Sunday, July 13, 2008

More on Jack's Creek

from Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends, by Lucian Lamar Knight, published 1913, Byrd Printing Company, State Printers, Georgia:

    The Battle of Jack's Creek.

    On September 21, 1787, there was fought in a thick cane-brake, near the site of the present town of Monroe, a famous engagement between a party of Creek Indians and a band of pioneer settlers. The principal actors in the drama, on the side of the whites, were distinguished veterans of the Revolution, one of whom afterwards became Governor of the State. The attack upon the enemy was made in three divisions. General Elijah Clarke, the illustrious old hero of Kettle Creek, commanded the center, his son, Major John Clarke, led the left wing, while Colonel John Freeman commanded the right. The story is best told in the language of the elder Clarke. Says he, in his report of the battle, dated Long Cane, Sept. 24, 1787: "I had certain information that a man was killed on the 17th of this month by a party of six or seven Indians and that on the day before, Colonel Barber, with a small party was waylaid by fifty or sixty Indians and wounded, and three of his party killed. This determined me to raise what men I could in the course of twenty-four hours and march with them to protect the frontiers; in which space of time I collected 160 men, chiefly volunteers, and proceeded to the place where Colonel Barber had been attacked. There I found the bodies of the three men mentioned above, mangled in a shocking manner, and after burying them I proceeded on the trail of the murderers as far as the south fork of the Ocmulgee where, finding that I had no chance of overtaking them, I left it and went up the river till I met with a fresh trail of Indians, coming toward our frontier settlement. I immediately turned and followed the trail until the morning of the 21st, between 11 and 12 o'clock, when I came up with them. They had just crossed a branch called Jack's Creek, through a thick cane-brake, and were encamped and cooking upon an eminence. My force then consisted of 130 men, 30 having been sent back on account of horses being tired or stolen. I drew up my men in three divisions: the right commanded by Colonel Freeman, the left by Major Clarke, and the middle by myself. Colonel Freeman and Major Clarke were ordered to surround and charge the Indians, which they did with such dexterity and spirit that they immediately drove them from the encampment into the cane-brake, where finding it impossible for them to escape they obstinately returned our fire until half past four o'clock, when they ceased, except now and then a shot. During the latter part of the action, they seized every opportunity of escaping in small parties, leaving the rest to shift for themselves." White states that in this engagement there were not less than 800 Indians. They were commanded by Alexander McGillivray, a famous half-breed.

    Colonel Absalom H. Chappell, in discussing General Clarke's account of the battle, makes this comment. Says he: "It is striking to read his report of this battle to Gov. Mathews. No mention is made in it of his having a son in the battle, though with a just paternal pride, commingled with a proper delicacy, he emphasizes together the gallant conduct of Colonel Freeman and Major Clarke, and baptizes the hitherto nameless stream on which the battle was fought, by simply saying that it was called Jack's Creek — a name then but justly bestowed by admiring comrades in arms in compliment to the General's youthful son on this occasion. Long after the youth had ceased to be young and the frosts of winter had gathered upon his warlike and lofty brow, thousands and thousands of Georgians used still to repeat the name of Jack Clarke, without prefix of either Governor or General and to remember him too as the hero of the well- fought battle of Jack's Creek."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Early Burke County, North Carolina,
according to Judge Avery

extract from an address on the "Early History of Burke County", by Judge Alphonso Calhoun Avery (1835-1913):

