they talk of the world of ideas, entertain us with substances and beings no less extravagant and chimerical.
Many Aristolelians have likewise spoken as unintelligibly of their substantial forms. I shall only instance Albertus Maguus
23who in his dissertation upon the load-stone, observing that fire will destroy its magnetic virtues, tells us that he took particular notice of one as it lay glowing amidst a heap of burning coals, and that he perceived a certain blue vapor to arise from it, which he believed might be the substantial form, that is, in our West-Indian phrase, the soul of the load-stone.
Their is a tradition among the Americans, that one of their countrymen descended in a vision to the great repository of souls, or as we call it here, to the other world; and that upon his return, he gave his friends a distinct account of every thing he saw among those regions of the dead. A friend of mine, whom I have formerly mentioned, prevailed upon one of the Interpreters of the Indian kings, to inquire of them, what traditions they have among them of this matter; which, as well as he could learn by those many questions which he asked them at several times, was in substance as follows:
The visionary, whose name was Marraton, after having traveled for a long space under a hollow mountain, arrived at length on the confines of this world of spirits, but could not enter it by reason of a thick forest made up of brushes, brambles, and pointed thorns so perplexed and interwoven with one another, that it was impossible to find a passage through it.
While he was looking about for some track or path-way that might be worn in any part of it, he saw a huge lion couched under the side of it, who kept his eye upon him in the same posture as when he watches for his prey. The Indian immediately started back, whilst the lion rose with a spring, and leaped towards him. Being wholly destitute of all other weapons, he stooped down to take up a huge stone in his hands; but to his infinite surprise, grasped nothing, and found the supposed stone only the apparition of one. If he was disappointed on this side, he was as much pleased in the other, when he found the lion, which had seized on his left shoulder, had no power to hurt him, and was only the ghost of that ravenous creature which it appeared to be. He no sooner got rid of this impotent enemy, but he marched up to the wood, and after having surveyed it for some time, endeavored to press into one part of it that was a little thinner than the rest; when again to his great surprise, he found the bushes made no resistance, but that he walked through briers and brambles with the same ease as thro' the open air; and in short, that the whole wood was nothing else but a wood of shades. He immediately concluded, that this huge thicket of thornes and brakes was designed as a kind of fence or quick-set hedge to the ghosts it enclosed; and probably their soft substances might be these subtle points and prickles, which were too weak to make any impression on flesh and blood. With this thought he resolved to travel through this intricate wood; when by degrees he felt a gale of perfumes breathing upon him that grew stronger and sweeter as he advanced. He had not proceeded much
24further, when he observed the thornes and briers to end, and give place to a thousand beautiful green trees covered with blossoms of the finest scents and colours, that formed a wilderness of sweets, and were a kind of lining to those ragged scenes which he had before passed through. As he was coming out of this delightful part of the wood, and entering upon the plains it enclosed, he saw several horsemen rushing by him, and a little while after heard the cry of a pack of dogs. He had not listened long before he saw the apparition of a milk-white steed, with a young man on the back of it, advancing upon full stretch after the souls of about a hundred beagles, that were hunting down the ghost of a hare, which ran away before them with unspeakable swiftness. As the man on the milk-white steed came by him, he looked upon him very attentively, and found him to be the young prince Nichargua, who died about half a year before, and by reason of his great virtues was at that time lamented over all the western part of America.
He had no sooner got out of the wood, but he was entertained with such a landscape of flowery plains, green meadows, running streams, sunny hills, and shady vales, as were not to be represented by his own express, nor, as he said, by the conceptions of others. This happy region was peopled with innumerable swarms of spirits, who applied themselves to exercises and diversions according as their fancies led them. Some of them were tossing the figure of a coit; others were pitching the shadow of a bar; others were breaking the apparition of a horse; and multitudes employing themselves upon ingenious handicrafts with the souls of departed utensils, for that is the name which in the Indian language they give their tools when they are burnt or broken. As he traveled through this delightful scene, he was very often tempted to pluck the flowers that rose every where about him in the greatest variety and profusion, having never seen several of them in his own country: but he quickly found that though they were objects of his sight, they were not liable to his touch. He at length came to the side of a great river, and being a good fisherman himself, stood upon the banks of it for some time to look upon an angler that had taken a great many fishes, which lay flouncing up and down by him.
