THE LIFE OF RUFUS PUTNAM
PART II, CHAPTER IV - FAMINE—TROUBLES PROM INDIANS
THE toilsome journey of the emigrants from their old to their new home was only a prelude to other and greater hardships. In the first year after their arrival, the labor of clearing and fencing their fields delayed the planting of their corn until June. A severe frost in October found the grain in an unripe state, and damaged it to such an extent as to make it unfit for food either for man or beast. The Indians, with wise forethought for the accomplishment of their own ends, had destroyed or driven off the deer and other game from a radius of twenty miles or more from the forts on the Muskingum. The very limited supply of corn that was brought down the Ohio from western Pennsylvania was sold at rates so exorbitant as to place it beyond the reach of the greater part of the colonists, because of the exhausted state of their finances. The suffering that ensued was extreme. The year 1790 had a dark line across it, and was long known in their annals as the "starving year." The little children cried for bread, and cried in vain, for the hands of the sorrowing mothers were empty, they had nothing to give to satisfy the hunger of those whose sufferings it was so agonizing to see. Many of the poor would have perished had not the Ohio company come to their relief and by judicious loans of money enabled them to get enough food to at least sustain life. And in another way they were also helped. It is pleasant to put upon record here a fact that does honor to our human nature and shows the sweet humanity that dwelt in the heart of one of the bravest and most enterprising of the settlers that dwelt on the banks of the beautiful river. Isaac Williams and his wife Rebecca, emigrants from Pennsylvania, had settled in Virginia, opposite the mouth of the Muskingum, before the coming of the Marietta colony. His corn was planted in good season and he gathered an abundant harvest. The settlers were, in the common market, obliged to pay a dollar and a half per bushel for mouldy corn, which when ground in a hand-mill, the only mill they had, and made into mush or gruel, did not nourish those who ate it, and often occasioned suffering and disease. In this emergency Mr. Williams came to the rescue. He sold corn to those who were perishing for want of it for fifty cents a bushel, the minimum price in time of abundance. He let the very poor, who had nothing wherewith to pay, have it without money and without price. Ought not this that he did to be told of him while the world stands? He would allow each to have only a limited quantity, so that more could share in it. Speculators wished to buy up his whole stock. "No," he said, indignantly, "You shall not have a bushel." It would he a pleasant office to give a fuller account of this brave man and his equally brave wife were it meet to do so in this place. Suffice it to say, he was a famous hunter in his day, and both he and his wife honored our common humanity by their deeds of kindness and mercy done in behalf of the needy and suffering.
When the spring of 1791 came on, and nature awoke at the warm touch of the Sun, the hungry settlers gathered the tender shoots of the pigeon-berry and potato and boiling them with a little meal and salt, ate and found refreshment therein. The matrons talked over their family affairs and other matters, while sipping a cup of sassafras or spice-bush tea, instead of young hyson or fragrant bohea, without feeling disheartened by the difference between what they had and what they remembered to have had.
That year's crop was fine and abundant, so that plenty and comfort once more took up their abode in the household, and fat kine roamed the fields in place of the lean ones of the year before.
But other troubles were already upon them, and greater dangers were lying in wait. The men of whom we write were peaceable men, just and upright in their dealings. They did not intend wrong even toward the poor Indian, whose patrimony they were indeed appropriating to their own use. But that had been secured by treaty and an equivalent or supposed equivalent returned, which, in their eyes, was all that justice required. But it was otherwise with the people of Kentucky, the ‘‘Long Knives" as they were called by the Indians. They regarded the Indians as vermin, that they had the right to shoot down or destroy at any time and in any way. These untutored sons of the forest were never slow in seeking revenge for injuries received, and they were not accustomed to make nice discriminations. The innocent were confounded with the guilty, and the savages were determined that all white men should suffer for the wrongdoing of a part. To be sure, a treaty was made with Governor St. Clair in January, 1789, at Fort Harmar, by which the Indians bound themselves to keep the peace. But this treaty was rather an insincere and hollow affair. The chief insisted strenuously upon the Ohio river being made the boundary between them and the settlements of the white man. Some would sign a treaty upon no other basis, and, of course, General St. Clair and his coadjutors could not accept such terms. The consequences were that a part of the chiefs signed the treaty with great reluctance, others did not sign at all, and none were pleased with the conditions exacted from them. This was well enough understood by the colonists to create uneasiness and lead them to make preparations for an outbreak on the part of the Indians, which they felt might come at any time. Mutterings were heard in the air, and threats on the part of the savages that "before the trees had again put forth their leaves there should not remain a single smoke of a white man's cabin northwest of the Ohio river."
General Putnam, with the skill and forethought that distinguished him, prepared for dangers that he thought only too sure to come. The scattered families of the settlers were collected in block-houses. "Farmer's Castle" was built in Belpre, twelve miles below Marietta, and into that all who lived in the neighborhood were gathered.
Fort Frye, twenty miles above Marietta, on the Muskingum, became the place of refuge for those who lived in that region. Campus Martius, in Marietta, was strengthened and put into a posture of defense, and another block-house was erected at "the point," as that part of the town was and is called, which is included between the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, at the mouth of the latter. The settlements at and near Marietta were particularly exposed to danger, for the Muskingum was the war-path of the Indians who lived to the northwest and occupied the region bordering upon it; and the Ohio furnished equal facilities for invasion on the part of those who lived in the country through which it flowed.
Complaint and lamentations were heard in every direction on account of depredations committed by the insidious foe. Even before hostilities were declared, or a state of war recognized, it was estimated that fifteen hundred persons had been killed or taken prisoners, two thousand horses stolen and a large amount of property carried away or destroyed. A great part of these losses was suffered by the settlers in Kentucky, but all that dwelt upon the western border participated in them to a greater or less extent. From Kentucky and Virginia, from western Pennsylvania and Ohio, petition followed petition to the general government, asking for help and protection. General Putnam wrote to General Washington in behalf of the colony under his care. He said, "there remains but twenty men in the garrison at Fort Harmar and all the men in the settlement capable of bearing arms do not exceed two hundred and eighty-seven and many of them are badly armed. In Marietta there are eighty houses in the distance of one mile, with scattering houses about three miles up the Ohio." He concluded his letter in these words: "Our situation is truly distressing and I do, therefore, most earnestly implore the protection of government for myself and friends inhabiting the wilds of America. To this we consider ourselves justly entitled." In a letter of the same date to General Knox, secretary of war, General Putnam said: "If we are not to be protected the sooner we know it the better; better that we withdraw ourselves at once than remain to be destroyed piece-meal by the savages."
It is difficult to understand the supineness of the general government in circumstances so critical. That there was opposition on the part of some of the leading statesmen to securing more territory in the west, or even retaining that already possessed, seems to be a well authenticated fact. Then the whole country was heartily tired of war and longed for peace. And again, the general government had not yet gathered into its hands sufficient power to enable it to control the states and make the inhabitants thereof obedient to its will. But a little while before, congress was scarcely more than an advisory body, and it had not yet become accustomed to the use of authority. This apparent indifference to their welfare, worked out evil results among some of the western colonists, especially those of Kentucky; and but for the steadfast loyalty and ardent patriotism of the Ohio colonists at Marietta and Cincinnati, the consequences might have been serious as affecting the unity of the country and the final triumph of the government.