    During the year 1776 the Cherokee Indians as allies of England, crossed the Blue Ridge and invaded the upper part of Burke and what is now McDowell County. They scalped the people, burned the houses and appropriated the live stock along their line of march. It is to be regretted that more of the history of that fearful raid has not been preserved.
    With very short notice of their danger, the people living along the foot of the Blue Ridge in McDowell and also in Burke rushed to the different forts for protection, and those who without warning, remained at their homes, were killed, after being subjected, in some instances, to cruel torture. Very few women, even, were spared and taken as prisoners.
    The white men then claimed the country to the top of the Blue Ridge, and had occupied it to the foot, while the Watauga settlement west of the mountains extended South of Jonesboro for some distance. The treaty of the next year was concluded at the Long Island of Holston, and contained a formal recognition of the claims of the whites. There was a fort at the present town of Old Fort, which was built for the Catawbas, as we have mentioned, but was used in 1776 by the whites. Another had been erected in the Turkey Cove, a third where the town of Lenoir now stands, and we suppose that many others were scattered along in the exposed settlements of Burke and Tryon.
    Old Mrs Hunter, the mother of James Hunter (who formerly lived on Linville where his son Joseph now lives), and grandmother of the late Swan Burnett and Mrs J. Sewell Brown of McDowell county, was scalped by the savages, who appeared at her house without warning. She was left senseless, but recovered, however, lived many years after and raised a large family.
    The wife of a man named McFalls, who lived in the North or Turkey Cove, was also scalped and terribly disfigured, but recovered to find herself disowned and deserted by her unfeeling husband because her beauty had been marred by her terrible wounds. This same man McFalls was a Tory, and when captured at King's Mountain was led up to a tree with a rope around his neck, but was released at the earnest request of one of McDowell's men who promised to be responsible for his good behavior thereafter, on taking the oath of allegiance to the colonial government. The Cherokees came down Roaring Creek to Toe River and crossed, we believe, into the North Cove settlement first. Colonel Waightstill Avery passed up Roaring Creek, and hearing the war-whoop behind, spurred his horse and galloped across from the head of the creek to the Watauga settlement on Doe River. When he returned with Col. Sharp and others, who, with him, made the treaty of 1777, on Holston, he ascertained from a woman, who had been a prisoner, that several braves followed him for some distance, and desisted only because they suspected that he was trying to lead them into an ambuscade. Gen. Rutherford raised near the close of the summer of 1776 an army of 2,400 men.
    He probably passed up the old Island Ford road a few miles south of Morganton. He was joined in Burke county by both Joseph McDowell, Sr., and Joseph McDowell, Jr., as well as Col. Armstrong's regiment from Wilkes and Surry. He crossed the Blue Ridge at Swannanoa Gap, went down that river to the French Broad, then, after passing up Hominy, crossed the Pigeon just below the mouth of East Fork, and entered the valley of Richland a few miles above Waynesville. He then marched up that creek, crossed Balsam to Scott's Creek, and passed down Scott's Creek to the Tuckaseegee, which he crossed at an Indian town called Stekoeh, located on the farm of Col. W. H. Thomas, in Jackson county, a mile from Whittier Station. After an engagement with the Indians on Cowee Mountains, he went down the Tennessee river to Middletown, then on the 14th of September he met Gen. Williamson, from South Carolina. He returned by the same route, afterwards known as “Rutherford's Trace,” having completely subdued the Indians and paved the way for the treaty of the next year.
    Gen. Rutherford, we suppose, followed an old Indian trail, but it is curious to observe how nearly he marked out also the line on which the great highways of the country, first the turnpike and then the railroad were located.
    Nearly all of the men of the Piedmont section, who afterwards led in the last campaign of 1780-'81 in Western North Carolina, saw their first service under Rutherford in this expedition.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Prevalent Fear

from Our Savage Neighbors, by Peter Silver, published by W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp. 58-59:

    Rather surprisingly, the right of at least eventual burial was a basic assumption of the laws of war. As the great Spanish theorist Vitoria had observed, it had been considered a clear right under natural law, even for the corpses of executed criminals, since at least the time of the Israelites: and since "piety is a natural thing, even for the dead . . . [i]t is unlawful to abuse their corpses." Unlike those people today who sign up happily for posthumous donations and dissections, early Americans were very far from indifferent about what happened to their bodies after death. When blended with Indians' supposed propensity for mutilating their dead or dying opponents, this dread of posthumous abuse (especially of decaying visibly, or becoming food for animals) accounted for an enormous part of the fear that provincial Americans felt when considering Indian attacks. Their evident fascination with the burning up after death of Indians victims in flaming barns or houses probably sprang, too, from the idea of the dead's being disposed of in horribly unconventional ways.
    Body-burying expeditions had a central place in newspaper reporting–a place that makes sense when we understand the special power the damaged or unburied dead had to shock and depress colonists. The parties of men who trudged off to find victims and "Bur[y the]m in a Christian Manner" became vessels for terror. In late October 1755, after William Parsons heard reports of an attack near Easton and went out "to assist in burying the Dead," he wrote two letters unburdening himself of the horror of the trip. His little party, doubling in numbers as it went, heard of another attack nearer by and decided "to go . . . to these dead Bodies" first, which they soon found "lying dead just in the Road" with "all the Skin of their Heads . . . scalpt off." As darkness fell, the members of the party worried that "their Bodies might be torn to pieces" before morning. So they borrowed a grubbing hoe and shovel from the nearest farm and dug the deepest grave they could in the stony ground, putting them both in one grave . . . as we found them with all their Cloaths on."