I should have told my reader, that this Indian had been formerly married to one of the greatest beauties of his country, by whom he had several children. This couple were so famous for their love and constancy to one another, that the Indians to this day, when they give a married man joy of his wife, wish that they may live together like Marratan and Yaratilda. Marratan had not stood long by the fisherman, when he saw the shadow of his beloved Yaratilda, who had for some time fixed her eye upon him before he discovered her. Her arms were stretched out towords him; floods of tears ran down her cheeks: her hands, her looks, her voice called him over to her, and at the same time seemed to tell him that the river was impassable.
Who can describe the passion made up of joy, sorrow, love desire and astonishment that rose in the Indian at the sight of his dear Yaratilda? He could express it by nothing but his tears which ran like a river down his cheeks as he looked upon her. He had not stood long, before he plunged into the stream that lay before him; and finding it to be nothing but the phantom of a river, walked on the bottom of it till he arose on the other side. At his approach Yaratilda flew into his arms, while Marraton wished himself disencumbered of that body which kept her from his embraces. After many questions and endearments on both sides, she conducted him to a bower which she had dressed with her own hands, with all the ornaments that could be met with in these blooming regions. She had made it gay beyond imagination, and was every day adding something new to it. As Marraton stood astonished at the unspeakable beauty of her habitation, and ravished with the fragrancy that came from every part it, Yaratilda told him that she was preparing this bower for his reception, as well knowing that his piety to his god, and his faithful dealings towards men, would certainly bring him to that happy place, whenever his life should be at an end. She then brought two of his children to him who died some years before, and resided with her in the same delightful bower; advising him to bring up those others which were still with him, in such a manner, that they might hereafter all of them meet together in this happy place.
"The males of each nation of the Sauks and Foxes, are separated into two grand divisions, called Kish-co-quah, and Osh-cosh to each there is a head, called War-chief. As soon as the first male child of a family is born, he is arranged in the first band, and when a second is born, in the second band, and so on."
"The name of the Chief of the first band of the Sauks, is Ke-o-kuck. When they go to war, and on all public occasions, his band is always painted white, with pipe clay. The name of the second war Chief is Na-cala-quoick. His band is painted black. Each of these Chiefs is entitled to one or two aids-de camp, selected by themselves from among the braves of their nation, who generally accompany them on all public occasions, and whenever they go abroad. These two chiefs were raised to their present rank, in consequence of their success in opposing the wishes of a majority of the nation, to flee from their villages, on the approach of a body of American troops, during the late war; they finally persuaded their nation to remain, on the condition of their engaging to take the command, and sustain their position. Our troops, from some cause or other, did not attack them, and they, of course, remained unmolested. In addition to these, there are many petty war
chiefs, or partizans, who frequently head small parties of volunteers, and go against their enemies; they are generally those who lost some near relation by the enemy. An Indian, intending to go to war, will commence, by blacking his face, permitting his hair to grow long, and neglecting his personal appearance; and also will frequently fast, some times for two or three days together, and refrain from all intercourse with the other sex. If his dreams are favorable, he thinks that the Great Spirit will give him success. He then makes a feast, generally of dog meat, (it being the greatest sacrifice that he can make, to part with a favorite dog,) when all those who feel inclined to join him will attend the feast. After this is concluded, they immediately set off on their expedition. It frequently happens that in consequence of unfavorable dreams, or some trifling accident, the whole party will return without meeting with the enemy.
"When they are successful in taking prisoners, or scalps, they return to their villages with great pomp and ceremony. The party halt several miles from the village, and send a messenger to inform the nation of their success, and of the time that they intend to enter the village; when all the female friends of the party dress themselves in their best attire, and go out to meet them. On their arrival, it is the privilege of these women to take from these warriors all their blankets, trinkets, &c. The whole party then paint themselves, and approach the village with the scalps stretched on small hoops, and suspended on long poles or sticks, dancing, singing and beating the drum; in this manner they enter the village. The chiefs in council then determine, whether they shall dance the scalps (as they term it) or not. If this is permitted, the time is fixed by them, when the ceremony shall commence, and when it shall end. In these dances, the women join the successful warriors. I have myself, seen more than a hundred of them dancing at once, all painted and clad in their most gaudy attire."