Among the measures adopted by General Putnam for the security of the colony under his care, there was, perhaps, none to which, they, to so great an extent, owed their comparative immunity from death and destruction, as to the plan of employing rangers. These men were selected on account of their bravery and skill in reading the signs of the presence of Indians and tact in evading the wiles of the cunning foe. Two rangers were employed for each garrison, and were sent out over a daily route of about twenty miles. For their greater security, they dressed as Indians, and sometimes even painted their faces. They were constantly on the alert, and quick to detect even the most obscure signs of the presence of Indians. Of course, each man took his life in his hand when he started out, and was well aware that he must be sagacious and intrepid to escape falling into the hands of the savages he went to seek. For this perilous service the government allowed each man the munificent sum of eighty-four cents per diem. Nor did they always escape the fate to which they daily exposed themselves. Captain Joseph Rogers, employed for the garrison at Campus Martius, was killed by the Indians when returning from his round of duty, when within a mile of the fort.
An incident will, perhaps, give a more vivid idea of the state of anxiety and preparation in which the settlers lived than can be obtained from a bare statement of facts. The law regulating the militia service required that there should be a parade on Sabbath morning at ten o'clock. The troops came together at the beat of the drum, the roll was called and arms inspected, after which a procession was formed; Colonel Sproat, with a drawn sword in his hand, took his place at the head of the column. The civil officers and the clergymen brought up the rear. With the accompanyment of fife and drum they marched to the place appointed for divine service. They entered and seated themselves with their arms by their sides, ready to be grasped at a moment's notice.
Upon a certain Sabbath morning in the year 1790, all were gathered together in the house of God, prayer was offered by the pastor, the Rev. Daniel Story, the praise of the Lord had been sung by the whole congregation and they were listening to the word as it was expounded by the officiating clergyman. Suddenly a scout entered the sanctuary. The preacher paused. "Signs of Indians near here," said the scout hurriedly. Instantly the drummer caught up his drum and rushed out the door. He beat the long roll and there was a quick scattering of the congregation. The men at once put themselves into a posture of defense. The Indians did not come, but if they had they would have found a reception prepared for them. Truly, these men belonged to the church militant in every sense of the word.
Critical as the condition of affairs was, the supineness of the general government continued. It would seem either that those in authority were not awake to the gravity of the situation, or were not aware of the value of the prize that was trembling in the balance. In Kentucky and Virginia some of the leading men spoke openly of taking the matter of defense into their own hands, and hints were thrown out in regard to the desirableness of placing themselves under the protection of Spain. The Spanish commissioners left no means untried to bring about that result. To these men on the western border a potential motive for desiring a connection with Spain was, they could then have an outlet for their surplus produce through the Mississippi river, which was under the control of Spain. Without the navigation of this river the colonists were shut out from any market, unless they braved the hardships and bore the expense of packing across the Alleghany mountains. Their condition was certainly very much cribbed and confined, independent of the trouble with the Indians. There were no good roads to connect them with the east and open an accessible market in that direction; and a country with which the United States was at variance, though not in actual hostility, controlled the only outlet to the sea west of the mountains. This state of affairs, as is well known, gave occasion to the "Whiskey Rebellion "in Pennsylvania. Pack horses were the only vehicles of transportation across the mountains. One pack horse could carry but four bushels of rye. But when the rye was made into whiskey the same beast of burden could carry the essence of twenty-four bushels of rye. Therefore, when the general government laid an excise upon ardent spirits so heavy as to absorb the profits, there was a general rebellion among the manufacturers and people.
The French minister, M. Ganet, was also intriguing to secure the control of the west, that he might hand it over, bound hand and foot, to his government. Nor were these the only nations that looked with covetous eyes upon this fair domain. The British government had never cordially acquiesced in some of the articles of the treaty of 1783. They still retained important forts situated within the territory ceded to the United States, and justified themselves in doing so by the fact that the other party to the treaty had not complied with all its conditions. The United States government had not enforced the agreement in regard to the collection of debts due to citizens of Great Britain. Virginia, especially, had refused to keep the pledge made by the commissioners. There seems to be so much proof that the conclusion cannot be resisted that English officers used all the influence they could exert to induce the Indians to persist in the demand that the Ohio river should be the western boundary of the United States, and, further, it would seem that they desired to unite the Indians in one great confederacy and form a British protectorate over them, the better to thwart, restrain and destroy the Americans. British authorities furnished the Indians with food, clothing and ammunition.
They paid liberally for scalps but nothing for prisoners. They promised much more than they performed. To what extent the home government was implicated, and how much was the voluntary doing of the military officers and other officials in America, it is impossible to ascertain.
The eagerness of these several contestants to secure the prize was in singular contrast with apparent indifference of the government to which it properly belonged. But a protracted war had wearied and exhausted the country, and, having laid down their arms, men were unwilling to take them again. When finally compelled to do so, it was mainly the refuse of the old army—those who were worthless, or nearly so, for other pursuits, that finally enlisted in the ranks.
The men of the colony, whose history we are following, had no sympathy with the disloyalty of the people of Kentucky or elsewhere who were intriguing with foreign powers. Their hearts were true as steel to the government that the greater part of them had fought to establish, and their entreaties were earnest and incessant that the government would send them the help they needed in their extremity.
Henceforth, for five years the history of the Marietta colony is merged in that of the war with the Indians and the three campaigns undertaken and accomplished before the Indians were brought to terms. The colonists with their families were immured in barracks during these years. They could only cultivate a few fields in the immediate neighborhood of the block-houses, with a guard near by and weapons at hand to resist a sudden attack. Even then it was not an unusual thing for a man to be killed or captured. The Indians were always on the alert, and never lost an opportunity of stealing horses and cattle and carrying away children into captivity.
The most earnest and persevering efforts to secure a treaty of peace with the Indians having failed, and depredations being continued, at last, when the power of endurance and patience of the colonists were well-nigh exhausted, the order was given to General St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, to raise an army and use his best endeavor to subdue the hostile tribes and put an end to murder and devastation.
After consulting with General Harmar, Governor St. Clair decided to send an expedition against the towns on the Maumee, and addressed letters to the military officers in western Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky, calling on them for militia to cooperate with the Federal troops in a campaign against the Indians. General Harmar was assigned to the command of the expedition. He was an officer of experience and of good repute. Fort Washington, now Cincinnati, was made the place of rendezvous. As speedily as he could, General Harmar gathered together his forces. From Kentucky there were three battalions of militia, one battalion of mounted riflemen and two of regulars. These added to the Federal troops under his command made up a force of fourteen hundred men. But a worse appointed, more unmilitary assemblage could not well be brought together. Disaffection toward the government and a repugnance to acting with regular troops kept those at home who could have best acted their parts in this emergency, both in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. The courageous, enterprising and capable men, those who were accustomed to the use of the rifle both in pursuit of Indians and game, did not enlist. The quota from these states was made up, to a great extent, of old men unfit for service, and boys who were hired as substitutes and went to the war as to a frolic.