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Crawford Expedition


During the Revolutionary War, William Crawford (1732-1782) was commissioned colonel of the 7th Virginia and served with the distinction at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown. In late 1777, he took command of the continental troops and militia in western Pennsylvania. After the War, Crawford retired from the military, but his reputation as an Indian fighter soon made him the commander of an ill-fated expedition against the Delaware Indians of Sandusky, Ohio in the spring of 1782. Unfamiliar with the terrain and unable to replenish his troops, Crawford’s army of experienced frontiersman was defeated. Angered by the massacre of neutral and unarmed Indians in the Muskingham Valley by Pennsylvania militia, Indian warriors stripped off Crawford’s clothes, tied his arms around a thick wooden post, and tortured him. Dr. John Knight, a military surgeon who traveled with the Sandusky expedition, witnessed the atrocity:

    "Seventy shots of powder were fired at his body. Indians then cut off his ears, prodded him with burning sticks, and tossed hot embers at him. Colonel Crawford continued in the extremities of pain for an hour and three quarters or two hours longer, as near as I can judge, when at last, being almost totally exhausted, he laid down on his belly; they then scalped him and repeatedly threw the scalp in my face, telling me, 'That was your great captain.' An old squaw got a board, took a parcel of coals and ashes and laid them on his back and head, after he had been scalped. Colonel Crawford then raised himself upon his feet and began to walk around the post; they next put a burning stick to him as usual, but he seemed more insensible of pain than before."
After learning of Crawford’s brutal fate on June 11, 1782, the Pennsylvania Packet reported that the state militia was “greatly enraged and determined to have ample satisfaction."

(info from Beyond Philadelphia: The American Revolution in the Pennsylvania Hinterland, by Gregory T. Knouff, John B. Frantz ed., William Pencak ed., Park, Pa: Penn State Press, 1998

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Battle of Jack's Creek

from Historical Collections of Georgia, by George White, published 1854, Pudney & Russell, pp.672-673:

    Jack's Creek, in Walton County, [Georgia] is noted for a battle with the Indians, the particulars of which are given in the following letter from General Elijah Clarke to Governor [George] Matthews:— 


      LONG CREEK, Sept. 24, 1787.

      
I had certain information that a man was killed on the 17th, near Greenesborough, by a party of six or seven Indians; and that on the 16th, Colonel Barber, with a small party, was waylaid by fifty or sixty Indians, and wounded, and three of his party killed, This determined me to raise what men I could, in the course of twenty-four hours, and march with them to protect the frontiers, in which space of time I collected 160 men, chiefly volunteers, and proceeded to the place where Colonel Barber had been attacked. There I found the bodies of the three men mentioned above, mangled in a shocking manner, and after I had buried them, proceeded on the trail of the murderers as far as the south fork of the Ocmulgee, where, finding that I had no chance of overtaking them, I left it and went up the said river, till I met with a fresh trail of Indians coming towards our frontier settlements. I immediately turned and followed the trail until the morning of the 21st, between eleven and twelve o'clock, when I came up with them. They had just crossed a branch called Jack's Creek, through a thick cane-brake, and were encamped and cooking upon an eminence. My force then consisted of 130 men, thirty having been sent back on account of their horses being tired and lost.