"This manner of raising a war party, &c. is peculiar to the Foxes, Sauks, and Kickapoos; with the Chippewas, Ottowas, and Pottawattamies, it is somewhat different. A warrior of these nations wishing to go against his enemies, after blacking his face, fasting, &c. prepares a temporary lodge out of the village, in which he seats himself, and smokes his pipe. In the middle of his lodge hangs a belt of wampum, or piece of scarlet cloth, ornamented. A young Indian, who wishes to accompany him, goes into the lodge, and draws the belt of wampum, or piece of cloth, through his left hand, and sits down and smokes of the tobacco already prepared by the partisan. After a sufficient number art collected in this manner, the whole begin to compare their dreams daily together. If their dreams are favorable, they are anxious to march immediately; otherwise they will give up the expedition for the present, saying, that it will not please the Great Spirit for them to go, or their medicine is not good, or that their partizan has cohabited with his wife. If every thing goes right, the whole body meet at their
leader's lodge, where they beat the drum, and pray to the Great Spirit, to give them success over their enemies. When the party consists of twenty or upwards, its leader will appoint a confidential man, to carry the great medicine bag. After they are assembled at the place of rendezvous, and in a readiness to march, the partizan makes a speech, in which he informs them, that they are now about going to war; that when they meet their enemies, he hopes they will behave like men, and not fear death; that the Great Spirit will deliver their enemies into their hands, and that they shall have liberty to do as they please with them; but at the same time, if there are any among them who are fearful and faint-hearted, they are obliged to return and remain at home."
"Among the Ottawas, the partizan leads when they march out; but the warrior who first delivers him a scalp, or prisoner, leads the party homeward, and receives the belt of wampum. On the arrival of the party at the village, they distribute the prisoners to those who have lost relations by the enemy; or if the prisoners are to be killed, their spirits are delivered over to some particular person's relations who have died, and are now in the other world."
"Among the Pottawattamies, it is different; all prisoners or scalps belong to the partizan, and he disposes of them as he may think proper; he will, sometimes, give a prisoner to a family, who have lost a son; and the prisoner, in this case, is adopted by the family, and considered the same as though he was actually the person whose place he fills. This latter practice is also observed among the Sauks and Foxes."
"In addition to the grand divisions of the males, each nation is subdivided into a great number of families, or clans. Among the Sauks there are no less than fourteen tribes; each of them distinguished by a particular name, generally by the name of some animal, as the Bear tribe, Wolf tribe, Dog tribe, Elk tribe, Eagle tribe, Patridge tribe, Sturgeon tribe, Sucker tribe, Thunder tribe, &c. &c."
There followed in the train of that overweening officer, fifteen hundred aboriginals of the northern forests, composed of various tribes, when he made with his scarlet legions, a descent into the heart of a country populous with unconquerable patriots, with whose force and resources he had formed but small acquaintance, till the hour of his fall into their hands at the heights of Saratoga.
On that day which developed the decree of Heaven, in the captivity of the British army he had sent out the leader of those Indiana with a scout at his command, to scour the surroundding woods and country, to learn, if possible, if the enemy were thickening around
28them. These sons of the forest as led on by their unvanquished Chief, pierced the woods in all directions, but silent as the light tread of a panther when or the scent of its prey recognized at every step, the well known hunting grounds of their fathers, who at the approach of the wiser and more powerful, but hated white man, had fled to remoter wilds.
Vengeance, the red man's soul, at these recollections, was roused, beclouding their native gloominess of countenance, with a still deeper cast of sterness: thus to be spurned and driven from the dear haunts of infancy, where on the Hudson's unbragenous shores, they had lived in communion with the deer and beaver; these thoughts conjured up the genius of wrath, such as would have scalped a world, but was fated to subside along the raging veins of the sullen, but majestic Indian, unrevenged.
They had dispersed in different directions, not however, so remote, as to be beyond the echo of the shrill whoops of their leaders, so that the sharp signal yell might fly as the feathered arrow, from one to another, till the whole great circle which had gone out from the camp at every point, might know in a moment, the wish of their Chief.
Not a vale nor distant hill, viewed from the tops of the tallest trees and eminences, or gulfs and dens, or tangled woods escaped the vigilance of these Lynx eyed rangers.