The army was collected and ready for marching orders early in October, 1790. General Harmar lost no time in placing himself at the head of his troops and making a start. The army first halted at Chillicothe, a large Indian village three miles from where Xenia is now situated, and about forty miles from the place of their destination. Here the information reached them that the Indians, apprised of their coming, had forsaken their villages. General Harmar, however, pushed on and found as he expected, that the money had become an invincible foe. No Indians were anywhere to be seen. But to destroy their means of subsistence was an important part of the object for which the enterprise had been undertaken. Orders were, therefore, given to begin at once the work of destruction, and they were faithfully executed. The principal village and four or five smaller ones were utterly destroyed. Twenty thousand bushels of corn were burned and everything that had in itself value for food was consumed. A compassionate sigh escapes in behalf of these poor people, who thus had the products of their labor destroyed, and the food that was to sustain their women and little ones taken away from them. When the enemy was thus deprived of the means of support the principal object of the expedition was accomplished. But some of the officers were disappointed and dissatisfied, in that they had not had an actual fight with the Indians and could claim no conquest except over inanimate things in which there was little glory. General Harmar was asked to allow a detachment to return, after they had proceeded a day's march, to see if haply the Indians had returned to their villages and a chance might offer for a battle. General Harmar was, probably, not unwilling to add a few leaves to the wreath of laurel that he hoped would be placed on his brow on account of his success in the enterprise. He gave the order and Colonel Hardin took the command of the detachment and went back, hoping to meet the enemy. He was not disappointed. He met the enemy and—was disastrously defeated. The Indians fought as brave men, who have been robbed and despoiled, would fight. Of the regulars the greater part were slain, both officers and men. The militia, according to their custom, at the first onset, threw down their arms and ran away, not probably that they "might live to fight another day" but that they might escape fighting altogether. And so, instead of a record of a glorious victory being entered upon the page of history, the expedition will be known in all time as "Harmar's Defeat." General Harmar requested that a court of inquiry should be called to investigate the causes of the lamentable result and promptly resigned his command.
The court exonerated the commander from all blame, and attributed the failure principally to the shameful conduct of the militia and the miserable equipments of the army.
There were those who believed that had the army been commanded by such a man as George Rogers Clark or some other western hero, accustomed to Indian wiles and strategems and having the confidence of the men he commanded, the result would have been different.
"Harmar's defeat" spread consternation along the whole western border, and greatly increased the perils of the colony at Marietta. The Indians were naturally much encouraged by the victory they had gained, and renewed their depredations with fresh energy and determination. No matter how much soever we deprecate the results, we cannot withhold our admiration when we see the courage and zeal with which they defended what they considered their rights, and the patriotism that nerved them to the highest endeavor to keep the graves of their fathers and their rightful inheritance from passing into the hands of aliens and oppressors.
Nothing in Grecian story or Roman history surpasses the patient suffering and stern courage which these unlettered Red men laid as a sacrifice upon the altar of their country. Let us not withhold the meed of praise which such qualities and such endeavors secure in other cases, because these men were savages and our own countrymen suffered from their heroism. To be sure their ways were crooked and their methods were cruel, but they only had the twilight of natural law in which to walk, and although those with whom they combatted have the fairer light of revelation to lighten their path they could not boast of greatly better conduct.
The first severe blow that fell upon the Marietta colony was the massacre at Big Bottom on the Muskingum, thirty miles above Marietta. The settlers in the neighborhood had collected in a block-house built for their protection. But they had no experienced man at the helm, and they did not keep a vigilant watch. They were suddenly attacked by Indians, and only two escaped. Fourteen were killed, including a woman and two children, and four were carried away captive. This alarming news reached Marietta when the court of quarter sessions was sitting. The court at once adjourned, for the jurors and witnesses felt compelled to go home and look after the welfare of their families. The block-houses were put into the best possible state of defense, and the vigilance of the guards was redoubled. The rangers were kept constantly on duty, and the faintest signs of Indians noticed and reported. The preservation of the garrison was due to this unceasing watchfulness.
The general government at last woke up enough to dimly see the peril of these western settlements. Orders were issued to collect another and larger army, and General St. Clair, Governor of the Territory, was appointed to the command. The object of the expedition he was directed to undertake was to be two-fold. In the first place the Indians were to be conquered and crushed, so that they should not be able to again lift themselves up; and, secondly, a chain of forts was to be built, extending from Cincinnati to Lake Erie, which forts were to be so well garrisoned that they would be able to hold the Indians in check and prevent their preying upon the settlements. Where Maumee is now situated, on the Maumee river, was considered a particularly important point. Possession of it was to be taken, and a strong fortification erected. General St. Clair began to bring his troops together in May 1791. There were two hundred, exclusive of officers, in his command. In July the First regiment, numbering two hundred and ninety, arrived. They were all badly equipped and the military chest was empty, so that the wherewith to pay the men was wanting. Militia were gathered from Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and in September the army was two thousand three hundred strong.
The army left Fort Washington, September 17, and moved on until they reached a point on the great Miami, where they built Fort Hamilton, the first of the intrenched line of forts. After completing the fort and garrisoning it with a small body of men, they advanced forty miles, within a short distance of the town of Greenville, where another fort was built to which the name of Jefferson was given.
There was a dark sky over the army all this while. The roads were bad and so heavy that the men, with their best endeavor, could only accomplish a toilsome march of seven miles a day. General St. Clair was ill, suffering from gout and other ailments, so that it was necessary for him to be carried in a litter. The army was daily diminished by desertion, and many of the men were sick from exposure and bad food. When they left Greenville there were only fourteen hundred troops fit for duty. To make matters worse, there was ill feeling between General St. Clair and General Butler. The second in command, the latter seemed never sorry, to say the least, to have his superior officer thwarted in the execution of his plans.
The army left Fort Jefferson, October 24, and began again its heavy march. On November 3, a river was reached which General St. Clair supposed to be a branch of the Wabash, but which proved to be an affluent of the Maumee. There General St. Clair halted. Then hundreds of the militia had deserted in a body, and the First regiment had been sent after them to try to arrest and bring them back, and also to prevent a convoy of provisions from falling into their hands. On the next day, November 4, the army, depleted as it was, was unexpectedly attacked by the Indians. The militia, as they had a way of doing, ran without firing a gun, and as they were in the van, their flight through the ranks tended to increase the panic occasioned by the sudden attack. The regulars fought well, as they generally did, but it was in vain, and they, too, finally gave way and took to flight, nor did they halt till they reached Fort Jefferson.
No defeat so disastrous had ever been suffered in the west, and nothing except that of Braddock's can be likened to it. The proportion of the slain to the numbers engaged was even greater than in that well-known disaster. In Braddock's army there were twelve hundred and eighty-six. Of these seven hundred and four men and sixty-three officers were killed or wounded; while in this most disastrous defeat of St. Clair, out of fourteen hundred men and eighty-six officers, eight hundred and ninety men and sixteen officers were killed or wounded. Estimates in regard to the number of Indians engaged in the attack vary greatly, but the most authentic accounts lead to the conclusion that they did not exceed twelve hundred.