      
I drew up my men in three divisions; the right commanded by Colonel Freeman, the left by Major [John] Clarke, and the middle by myself. Colonel Freeman and Major Clarke were ordered to surround and charge the Indians, which they did with such dexterity and spirit that they immediately drove them from their encampment back into the cane-brake, where, finding it impossible for them to escape, they obstinately returned our fire until half past four o'clock, when they ceased, except now and then a shot. During the latter part of the action they seized every opportunity of escaping by small parties, leaving the rest to shift for themselves. About sunset I thought it most advisable to draw off, as the men had suffered for provisions for nearly two days, and for want of water during the action, but more particularly to take care of the wounded, which amounted to eleven, and six killed. From every circumstance, I am certain that there were not less than twenty-five Indians killed, and am induced, to suppose that had I remained that night, I should have found forty or fifty dead of their wounds by the morning. In short, they were totally defeated, with the loss of their provisions, clothing, and the following articles: a gun, thirty-two brass kettles, thirty- seven large packs, containing blankets, &c. Colonel Freeman and Major Clarke distinguished themselves, and from the spirit and activity with which the whole of my little party acted during the action, I do not believe that had we met them in the open woods, we should have been more than five minutes in giving them a total overthrow.

"The German Bleeds..."


"The German bleeds & bears ye Furs
Of Quaker Lords & Savage Airs

The Hibernian frets with new Disaster
And kicks to fling his broad brim'd Master

But help at hand Resolves to hold down
The Hibernian's head or tumble all down"

( cartoon, circulated after the 1763 Conestoga massacre)

David James Dove, re: The Paxton Boys

from The Quaker Unmask'd, or, Plain Truth, by David James Dove, Philadelphia: Andrew Steuart, 1764:

    WHEN the Indian Incursions last Summer laid waste a considerable Part of our Frontier, by which near a thousand Families were drove from their Places, reduced to the utmost Poverty, and thrown upon the Public-Charity for the Support of their miserable Lives.–How did these meek, merciful, compassionate Quakers (who would seem to monopolize Christian Charity, and all the Tenderness of human Nature amongst themselves) behave on so melancholy an Occasion?–To their immortal Infamy be it known, that when every other religious Society in the City, even the Roman-Catholicks, whom they so much despise, (tho' saddled at the Time with the heavy Expence of building a Chapel) were sensibly affected with the Distresses of the poor unhappy Sufferers, and promoted very generous and liberal Contributions for their Relief and Support. These compassionate and merciful Christians [the Quakers], so easily affected with Pity for Indians, would not grant a single Farthing (as a Society) for the Relief of their Fellow Subjects. Tho' Justice requires we should exempt from this Odium a few worthy Individuals in the City, who contributed on the Occasion; as also a few others in the Town and Neighbourhood of Lancaster, who raised about Thirty Pounds for the same Purpose.

    WHEREAS when their Good Brethern the Indians (some of whom were well known by Officers now in the City, to have been in the Battle against Col. BOUQUET, and others at the Siege of Fort Pitt, during the Summer) seem'd to be in Danger of receiving their just Deserts from the Hands of a bereft and injured People, no Toils or Fatigues by Night or Day are thought too great, nor no Expence too much to protect those Bosom Friends. Nay, their very fundamental Principles of Non-Resistance, which would never before bend in Defence of King or Country, are cheerfully sacrificed on the interesting Occasion, as a Compliment to perfidious Savages.

    THE PAXTON PEOPLE'S coming down armed, in a seemingly hostile Manner, is also justly to be condemned,–But whilst we condemn particular Facts, let us not misrepresent the general Characters of these People.

    Let it be considered, that they had, long before, sent several Petitions to the Governor and Assembly, which, its suppos'd, have been conceal'd by some ill designing persons: And tho' his Honour never receiv'd these Remonstances, yet the distress'd People believ'd he had, and look'd upon themselves as utterly neglected, and their sufferings despis'd by the Government. . .

    WHAT these People intended by their coming down arm'd let themselves declare. I only observe, that the Manner of their Behavior when they came, did them Honour; as it shew'd them to be brave, loyal and discreet.