But what was their dismay, when from every point it was perceived that thousands came rushing on, in one vast circle; from the blue hills that skirt the hardy Vermonter's home; from the south, where the Hudson pours along its northern waters; from the west, and all the region of the Mohawk, from the north, the very rout their army had traced, the sons of liberty came down, as the roar of many waters, ready to engulph in ruin the entire battalion of the British army.
This seen, the appalled, though wary Chief, yelled once: the dire screach sunk fearful on all ears, as when a panther screams, save those of the trusty warriors, who in a moment drank in the sound as the chime of sweetest music, when suddenly and they stood in a circle around him, in silent but keenly fixed attention. Warriors; death and ruin are near us, the army of Burgoyne is lost -- the Americans are pouring in from every side, as if the Great Spirit is shaking the world of all its tribe of pale faced race: we must not be taked captives here on the very soil, once the wide spread hunting grounds of our ancestors. Burgoyne is already hungry, is terror stricken, but cannot flee away. To be pointed at in the streets of Albany, and pelted with paving stones by the white Poppooses, to hear it said; what, are the Indians among them, could not the British Crown shade them from the blast of the American arms; -- this will be too dreadful for the ears of Indians; let us give the signal, and go to our homes in Canada.
A fierce glance of the eye, and the responsive monosyllable, Ugh, showed their Chief as he paused, their approbation of what he said.
A wave of his hand as he stood in the tall attitude of native eloquence, when, as quick as the flash of their own tried rifles, they disappeared, or as a vapor, when risen a little above the ground is seen no more, having mixed with the clear, blue air of the vaulted sky.
A few moments now elapsed, when the Chief alone was seen standing on a little eminence near the marque of Burgoyne. When that dismayed General cast his eye that way, he beheld the well known Chief of his Indian allies, standing in the tall majesty of his ownuprightness, waving silently his hand to the thousands around him. The motion of that hand was inimitable; rapid as the vibration of the tail of the rattlesnake, while it conveyed the double intelligence of the immensity of the enemy, and of certain destruction, a chill of horror was felt along the ranks -- each exclaiming instinctively, all is lost.
This done, he staid not to be questioned, but disappeared; an hour had not numbered its rapid moments, when not an Indian of all the fifteen hundred, who had followed the boasting Britton, could be found; they had slid as so many spectres of darkness, from the sight of both armies, although hemmed in on every side, their homes in Canada next witnessed their presence.
McDaniel, a tory captain, in the year that Burgoyne was taken, had posted himself and associates on the Schoharie flats, a small distance above the bridge which now crosses the stream. The intention of McDaniel was to kill and plunder, although his men were badly armed; having but few guns, which however were substituted with dirks, knives, spears, and even sharpened sticks or poles, and knowing the inhabitants were without the means of defence, did considerable damage before the maurauders could be decidedly dealt with.
At this critical juncture, when parents nor children were safe in their beds -- when the property of fields and barns were exposed to midnight fires -- when the unsuspecting traveller was frequently pounced upon, as by a wolf or panther, robbed and murdered -- at such a time as this, it was necessary that aid from some quarter should be procured, or the whole population thereabouts must submit to the insolence and barbarousness of this agent of the British.
The only resort of the inhabitants was, as quickly as posiable to flee to Albany and Schenectady, to solicit the proper aid, either to cut to pieces, or disperse this band of fratracides.
This hazardous undertaking was exactly adapted to the daring spirit of John Harper, which he promptly undertook to perform, although the tories were in considerable strength on the road; especially at the forks where Vroman now lives, at the north end of the Shoharie flats, where the bridge crosses Foxen creek.
A secret journey through the woods, not following any road, would doubtless have been the most secure from attack, but such an expedient the soul of Harper would not stoop to. He, therefore, determined on a more rapid, as well as a more heroic method of effecting his purpose.
The sun was retiring in glory beyond the towering peaks that skirt Schoharie river, on the western shore, from Gilboa's rapids, along the Vroman lands, to where the falls near the Mohawk send up its spray, when Harper, dressed in the smooth brief habilaments of a rifleman, came on a beautiful courser, from the way of the clove where he had been that day to see his family.