No words can describe the consternation and alarm that spread through the colonies. It was well understood that the Indians, encouraged and emboldened by their success, would venture more and succeed better in their murderous designs. The colony at Marietta was particularly exposed. The garrison at Fort Harmar had been depleted in order to fill the ranks of the army, until there was scarcely enough men left to stand guard.
Urgent appeals were again made to the general government, and earnest entreaties for help were heard from all the western border. And now a listening ear was turned toward the sufferers. At last it began to be perceived that this was a national and not a mere sectional war, and, further, it was seen that dallying would no longer answer. An earnest effort must be put forth or disaffection, disunion and great disaster, one or all, would be the result. President Washington selected General Anthony Wayne for the commander of a new expedition. He had performed the most brilliant feat of the War of the Revolution—the taking of Stony Point—and such was his reputation for courage, for skill and dash, that it was thought if success was possible "Mad Anthony" would be sure to secure it.
Fort Washington was again made the place of rendezvous, and General Wayne began at once to collect and discipline his army. Meanwhile General St. Clair had resigned his command and asked for a court-martial to inquire into the causes of his defeat. President Washington accepted his resignation but did not accede to the other request. Subsequently, however, congress appointed a committee to examine the matter and make a report. Their report is long and goes very much into detail. In substance it declares that the defeat was caused by the want of discipline and experience of the troops - the cowardly behavior of the militia, the delay in furnishing material, and consequent lateness of the season when the expedition was initiated. General St. Clair was exonerated from all blame.
While General Wayne was subjecting his troops to severe discipline in Fort Washington, the government was zealously endeavoring to secure a treaty of peace without further recourse to the ordeal of battle. Five different embassies were sent simultaneously to different tribes. Scant success attended the negotiations. In one case the two peace messengers were murdered.
The British still held forts within the territory of the United States, in violation of the treaty of 1783, and it was well known that they encouraged and assisted the Indians in their warfare. The prospect was that the dissatisfaction that existed in both the parties concerned was almost sure to culminate in the breaking out of another war between Great Britain and the United States.
The Indians continued resolutely to refuse to listen to any conditions of peace, unless the Ohio river was accepted as a boundary between them and the United States. Backed as they were in this by the British authorities, they continued inflexible. The most that could be obtained from them was an armistice, and that was but poorly observed by the Indians, who complained that the desire for peace was rather simulated than felt, as was proved by the fact that General Wayne was all the time making strenuous efforts to get his army into fighting order
1792, a fresh effort was made in the same direction, and General Rufus Putnam accompanied by Rev. John Heckewelder as interpreter and aid, went to Cincinnati, according to appointment, to meet the Indian chiefs and, if possible, negotiate a treaty. The chiefs failing to meet the commissioners there, the latter went on to Vincennes. Success attended their efforts, so far as the Wabash tribes were concerned. A treaty of peace was made with them. But the Shawanees and Miamis were still too much elated by their victory over St. Clair to be induced to enter into treaty relations; they were, however, persuaded to send a delegation to Philadelphia to hold a conference with the President. Fourteen chiefs started on the mission. They stopped at Marietta, and a sumptuous feast was prepared for them and every attention shown them that the anxious people had it in their power to bestow.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which they labored, the colonists were progressing in the means of securing those appliances that go to make up the amenities of life. Their corn was taken to Cincinnati and sold, for the use of the army, at forty cents a bushel, which was a great improvement upon any market they had previously had. In the summer of a line of mail boats was established which opened certain and regular communication with the remainder of the world. The boats carried a guard of armed men and went up the stream at the rate of thirty miles per diem, and accomplished double that distance in going down with the current. Between Wheeling and Cincinnati there were three stations, where the boats stopped to exchange mails, Marietta, Galliopolis and Limestone, now Maysville. Six days were occupied in going from Wheeling to Cincinnati, and twelve required for the reverse journey. This arrangement continued until 1798. The boats sometimes carried passengers, and so well were they equipped and guarded that only one boat was attacked and but one man killed.
All efforts to secure a peace having failed, in the autumn of 1793 General Wayne put his army in motion, and in December reached Greenville, in the western part of Ohio, ten miles from the Indiana line. There he remained till July of the following year, when he left to take up the line of march for the Maumee rapids, where the flourishing town of Maumee is now situated.
During these many months the army had been under strict discipline, and everything had been done to make it as efficient as possible. The result showed the wisdom of the preparation. The battle of "The Fallen Timbers" was fought at that place August 20, 1794 and "Wayne's Victory" was the result. The victory was decisive, though the Indians fought with great bravery. The loss to General Wayne's army was comparatively small. Thirty-three privates and five officers were killed, and one hundred men and five officers wounded. The number of Indians engaged in the fight was supposed to be about two thousand.
General Wayne remained three days and nights on the banks of the Maumee in front of the battlefield, and so near to Fort Miami, held by the British, that they could easily be reached by the guns. The commandant, General Campbell, addressed a note to General Wayne asking what his intentions were in making so near an approach to a garrison occupied by the troops of the king of England.
Mutual bravadoes were exchanged between the two generals without any concessions being made on either side. General Wayne says he "burned everything in view of the fort and under the muzzles of the guns."
After building Fort Wayne, the army in October, marched to Fort Greenville, where General Wayne reestablished his headquarters.
The importance of the victory gained at the Fallen Timbers can scarcely be over-estimated. Hostilities ceased thereafter, but on account of the machinations of the British officers, several months passed before a treaty of peace could be agreed upon. Although negotiations were at once begun, it was not till September of the succeeding year, 1795, that the compact was sealed. Besides the great victory of General Wayne, there were one or two circumstances that helped in securing the treaty. The Indian never fully recovered the confidence in the British which had been forfeited by the non-fulfillment of the promises made to them before during the War of the Revolution. They had been assured by the British authorities, that if they united with them in the effort to subjugat colonies, they should be fully remunerated for their efforts and losses made good. Their interest should also be carefully guarded in case of a treaty of peace being made between the belligerents. But none of promises were kept. They were not even mentioned in the treaty of 1783. And in the war, which had ended so disastrously for them, there had very much more promised than had been performed. Their natural shrewdness led them to see that it was better to make terms with those actually in power, than to trust again those who had repeatedly deceived them. The treaty of Greenville was finally arranged on the basis exchange of prisoners, and the settlement of certain boundaries.
This was the end of inroads and depredations on the part of the Indians, and thenceforth the colonists enjoyed the opportunity of cultivating amenities of peace and devoting themselves to the furtherance of their prosperity in every direction.
In 1794 John Jay, envoy extraordinary to the court of St. James, succeeded in adjusting the difficulties that had existed for half a score of years between Great Britain and the United States, and which had seem times almost certain to culminate in a war between the two countries. The cloud at length passed over, and all fear of evil from any such source had, for the present at least, vanished. The colonists could come out from the block-houses in which they had for so long been shut up go to their farms or their merchandise at their pleasure.
One of the conditions of the ordinance of 1787 was that the Northwest Territory should be entitled to a legislature when the population numbered five thousand. So much did the Indian war retard the growth of the settlements that that number was not reached till 1799. During these eleven years the colonists had no voice in the government; they were not represented in congress, and were powerless in the hands of those ruled over them.