On leaping from the saddle, where he had sat an hour or two, in patriotic meditation, while softly winding his way from his home, among the lime quarries, and bushes that overhung the path, the burghers of Schoharie gathered around him in solemn, though earnest gratulations. While each and all together as earnestly as if but one had been there, cried, "O Harper, the tory McDaniel has come; there is the blaze of his fires," pointing to the curling smoke as it ascended in white columns above the trees: "Hager and Beeker have already gone to Albany, where we hope they will arrive in safety to-night, when by tomorrow evening, we shall be able to quench those fires, and the lives of the scoundrels who kindled them." To all this he listened, while his eyes flashed the impression their words had made on his mind, when once for all he shouted, "I will go to Schenectadty!" and vaulted into the saddle from whence but a few minutes before he had lightly descended, and was directly out of sight.
It was dark when he had rode as far as an Inn, which stood near where the Stone Church now stands; here he halted for the night, desiring an upper room, with a lock and key, lights and refreshments to be placed on a table. All was complied with, when he entered, locked the door, laying his rifle, two pistols and a dirk by his person, sat down to eat. This finished, he took a seat beside the door, with an ear at the key-hole, where he passed the dull hours in intense thought. All was silent till "noon of night."
"Hark!" he involuntarily exclaimed in a whisper, firing his ear still closer, not even breathing; when he heard the light tread of feet on the lowermost step of the stairs, which led to his roam. -- Now the fierce blood of his veins began its careering, a glance of his eye to the tools of death, when the low voice of someone speaking struck his ear: it was that of the Landlord. "For heaven's sake, gentlemen, desist; you know he is a soldier. I beg of you by all that is sacred, decline the attempt. Several of your lives will be lost, as he is terribly armed; and why should three or four be the price of but one?" He heard no more; they were a party doubtless, from the forks of the road. At length the day broke; when he descended the stairs, not, however, without the utmost caution, lest an ambush might surprise him even in the house. The horse was ready, and away he flew, just as the light prisms of day began to streak the east.
But now a more fearful RUBICON was to be passed; this was the bridge over Fox Creek, the sentinel there, and the house where the tories had possession. The slowly measured step of the guard was discovered by Harper at a distance through the grey mist of the morning, as he swiftly neared him on a full and fearless trot. He had reached the northern end of the bridge, when the sentinel, who nothing doubting but whoever he was on horseback, must be a friend, or he would not so carelessly and rapidly approach the very climax of danger, hailed him in the accustomed way, out of mere form, more than for any apprehensions of the stranger's true character; and therefore did not even present his piece, but continued it in the position of an order, or standing by his side. The moment therefore that the word stand had passed the lips of the sentinel, Harper's rifle was cocked and presented, its dreadful muzzle nearly reached the bosom of the astonished sentry, which motion was accompanied with this determined admonition, -- "Not a word from your lips, nor motion of your gun, or you are a dead man." All this time, which, however, was but a moment, Harper had only slackened his pace from a trot, to that of a walk, continued to pass on, while he turned in his stirrups, with the deadly aim of his rifle at the breast of the petrified sentry, until he had gained the opposite side of the knoll, well known to those acquainted with the road, when he put spurs to his horse and was soon out of sight.
He had gained the distance of several miles on his road to Schenectady, congratulating himself that he had been wonderfully delivered in two instances from imminent danger, when the sound of a horses hoofs, not far behind, struck on his ear, in rapid pursuit. -- In a moment he faced about, and having the advantage of a turn in the road, saw, across the distance, that he was pursued by an Indian, the noted murderer, Sethen Henry
His rifle was again brought to his shoulder, cocked and levelled; when on coming round the turn the Indian found himself unexpectedly in the power of Harper, whom he had pursued, as soon as informed by the sentinel at the bridge that he had passed, with the intention of killing him. The instant their eyes met, Harper in a voice of thunder cried, "Stand you villian, and face about, then ride away with yourself, or the ball of my rifle shall whistle through your heart."
Sethen Henry's gun was in his hand, in the position of a trail, and not cocked; which he knew if he attempted to change would be the signal of his death. He therefore obeyed and was soon out of sight, on the back track.
It may be asked, why did not Harper shoot him, as he had the opportunity? He feared the report of his gun might advertise other opponents, every moment dreading the horrors of an ambush, and to kill one Indian was not so much an object, as to apprise the inhabitants of Schenectady of the position and depredations of McDaniel, who, in consequence of the exertions made, was ousted and driven from Schoharie.