The territory passed from the first to the second grade of territorial government in 1799, when the first legislature met in Cincinnati in February. The Marietta colony was represented by Paul Fearing and Return Jonathan Meigs. William Henry Harrison was chosen by the legislature to represent the territory in congress. The succeeding year, by order of congress, Chillicothe became the seat of government, and continued to be after Ohio became a state.
The sessions of the legislature in 1800 and 1801 were held in a small house built of hewn logs, thirty-six by twenty-four feet. A wing was afterwards attached, also of hewn logs, twenty-four by eighteen feet. The house was torn down in 1840.
The large building called the "Old State House" was begun in 1801. It was the first public edifice built of stone in the Northwest Territory. The convention that framed the constitution of Ohio sat in that house. The session began on the first Monday of November, 1802, and so expedition were the workers in those old times that the constitution was completed and they adjourned at the end of the month.
The delegation from Marietta were unanimously opposed to the formation of a state government at that time, as were their constituents almost to a unit. The prominent men were Federalists of the staunchest kind. The Democratic ideas of the Jeffersonian administration found little power with them. But they were not men to be governed by prejudice in their opinions and action. The Indian never had been a heavy drain upon their resources. The expenses of a territorial government were in great part paid by the general government, but if they became a state, they must take the burden upon themselves, and that, as congress lands were exempt from taxation for five years, under the disadvantage of having to pay more than a pro rata of the taxes. So great was the opposition, they were even willing to abridge the boundaries of the state and take the Scioto instead of the Miami for the western boundary, but they were outvoted and overruled.
The question when Ohio became a state has been often discussed, and seems to admit of divers answers. The generally accepted date has been 1802, which there seem to be good reasons to accept as correct. The inhabitants undoubtedly believed themselves to be living in a state at that time. A pioneer well known to the writer, no one was better known, always asserted that he came to Ohio the year that it was admitted into Union, 1802. The two events have been fastened together, indissolubly, as having both occurred in that year. But to make the argument cumulative, the Rev. Thaddeus Mason Harris shall be called as a witness. He made a "tour" in 1803, and stayed some time in Marietta. He states that the facts he put on record were obtained in great part from General Rufus Putnam. A Chapter is headed "Ohio Admitted into the Union, by an Act of Congress, April 28, 1802."
That is the date of the passage of the enabling act, or rather the time when the President affixed his signature to the bill. The preamble bill says:
An act to enable the people of the eastern division of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union on an equal footing with the original states, and for other purposes.
SECTION I. Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the United States of America in congress assembled. That the inhabitants of the eastern division of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, be, and they are hereby authorized to form for themselves a constitution and state government, and to assume such name as they shall deem proper; and said state, when formed, shall be admitted into the Union upon the same footing with the original states in all respects whatever.
It would seem to have been the intent and purpose of this act congress to regard Ohio as in the Union, when the prescribed conditions were complied with, that is, when a constitution was formed and adopted and a name taken. The fact that this was the understa nding is proved by another fact, viz., that congress took no other action in regard to the admission of Ohio as a state. In 1803 a district court was established by congress in Ohio, and there are those who date its beginning as from that event.
The legislature continued to meet in Chillicothe until 1810, when the capital was removed to Zanesville.
As we are all the while getting farther and farther from the heroic region, western history and the facts connected therewith becoming more and more dim, it seems well to put on record statements in regard to the hardships and privations of those who went before to prepare for us the pleasant ways in which we walk, to make possible our comfortable homes with their appliances and adornings, which give to life its zest and make us glad to enter into the inheritance that the Fathers have prepared for us.
We have already so far outgrown those early environments, that accounts thereof seem more like fiction than a simple statement of facts. Did a century ever work such miracles before in all the appointments of people? Probably not. For never did any other century have steam and telegraphs and railroads and coal and oil and other appliances, by natural forces have been developed and strengthened and put in harness for the benefit and advancement of—imperial man.
A few statements have been gathered together from different sources, but all reliable, to show what manner of men the fathers were and what they did and endured, and how they lived.
John S. Williams, editor of the "American Pioneer" in 1843, gave the following account of his early experience. There was probably nothing exceptional in his condition—many others could a similar tale unravel, and some could tell of greater hardships. He says, "Our family consisted of my mother, a sister of twenty-two, a brother near twenty-one, very weakly, and myself in my eleventh year." His father had been the possessor of wealth, but having met with losses he left England, after gathering together the fragments of his property, and emigrated to Carolina, where he died. Other losses reduced their property still further, and finally the widow decided to come with her children to Ohio. They settled in Belmont county, less than a hundred miles from Marietta in a northeasterly direction. Mr. Williams' sketch is entitled "Our Cabin, or Life in the Woods." He goes on to say:
Emigrants poured in from different parts, cabins were put up in every direction, and women, children and goods tumbled into them. The tide of emigration flowed like water through a mill dam. Everything was bustle and confusion, and all at work that could work. In the midst of all this the mumps and perhaps one or two other diseases prevailed and gave us a seasoning. Our cabin had been raised, covered, parts of the cracks chinked and part of the floor laid when we moved in on Christmas day! There had not been a stick cut except in building the cabin. We had intended an inside chimney, for we thought the chimney ought to be in the house. Here was a great change for my mother and sister, as well as the rest, but particularly my mother. She was raised in the most delicate manner in and near London, and lived most of her time in affluence and always in comfort. She was now in the wilderness, surrounded by wild beasts, in a cabin with about half a floor, no door, no ceiling overhead, not even a tolerable sign for a fire-place, the light of day and the chilling winds of night passing between two logs in the building. Such was the situation on Thursday and Thursday night, December 25, 1800, and which was bettered by very slow degrees. We got the rest of the floor laid in a very few days, the chinking of the cracks went on slowly, but the daubing could not proceed till more suitable weather; doorways were sawed out, and steps made of the logs, and the back of the chimney was raised up to the mantel, but the funnel of sticks and clay was delayed until spring.
In building our cabin it was set to front the north and south, my brother using my father's pocket compass on the occasion. We had no idea of living in a house that did not stand square with the earth itself. This argued our ignorance of the comforts and conveniences of pioneer life. The position of the house, end to the hill, necessarily elevated the lower end, and the determination to have both a north and south door, added much to the airiness of the domicile, particularly after the green ash functions had shrunk so as to have cracks in the door and floor from one to two inches wide. At both the doors we had high, unsteady steps, made by piling up the logs cut out of the wall. A window was made by sawing out a log, placing sticks across, and then by fastening an old newspaper over the hole and applying some old hog's lard, we had a kind of glazing which shed a most beautiful and mellow light across the cabin when the sun shone on it. All other light entered at the doors, cracks and chimney.
Our cabin was twenty-four feet by eighteen. The west end was occupied by two beds, the centre of each side by a door, and here our symmetry had to stop, for on the opposite side of the window, made by clapboards, supported by pins driven into the logs, were our shelves. Upon these shelves my sister displayed in ample order a host of pewter plates, basins, and dishes and spoons, scoured bright. A ladder of five rounds occupied the corner near the window. By this, when we got a could ascend. Our chimney occupied the most of the east end; pots and kettles opposite under the shelves, a gun on hooks over the north door, four split-bottom chairs, three three-legged stools, and a small eight by ten looking-glass sloped from the wall over a large towel and comb case.
The evenings of the first winter did not pass off as pleasantly as evenings afterwards. We raised no tobacco to stem and twist, no corn to shell, no turnips to scrape, we had no tow to spin into rope yarn, nor straw to plait for hats, and we had come so late we could get but few walnuts to crack. We had, however, the Bible, ‘George Fox's Journal,' and' Barkley's Apology.' To our stock of books was soon afterward added a borrowed copy of the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,' which we read twice through without stopping. The first winter our living was truly scanty and hard. We had a part of a barrel of flour which we had brought from Fredericktown. Besides this we had a part of a jar of hog's lard, brought from old Carolina. Of that flour, shortened with that lard, my sister every Sunday morning, and at no other time, made short biscuit for breakfast. She made them out one by one, placed them in neat juxtaposition in a skillet or spider, pricked with a fork to prevent blistering, and baked them before an open fire. . . To get grinding done was a great difficulty, by reason of the scarcity of mills, the freeze in winter and the drouths in summer. We had often to manufacture meal (when we had corn) in any we could get the corn to pieces. We soaked and pounded it, we shaved it, we planed it and at the proper season we grated it. When one of our neighbors got a hand-mill it was thought quite an acquisition to the neighborhood. In after years when we could get grinding done by waiting not more than one night and day at a horse-mill we thought ourselves fortunate. Salt was five dollars per bushel and we used none in our own bread, which we soon liked as well without it. . . We had no candle, and cared but little about them except for summer use. In Carolina we had the real fat lightwood, not merely pine knots, but the fat straight pine. In the west we had not this, but my business was to ramble the woods every evening for seasoned sticks, or the bark of the shelly hickory for lights. 'Tis true that our light was not as good as even candles, but we got along without fretting, for we depended more upon the goodness of our eyes than we did of the brilliancy of our light.
It is interesting to know how those who lived before us dressed as well as in what kind of houses they lived and what they ate. In the "American Pioneer" for 1842, Mr. Felix Renick of Chillicothe gives the graphic account of the manner in which the men were habited in those early days:
The pioneer's dress consisted principally of a low linen shirt and pantaloons, manufactured by their wives, daughters and female friends. The remainder was nearly all of buckskin, killed with their guns and chased by their own hands. Their moccasins fitted the foot neatly, and dry oak leaves mostly supplied the place of socks or stockings. Above these were a pair of buckskin leggings, or gaiters, made to fit the leg and tie in at the ankle with the moccasins. These extended some distance above the knees, and a strap from the upper part extending up and buttoning to the hip the pantaloons. These leggings were a defense against rattlesnakes, briar nettles, etc. In cutting these leggings or gaiters there was a surplus left on the outside at the outer seam. This surplus was left from one to two inches in width, which, after the seam was sewed, was cut into an ornamental fringe. The hunting shirt comes next. It, too, was of dressed buckskin, and in the same way ornamented with a fringe above the outside of the arm, around the cape, collar, belt and tail, and sometimes down the seams under the arms or even other parts. Habited In this manner the pioneers, or frontier settlers, thought themselves quite sufficiently equipped to attend church, go to a wedding, quilting, or visit their sweethearts, or even get married; and under such circumstances, a new hunting shirt, leggings and moccasins had charms to draw forth the loving looks and the sweet smiles of the lassies. Men who have been reared in this manner,and the mothers of whose children were wooed and wedded in this way, I have known afterward to occupy some of the highest stations in the gift of their fellow-citizens.
Later, when deer grew scarce and women and sheep more plentiful, for hunting-shirts, buckskin was exchanged for linsey-woolseys—which was carded and spun and woven by the wife and daughters, who were also clothed in material of their own manufacture. They made linsey-woolsey dresses for common wear, and nice flannel, woven in plaids for Sunday and holiday occasions. The moccasin also gave place to solid boots and shoes. In the autumn, a shoemaker, with his awls and his lasts, went the rounds of the farm houses and fitted out each member of the household with shoes for the winter. For the men also there was flannel woven, which, with the help of the fuller's art, was converted into broadcloth. The tailor followed the shoemaker, and out of the cloth, so carefully and laboriously prepared, made Sunday-go-to-meeting coats for those who had attained sufficient dignity to be worthy of such honor.
In the long list of trials and deprivations that fell to the lot of the pioneers, the scarcity and high price of salt was not one of the least. When it had to be brought over the mountains on mules or pack horses, it would not be sold for less than eight dollars per bushel. Funds were low and purses were light, and yet it was hard not to have the savor of salt in their food. It was, therefore, cause for rejoicing when "the old Scioto salt works" were discovered and made available. These were on Salt creek, an affluent of the Scioto, in what is now Jackson county.
he water was not strongly impregnated with salt, and it required fifteen or twenty gallons of water to make a pound of salt. The Indians had long known the properties of the water, and had been accustomed to get their supply of salt here, but to white people the fact was not revealed until 1798. The labor of making the salt was great, and it had to be transported on pack horses, so that as late as 1808 it brought four dollars per bushel. But, as in many cases it could be procured by labor, and there was so much more of that in the market than there was money, it brought great relief. These works were thought to be so important that when Ohio became a state, congress set apart a tract six miles square, including the saline for the use of the state.
In 1817, the manufacture of salt was begun on the Muskingum, below Zanesville, and in time extended down the river to McConnellsville. The water was so strong in some of the mills that only a gallon of water was required to make a pound of salt.
In these days of rapid transit, when space is almost annihilated, it will, perhaps, make us more appreciative of our privileges, if we are reminded of the difficulties and sufferings, which they encountered who were here to make ready for us. The journey from Cincinnati to Marietta can now be accomplished in a few hours with ease and comfort. ('Trials of the Early Pioneer' by Dr. P.P. Hildreth)
In the fall of the year of 1794, after the defeat of the Indians by General Wayne, Messrs. Elliot and Williams, two of the contractors for supplying the army with provisions, bargained with Messrs. C. Green and K. J. Meigs, Jr., who then kept a retail store in Marietta, for two boat loads of iron, to be delivered by them at Fort Washington or Cincinnati.
The boats were built at Waterford during the summer, and one of them was loaded at that place and the other at Marietta; both with the produce of the labor of the industrious and brave men who had cultivated their fields amidst the dangers of the Indian war, and raised not only enough for their own support, but a considerable surplus for transportation. These boats, when loaded, were put under the charge of Matthew Gallant and five other men, being three to each boat. They left Marietta in October, but, owing to the low stage of water at that season of the year, their progress was slow, and the boats grounded on the bar at the head of Belville Island, about forty miles below Marietta, and five miles below the settlement and garrison of Belville. While lying here, Gallant and his men spent their time in hunting and in visiting the settlers at Belville, whom they assisted in husking their corn; and before they again got afloat, which was two weeks after they grounded, they had become quite familiarly acquainted with the hardy borderers of that place.
As they floated along past "Graham's Station," about forty miles below, they were not a little startled at hearing the groans and seeing the bleeding bodies of one or two wounded men, whom they were landing from the mail packet, that had been fired into by the Indians, as it was ascending the river a few miles below. The mails between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had been carried by water ever since the war began; but until now they had escaped without any serious injury.
It was late in November when Gallant with his two boats reached Fort Washington. Here the men found employment at high wages in working for the contractors, and remained through the winter till the fore part of February. As they all lived in the vicinity of Marietta, they concluded to make the upward voyage in company. They bought a canoe and put on board such provision as they needed, with an axe and a stout iron pot for cooking their food. It was the only route by which they could return, as the Indians still continued their depredations, notwithstanding the success of General Wayne. It was hazardous traveling in any way, but the least by water. From recent rains the river was quite high, and their progress slow, averaging only from ten to twelve miles a day. No one can imagine, unless he has tried it, the labor of paddling a canoe against a strong current around the fallen tree tops which stretched out four or five rods from the shore and caused a rush of water like that of a mill race. It also required not a little experience and caution in this kind of navigation to avoid the upsetting of the canoe in making the sudden turn round the top or that of losing the headway of the boat and falling back again to the point from which they started in making the attempt. Not unfrequently more than one attempt was made before the difficulty was surmounted. At night they encamped on the Kentucky or Virginia shore, sleeping on their blankets in the open air before a large fire. In this manner they labored along through many a weary day, sometimes almost ready to give up in despair, but were encouraged to proceed by the cheerful air and lively songs of Matthew Gallant, whose indomitable courage and perseverance nothing could cast down or overcome.
The day before they reached Graham's station the ice began to run in the river so as greatly to impede their progress. Previous to this the weather had been mild; they, however, succeeded in reaching the station, by which time the ice was so thick that further progress by water was hopeless. Here they called a halt and held a council of war, at which it was decided to leave the canoe and travel by land on the Virginia shore to Belville, distant about forty miles, and from thence to Marietta. At Graham's Station was a blockhouse and stockade, with two or three families, and was the only inhabited spot between the mouth of the Big Kanawha and Belville. Their stock of food from Cincinnati was now exhausted, and they would get only a scanty supply at this place; but as they thought the journey would be accomplished in two or three days, they did not need much. One baron ham with a little bread, in addition to what game they could kill on the way, they supposed would be an ample supply. For this purpose they had one rifle gun and an old musket, owned by Gallant, with a good stock of ammunition. They had also an axe for felling trees across the smaller streams and for cutting up old dry logs into pieces for rafts to cross the large creeks, and a light tomahawk. The party consisted of Matthew Gallant, aged about forty-five; Daniel Convers, a young man of twenty; Sylvanus Olney, about five and twenty; Starks, a young man in the prime of life; Gardner, past; middle age, and one other whose name is forgotten. Each man folded his blanket in the form of a knapsack, in which was placed his clothing, and from thirty to forty dollars in silver, the avails of their labor while in Cincinnati. The rest of the baggage was divided as equally as could be conveniently done amongst them. Gallant, in addition to his other baggage, had about three hundred dollars in silver, a part of which belonged to his employés, that he carried in a tin box inside his blanket, and a stout old musket. As they were about to start the question arose, what should they do with their cooking pot? The general voice was for leaving it with the canoe, as they could cook their meat well enough by the camp fire for the short time they should be out before reaching Belville. But Gallant insisted upon taking it along, saying, the old pot which had furnished him so many good meals should not be deserted, so by the help of a stout leather-wood thong he strapped it to his back on the top of his blanket, making in all a load of not less than fifty or sixty pounds. The night before they left the station it rained very hard, and the following day it snowed, rendering the traveling deep and laborious. They advanced but a few miles the first day, and camped for the night. Before morning the wind changed to the north and the ground was suddenly frozen, heaving up the loose, porous soil of the bottoms into a kind of honeycomb texture that gave way under their tread, while at the same time the sharp edges of the crystaline structure cut away the leather of their shoes and moccasins so rapidly that in a few hours it wounded their feet.
On the second day, at night, the small stock of food they had with them was exhausted, and the man who carried the rifle-gun and ammunition was so careless as to lose the bullet-pouch and lead in the course of the day, so that what powder they had was of little use to them. Thinking, however, that they might make some bullets out of the pewter buttons on their clothes, they cut them off and melted them up, casting a few balls for their rifle. This gun carried about one hundred and twenty to the pound, and when they came to try their effect upon the turkeys, it was found they were too light, and that they would not kill anything at the ordinary distance, while the noise of the frozen snow-crust prevented their getting near to the game. Cut off from their resource, their only chance now from actual starvation was to hurry along as fast as they could to Belville.
The third day they reached Mill creek, which was the largest water course they had to cross. Here Starks, their axeman, felled a tall, slender tree across and made the attempt to go over first. But, as misfortune seldom comes single, when he reached the middle of the stream his weight bent the tree into the water so deep that the current swept him under, and in his struggle to save himself from drowning, by clinging to the branches, the axe dropped from his hand and was lost. By great exertions he, however, saved himself and got over. No one dared to make the attempt to follow, and, as the axe was lost and no stouter tree could be cut, they had to travel up the stream for a long distance till they could ford it with safety. The weather was so cold that their clothes were frozen directly after, and they hid to move as briskly as possible to keep from freezing themselves. That night they had great difficulty in protecting their limbs from the effects of the cold, The snow and frozen leaves had first to be scraped away before they could start a fire; and this was accomplished with no little trouble, as they had not the advantage of modern lucifer matches by which a fire may be kindled with ease at any time, but their fire was obtained with flint and the back of an old jack knife, struck on to a piece of punk or rotten wood, and kindled with dry leaves and sticks picked out from some hollow tree or under a log. When the fire was finally got under way, after much blowing and many painful efforts, they gathered a parcel of brush or small bushes on which to spread their blankets to keep them from the frozen ground. Having nothing but the little tomahawk to cut their wood, their chief dependence for fuel was on the broken chunks of branches that lay scattered about in the snow. The scanty supply was nearly exhausted before morning, and the latter part of the night was passed very uncomfortably from the effects of the cold on their poorly protected bodies. Besides, they were so greatly fatigued with the day's march that they had no heart to spend much time in looking for fuel. The progress thus far had been very slow, they not having approached any nearer Belville by the fourth day at night than they had expected to have been on the second day at noon. From the hilly formation of the country they were traversing, being a portion of what is now Jackson county, Virginia, the creeks and small streams of water were very numerous. Such as were of any size they were obliged to "head," as it is called in backwoods phrase, or travel up on the lower side until they approached so near to the head as to be able to ford them without getting very deep into the water. From this cause they sometimes lodged at night in sight of the camp fire they had left in the morning, traveling hard all day to gain a distance of less than a mile.
By the fifth day they began, especially the more feeble ones, to feel the effects of a want of food, having been three days without anything but a few fragments of bread or scraps of meat. They were often tantalized with the sight of game, which was plenty, both deer and turkeys, but their want of ammunition prevented their profiting by it As they traveled slowly along, with the hardy old Matthew at their head, leading the way with the dinner pot gallantly mounted on his shoulders, a beacon by which to steer, he would occasionally break out into one of his old revolutionary snatches, and sing a stave or two at the top of his voice; then gradually fall off into a low whistle, and finally encourage them with some old proverb, and the hope of better times in a day or two.
As they journeyed painfully along, Gallant directed his men to keep a lookout at every old rotten tree for bits of punk and dry fragments that would ignite readily from the spark of the flint, with which to kindle the fire at night. These they tucked into their blankets or bosoms of their hunting shirts, and took with them, as it was generally evening before they encamped for the night, and too dark to look for such materials. By these precautions, and an unceasing flow of spirits, he was undoubtedly the means of preserving the lives of several of the party, who without him would have flagged and given up in despair. He told them he had often been in the same or a worse predicament before, and could go a week without food, and so could any other man if he would only think so.
About the sixth day they traveled later at night than usual, and it was quite dark when they began to prepare for the camp fire. In the attempt to strike the life-giving spark from the flint it dropped from his hands amongst the leaves and snow. Gallant bid them all stand still, and not move a foot till it was found, lest they should trample it in the earth After a fruitless search of ten minutes, some of them began to utter fears of despair, saying they were now certainly lost, as they should freeze to death before morning. He told them not to fret, for he would recover it if he had to find it by picking up a single leaf at a time. It was truly a fearful moment, for it was their only flint, and their sole dependence for a fire and for life rested on this poor little bit of stone, At length it was found, and a more lucky collision brought forth the kindling spark and soon a cheerful blaze dispelled the more immediate fears of perishing.
Every night before going to bed Gallant would step out a few rods from the camp and hide his tin box of dollars under some log or at the foot of a tree, saying that if they were attacked by Indians they would not have the pleasure of pocketing his money. At night he sometimes made a supper of spice bush, chewing the twigs and swallowing the juice, saying that it was better than nothing.
As the river still continued full of ice and there was no prospect of relief from boats, as they could not run, they concluded to leave the bottom grounds, on which they had hitherto traveled, and take to the ridges, as by this course they would avoid the annoyance of the creeks. After trying it for half a day, the project was abandoned, as no one of them was acquainted with the country, and they might get lost; whereas, by keeping in sight of the river, there was no danger of this calamity.
About daylight on the seventh night they were alarmed by the sound of footsteps on the frozen snow approaching their camp. The more timid were certain it was Indians, and old Mr. Gardner was sure they should be killed and scalped. Gallant was quite vexed at his disturbance and being waked from a sound sleep, and told him he was an old fool and to lie still; as for himself, he said he would as soon be scalped as not. Others consoled themselves with the thought that if they were taken by the Indians, they would get some food, and it was better to run that risk than to be certainly starved to death, as the prospect now was that they should soon be. The alarm proved finally to have been made by the steps of a bear or deer, and they rested unharmed till morning.
By the eighth day the strength of most of the party was exhausted, with the exception of Gallant and Convers. The former did not seem to mind the want of food any more than an ordinary man would who had been without eating for a single day. Daniel Convers also bore the privation with great spirit and all the hardihood of an Indian; he had been prisoner with the savages when only sixteen years old, and, had then been a full week without eating; he was now several years older and better able to bear privation. The situation of the party was truly deplorable. Nearly all of them had frozen their feet more or less badly, their shoes and moccasins were all cut through by the frozen ground, and their feet lacerated and bloody. One of their number, whose name is forgotten, had with him a pair of shoes besides his moccasins; these he put on over the latter, thinking to keep his feet very warm; but this man was more frozen than any of the others. He was a faint-hearted, cowardly creature, which, probably, served still more to enfeeble him, and aid the action of frost on his extremities. The starving condition of the men served greatly to aid the depressing effects of the cold on their enfeebled bodies. Had the weather been warm, they would have borne the privation of food better. It has been recently ascertained by Liebig, a celebrated physiologist and chemist, that animal heat is kept up by the action of the oxygen we breathe on the carbon of the food that we eat, and as animal substances contain more carbon than vegetable, man needs more fat meat in winter than in summer to keep up the strength and supply the waste of heat from our bodies, by the action of the cold air at that season upon them. Man not only needs more food in winter, but he requires animal food. Cold and hunger are two of the most enfeebling agents on the human frame, and these poor wanderers were exposed to their full power. How wonderful that any of them should have survived so severe a trial.
On the eighth morning, soon after quitting their camp, they came in sight of Belville Island. It was a welcome recognition to old Matthew, as well as the rest of the party, as there was now a prospect of speedy relief. They had been six days without a single mouthful of food. The creeks they forded the last two days were frozen, but not strong enough to bear them, so that the ice was broken before them with poles. Cold and starvation had nearly worn out their strength, and one day more would, probably, have destroyed the larger portion of them. The view of the well known island infused new life into them, and Gardner, Starks and Olney concluded to push ahead to Belville and give notice of the approach of the others. Gallant and Conners remained with the poor fellow who was so badly frozen, and who had ceased all further exertion at the prospect of relief, and lay down on the ground. Gallant pulled him up, cursed him for a fool, threatened to shoot him on the spot, and actually cocked his old musket, without a flint, at him. He said he never had left a man alive in the woods and never would, and he should go on or be killed. Finally, by dint of coaxing and scolding, he got the fellow on to within a short distance of the station, when the settlers came to his aid.
Before leaving him, he had given his companions a strict charge to be cautious how they indulged in eating, for it was very dangerous after so long a fast. He told them to eat a little mush and milk or some very light thing, and that very slowly at first. They, however, disregarded his advice; and when he came in, three hours after, he found them all very sick, and either vomiting or in severe pain like the colic. For himself and Conners he ordered a quart of whiskey and some mush and milk; and so, alternately, he would sip a little of the one and eat a little of the other. In the meantime he was walking from cabin to cabin, chatting and talking with the men and shaking hands with the women whom he had seen on his way down the fall before. With great sang froid, and by way of bravado, he still kept his pack and old dinner pot strung at his back; and although repeatedly asked by the females to take it off, would answer, "Oh, by and by," "No matter just yet," "La! it is nothing when once you get used to it." In this manner, for at least two hours, he paraded the old pot, greatly to the wonder and admiration of Belville castle, especially when they learned from his companions how far he had already carried it. At length, having satisfied his appetite for food and for whiskey, he laid aside his load and stretched his weary limbs on his blanket before the fire.
After resting two days with the hospitable borderers of Belville, they were all able to travel but the one who was so badly frozen. When they left the station at Marietta, the streams were strongly frozen over, and the rest of the journey was comparatively easy, as they could get food at the settlements on the way. Gallant again mounted the old pot and brought it in triumph to Marietta. He was about five feet ten inches in height, stout built, very quick and active in his motions, dark hair and complexion, black, piercing eye, aquiline nose, of a lively, cheerful disposition, a great talker and fond of story telling. He had been a soldier in Lee's legion during the war, and had seen much hard service.
The ancient works in Marietta have been much written about and are worthy of all the attention they have received. The following account is taken from Harris' Tour, which is endorsed by Dr. Hildreth, than whom, there is no better authority: